Understanding the World of Project Management – The PMO Manager

PMO manager

As we come to the end of our tour around the World of Project Management, we have one final role to explore – the PMO Manager. A key role, especially in larger project offices, and one that encompasses a great many skills; we discover what a PMO Manager does, where they work, and talk to someone in post about the realities of this complex role.

What do they do?

As the name might suggest a PMO Manager is in charge of managing the project office, but how this manifests can vary greatly between companies and PMOs. At its essence the role of a PMO Manager is about ensuring all the processes and support are in place to ensure the project office can run smoothly and efficiently. The PMO Manager develops and implements best practices to enable the successful delivery of a broad range projects to stakeholders across the business. They may be involved with areas such as project scoping and business case development, and supporting the wider team in devising the project plan. However much of their focus will tend to be on the strategic vision of the project office, looking at how to ensure the long term success of the project office. In businesses where the project office supports external customers, this may include making executive decisions around the types of projects to pursue. Other areas of responsibility will include oversight of the project office’s financial performance and also management of the team members within the PMO.

Where do they work?

Dedicated PMO Managers tend to be employed in organisations with large project offices that deal with a high volume of complex or intricate projects. This could theoretically include almost any industry, but some which are more likely to require a PMO Manager include construction, engineering and civil infrastructure.

What do they need to know?

There are no specific qualifications required to undertake the role of a PMO Manager, however it is a very senior role and as a result significant experience within the project management environment is vital. Due to its wide remit, being a PMO Manager requires in-depth understanding of all elements in project management including risk, earned value, planning and controls. But success in the role also requires a number of behavioural competencies such as proficiency in people management and strategic planning.

How do they fit into the PMO?

Almost all organisations with a project office will have some form of PMO Manager; however they may not always hold the specific title of ‘PMO Manager’, depending on the size of the project office, the most senior PM may hold the responsibilities of PMO Manager without the title. Regardless of the set-up, the individual responsible for managing a project office will work closely with all members of the PM team, and will typically be the one accountable for team performance, making their role essential.

LobnaProfile

Name

Lobna Mohammed

Job Title

PMO Manager

Company

North Highland

How long have you worked there?

I started working here in March 2015.

Describe a typical day

I currently work for a consultancy which means there is no ‘typical’ day for me, as I work with a number of businesses to help them create a better performing PMO. Recently I worked with a Financial Regulator to help them improve their governance, planning, RAID management and stakeholder engagement. As a PMO professional, you are there to help projects and programmes, work consistently, collaboratively and share information regularly.

How did you get into it?

After graduating from university I fell into HR advisor role through temping. I worked in several different HR roles and in my last role in HR, the business were implementing an enterprise system and I was asked to gather requirements for the HR department and act as a project support for the project. I enjoyed the role so much, I decided to study for my PRINCE II qualification and I went on from there.

What’s your favourite thing about your job?

What I like most is when you feel like you’ve made a difference, for example when you’ve left a project but things are better as a result of what you’ve done.

Most important skills

Being a PMO Manager is largely about managing people, so leadership skills, being able to communicate and being able to foster good relationships with stakeholders is key. But you also have to have a solid understanding of Project and Programme Management methodologies, and a real world understanding of projects. This, combined with empathy ensures you are able to appreciate the challenges of your team and understand how to help.  

Lobna’s top skills for PMO Manager

  • Empathy
  • Leadership skills
  • Communication skills
  • Coaching and mentoring skills
  • Ability to problem solve and think creatively
  • Ability to foster relationships with stakeholders
  • Comprehensive knowledge of Project and Programme Management methodologies

We hope you’ve enjoyed our foray into the world of project management over the past few months, and that it’s helped you understand the complex nature of the profession. As we’ve shown, there’s no one way to be successful in the world of project management; it doesn’t matter if your skills revolve around analytics, working with people, data capture or strategic planning, there’s something to suit everyone when working in a project environment.

Next month, to wrap up, we’ll be thinking about how all the different roles tie together to ensure project success.