Where you find a project management office (PMO), you’ll likely find a project support office (PSO) if the organisation is large enough to warrant it. PSOs aren’t as common as PMOs, so it’s helpful to understand what a project support office is.
Whether you’re considering adding a PSO to complement your current PMO set-up or have seen roles in a PSO during your job hunt, it’s useful to have a deep understanding of what this office actually does.
With that in mind, we’re going to look at five key functions of a PSO.
1. Facilitate the work of the project team
Every project requires a level of administration to make sure work is monitored, and issues about budget or schedule are identified early. As a project grows, these tasks can become burdensome and get in the way of productivity.
This is when a PSO can add value to projects. A PSO can free up the time of project workers to do the tasks they are best at, whether that be coding, researching, or leading.
Taking time-consuming tasks that don’t directly contribute to the success of the project into a new office makes business sense when there are lots of projects doing similar work.
2. Home of administrative and tool experts
Because a PSO is there to take on administrative tasks, it will be the home of experts in the field. You can expect to have experienced project administrators on the team who will know how to effectively get a project in order.
You can also expect to have experts in the tools your projects use every day. This could be an expert at how to use a project management tool like Asana or Microsoft Teams or someone who is deeply skilled in the resource management tools your PMO has put in place.
Sharing these resources across projects ensures that every project gets the support it needs, and you can take advantage of the economies of scale your project work produces.
3. Monitors and manages project resource allocation
Lots of PMOs will be involved with resource allocation. It’s one of the major challenges of projects to make sure the right people and skills are available when a project needs it.
In a PMO, this task may be handled by someone with other focuses, and on a project, it is unlikely there will be one person dedicated to resource allocation. A PSO is there to support projects, including getting the resourcing right.
Your PSO can bring in a resource specialist when you have a large enough number of projects. Putting a clear focus on the task should see a more efficient allocation of resources.
4. Handles data for project costs and schedule
Data input can be a laborious task that takes up valuable time in a project; Information that needs to be processed includes:
- Expenses and invoices for the project
- Time management and work tracking
- Task completion reports
Creating a PSO means you will have someone whose job it is to input this data. The project team can simply hand over the raw data, and a worker in the PSO will collate and sort through the Information before reporting on it.
Project managers don’t need to be financial experts and can’t necessarily be expected to work with advanced scheduling tools. Having a support office to take on this Information and feed it into the PMO and project makes sense in large organisations.
5. Generates project reports
Reporting is a major task of lots of PMOs. Projects generate a lot of data, and strong PMOs and project managers will harness that data to make better decisions.
There will come a point where generating the reports becomes arduous, and a PSO can take on the role of pulling the data instead. Since a PSO is in charge of inputting data, it can also bring out insights that can then be used by the wider business.
What does a PSO do?
A PSO is there to support projects complete their daily tasks, and stick to the methodology that the PMO lays out. Creating a PSO can move a range of tasks away from projects and/or your PMO and put them in a specialist office that helps both.