Training Options for Project Support Officers

If you’re currently working as a Project Support Officer or Project Co-ordinator, where do you go to increase your knowledge and skills to help you do the job better? When I think back to my early career – I worked as a Project Co-ordinator for a consulting firm and started with zero experience in projects – there was one certification that helped me appreciate what was possible in my role.

I did the BCS PPSO Foundation as it was called then, now it’s called PPSO Essentials – and it was spot on for what I needed at that time. Things have moved on, just a little and there are other options to consider. In this article, we take a look at what training options are available right now for those that are working as a Project Support Officer today.

BCS PPSO Essentials

PPSO EssentialsThe PPSO Essentials has been around a while and it’s from the Chartered Institute for IT – The British Computer Society (BCS) so it’s certainly got the kudos. This four-day course covers both project management fundamentals AND how a Project Support Officer uses those fundamentals to carry out the tasks and activities demanded of them.

If you’re just starting out and have less than a couple of years experience this is the one for you to take a look at.

This is the one I did all those many years ago and it certainly put me on the right path when it came to supporting programmes and projects in my organisation.

Reasons to consider this training option?

  • This certification is ideal for people who are supporting project managers on a project (as opposed to working in a larger PMO or enterprise PMO).
  • It covers the tasks and activities that a project support officer is expected to carry out in the role.
  • If you’re new to project management – it covers the fundamentals of project management in the context of your role.
  • It also covers programmes too.
  • It’s an accredited course and is certified by the BCS

Interested and want to look at the course modules? Take a look at the course overview – PPSO Essentials

Head to the PMO Learning open course schedule to find out when the next course is running.

P3O Foundation

The P3O courses from AXELOS have been around since 2008 and are useful when you want to understand more about PMO – in all its forms – Project, Programme and Portfolio Offices.

The P3O Foundation level course (3 days) is not quite for those brand new to the Project Support Officer role (see the training path below) aimed more at those who have a few years experience and more crucially need to understand more about – what people are calling “added value PMOs”. These, just briefly, are PMOs that help organisations deliver projects and programmes better – rather than the project supporting roles which for example are very much about working with a project manager on a single project.

The modules in the P3O Foundation course reflect that difference – the principles of P3O; why have PMOs; the different models and so on. The full breakdown is available here at the bottom of the page.

Reasons to consider this training option?

  • This certification is arguably the most well-known PMO related certification.
  • It will provide you with the wider and bigger picture of PMOs
  • If you’ve been working in PMO for a while now, it will open up new career possibilities – project PMO; programme PMO; portfolio PMO; centre of excellence PMO; enterprise PMO and so on!
  • It’s an accredited course and is certified by AXELOS (the same organisation that accredit PRINCE2 etc)

Head to the PMO Learning open course schedule to find out when the next course is running. The Foundation course is three days. If you’re already familiar with P3O, you can also opt for the P3O Foundation study day.

AIPMO IPMO-Foundation

IPMO-FoundationThe Association for International PMOs is a fairly new organisation based in Switzerland. They offer three levels of PMO certification – the IPMO-Foundation level one, again like P3O Foundation, is not really for those brand new to the role. It’s aimed at Project Support Officers who have worked for a while in PMO and they offer services to the delivery organisation.

What does that mean? An example is you’re working in a central PMO and your remit is to support programmes and projects across the organisation. This PMO team will be providing support on different delivery methods; processes etc. The central hub type PMO is the custodian of these methods and processes and it’s their role to make sure these are fit for purpose and are improved along the way.

The IPMO-Foundation course focuses on the core functions and services that a PMO can offer to an organisation. In this course, you learn to view PMOs in terms of services and the associated supporting capabilities (tools and techniques coupled with personal competencies).

This is the course that really gets into the nitty-gritty of not only which services the PMO should be providing but also how to pull those services together. It’s the first time we’ve seen this type of course for PMO people and that’s why we were keen to bring it to the UK market.

To find out more about the modules; take a look at the IPMO-Foundation page and scroll to the bottom.

Reasons to consider this training option?

  • It’s a course purposely designed for those working in a PMO (not managing one – that’s the Practitioner and Expert courses)
  • It focuses on the areas that matter – designing and implementing core PMO functions and services.
  • It has a practical focus – there is theory based on research but the main focus is how to make it happen.
  • It’s an international certification – accredited by AIPMO.


Finally, the PMO profession has choices – there is no longer just one option like it was back in my day. If you’re currently working in PMO as a Project Support Officer / Project Co-ordinator, finally you have choices about what professional development you can pursue based on where you are in your current PMO career and where you want to get to.

If you’re unsure about which choice to make, get in touch with us, we will be happy to chat and give you some pointers based on what you’re doing now and where you want to be.

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