Working in a project management office (PMO) requires a range of skills and qualifications. With that, there are many job roles that match PMO skills within the same area of work.

You might be looking to move into project support, advance your current career in a PMO setting, or are looking for a new role in a PMO after redundancy. There are lots of options available with upwards and sideways moves, both holding potential.

In this article, we’re going to look at:

  • The role and responsibilities of a PMO manager
  • Some alternative job titles that match the role of a PMO manager
  • How to move away from working in a PMO with your skills

Helping you to take control of your career.

What’s the role of PMO manager?

PMO is the name for the office that runs and coordinates projects and will sometimes be used as a shorthand for the person running that office. The PMO manager, or simply PMO, is responsible for the outcome of projects – that they are completed on time, on budget, and meet project requirements.

Other responsibilities of a PMO include:

  • Maintaining project standards in line with the business
  • Developing new processes and policies to continue project success
  • Planning, prioritising and assigning projects
  • Analysing performance data and making decisions based off the information

The soft skills of a PMO manager include strong communication, leadership, great organisation, and the ability to perform under pressure.

What are some alternative job roles for a PMO manager?

PMOs have had a bad rap in the past, with some studies saying that an office will only last a couple of years before being disbanded. Because of that, there are lots of organisations that will have a PMO in everything but name.

It’s worth knowing what else a PMO manager might get called so you can optimise your searches for jobs and the notifications you’ll get from job sites. Your skills and experience are valued and directly transferrable to lots of roles.

Change delivery

Change delivery management has a very similar role to what a PMO manager will do. Put simply, projects are about delivering change and the team that pushes those projects through are doing what a PMO does.

Analysing a range of current change delivery management job opportunities recently, we found that the key responsibilities are:

  • Designing processes and policies
  • Managing project lifecycles
  • Engaging stakeholders during projects
  • Providing administrative services to projects

Which all very much align with the work you’ll have done or are doing within a PMO already.

Organisational transformation

This type of role may come with a “head of” or “director of” title, and the task that need to be completed are very similar to that of a PMO manager. If you want a title bump as much as a salary increase, you can look for this type of role.

Organisational transformation is similar to project management because it’s about bringing about change and efficiencies as a company grows and develops. Most business change requires projects, and a PMO manager knows exactly how to run effective projects.

What are the options for career advancement for a PMO manager?

The size of the organisation you work in will determine how far you can go internally. Starting to look at external progression opportunities may be needed if you feel like you’re waiting to fill “dead man’s shoes”.

In a very traditional set up for a PMO, you’d find three levels of project work:

  1. Project management office
  2. Programme management office
  3. Portfolio management office

This would be a natural progression, but not all companies have the need for so many levels of management.

To move up from being a PMO manager, you can look at more general operational roles since your skills are all about efficient and effective processes. You’ll have likely been reporting into the COO at your PMO so aiming for that role isn’t unreasonable.

If you’re in a small company with a small PMO, consider moving to a larger company to find more opportunities and challenges. Moving your career in the direction of freelancing or contracting can also give you the professional change you need.

The take-home

Working as a PMO manager gives you a lot of skills, both hard and soft. Because not every company calls the people overseeing projects a PMO, it’s useful to know the job roles that match your PMO skills.

Gravitate towards change delivery and transformational management as key search terms. Look to move from project to portfolio management or from a small to a bigger company to find more opportunities.

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