In a world where we talk about PMO and the roles that sit within the PMO (PMO Analyst, Co-ordinator etc) there is still a job title called Project Support Officer that exists. This title in the marketplace is aligned with that of Project Administrator or Project Co-ordinator. In other words the role is supporting projects and doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with PMOs.
The role of the Project Support Officer is to support the Project Manager and project team. Most commonly that is one Project Support Officer supporting one project at a time. Some Project Support Officers can and will support more than one project if needed.
When we see this job in the marketplace it is a title that is most used by the public sector. The title of Project Administrator or Project Co-ordinator is more aligned to the private sector. I have absolutely no idea why, it’s just one of those things.
So what does the Project Support Officer do?
The main objective is to support the Project Manager and Project Team in the co-ordination, planning and control of the project. They receive minimal supervision from the Project Manager to ensure the agreed project management methods and standards are implemented throughout the project.
These are the tasks and activities they carry out:
- Ensure the agreed project management methods, standards and processes are maintained throughout the project lifecycle.
- Assist the Project Manager and Team Managers in the production and maintenance of project plans.
- Develop and maintain the project library, filing, recording and reporting systems.
- Develop and implement appropriate configuration management procedures
- Co-ordinate the production of all reports and produce project summary reports.
- Set up and maintain systems for recording project costs.
- Define and document procedures in accordance with agreed methodology
- Advise and assist project team members in the application of project procedures , disciplines and recording and reporting standards.
- Maintain risk and issue logs and change control records.
- Develop and support effective communication mechanisms between the project teams.
- Undertake any other administrative tasks as specified by the Project Manager.
All these tasks and activities are performed at a project level and often without a project office or PMO function in place. These roles are often the first step towards a more formal structure like a PMO but because the organisation doesn’t have enough projects to warrant a PMO these roles are used instead.
Project Support Officers generally have this kind of experience:
- Knowledge and experience of a formal project management methodology
- A high degree of computer literacy including advanced knowledge of the MS Office Suite and a willingness and skill to learn new programs quickly.
- Project planning ability
- Experience of working on IT/IS projects / programmes
- Ability to analyse and present information
Project Support Officer roles are often considered to be the first step in the ladder of project management roles. People looking to get into project management will often pursue these roles after gaining something like a PRINCE2 qualification. As you can see from the range of tasks and activities listed, some experience is needed and it can be difficult to get that first break. People who have previously worked in an office environment, in some kind of administrative or supporting role do make ideal first time candidates for Project Support Officer positions.
So that’s the role of the Project Support Officer. Is this the kind of role you perform or would like to?
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