What is a PMO Director?

It’s an interesting title the PMO Director. Interesting in that it very rarely exists in the employment market.

It is much more common to see something like Head of Project Management; Director of Strategic Delivery; Enterprise PMO Manager, even Programme Director or Project Director.

In other words, it’s a title that shows it’s a senior level role; likely to be at an executive level in the organisation; and is most definitely concerned with taking ownership and accountability for change activities within a business. They are there to make sure an organisation has everything in place for strategic initiatives to be delivered successfully. They are often focusing on creating the right environment with strong capability and capacity for delivery to succeed.

It’s a role which requires leadership; management; logical and creative thinking.

It combines knowledge of portfolio, programme and project management with strategy, business and people management.

When we’re talking about a PMO Director role we are talking about the person who is responsible for portfolio, programme and project delivery in a business. That responsibility can vary yet the essence of the role includes:

  • Ensuring strategic initiatives are prioritised and delivered successfully.
  • Implementation of the PMO structures across the organisation – including hub and spokes.
  • Implementing portfolio management approaches and good practice.
  • Providing centre-of-excellence programme and project delivery methodologies; processes and tools.
  • Provides enterprise wide best practice approaches in areas such as governance, resourcing, risk management and planning.
  • Providing leadership and guidance to delivery teams across the organisation
  • Provides oversight of key projects ensuring consistency of approach – mentors and coaches as necessary.
  • Operates the steering committee and board level change meetings.

A PMO Director is often someone who has prior delivery experience themselves – often at a senior level such as Programme Manager.

This advertisement sums up the role very well:

As a member of the Senior Leadership Team working to drive effective decision-making, accountability and oversight across the portfolio of projects/programmes is essential along with embedding robust standards and developing and maturing the portfolio through performance management and continuous improvement.

In terms of the behavioural experience required in the role:

  • Strategic thinker with the ability to take a broad view of the business, industry, and environment to anticipate and plan for future
  • Able to identify the focus and defines where to play, how to win and what capabilities and management systems are required
  • Proven experience of embracing and initiating change. Can distinguish what to preserve and what to change. Has the courage to initiate and lead the changes that drive success
  • Strong leadership capability able to develop talent and capabilities, identifies and cultivates essential skills and attributes to maximise individual contribution and engagement
  • Able to build collaborative relationships across functions based on trust and respect. Promotes the inclusion of diverse knowledge, skills, and experiences to achieve results
  • Proactively seeks out information and clarity needed to enable strong decision making for the business

Qualifications normally found with PMO Directors include PPM qualifications such as PRINCE2, Managing Successful Programmes (MSP) and the P3O Practitioner level.

More recently the AIPMO IPMO-Expert level certification has plugged the gap in knowledge and education needed to manage multiple PMOs – enterprise-level PMOs.

The PMO Director is a role for those looking to move into a senior executive position, just a step away from the board of an organisation.


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