The PMO Series (2): The Most Important Project Management Office Roles

A quick reminder: In the first part of this series, we’ve already established what a PMO is and what its function in an organization is:

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The project management office is responsible for the overall project management controlling and for the maintenance of project management systems for the entire organization. It supports all projects of an organization and offers tools and other resources, such as project assistance, standards and guidelines, to all project managers.

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As the PMO is the project management center of an organization, it needs dedicated team members who have the organizational skills as well as the necessary PM knowledge to coordinate project teams and their projects across the entire organization.

The most important roles in a PMO

How many and which team members a PMO needs, largely depends on the scope of the tasks the PMO has to fulfil in the respective organizations. But the various functions of the PMO already indicate that when choosing a PMO team, it is important to focus on their interdisciplinary competence in particular.

Irrespective of the specific needs and requirements of an organization, there are two roles which you will find in every PMO:

1. The PMO Manager

The success of a project management office greatly depends on the PMO manager. This is why it’s extremely important that you choose the right person for the job. Finding a PMO manager should be on top of your agenda. You should appoint one before the official start of the implementation of the PMO. This allows the PMO manager to take part in the planning of the PMO and to choose the team members they need themselves. This ensures that the right people are chosen for the job, and that in turn facilitates effective teamwork from the very beginning.  

Here are the most important skills a PMO manager should have:

  • Multiple years of project management experience, preferably in a leading position
  • Social and leadership competence
  • Communication and mediation skills
  • Assertiveness and cooperativeness
  • Knowledge of the various project management standards, methods and processes
  • Good to have: a project management certification  

If there isn’t enough time for you to train and on-board a completely new person and familiarize them with the processes and structures in your organization, it’s best to see whether you don’t already have the right person for the job in your company. Another advantage of choosing someone who is already part of the company is that they already know and understand the project managers and project teams well.

2. The PMO team members

Working on a PMO team is a great chance for project management newcomers to get to know various parts of project management work in detail. Just like the PMO manager, the PMO team members should possess a certain degree of assertiveness and have strong communication and mediation skills. Team members should also be able to withstand a high degree of stress since coordinating project teams across the organization can be quite a challenge. It is important that the PMO team members do not let individual project teams dictate their work, otherwise the PMO might turn into a place for the different project teams to pass on unpopular tasks they do not want to complete themselves. Another important skill for PMO team members to have is organizational talent and project management knowledge. Choosing team members who have already worked on various projects ensures that the PMO team possesses the interdisciplinary competence needed for the job.

 

Read part 1 of The PMO series here: The PMO Series (1): Definition and Function of a Project Management Office

                                                                                                                                      

(Original text by Kathrin Jungwirth, translated by Linh Tran)

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