It is proven that organizations with mature project management practices perform better across all five critical Key Performance Indicators (KPI) – the extent of the intended outcome, cost compliance, schedule compliance, scope creep, and overall project failures than organizations with immature project management processes. A Project Management Officer is the critical driver of PM maturity in organizations helping them ensure successful project management outcomes. This article will help you understand what a project management officer is, why this role is significant, and why one should look at this role from an overall career perspective.
Who is a Project Management Officer?
Project management officers play both strategic and tactical roles when it comes to organizational project management practices. At the strategic level, they ensure sustained successful project outcomes. At the tactical level, they are responsible for ensuring successful project delivery by planning for & managing project execution, resources, and risks. While the exact responsibilities of a project management officer will vary based on the organization and nature of projects, we can list the most significant and common ones as follows.
- Developing and maintaining project management standards and best practices
- Developing and implementing project management processes
- Leading, coordinating, and supporting the project management teams within an organization
- Manage project portfolios to ensure alignment with business objectives
- Provide guidance, documentation, and tools to ensure that projects are executed on time, within budget, and to stakeholders’ satisfaction
- Assessing project performance and identifying areas for improvement
- Monitoring budget, schedule, and other project-related metrics and helping project managers with resource management
- Reporting project performance to senior management
- Mitigating risks and resolving issues as they arise
- Facilitating communication between stakeholders
- Help project managers with tools, training, and develop their skills
The above responsibilities will help you understand the project management officer role. However, the list above provides you with a general overview only. If you pursue Project Management certifications, you can understand more about various dimensions of the PM profession.
Different Types of PMO (Project Management Officers)
Project Management Officers (PMOs) can contribute differently to organizational project management maturity. Organizational context, types of projects, organization structure, and skill availability will determine how the PMOs approach this objective. However, you can categorize the approach into three types:
1. Supportive Project Management Officer
A supportive PMO ensures the right environment and availability of resources for the Project Managers to manage their respective projects. Specifically, they perform their role in the following manner:
- Help Project Managers and other stakeholders improve their skills through training, coaching, and mentoring on Project Management skills.
- Ensure adequate tools and other resources, including templates, guidelines, and best practices, are available to the teams.
- Ensure sufficient subject matter expertise is available to the project teams.
- Facilitate stakeholder management and help PMs remove impediments.
- Helps identify risks and mitigate those through project monitoring.
2. Controlling Project Management Officer
Controlling Project Management Officers actively ensure that the projects are managed and executed strictly following the organizational standards, policies, and procedures. They ensure project success through the following activities:
- Develop the project management processes to ensure a standardized project execution across the portfolio.
- The controlling PMO also ensures compliance with the defined processes.
- They actively monitor and report project performance metrics, including schedule, cost, and quality, to management and other stakeholders.
- They are also actively involved in risk and issues identification and mitigation processes.
Overall, a controlling PMO ensures project governance and oversight and actively works with the project managers to monitor and control the project from the schedule, quality, cost, and risk perspectives.
3. Directive Project Management Officer
While there are a few similarities between a controlling and a directive PMO, a controlling PMO is actively involved in project monitoring and controlling activities and risk and issue management processes. In contrast, a Directive PMO is not so hands-on. A directive PMO has the following responsibilities:
- The directive PMO defines project management policies and procedures and ensures their implementation.
- Works with the project managers to ensure compliance with the organizational PM processes and project management standards.
- Ensure availability of resources in terms of tools and training, coaching and guidance to project teams.
- Provide guidance on project management practices and define and communicate roles and responsibilities to all the stakeholders.
Overall, the Directive PMO demonstrates the characteristics of both supportive and controlling PMO to ensure successful project outcomes.
Project Management Officer Roles and Responsibilities
While the exact roles and responsibilities of a Project Management Officer can differ significantly from organization to organization, the position requires candidates to work in close coordination with the project managers on both strategic and operational levels, depending upon the types of PMO needed in the organization. The following is a typical list of roles and responsibilities that will feature in the job descriptions for this position.
- Develop project management best practices and processes in alignment with organizational context and types of projects.
- Work with PMs to ensure that these processes are followed to ensure standardized project execution, including project planning, execution, monitoring and controlling, and closure.
- Develop and maintain organizational process assets (OPA), including tools, templates, and techniques.
- Perform risk management activities, including identification and analysis and develop and implement risk mitigation plans to handle those.
- Provide project governance, help establish a project oversight committee, and define project roles and responsibilities.
- Work with all the project stakeholders to ensure consistent successful project outcomes.
Skills Required to Become a Project Manager
Since the PMO position entails both advisory and hands-on activities, they must have various technical and soft skills to succeed. These skills include;
- 1. The PMO must have excellent communication and interpersonal skills that enable them to work effectively with stakeholders at all levels.
- 2. They must be able to work as individual contributors as well as team players.
- 3. Strong influencing, analytical and problem-solving skills
- 4. Robust understanding of project management concepts, frameworks and methodologies, including waterfall, Agile, and Hybrid, to choose the best depending on the type of the project
- 5. A PMO should have excellent change management expertise for continuous improvement and project management maturity
- 6. A PMO must also have excellent leadership skills to steer the projects toward successful outcomes and organizations toward project management maturity.
If you already are an acting PMO or are looking to pursue this role as part of your career growth roadmap, consider taking up Accredited PMP courses to build your demonstratable skills.
Project Management Officer Salary Trends
The salaries for Project Management Officers are rising along with the overall Project Management function. While the exact salaries depend highly on the geographical regions, a positive trend can be observed across the geographies. According to a survey done by Project Management Institute (PMI), USA, the average annual salary in the USA was $115,000 across the Project Management roles. For PMO, the wages in the USA go as high as $ 151,000 per annum.
Project Management Officer Job Opportunities
Organizations must ensure better project outcomes as the business environment becomes increasingly uncertain and challenging. A Project Management Officer role is crucial in ensuring the definition and adoption of strategies that make the projects successful. Hence, there are great PMO job opportunities available.
Project Management Institute (PMI), USA’s Job Report for 2022, captures the opportunities for project management professionals worldwide. There is a significant increase in demand as the world attempts to bounce back economically post-pandemic. One of the most critical aspects of the salary trends is that a certification like PMP from PMI, USA, or training in PRINCE2 increases your chances of getting a higher salary.
The digital transformation initiatives and the emergence of AI projects are adding further scope to the role of Project Management professionals. These opportunities will undoubtedly open the scope for Project Management Officers too. Of course, this role has many dimensions, and you can look at KnowledgeHut’s best Project Management courses to decide and start building your expertise in various dimensions.
Why Pursue a Career as Project Management Officer?
While the PMO role has adequate challenges, it offers growth opportunities and can lead to a rewarding career.
- The role provides opportunities to make a real difference in the project outcomes for organizations. It allows you to directly influence the project’s success by playing a crucial role in ensuring that projects are completed on time, within budget, and to the required quality standards, which can significantly impact an organization’s bottom line.
- The role provides excellent opportunities for growth as organizations recognize its criticality, increasing job availability across geographies and industries. A PMO is instrumental in ensuring that the projects meet business objectives and thus has immense potential to grow within an organization. In addition, this role allows for multi-dimensional learning, thus opening up multiple career paths.
- Given the high demand for the role and associated skills, the salaries for these roles are also competitive across geographies and companies of all sizes.
- A PMO works on various projects with stakeholders, increasing learning opportunities. The learnings through such exposure can be easily translated into better career opportunities.
- The skills you will learn while working as a Project Management Officer are transferable. Such skills allow you to navigate the volatility in the business environment better. You will be better equipped to handle the market’s ups and downs when you master such transferable skills.
Now You Know All About Project Management Roles
This article explains in detail what a project management officer’s role is. If you are looking for a role in the Project Management function that provides immense learning and opportunities for your career growth, then the project management officer role is just right for you. The role entails working with project governance and operational project management, working with stakeholders at multiple levels of business, and gaining exposure across various projects. It has challenges, as the role is responsible for successful project outcomes. However, if you look at those challenges as opportunities and build a solid foundation, you can make your career dreams come true by working diligently in this role.