Workshops can be a valuable tool for your project management office (PMO). They can help your office and projects resolve issues and remove blockers, if you follow our five steps to planning a PMO workshop.

A well-planned PMO workshop will mean the running will be smooth, and you’re much more likely to have a successful conclusion. It will make sure the time available for your workshop activities is used efficiently, and you will keep your attendees engaged in this and future workshops.

When you have a PMO workshop to plan, follow these five steps, and you’ll be ready to get your workshop running.

1.      Decide on the aim of your PMO workshop

A workshop needs to have a clear aim or reason to be running. At the end of your workshop or series of workshops, you should have:

  • A decision made
  • A process defined
  • A question answered
  • A problem resolved

It should be very clear what you expect from the workshop so that you – and later, your attendees – can keep focussed on the task at hand.

Set out your aim so everything else is clearly guided.

2.      Understand your audience

At the start of your planning process, you need to know who will be at your PMO workshop. Firstly, you need to understand the level of skill and knowledge of your audience; for example, if everyone works on projects with the same methodology, you’ll be confident using project-specific terminology.

It’s also important to know if there will be people in your workshop who have the authority to make decisions. When you put together your invite list, you want to have senior people there so actions can be pushed through with their support.

You also need to know who will be there so you can plan logistics. The size of the room, catering needed, and even how many tech items like tablets are needed are important to plan early on.

3.      Plan your activities

Once you have the fundamentals of what you want to do and who will be there, you need to decide how your day will be structured.

If you are bringing together a wide range of people from across the business, you may want to start with an ice-breaker so everyone can introduce themselves. Activities that build a sense of teamwork or encourage people to think creatively can also be a good lead into the main exercise.

The activity you choose for the main session of your workshop will depend on what you’re looking to achieve. It could be a straightforward planning session for a project schedule, or it could be a brainstorming session that gathers ideas together.

Also, be sure to build in sufficient breaks so everyone is fresh and engaged for the duration of the session.

4.      Prepare your materials

Now you know what your PMO workshop will look like, you need to have everything ready for the day. You should think about preparing:

  • A presentation that gives background, pertinent information, and guidelines about what you’re asking for
  • Paperwork such as questions or written activities you’re asking attendees to complete
  • Apps, software, or other tech that you’ll use to engage your audience, including having passwords or access set up

Time in your session is precious, so you don’t want to spend time at a photocopier or on the phone with your tech department.

5.      Send out preparatory materials

When you send out the invites to your attendees, be sure to include everything they will need. At a minimum, you will want to have a brief that explains the aim of the day, so they go into the session ready for what awaits.

You can also ask them to prepare materials or information so you can hit the ground running. Consider sending background reading or asking people to gather information from their area of expertise so you can launch into activities.

Planning a PMO workshop

When you follow our five steps to planning your PMO workshop, you will have a solid process to bring your session to reality. Preparing for a workshop will help you achieve what you set out to.