Project Office Managers, or P3Os and PMOs for short, are the crux of a project, programme or portfolio support office. Giving strategic guidance, support and coaching, PMOs lead the team to deliver best practice and standardize their approaches to project execution.
In this strategic role, PMOs are increasingly being dubbed Centre of Excellence (CoE) Managers according to Lindsay Scott of Arras People, mainly due to the “changing face of PMO and its widening remit.” The CoE model, Scott says, “has a greater emphasis on project governance and the need to improve project management processes and methods.”
So, to be a successful PMO, especially as the role evolves, what skills and characteristics do you need?
- A team mentality
Having a robust knowledge of project and programme management best practice is one thing, but the job of the PMO is to instil these processes, tools and methods within their team. They need to be able to give guidance and coaching and have a solid knowledge base of previous projects they can call on.
Ultimately, the PMO needs to create a sense of common purpose, encouraging the team to work together and share information and knowhow. They also need to refocus the group when things go off track.
- Persuasive communicator
To instil best practice, you need to be convincing. By drawing on a range of different communications strategies, the best PMOs can turn people around to their way of thinking and, at the same time, embed a behavioural change within their organization.
PMOs also need to convey sometimes challenging and unpopular messages with diplomacy, and take the lead on communicating information and knowledge across multiple areas of a business.
- Saying no, but…
Throughout the life of a project, change requests will happen whether it’s in scope, financials or scheduling. The job of the PMO is to assess the impact of these requests on the project/programme/portfolio as a whole and then, where needed, give a constructive challenge and an alternative solution.
A successful PMO also needs to anticipate issues and work with their team to overcome barriers before delays and ineffective working processes creep in.
- A stickler for detail
Effective reporting and information systems are the responsibility of the PMO, therefore an eye for detail is essential. They’ll need to track and report performance, manage the delivery of all stages of a project and programme and ensure compliance with all standards. But as well as making sure they follow procedures and processes, their job is to ensure the rest of their team does too.
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