The project management office (PMO) of the Central Bank of Lesotho (CBL), a statutory organisation fully owned by the Government of Lesotho, yet which enjoys relative independence in formulating and implementing monetary policy, has been named as first-ever PMO of the Year for the country.
This is the initial leg of the annual Global PMO Awards, the largest award of its type for PMOs and PMO leaders worldwide, where outstanding PMOs and professionals are recognised for their contributions to the PMO community. The South African segment of the competition is managed by Project Portfolio Office, a project portfolio management (PPM) service and solution provider that helps organisations to reach greater project success. In order to grow the footprint in Africa, Project Portfolio Office also manages the competition in a number of additional African countries, with Lesotho being one of them.
This year, CBL’s PMO was acknowledged based on the value it has added to the bank through enhanced project performance, against cost, scope and time constraints, as well as improved portfolio management.
A nine-year journey
Established in 2014, the CBL PMO was founded so that the bank could standardise the way in which projects were managed, centralise information across the fragmented database, and share lessons learned, says Itumeleng Letsolo, head of CBL’s PMO. The PMO would also be instrumental in allowing CBL to better align projects to strategy – something that was not possible beforehand – as well as track project benefits, provide consolidated reporting and improve portfolio performance visibility.
Today, CBL’s PMO has grown, restructuring over time to encompass two divisions: one for front support of all project teams, and the other dealing mainly with templates, frameworks and all governance-related documentation. The PMO is currently running a portfolio of around 13 active projects, the majority of which are ICT-related but also include non-ICT and facilities-type projects.
Furthermore, the PMO rolled out PPO, Project Portfolio Office’s cloud-based project management software in 2021, citing the tool’s alignment to the CBL PMO’s adopted methodology, its cost effectiveness ease of use as the major factors for its selection over competitors. The implementation followed a long period of manual processes using tools such as Excel, as well as piloting several PPM solutions from 2019 (including an extended free trial of PPO).
Building maturity over time
The CBL PMO has undergone several project management maturity assessments, with the first taking place in 2015 and the most recent in 2022, allowing the bank to remain consistent in its approach.
“The feeling was that we were now at the right point to enter the annual PMO Awards; we had the correct level of clarity around our maturity levels,” clarifies Letsolo. “The entry process was simple and we received great support. But it was during the workshops stage of the process when I recognised that CBL’s PMO truly had what it takes to be part of this competition.”
The CBL PMO’s quantitative demonstration of value within the organisation was one of the factors behind its win for 2023, states Guy Jelley, CEO and co-founder of Project Portfolio Office, in particular through the active reduction in the number of projects and overall project investment. “This is said to be the true measure of a PMO’s value, and was impressively achieved the CBL PMO.
“In addition, the PMO’s team has fostered a strong relationship with executive sponsors and ensured that they understand the organisation’s needs. The numerous maturity assessments carried out by CBL, a vital step in PMO aligning to stakeholders’ value expectations and allowing the business to take stock of project maturity, have played a critical role in its PMO’s success, as has thorough planning and comprehensive actions. The PPO tool too has proved valuable in helping CBL to better align projects to strategy and provided more transparency on the full portfolio, which has been important to its maturity journey.”
“It is most pleasing to know that our PMO has a story to tell, and we were delighted to see how far we have come between 2014 and 2023 and to receive this acknowledgement. Before these awards, we hadn’t really had a moment to recognise the milestones we have achieved, and it was a real eye opener for us,” Letsolo comments.
“All in all, it has been a very interesting exercise of reflecting on and documenting how far our PMO has come, what we have achieved in the past, and the positives around our journey. The PMO of the Year award has also brought more of a spotlight onto the PMO within the broader CBL organisation; we’re receiving greater recognition in the bank and most of our executive members now have more of an appreciation of our journey over the past nine years.”
From here, CBL’s PMO will compete against other local project offices to vie for the African PMO of the Year title, the winner of which will then enter the World Final of the competition. At this point, finalists from Africa, Asia-Pacific, Europe and the Americas duke it out for the global award.
Says Letsolo: “I appeal to other Lesotho-based and Southern African PMOs to enter the PMO of the Year awards in future years. No matter where you are in your PMO’s journey, you have a fair chance of competing against other countries. It’s important to remember that you are running your own race, and even though CBL may have competed against other PMOs that were more mature that ours, we felt no type of pressure. As long as your PMO is taking positive steps forward, we encourage you to enter.”
This sentiment is reiterated by Jelley. “African PMOs have, over time, demonstrated that they have what it takes to not only enter the Global PMO Awards, but to win outright. In 2022, we were extremely proud to see Capitec take the overall worldwide title, beating 31 other global PMOs to be the best.
“This year’s entry from Lesotho is another positive step towards extending the awards to shine a light on new African participants every year, giving them access to the immense value to be gained from this process. It’s clear that CBL’s continuous maturity assessments were an important step in their maturity development, and something that we’d encourage all African PMOs to consider.
“We’re looking forward to seeing more representation from African PMOs next year and would like to congratulate CBL for their achievements thus far, and wish them well for the upcoming African segment of the awards,” he concludes.