The last PMO that I worked on had a following structure:

    - PMO Manager (you) 

    - PMO Board was actually composed of PM Head, PMO Manager and PM Leads 

    - PM’s: we were more than 40 people, headcount and complimentary workers 

    - Coaches and specialists: we performed both of these two roles .

3) How does a PMO in Pharma differ than a normal PMO?

Where does the Pharma industry enter the stage? Let me first remind you of some of its characteristics: regulated sector, capital requirements, financial and skilled resources and proprietary technology.  We are conscious of them in every discussion, whenever we design a clinical study plan (R&D), execute a process validation plan (Manufacturing) or control the progress of a Corrective Actions and a Preventative Actions Plan (Quality). Last but not least, we monitor Adverse Events (Safety) of whatever the product, i.e. a vaccine, an implant, a pill since your ultimate customer is a patient.  

4) How realistic are the PMO board’s expectations?  

I will refer to it several experiences, as an insider, a direct customer and as PMO Lead. At first, when you are enterprise-minded, it is difficult to be realistic. Let me explain here: you want to contribute to the company objectives, you see some areas of improvement, you are a team player and you are service orientated. So, I think I answered the question.

5) As a PMO head, which things did you find easy? 

Selecting the right PMO who would be part of the team. It was not a matter of finding the best experts but rather the people who would implement my PMO vision and become a band of brothers and sisters, because at the end, processes don’t run a company, people do.

6) As a PMO head, which things did you find difficult? 

You have to accept the fact that PMO stands for Project Management Office and not Project Manager Office: PMs are not the only clients of PMO. Any function working on a project might expect some contribution from PMO. This is where leadership, influence and negotiation come into play. Stakeholders’ management becomes essential as they can make or break a PMO.

7) Can you give me some examples of good lesson that you have learned over the two years?

 Here are some that come to my mind:

  • PMO has to be built in the spirit of offering a mix of services, but keeping in mind that what the organisation needs today might be different tomorrow: simply said, be flexible and don’t fall in complacency 
  • Know your stakeholders including your floating ones and opponents
  • Develop a vision but read books and make some research at first
  • Train beyond PMs