Who should staff the PMO?

Posted on 16 Aug 2012

A mix of skills and roles are needed to ensure that the PMO plays a central role in guiding the successful execution of strategic initiatives within the organization. In particular, the PMO director position is the most critical and should be equivalent to that of a high-level functional manager—even a VP, in some cases. The PMO director at this level is supported by numerous professional associates and administrative personnel.

The PMO Director

The PMO Director provides project oversight in virtually all areas of the organization, managing enterprise-level projects and enterprise-wide resource distribution and allocation on all projects. Any project that crosses divisional boundaries, as well as some large projects performed within a department, would be under the auspices of this PMO Director.

Project and Program Managers

In the recent past, it was rare for PMOs to maintain and manage their own project management staff. However, since our initial State of the PMO research study in 2008, we have seen a significant trend in this direction. It’s only logical that, as organizations move further away from the functional organization and ad hoc projects, project expertise becomes more centralized. Today, the most successful organizations are those with enterprise PMOs that manage a staff of project managers and project support roles.

Project Support

Several roles complement the project manager(s) to efficiently execute programs and projects:

  • Project Schedulers
  • Project Planners
  • Project Controllers

These roles, which represent the “science” side of project management, provide a career path for technically skilled project personnel who make sure the project managers and executives have accurate information upon which to base business decisions, and free up the project manager to concentrate on the facilitative and business aspects of projects.

Staff Roles(s)

Among the roles filled by project team members in a PMO are:

  • Administrative support—back-office tasks, report generation, software support
  • Best practice or process experts—training, project oversight, quality assurance, methodology development
  • Knowledge Management Coordinator—project records, standards, methods, and lessons learned must be stored in a project database
  • Resource manager—working with the PMO Steering Committee to manage the “fit” of resource skills to project requirements, manage and balance scarce resources, forecast and aid in planning for acquisition of resource shortfalls, and secure assignment of key resources.

PM Solutions can help you determine the organizational structure and proper staffing mix for your PMO. We work with you to determine how many project managers and support staff you need to execute projects effectively, assess the competency of your project managers, build professional development programs, encourage a project management culture, develop job descriptions, delineate roles and responsibilities, and supplement your staff with experts to fill any or all of the above roles as needed.

Sources: Crawford, J.K., et al. (2008). Seven Steps to Strategy Execution: Integrating Portfolios, Programs, Projects and People for Organizational Performance. Glen Mills, PA: Project Management Solutions, Inc.; and Crawford, J.K., etal. (2006) Optimizing Human Capital with a Strategic Project Office. Boca Raton, FL: Auerbach/CRC Press.

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