The role of the Programme Office Manager has been evolving over a number of years, morphing its way from a predominantly administrative role (managing budgets, resources and monthly reporting), to one where the emphasis is on creating best practice for delivery and governance.
Over the last 12 months there has been increased demand from Clients requiring highly experienced PMOs. Such professionals are in essence the eyes and ears of the Programme Director, as well as the centre of good delivery. This evolving role assumes responsibility for establishing the PMO function for large, complex and often global programmes.
Recently we have seen the role assume a broader remit of ‘second in command’ to the Programme Director and the ‘resolver of all issues’ once mobilisation has happened. These PMO Professionals are NOT frustrated Project or Programme Managers waiting for the chance to go ‘native’. In many cases, they are a rarer find than Project Professionals, as they have a broad oversight and are not focused on a work stream. One of their strengths is effective communication enabling them to resolve or escalate risks and issues. By their nature, they are problem solvers, and delivery – which can sometimes go off track – is supported by them, not just in setting best practice, but in making it happen.
A significant number of recent assignments managed by Norman Broadbent Interim involved establishing PMO functions. Often the PMO Professional will be supporting permanent staff capable of delivering complex programmes, but not necessarily with the experience necessary to build a hub of checks, balances and controls.
89% of Clients, who originally thought the hiring of a PMO was largely around administration controls, said one of the factors which determined the success of their projects today was the broader skills and experience of the individual.
The question we are repeatedly asked is whether PMO Professionals need to have sector experience. Undoubtedly, knowledge of the industry helps. However, whilst we see high numbers of these Professionals concentrated in Financial Services, Telecoms and Manufacturing, what is more important is their ability to adapt style and communication to achieve the best possible outcomes.