Project, Programme and Portfolio Management Offices (and the many variations on a theme) have become much more popular in recent years, in fact I would say it is one of the fasting growing areas of project management. The interesting thing about PMOs is the sheer diversity of the roles that exist within it. In project management, there are generally two roles that dominate, the Project Manager and the Programme Manager, but in the world of PMO we’re talking double digits.
We often get asked about the types of roles within a PMO or what kind of roles are considered to be entry level project management positions, the list below shows the types of positions available. Let’s start with the individual roles where practitioners might not be working in a PMO at all.
Individual Programme / Project Support Roles
The main objective of the Project Co-ordinator role is to support the Project Manager and Project Team in the co-ordination, planning and control of the project. In this particular description this is the co-ordination of one project and one project manager. The Project Co-ordinator has knowledge of project management structures and methods and is able to support the Project Manager across the project lifecycle in each stage. Project Co-ordinators will have experience in these key project areas;
- Ensure the agreed project management methods, standards and processes are maintained throughout the project lifecycle.
- Assist the Project Manager and Team Managers in the production and maintenance of project plans.
- Develop and maintain the project library, filing, recording and reporting systems.
- Develop and implement appropriate configuration management procedures
- Co-ordinate the production of all reports and produce project summary reports.
- Set up and maintain systems for recording project costs.
- Define and document procedures in accordance with agreed methodology
- Advise and assist project team members in the application of project procedures, disciplines and recording and reporting standards.
- Maintain risk and issue logs and change control records.
- Develop and support effective communication mechanisms between the project team members.
Project Co-ordinators also achieve formal training and accreditations in areas such as P3O, Essentials for PMO Administrators or Analyst, formal project management accreditation (APM, PMI etc). Project Co-ordinators tend to be highly organised individuals who are able to multi-task effectively and are good at managing deadlines and expectations – especially when working in a large project.
Project Support Officer
The Project Support Officer role is essentially the same as the Project Co-ordinator but we’ve found that it tends to be used more within the public sector rather than the title of
Programme / Project Administrator
The main objective of the Project Administrator role is to support the Project Manager and Project Team in the administrative tasks of the project. In this particular description this is the administration of one project and one project manager. The Project Administrator may also be working alongside the Project Co-ordinator to provide support in areas such as project team administration (travel and meeting requirements), project meeting arrangements and providing minute taking, creating basic documents and templates, documentation filing, main point of contact for correspondence and telephone/email, general adhoc administration duties. Project Administrators generally gain good project management experience by being delegated to by the Project Manager and Project Co-ordinator and being within the project team environment and move into the role of Project Co-ordinator before time.
Much like the Project Administrator and Project Office Administrator, the Programme Administrator role differs due to the position within a Programme. The Programme Administrator is responsible for supporting the Programme Manager, any Projects Managers delivering projects within that programme and the corresponding teams. The Programme Administrator will probably be working alongside other programme support staff like a Programme Co-ordinator or Programme Planner, to provide programme administration duties like programme team administration (travel and meeting requirements), programme meeting arrangements and providing minute taking, creating basic documents and templates, documentation filing, main point of contact for correspondence and telephone/email, general adhoc administration duties.
The Project Assistant is sometimes another title for the “Project Administrator” but is sometimes used to indicate a role where a general administrator is required to support the project manager, project team in more general admin areas such as travel bookings, expenses, booking meeting rooms, etc.
Programme / Project Planner
A dedicated role within a programme, project or programme office which purely concentrates on the initial and ongoing planning of a project or programme. The Project Planner generally has excellent skills in working with the Project Manager and team to initially assist in scoping the project, creating, issuing and controlling project plans, implementing earned value techniques, identification of project plan issues and supporting the project manager in issue resolution and decision making. The project planner will also be expert in particular planning tools (PPT) – MS Project, Primavera, NIKU, Artemis etc and equally at home with MS Excel as basic. The Project Planner works proactively with the Project Manager and project team and ensures the project plan remains current and up to date, they’ll also be able to assist in areas such as capacity planning, resource management planning and interdependency management on larger projects and programmes.
Like the Project Planner, the Programme Planner supports the Programme Manager and Project Managers in planning activities to facilitate the delivery of the programme within budget and within timescales. The role differs slightly from that of a project planner due to the support that is required across projects within the programme. Due to the programme nature – often meaning multiple projects, complexity in terms of shared resources and larger scale in term of budget and scope etc, the programme planner may have both the duties of the project planner i.e., planning on the individual projects as well as the programme planning duties.
Project Management Office
Next we look at the roles that can be typically found in a project level PMO. These are the roles that are predominantly supporting all the projects within the organisation.
Project Office Manager (PMO Manager/PSO Manager)
The Project Office Manager role can vary greatly in organisations. Some Project Office Manager roles focus purely on the line management of the PMO staff and their career development with no direct involvement in the projects. Project Office Manager roles exist where there is a combination of line management and the continous improvement of the services the Project Office offers to the organisation – again with no direct involvement on the projects. Finally, there are Project Office Manager roles where it is a particular complex / large project and a dedicated Project Office Manager is required to provide a new standalone project office function to actively support the project as well as managing the other support staff within the Project Office team.
Project Office Analysts
The Project Office Analyst role tends to indicate a project co-ordinator role with more emphasis on particular aspects of the reporting duties. The Analyst may have indepth experience in project budget management and concentrate heavily in this area. Any project co-ordination role which includes a heavy emphasis on the analysis of project data/information will tend to have the title of analyst.
The Project Office Analyst title may also be used to indicate specific support required on business process change projects where there is a need for experience in business process re-engineering, etc.
Project Office Administrators
Differs to the role of Project Administrator and Programme Administrator only in its position within the Project Office rather than a sole project or programme. The Project Office Administrator could be providing administrative support to multiple projects, a dedicated programme or a portfolio of projects depending on the organisation’s project office structure and remit. The Project Office Administrator therefore has the additional task of ensuring all projects within their remit are adequately supported.
Project Office Consultant
A term often used by programme and project office professionals who have opted for a contract career and are used to taking up shorter term assignments which may objectives such as initial set up of a programme or project office, major change within an existing programme or project office or where troubleshooting may be needed.
Project Office Co-ordinators
With the project office co-ordinator role, the co-ordinator may be sitting within the project office function and be providing support to a number of unrelated peojects, like the Project Co-ordinator role they will be providing support across the lifecycle and will be required to manage their time effectively to ensure all projects within their remit are support adequately. The Project Office Co-ordinator may also have other duties like contributing to the continuous improvements in best practice PPM, coaching or mentoring Project Office Administrators, running workshops and training for the project management organisation.
Project Office Accountants
A dedicated role within a project office where there is a need for a dedicated resource managing and co-ordinating the financial aspects of multiple unrelated projects. The Project Office Accountant may also have a responsibility for ensuring information systems for all unrelated projects are kept in line (i.e., P&L, Ledger Systems), allowing financial reporting for the project management group or department. The Project Office Accountant will also have responsibilities for ensuring best practice project accounting processes and procedures and their continual improvement.
Project Office Document Controllers
The project office document controller is a dedicated role within a project office function, the controller here may be responsible for providing a document management service across multiple unrelated projects as well as ensuring best practice in this specific area of project management is advanced. The Project Office Document Controller may also have their own initiatives such as new tools, processes or techniques which need rolling out the project management organisation.
Project Office Planners
The project office planner is a dedicated role within a project office function, the planner here may be responsible for providing a planning service across multiple unlinked projects, carving up their time to work on independant projects or be providing a planning expertise within the project office function i.e., a subject matter expert in planning and be inputting into an organisations best practice approach to planning in projects.
Project Office Quality Assurance
A dedicated role within a project, programme or programme management office which specifically manages and co-ordinates the quality aspects of the project – the way the project is delivered and the quality output of the project deliverables i.e., the products or services. The Project Quality Assurance role works closely with the Project Manager and project team from the onset of the project and throughout delivery. Key areas for quality assurance of the project include; managing the project quality plan, quality control, verification, validation, testing, change control, configuration management and issue tracking. Quality Assurance in the project will normally follow a specific methodology, prescribed activities throughout the project, documentation and reviews / audits, walkthroughs or testing phases and training. In order for quality control to be carried out effectively on the project there will be effective configuration management, build/release phases, technical or supporting documentation. The Project Quality Assurance role has different levels of competency and responsibility and can range from Quality Assurance Administrator through to the Quality Assurance Manager depending on the size, complexity and nature of the project or programme. The Quality Assurance function may also have responsibilities for ensuring project delivery is in accordance with the corporate quality objectives and adherence to requirements such as ISO9001, etc.
Project Office Librarian
The Project Office Librarian can sometimes also be known as a Document Librarian, Document Configuration Manager, Document Manager or Configuration Manager. The role is normally seen on large programmes of work, large projects or a dedicated role within a programme or project office. The role focuses on the documentation aspects of a programme / project, which can be a full-time role if there are large amounts of documentation. The Project Office Librarian will be skilled in document formatting, configuration and version controlling, quality assurance and may be skilled in a particular toolset for example, SharePoint.
Project Document Controller
A dedicated role within a project, programme or programme management office which purely focuses on the documentation control – the flow of documentation in and out of the project and its team. The Document Controller’s responsibility will be to ensure all project documentation is effectively filed, retrievable, version controlled, quality assured, formatted and is a central point of distribution to ensure all documentation produced and issued is in accordance with the project plan and objectives. Document Controller tend to be highly organised, attention to detail and process professionals with excellent skills in IT packages and even specific document management tools such as Documentum, SharePoint, Enterprise Content Management systems.
Programme Accountant / Project Accountant
The Programme Accountant or Project Accountant will be dedicated to an individual programme or project. With strong financial acumen the programme/project accountant may be fully qualified (ACA / ACCA / CIMA) and responsibilities may include:
- Working closely with the Programme / Project Manager to establish the programme / project plan baseline in terms of costs
- Provide a contract / commercial terms guardianship role ensuring all planned work is delivered according to the terms
- Providing a central point of contact for change requests and approvals
- Provide a pivotal role in month end processes – providing clear reports on actual costs, costs vs. plan, forecasts for coming month, update of schedules
- Provides billing information and instruction for invoicing at planned phases and project completions
- Collates and manages the timesheeting process, ensuring resource planning is accurate and approved
- The role may also include a link into the financial / accounts department of the organisation which would include regular reporting, approval for invoicing etc
Salaries for programme / project accountants are directly related to the size and complexity of the programmes and projects and ultimately the levels of responsibilities delegated by the programme / project managers.
Programme Management Office
Typically a programme management office is one office which is supporting one programme. The programme will include many projects within it.
Programme Office Manager (PMO Manager)
Like the Project Office Manager, the Programme Office Manager (PMO) role can vary depending on the organisation’s project management capability, approach to programmes and projects and maturity. In some organisations the Programme Office Manager role is to manage the programme office function – they have responsibilites at a more strategic level and will be tasked with putting in place best practice project management processes and methods, training, coaching and mentoring. The Programme Office Manager in this type of role may also have line management responsibility for the Programme Office staff. Areas of expertise may include benefits realisation, programme level reporting – progress, interdependancies, budgets etc. Programme Office Manager roles tend to fall into two camps – Programme Office set-up or the ongoing management of an established PMO – and candidates often have a firm preference for one or the other.
Some Programme Office Manager roles are purely focused on supporting one large programme of work and tend to report at the programme level i.e., programme level plans. These roles may have no remit for improvements or governance in PPM but provide a very hands on support role in terms of managing the end to end programme plan inc budgets, forecasting, issues/risks and reporting progress to drive the delivery of the programme. A busy role if there are many workstreams within the programme.
Some strategic Programme Office Manager roles have seen the title of “Centre of Excellence” Manager more recently, mainly due to the changing face of PMO and its widening remit. The CoE model has a greater emphasis on project governance and the need to improve project management processes and methods to achieve better delivery in terms of time, quality, costs and benefits.
A dedicated role within a programme, programme office or portfolio office where there is a need for a dedicated resource managing and co-ordinating the financial aspects. The Programme Accountant will have responsible for providing management information to the Programme and the Executive or Board in the areas of costs (cost tracking, allocation, cost benefit analysis etc), forecasts, progress, contract performance measures, financial planning, accounting returns for individual projects and programmes. Programme Accountants often have recognised accountancy qualifications along with good project management experience.
Programme Office Co-ordinators
A term given to the support staff working within the Programme Office, the Programme Office Co-ordinators may be working on one large programme of work – reporting to the Programme Office Manager or be providing support services to multiple projects – much like the Project Office Co-ordinators.
Programme Office Analysts
Like the Project Office Analysts, the Programme Office Analysts may have a particular emphasis on analytical tasks or duties within the programme office. If the programme office is supporting a large programme of work with many projects and workstreams, the analysts role becomes increasingly complex.
Programme Office Support
A generic term used to describe the staff who work within a Programme Office or PMO, may also have endings like Programme Office Support Co-ordinator, Programme Office Support Administrator or Programme Office Support Planner.
Programme Office Document Controllers
Much like the Project Office Document Controller, the Programme Office Document Controller’s remit may change considerably depending on the size and nature of the programme or the services the PMO offers. Generally speaking, the more complex a programme or project is, the greater the skills are needed in the area of document management and configuration.
Programme Office Planners
The Programme Office Planners role may vary greatly from that of a programme planner or project planner if they are required to provide planning services across a large programme or even portfolio. Good planners are hard to find and planners with programme office or portfolio office experience even more so.
Programme Office Quality Assurance
The Programme Office Quality Assurance specialist may be providing support to a vast number of projects or workstreams as well as at programme level. They may also have a large remit if they are providing support and expertise at programme and portfolio level. Again, the more complex the project environment, the greater the level of skills needed.
Portfolio Management Office
The portfolio office is the one which oversees all the delivery activity in the organisation – that includes all the programmes and projects. It’s also the place where tasks like prioritising which projects get delivered and making sure there is enough resource to deliver. You’ll see roles like Administrator and Analyst within the portfolio office.
Portfolio Office Manager
The Portfolio Office Manager role may exist in an organisation which is very project centric and has many programmes and projects running – some interlinked, some unrelated to each other. The Portfolio Office Manager will have responsibilities for project initiation and prioritisation, resource management, benefits management, metrics and progress reporting (dashboard)- essentially overseeing all the projects within the organisation.
Bid Support, Bid Co-ordinator, Bid Administrator, Proposal Administrator are roles which support the Bid Manager in the bid process. The Bid Support staff are generally experienced in co-ordinating multiple bids, have excellent organizational skills and are particularly good in areas such as document formatting, research – in areas such as pricing, good written skills and a keen eye for detail especially if typing and proofing documents. Bid work tends to alternate between high pressure and tight deadlines to extreme lows – the aftermath of a good tender response going out the door and waiting for the next steps.
Project Contract Administrator
The Project Contract Administrator co-ordinates all contract related work, including tracking deliverables against existing contracts, managing any third party or subcontractor contracts, co-ordinating purchase order activity and ensuring all contracts remain up to day. The Project Contract Administrator may also be known as a commercial officer and may work as part of a large programme or project, within a programme or project office or within an organisation’s legal department and be seconded to project environments as and when needed.
See also the Programme Office Planner, Project Office Planners and Programme / Project Planner, the Project Estimator works predominantly in the proposal or bid/tender phases. The role is often seen as a combination of the project planner and project accountant, and is used to help develop the project budget at the beginning of the project lifecycle. The Project Estimator within the construction industry is generally known as a cost estimator and has the name suggests their role concentrates heavily on the cost estimates in a bid or tender, essentially ensuring that when a bid is made, it will be profitable and a sound business proposal.
The Resource Administrator provides a supporting role to the Project Resource Manager or supports a large programme or project which may be resource intensive and needs a dedicated administrator to ensure the team’s administration is taken care of. In this instance, the Resource Administrator may be responsible for ensuring travel arrangements are taken care of (especially if the project delivery is taking place off site), supporting the timesheet process (chasing down inputs due to reporting deadlines) and assisting in the performance appraisal process.
The P3O® and MoP® courses on this page are offered by PMO Learning. P3O® and MoP® are [registered] trade marks of AXELOS Limited.P3O® and MoP® are registered trade marks of AXELOS Limited, used under permission of AXELOS Limited. The Swirl logo™ is a trade mark of AXELOS Limited, used under permission of AXELOS Limited. All rights reserved.
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