The following information and advice piece makes the assumption that the reader is familiar with the guidance on Portfolio, Programme and Project Offices from the Cabinet and AXELOS. For more details visit the AXELOS website.
The guidance covers the roles and responsibilities of main roles found within a P3O function, namely P3O Sponsor, Head of P3O, Head of Programme (or Project) Office and Portfolio Analyst. Other roles and responsibilities are covered in terms of the P3O functions, for example, risk, resource management and quality assurance. The Arras People Guide to P3O® Recruitment concentrates on bridging the gap between the requirements of the official P3O roles as detailed in the guidance and the current programme and project management office marketplace.
Sponsorship Role in Portfolio, Programme and Project Offices
A difficult role to recruit for in the open market due to the role of sponsor often being an existing person within the organisation who will champion a cause. The sponsor is likely to be a senior member of the board with careful consideration given to the individual’s existing roles and responsibilities. The sponsor’s existing role may have a bearing on the ultimate success of the portfolio, programme and project office, for example if the IT Director was to take on the responsibility how would this be perceived by the wider organisation?
The sponsor should have previous experience in programme and project management and should be considered to have been successful in their career to aid credibility across the organisation. They should also be perceived by colleagues, peers and employees as a strong leader, motivator, influencer and in most cases a loyal and entrusted guardian of the cause. Due to the amount of credibility required to make this role a success, new recruits into an organisation in this role could need an induction period of many months before gaining acceptance and buy-in from the wider organisation. Alternatively a new recruit may be the correct route if an organisation does not have a board member willing to invest time and effort in the cause or if time is a limiting factor.
Head of P3O in Portfolio, Programme and Project Offices
The Head of P3O is considered to be a different role to that of a PMO Manager or Project Office Manager (see below) in that the role takes responsibility for the main P3O structure. The P3O structure in the organisation may be known as a Portfolio Office, Centre of Excellence or in P3O terms, a Hub Programme Office. Generally the main P3O structure (regardless of the name it is given by the organisation) will require a leader that has both strategic and hands on experience in portfolio, programme and project management. The Head of P3O role will require relationships with both senior level board members and the programme and project management teams within the business. Strong leadership coupled with business knowledge provide a strong foundation for making the Head of P3O a success. The Head of P3O not only has programme and project management delivery experience (possibly a previous Programme / Project Manager) but also the strategic management required to implement and manage a porffolio management approach to PPM.
Due to the nature of a Centre of Excellence; standards/methods setting, consultancy, learning & development and people/skills development, the Head of P3O needs a broad PPM capability. The CoE may include the development of programme and project managers or even line management of these delivery staff therefore a strong leadership is require of the Head of P3O role.
Head of Programme Office (PMO Manager)
The PMO Manager role within the P3O structure is responsible for the office that supports the delivery of programmes and projects. These offices tend to be temporary i.e., for the duration of the programme delivery.
The PMO Manager will be responsible for setting up the programme office and ensuring the programme is delivered in accordance with the organisation’s methods, processes and tools. Working closely with the Programme Manager to set the framework, the PMO Manager manages the day to day operations in the PMO.
Key areas of responsibilities include; ensuring robust programme level reporting (benefits realisation, interdependency management etc), staff management of the PMO (line management of PMO Co-ordinators, Planners etc), oversees implementation of P3O led initiatives at the programme / project level.
PMO Managers tend to be ex-Programme Managers / Project Managers or PMO Co-ordinators who have progressed through the PPM career path. Whilst their backgrounds can differ (one with hands on delivery experience, the other well schooled in PPM standards and capabilities) both provide excellent PMO Management material.
Programme / Project Officer
The Programme / Project Officer role within the P3O and PMO structures can vary depending on where they work. For example, a Project Officer working within a Centre of Excellence may be responsible for supporting the Head of P3O in the delivery of standards. This may include creating guidelines, templates and processes. These project officers may also display skills in process and business analysis or specialise in an area of PPM such as planning or risk management.
Project Officers working within a PMO tend to have more hands on support experience in the delivery of programmes and projects. For example, one project officer may be assigned to each project manager and will assist with everything from initiation, planning, reporting, risk management and meeting assistance. Another example maybe the programme officer working alongside the Head of PMO to provide reports on the interdependency management.
Programme and project officers provide much more than secretarial support, due to their own PPM training they are able to provide real value add services to the programme and project management teams