With any job, there is always a level of uncertainty on how the job will evolve. People are concerned about their prospects and their career path. The same applies to anyone who chooses a PMO career path. This post aims to provide an overview of the options available if you choose to take a position in a project management office.
Start of Career
If you are just starting your career, perhaps your 1st or 2nd job, it is highly likely that you have been recruited in a more administrative role within the PMO. This is normal as project and change management skills is something you learn over time by doing the job.
A lot can be learnt operating in this capacity as you will typically be involved in a number of the core PMO processes i.e. report consolidation. This will mean you will get the opportunity to engage with stakeholders who need to submit into the PMO and gain an understanding of the process.
From this base, you will then have a number of options.
Continue in the PMO
You may decide that you enjoy the PMO environment. This will open up opportunities to take on lead roles such as Reporting, Change Control, etc. Then as you become more skilled (and confident), you will find yourself providing more constructive challenge and then providing guidance. This is a big value add for an organisation.
As your skills and experience grow, you will find that you take on more ad-hoc tasks such as targeted reviews of projects, trend analysis, etc so as to provide meaningful MI and recommendations to senior management.
As you grow in the role, you will probably start to have resources reporting to you giving the opportunity to mentor and build their skills. This will provide you with team management experience.
As you engage with more senior stakeholders, this will open the pathway to take on PMO leadership roles. It will also mean that you should be equipped to design, implement and manage your own PMO.
You may choose to go into project management. It is an easy transition from PMO support to migrate into Project support. The skill set and activities are very similar. You should gain experience in helping manage risks & issues, maintaining the project plan and writing project status reports. You also will gain experience dealing with the day to day challenges faced by a project.
Developing these skills will open up opportunities to take on other project roles including business analyst, workstream lead and ultimately project manager.
When you have become an accomplished project manager, you then will have the option to move into programme management and portfolio management.
Working on projects will allow you to work across an organisation. It is one of the best methods to build your network and, importantly, build your reputation. Demonstrating that you can do a good job will open up other opportunities in a company. People are more likely to recruit people they know and trust.
Nowadays, project and change experience is important in many business roles. Therefore, if you have worked on a project for a specific part of the business, you will have naturally learnt about the subject matter. This means that you could consider moving into a business role within that area.
Note: the same applies to a path in technology.
Have a Plan
Now you have a high level understanding of what options could be available, you need to make a plan to give you the best chance of following your chosen career path.
- Decide what career path you would like to follow i.e. you want to become a project manager
- Work out your current skills
- Identify skills you need to add or develop
- Create a personal development plan to review and agree with your manager
- Identify if there is any training available i.e. PMP qualification
- Regularly review progress
- Periodically revisit the plan (you may decide you want to go down a different path)
Taking a role in a PMO will provide a number of opportunities to develop your career. The important point is to have a clear idea of what path you would like to follow, create a plan and then execute.
Important: Choose a path where you have a passion and that what you enjoy!
Good luck to your success.
PMO Career Resources
The ESSENTIAL Membership available within the PMMAJIK Members Area contains The PMO Manual and a number of templates, presentations, ebooks and resources that can be helpful for career development.
You might also be interested in the blog post that covers PMO Meaning.