The Art of Creating the Right PMO Service Offering
Authors note: This post is a spiritual successor to these posts: The Secret Behind Every Great PMO, and Why No One Is Following Your PMO Processes. For maximum impact I’d recommend starting there then coming back here.
Here’s the thing. I am waging a personal war against unnecessary complexity. In other words, I like and will actively look for simplicity. Thankfully developing the right PMO service offering (i.e. your processes) is simple.
To develop your service offering you must follow 2 steps.
- Design a Service List, i.e., for each of the clients that your PMO serves you will need to come up with a list of services that:
- Will enable you to perform your purpose in solving their unique set of problems, and
- Are reasonably practical for your team and context.
- Balance the Value Equation, i.e., for each of the services you just listed, consider your value equation. How can you make it as rewarding as possible for your clients while simultaneously reducing the pain endured to receive the reward?
Step 1. Come Up With A Service List.
Yes, I know… on first blush, Step 1 seems a little on the nose.
‘To develop a service offering, you must first come up with a service offering.’
It almost feels a little like something Confucius may have said. Or perhaps Yoda…
What’s interesting though is that Step 1 isn’t what it first seems. Step 1 isn’t just about making a list of services. Rather it’s all about connecting solutions to problems and designing what the future will look like… And who doesn’t love solving problems?!
So, let’s work through this methodically. You can choose to work through this in a table, a mind map, a tree hierarchy, or any other toolset. What is most important here is the thinking process.
First, start with your client. Select one group of PMO clients (e.g. Executives, Project Managers, Procurement, etc.) and place them at the beginning of your solution.
Then connect that client group to what success looks like for them. You should now have a picture of what an ideal future is looking like for this Client group. So, here’s comes the problem solving. How do we create that future for them by offering services?
How will your PMO create the environment needed?
How will your PMO enable the solution?
How will your PMO provide the guidance or even hands on support to achieve that future?
These are your services.
Then, for each service you plan to offer, answer the following questions. (It’s useful to do this upfront to help you prioritise PMO effort and resource planning in the future):
- What is your PMO’s internal aptitude for that service? (i.e., is the service uniquely yours, or are you perhaps offering something that other units are also fully or partially offering?).
- What skills and systems are required to offer the service? (This will guide future investment planning).
- How will your client(s) access the service? (i.e., On request only? Self-service? Is it pushed to them on a schedule?)
To help you visualise this, I have provided what the services for a potential client archetype could look like. (In this instance it’s Edwina Executive).
Adding to that, in my book ‘Creating Hive Value PMOs‘, I also provide a massive table of the various services that I’ve helped my client PMOs establish. Please feel free to draw on that for inspiration, however please note – you shouldn’t feel that the list is exhaustive; so don’t limit yourself to just that set.
Step 2. Balance The Value Equation
Next we want to evaluate these services against the value equation.
Then consider whether you are truly providing a service for your client (i.e., you are offering a net rewarding experience), or if you are providing a hindrance (i.e., a net painful experience).
This truly is the secret to a High Value PMO’s ongoing longevity and success.
Now, here is where many of you may be thinking:
“But, Brendon surely we can’t expect to offer a rewarding experience for EVERY service we’re required to do, can we?”
And my answer, as always is simple.
Only do this for the services you actually want people to use.
And only do this for the clients that you actually want to succeed.
The Third Step
Ok… Confession time.
I know I said there’s only 2 steps to developing your service offering. And while that’s technically true, you absolutely can create your service offering with just those 2 steps… I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you about what is probably the most important step: the 3rd one.
Map the services, make them easy to understand and then make the services well known and available to your clients.
A massive mistake most PMOs make is operating in isolation. Sitting in a group, surrounded by frameworks and templates. Discussing all the many ways they want to help their clients.
But, they never actually tell their clients they can help.
Too many PMOs subscribe to the adage
“If you build it, they will come”.
When in all honestly, the adage should be:
“if you build it with them, then remind them about it, and publicise it widely, and then hold events, and generate buzz; then, maybe, they’ll come.”
So how do we do this?
Well, strap yourself in ladies and gentlemen, because I’m about to suggest something a little wild.
Allocate time, money and people to communicating and promoting your service offering.
I know, wild huh?
And yes, for a medium to large PMO, I’m talking about one or more full time roles dedicated to promoting your service offering.
For smaller PMOs, this may just be an allocation of weekly effort. The trick for smaller PMOs is to cast your communications net smaller. Promote just as hard as the big PMOs, just to a smaller audience.
Now, so many of you will read this and think I’ve lost my mind. You’re already understaffed, how can you justify time for promotion and communications. The answer is simple.
Select your client’s top needs and blow away the rest.
Readjust your offerings to deliver ONLY those top needs.
Then promote these reduced services more clearly to your clients. And if anyone asks you do to something that is outside of your scope – the answer is easy.
‘No… unless you plan to give more time and people to offer it with.’
Feeling understaffed is just a result of a failure to say and stick to a firm ‘No’.