The role people perform in the PMO can be multifaceted one and the foundation of all the skills that a PMO professional will come to possess over the course of their career is project management.
In terms of initial training for PMO practitioners it is the understanding of project management which come first. Most people working at a project administration or project co-ordination level need to understand the fundamentals of project management in order to support the Project Manager and project team.
It is recognised that learning the project management fundamentals – through reading a book, taking part in an eLearning course or attending a training course – will form the first layer of knowledge for a PMO practitioner.
So the PMO practitioner over time comes to understand project management methods, processes, techniques and tools just as much as a Project Manager does – through both the formal training in project management and the on-the-job experience of working in a project environment.
But something is missing for the PMO practitioner.
They don’t use the training and the knowledge of project management fundamentals in the same way Project Managers do.
They come at project management at a different angle.
PMO are not delivering the project and programmes – they are supporting. They apply their project management knowledge and experience in a different way to Project Managers.
For example, risk management and the risk management processes. From a Project Manager’s perspective they will be identifiying risks, evaluating risks etc. From a Project Administrator or Project Co-ordinator perspective their role might mean understanding what questions to ask a Project Manager to ensure they have identifed all the risks, making sure the evaluation is correct and that the owner assigned is the correct one to address the risk. This is a low level or direct challenge to the Project Manager that an Administrator or Co-ordinator will do with their knowledge of risk management.
Further up the PMO chain, like a PMO Manager the role changes into how to decide the best risk management process for your organisation – how do you agree the governance structure and a risk culture?
For the Project Administrator what is often missing from the training options is using the project management knowledge at a different angle, for example, understanding how to maintain a risk register or how to develop approaches when challenging Project Managers. For the more senior role of developing a risk management process for the organisation – there is currently nothing available in the marketplace to help develop this knowledge and the associated skills needed to carry it out.
That’s the biggest missing thing for a PMO considering their training options today – learning about the same knowledge that a Project Manager or a Programme Manager would learn AND then using that knowledge to support programmes and projects – not deliver them. It sounds like a subtle difference but for PMO practitioners everywhere it makes a massive difference – taking that knowledge and turning it into real practical examples that they carry out on a daily basis. It’s the contextualisation of the training that is often missing. How will I use this knowledge from the training in my specific organisation.
That’s one of the reasons why PMO Learning was launched – to provide the PMO practitioner with learning and development options that really help them in the workplace, day to day on the projects they support or the portfolio they manage. Some of these options will be certification based training, others will be half day workshops or online learning. The time has definitely come to find the missing things in PMO training options and to start thinking differently about what PMO practitioners really need.
Watch this space