Recently we’ve been chatting to job seekers looking to get into PMO and thinking about what development they need to be thinking about to help their chances of making that move.
From the conversations it become clear pretty quickly that understanding the roles in PMO is the first step on the journey.
In this article we take a look at the two different types of Project Co-ordinator roles – considered to be the entry-level role into project support along with a Project Administrator.
Type One – Project Co-ordinator
A Project Co-ordinator is often referred to as a Project Manager’s right hand man-or woman. In this role they are supporting a Project Manager and a team.
They will carried out things like updating risk logs; maintaining the project plans; pulling together the status reports; being the main point of contact for the team and anything they need; maintaining documentation and generally getting involved in the project where they can.
I see this role as being in the thick of the project – almost like an Assistant Project Manager.
Here’s an example of this role using one of the courses we have – The PMO’s Guide to Agile Restrospectives.
With this course you’ll get to understand what retrospectives are and how they are run.
What’s important to this Project Co-ordinator role is how to run them. You need to understand when the Project Manager says we need to organise a retrospective, you’ll be ready to pull together all the things you need to make it happen,including planning, prepping, inviting the team, helping to run it on the day and assisting with the actions that fall out of that retrospective afterwards.
For this type of Project Co-ordinator role you need to understand as much about project management as the Project Manager does – but using the knowledge differently to them, and of course you’re not accountable for the whole project!
With this role, your project management fundamental knowledge has to be there – the APM Project Fundamentals Qualification is the place to start with your development. You can then consider the PPSO Essentials or P3O Foundation. You’ll see that PRINCE2 is not mentioned, why? You can opt to do PRINCE2 after APM if you prefer but you should ideally do them in this order. You learn the fundamentals of project management first before learning about a waterfall project management methodolgy.
With this role, we often see many project co-ordinators wanting to eventually become project managers themselves and this role is perfect to get that on-the-job experience from a great Project Manager to learn from.
Now let’s look at the second type of Project Co-ordinator role
Type Two – Project Co-ordinator
This type of Project Co-ordinator is working within a PMO. The P in PMO is likely to stand for a Project Management Office.
With this role, the Project Co-ordinator can still be supporting one Project Manager and a team, but its more likely they will be supporting multiple projects – with many Project Managers and teams.
They can support more because they are performing limited services for each, for example, they may be focused on planning and reporting and nothing else.
This Project Co-ordinator is located within the PMO and not only are they supporting projects they also have some PMO responsibilities too.
This means they’ll be working on improving some of the project processes so they can be upgraded and rolled out to all the projects – they may be responsible for running training programmes for everyone working in the project organisation.
Let’s go back to the example about the – The PMO’s Guide to Agile Restrospectives course.
This Project Co-ordinator would be interested in the course for two reasons. Yes they want to know how retrospectives are carried out and they might offer this service to all the projects they support. The other reason they’re interested in the course is they are responsible for putting in a standard process or approach to running retrospectives in their organisation. They have a duty to ensure that all the projects know how to run retrospectives effectively, they may have to devise some training to help people do this or provide a checklist on what’s needed to run one successfully.
Development for this role includes the APM Project Fundamentals Qualification when first starting out, then the PPSO Essentials or P3O Foundation early in your career. The next course for someone who has been working in this type of role for a while is the AIPMO Foundation and then you can look at developing knowledge in programme management or portfolio management.
This Project Co-ordinator is focused on the PMO’s objective of working to ensure ALL projects in the organisation have the best chance of succeeding. The Type One Project Co-ordinator is focused on one project and that’s it.
Where to Get Started
When you’re entering the world of project management for the first time, it is the Type One Project Co-ordinator which should be the one you’re aiming for. You need to learn the ropes of project management and how real projects are run before you can begin to help support all projects across an organisation.
That means look for the roles being advertised which focus on the one project being managed and adverts that don’t mention PMO.
You’re looking for titles such as Project Co-ordinator, Project Administrator and Project Support Officer – avoid the titles with PMO in them.
Remember, you need to learn the fundamentals of project management first – not the methodology (PRINCE2).
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