Opportunity to Work in a Portfolio Level PMO

We received a question from a reader and wanted to share it with you:

I’ve been given the opportunity to apply for a position in my organisation as a Portfolio Office Analyst and I’m not sure whether I am ready for the next step. I’m currently working in a PMO role as a Project Co-ordinator, supporting a couple of Project Managers and their teams.

What are some of the pros and cons of taking up a new role as a Portfolio Office Analyst?


Congratulations on the opportunity to apply for the Portfolio Office Analyst position! Moving from a Project Coordinator role to a Portfolio Office Analyst role is a significant step and comes with its own set of pros and cons. Here are some to think about and what action you could take.


You will Gain a Broader Perspective

As a Portfolio Office Analyst, you’ll be working at a higher level, overseeing multiple projects and gaining a more holistic view of the organisation’s portfolio. You have the opportunity to work in technical areas such as portfolio prioritisation and tracking investments and on the softer skills side, it is an opportunity to enhance your strategic thinking and decision-making skills.

💡 For anyone thinking about making a move from working in projects and programmes into portfolio management, it is worth checking out the Management of Portfolios® (MoP) course which provides you with the fundamentals of what portfolio management is, how it works, what some of the core processes are and an overview of the role of the PMO in supporting portfolios.


You will have Enhanced Responsibility

The role typically involves more responsibility, allowing you to take ownership of parts of the portfolio management process as you gain more experience. This can be a great opportunity for professional growth and development.

Making the move from Project Co-ordinator to Portfolio Office Analyst is definitely a promotion and you should take some confidence from the fact you have been asked to apply, so someone thinks you’re ready to take the next step.

💡 When you make the move from the Co-ordinator to Analyst role, there are a number of different things that will change in the day-to-day role. There is a certification based course which is perfect for those moving into an Analyst role – you can check out the syllabus which gives you a sense of the types of services you will be providing in an analyst role.


You will Contribute to Strategy Execution

As a Portfolio Office Analyst you’ll be involved in supporting the shaping of and implementation of the organisation’s project and portfolio strategy. This involvement in supporting the strategic decision-making can be very different to working at the project and programme level and gives you an opportunity to add new skills and experiences to your career.

💡 There are many different frameworks, processes, procedures, tools and approaches that are utilised to help the organisation balance the portfolio of work and ultimately it is the role of the Portfolio Office Analyst is help provide these. Again the Management of Portfolios® (MoP) course is a great first step to understanding what these are and in addition, the Portfolio, Programme and Project Office® (P3O) course is also recommended to help build your knowledge in what services the PMO should be providing at the portfolio level.


You are Likely to Improve Your Stakeholder Management Skills

With a focus on portfolios, you’ll likely interact with a wider range of stakeholders, including senior management. This exposure can help you become more visible in the organisation and of course help you to develop stronger stakeholder management skills.

💡 Working as a Portfolio Office Analyst often means you’ll be providing information to senior management so they can make decisions on which investments to make; which projects to deliver first; and how many people they will need to deliver the work.

In the PMO world right now, data analysis skills are becoming sought after so there are some technical skills you might want to think about brushing up on. At this level though, it’s not just about providing the figures in the report. It is also about being able to provide interpretation and provide advice and guidance on what the data is telling us.

All four of these pros should give you some food for thought about where your career will be potentially heading if you choose the Portfolio Office Analyst road. But what about the downsides?



Increased Complexity

Managing portfolios involves dealing with a higher level of complexity compared to individual projects. Balancing multiple projects, resources, and priorities can be challenging.

As mentioned in the pros – there will be a requirement to understand more about the portfolio management process – both best practice approaches – like the Management of Portfolios® (MoP) and the on-the-job realities.


More Pressure

The increased responsibility may come with added pressure, especially when it comes to meeting organisational goals and your own measures.

The key to this is understanding what the expectations are of the role of Portfolio Office Analyst within your organisation and crucially, what the expectations will be of you in this role. Hopefully as part of your application there is a clear job description or profile which shows the roles and responsibilities. When reading it through, you should be aiming to tick at least 50% of the boxes in terms of where your skills and experience are today. Remember, no-one is ever 100% perfect for the role so don’t think you need to know how to do everything they’re asking for.


Transition Period

Moving from a Project Coordinator to a Portfolio Office Analyst may require a transition period. You’ll need to adapt to the broader scope of work and possibly learn new tools and methodologies.

Just accept that you will be out of your comfort zone for a little while – and at the same time, remember that gaining new knowledge is the first step to knowing how to do the job. We have already mentioned the training courses which can help you gain the new knowledge required – Management of Portfolios® (MoP); Essentials for PMO Analysts and Portfolio, Programme and Project Offices® (P3O).

So which one to do first?

If you are completely new to portfolio management, learn about that first – that’s the Management of Portfolios® (MoP) course.

If you’re new to the Analyst role, it’s the Essentials for PMO Analyst course, which at 5 days, is the most comprehensive training available for anyone working in this role.

Finally, if you’re wanting to know more about PMOs more generally – what types there are, what services they provide – that’s the P3O® Foundation level course.


Strategic Thinking Required

The role often involves more strategic thinking and decision-making. If you’re not comfortable with this aspect or if strategic planning is not your preference, it might be a challenge.

Another way to think about this is portfolio management takes you closer to Business-As-Usual as well as programmes and projects. In other words, the Portfolio Office you’ll be working in, helps to close the gap between the strategy of the organisation and what they want to achieve (bigger revenues, more profit, lower costs etc) and how they’re going to do that (projects which focus on cost savings, new products or services for example). You will be learning more about the business and how it operates which might not be the direction you want your career to go in.


In summary, taking up the Portfolio Office Analyst role can be a fantastic opportunity for growth, providing a more comprehensive view of project management within the organisation. However, it’s essential to consider the increased complexity and responsibility that come with the position. Reflect on your career goals, skills, and comfort level with strategic thinking to make an informed decision. Good luck with your decision and potential application! If you have specific questions or need further advice, feel free to ask!


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