Liesbeth Houben

Interview with Leo Boer from ING

The relevance of a professional Project Management Office (PMO) has increased significantly in recent years. A PMO is also increasingly deployed within the HRM field; in (digital) HR transformations, but also as a permanent part of the HR department for carrying out all kinds of HR projects. To better understand the crucial role of a PMO within an HR environment, one of our PMOs interviewed Leo Boer. Leo has worked as a program manager within ING for many years. He currently fulfills the role of PMO lead within the 'HR unite' program.

How important is a well-functioning Project Management Office (PMO) for a program such as HR unite?

“Very important! HR unite is a complex program with a global scope and implementation in 43 countries that focuses on three goals: 

– Implementing Workday as a global HR system; 

– Outsourcing HR operational and administrative tasks to a BPO supplier; 

– Implementing the new HR Service Delivery model (CoE, HRBP and People Services). 

To achieve this, we have organized our PMO centrally within HR unite, in which the steering of the various projects is centralized. 

When rolling out such large projects, you usually first replace all your systems, for example by first implementing Workday, and then looking at the associated processes. Because of this complexity, by implementing everything at once, the importance of setting up a PMO is even greater. Our PMO is therefore the source of information for the program regarding governance, templates, working methods, reports, etc. In this way, we determine when, and in what way, reports are made by the underlying projects. We are also responsible for organizing the Portfolio Board meetings, in which the status of the various projects is discussed, and in which we challenge the content, planning and milestones. This is therefore an important part as it allows us to direct the program. We must ensure that we deliver on time and monitor the interrelationships between the various project. 

 

What skills & capabilities must a good PMO have?

“A well-functioning PMO must be able to keep things up-to-date. It is important to be able to deliver the right templates, slide decks and spreadsheets quickly. In addition, I expect a PMO to pick up the structure of the entire governance, but also how we work together. For example, as PMO we have set up the various boards. It is important for a PMO to provide structure during these boards throughout the entire process: from the organization, ensuring the correct slide decks, to reporting through an action and decision lists. In this way, as a PMO you can really offer added value.” 

 

Do you think there is a difference in the requirements for a PMO within an HR program or another program?

“In principle, this shouldn’t make much difference. Everywhere, within an HR project or other projects, the same things take place: from planning and governance to stakeholder management. I do notice from my own experience that HR attracts a different type of people. HR is much more people-oriented, with the soft skills very much present. They have less affinity with hard deadlines for delivering programs and projects. Because this is usually not naturally present, it sometimes makes it more difficult to deliver on time. Precisely because of this, a PMO can certainly offer extra added value. HR knowledge is important, but program management knowledge should come first.” 

 

There are currently two Quintop PMOs working in your program, what roles / tasks do they take on?

“I think it is important to let the people I work with grow as much as possible in the things they do. I have looked at what they like to do. Desiree plays a more central role within the PMO; in which she uses a helicopter view of the various projects, but she can also focus strongly on the details. As a result, we have broadened the traditional role of a PMO member, whereby Desiree also focuses on the content and management of the program, in addition to organizing meetings and creating templates. This gives her full insight into the progress of the program and all escalations that go with it. Liesbeth fulfills a PMO role within the projects. This gives her a better understanding of what exactly is going on within a project, so that she can focus more deeply on the content. That was her preference earlier. 

 

Why do you enjoy working with Quintop PMOs?

Quintop has PMOs who are hands-on, show their own initiative and are accurate. They are involved, eager to help others and feel responsible. I like to work together with these types and associated skills. Furthermore, they pick up things quickly and they self-exploring if they do not yet know how certain things are set up. Regardless of the position, I like that Quintop employs such people.