Does Your PMO Give You Up or Let You Down?

Every now and again I like to do karaoke. It’s not something I’m embarrassed about, but it’s one of those things that no-one really knows about me, until now that is. 

As an introverted teen, I think I saw it as a way of gaining a bit of confidence. My first song was Wild Thing by The Troggs in a bar in Tenerife when I was 18. We all remember our first time.

Since then, as soon as someone is keen, I get onto Google Maps and find the nearest place. I have a number of songs (that I generally murder) in my repertoire, but one song stands out. This one:


Rick Astley was a phenomenon back where I’m from in the North West of England in the late 1980s and this song (his second ever released) is still sung around the world. It famously become ‘a thing’ again in 2007 as the rickrolling meme, where people thought they were being redirected to legit website, only to be directed to Rick singing this song. SurveyUSA found that over 18m Americans had been rickrolled including the Scientology website.

But sadly this blog isn’t about the life and times of Rick Astley. I’ll do that another time.

Last week, during the inaugural Project Management Hangout* in Auckland, I was talking to a client about the role of the program management office (PMO). Summing up our conversation she said that the PMO’s job is not to ‘give their project managers up or let them down.’ An impromptu karaoke session ensued.

A PMO should be the project management equivalent of Rick Astley within an organisation and if you’re looking for a charter, you could look no further than the chorus of Rick’s most famous song.

Never Gonna Give You Up

  • The PMO should find new tools that give project managers insights into how they can improve what they do and provide access to training that’s tailored to the opportunities project managers have for improvement
  • They should champion the good news stories and look for opportunities ‘reward’ success

Never Gonna Let You Down

  • Every single resource that they provide should be simple to use and add value to the project management work being undertaken
  • They should look for ways to develop their own knowledge and skills, so that they’re able to provide the best support possible

Never Gonna Run Around and Desert You

  • They should never undermine the project manager behind their back and provide an empathetic ear for those who may be struggling
  • All project managers should be treated the same regardless of their level of experience or years with the organisation

Never Gonna Make You Cry

  • The services they provide should be done so with a smile and an open mind
  • They should role model the behaviours they expect of others

Never Gonna Say Goodbye

  • They should always be prepared to drop what they’re doing and get their hands dirty in projects
  • They should ensure that senior managers have the skills and knowledge to enhance the value of project management and support those in delivery roles

Never Gonna Tell A Lie and Hurt You

  • The reports they provide to senior management should be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth
  • They should ensure that project managers have access to regular feedback on their performance so that they can develop as leaders within the organisation

When done well, the PMO is a vital support function to support the business of project management and should never give you up or let you down. When they do this, you’ll want to move heaven and earth to be Together Forever.


* The Project Management Hangout is the meeting of a tribe of Conscious Project Leaders in Australia and New Zealand dedicated to improving project management performance.

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