PMO Director. PMO Director

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1 PMO Director It s about you Are you curious about how individual projects further a company s strategy? Can you think at the macro level across broad groups of people and services? Do you have an eye for quality and consistency? If so, and you have several years of progressively senior experience as a Project Manager or Program Manager, then a job as a Project Management Office (PMO) Director may be for you. What is a PMO? A major driver of business success is the degree to which special business projects are executed effectively and efficiently. The Project Management Office (PMO) is set up to help ensure this goal is achieved. A PMO coordinates and oversees the special projects that run as temporary initiatives to augment normal business operations and help organizations to change and grow. The PMO acts as a Centre of Excellence, designed to help achieve better quality, consistency and oversight of projects across an enterprise doing so by developing and maintaining project management methodologies, standards and tools. For example, a PMO might decide which project management certification program is required by its Project Managers or it may develop an in-house standard. It may coordinate the system to record project expenditures across the business so that executives can track overall costs. It may also be responsible for assigning project managers with the right skills and experience to various projects across a company. Increasingly, PMO s are playing a part in choosing which projects are undertaken by an organization. In some organizations, the PMO is called a Program Management Office. Programs typically involve a number of inter-related projects in support of a broad business goal. What is the role of the PMO Director? The PMO Director develops and leads a project or program management office. He or she is the technical expert responsible for establishing the organization s approach to the full life cycle of the projects it undertakes from project planning, initiation, resourcing, execution, monitoring, control and completion. The Director ensures that the PMO meets performance targets that are aligned with the organization s strategic objectives and that projects adhere to best practices. 1

2 PMO Directors with track records of successful project delivery and strong personal leadership skills can earn the position of trusted strategic advisor, working alongside business leaders to help determine which projects should be undertaken why and when not just how. Areas of focus There are four typical areas of focus of a PMO. Depending on the size of an organization and the degree of sophistication with which it manages projects, the mandate and expertise of the PMO Director may vary, emphasizing one, or a combination of, the following areas: Project Management Governance: This involves establishing frameworks for robust project management, including: project management methodologies (e.g. when to use the traditional waterfall model, where project tasks follow each other in a linear sequence); tools (making Microsoft Project available); approaches to project team organization structures; risk identification and escalation processes; project decision-making responsibilities, etc. Project Management Team Leadership: Where a PMO includes direct management of Project or Program Managers, the PMO Director will: define the team structure and roles (full-time and contract, as required); provide ongoing feedback and coaching; assign individuals to projects; undertake project-related or annual performance reviews; assist with personal development plans and career paths. Project Tracking and Monitoring: Whether or not the PMO directly manages all projects in an organization, it may still have an oversight role in coordinating enterprise-wide project status reviews, tracking timelines, budgets, ensuring that objectives are being met and that issues are managed appropriately. It may also be accountable for reporting and monitoring on adherence to project management policies and procedures. Project Prioritization: In some organizations, the PMO has an executive role in the planning and prioritization of projects based on strategic objectives, cost/benefit considerations, timing and capacity. As an organization evolves, the emphasis of its PMO will also change and adapt. For example, in the face of financial services-related regulatory developments, there may be an increased focus on governance, compliance, tracking and monitoring of projects and programs. In lean economic times or when corporate strategic goals change, there may be an enhanced focus on which projects are completed (i.e. project prioritization may come to the fore). 2

3 Main Duties Main duties and related activities of the PMO Director. Project Management Governance The PMO Director is accountable for establishing the function, its standards and performance methods. Key activities: Establish the PMO role and operating model (e.g. centralized or decentralized and areas of focus) Set standards for project management capabilities - certifications and qualifications of project managers (e.g. PMP), methodologies, success measurement (e.g. earned value measurement, which integrates measures of scope, schedule and costs to forecast project performance), and tools (e.g. Microsoft Excel or Project to create Gantt charts, which summarize a project schedule timeline and events) Create a Centre of Excellence to develop project management practitioners and the function, sharing knowledge and industry best practices Monitor compliance with policies and standards Project Management Team Leadership The PMO Director has various people management accountabilities depending upon whether employees report directly or indirectly to the PMO. Key activities: Establish the PMO organization structure, hiring and managing staffing requirements in line with project objectives Oversee the delegation of work to Project Managers, Program Managers, and Business Analysts Set annual performance targets for individuals and the team and conduct performance reviews Provide ongoing motivation, coaching, guidance, feedback and mentoring support to the team Manage the workload of Project Managers on the program and help to remove obstacles to their success Manage third-party vendor agreements Coordinate and conduct post-implementation reviews of projects with Project Managers 3

4 Project Tracking & Monitoring The PMO Director oversees and reports on the performance of a portfolio of projects. Key activities: Track and provide project status and audit reports Manage the risk, issue and change resolution process and work with other leaders to take corrective action as necessary Oversee Project Managers for the delivery of projects/programs on time, within scope and on budget Project Prioritization The PMO Director may also have an executive-level accountability to advise other executive leaders on project selection, timing and/or prioritization. Key activities: Coordinate the project prioritization process to provide executive leaders with the information they need to assess which proposals have the highest potential value, impact and strategic alignment Interface regularly with executive leaders to define project priorities and implementation opportunities and challenges Keep leaders up-to-date with project opportunities and risks Support the project pipeline by managing resource availability, capacity, and skill sets 4

5 Work Context, Knowledge, Skill Requirements and Applicable Experiences Work Context Because most business projects have a significant technological element, the PMO is usually situated within the IT department and often reports directly to the Chief Information Officer (CIO). It can also be a stand-alone function reporting to the Chief Executive. The PMO can be either centralized or decentralized in structure. In a centralized PMO, the Director directly manages a team of Project and Program Managers. In a decentralized structure the managers sit within various operational areas of the business and receive project-related performance oversight by the PMO. The majority of the PMO Director s time is spent in meetings with project or program teams, internal clients and executive leaders. If Project and Program Managers are direct members of the PMO, considerable time will also be spent in managing those individuals performance. Knowledge The PMO Director requires specific knowledge of: Project and program management and the associated methodologies, techniques, processes and approaches (e.g. Project and Portfolio Management Methodology PPM) Financial services sector business operations Technology trends/marketplace knowledge Resource management tools (e.g. time and expense tracking software) Budget and cost management 5

6 Technical skills The PMO Director requires specific technical skill competencies: Strong financial management skills to manage project budgets( as projects represent a significant proportion of the total IT budget) Superior analytical problem solving ability for dealing with escalated issues from projects under management Technical integrity earned through demonstrated success in implementing of large, complex projects or programs Soft skills The PMO Director requires specific soft skill competencies: Strong business acumen A long-term strategic perspective Ability to mentor, coach and effectively transfer expertise to others Ability to juggle multiple goals and deadlines Ability to build a strong network and relationships at executive levels with technology and solutions, customers and vendor groups Strong leadership, negotiation and conflict management skills Consistent flexibility, resilience and resourcefulness Expert ability to impact and influence project outcomes Applicable Experience PMO Directors typically have more than ten years of experience as a Senior Project Manager or Program Manager with a proven track record of successful project delivery, an ability to improve project management practices by implementing new techniques and tools and substantial team leadership experience with a focus on team development. Project experience may include initiatives that span geographies or business lines, impact a significant number of employees and/or require reporting to shareholders. For example, replacing a legacy payments and receivables system for an insurance company or building a data warehouse for a pension fund s marketing team to enable them to analyze customer information and create 6

7 advertising campaigns. Credibility as a project leader is crucial for a PMO Director, so it is also possible for very experienced PMO, project or program managers from other industries to move into a financial services PMO Director role. Education, Certifications, Designations, and/or Licenses Entry Level Position [this is not an entry-level position] Senior Level Positions More senior positions typically require: þ Undergraduate degree þ Graduate degree In the fields of: Computer Science Business (MBA) Technology 7

8 Certifications and designations Certifications and designations may include: Project Management Professional (PMP) Program Management Professional (PgMP) Professional Associations Professional Associations may include: Project Management Institute (PMI) Project Management Association of Canada (PMAC) affiliated with International Project Management Association Representative Job Titles PMO Lead PMO Head PMO Vice-President 8

9 Career Pathways Moving in to the role To move into a PMO Director role, you may come from a Senior Project Manager or Program Manager background. These positions provide exposure to managing strategic initiatives, ensuring they are on time, budget and scope. However it is also important to be able to demonstrate experience in successfully managing progressively more responsibility such as larger teams and budgets, projects that cross organizational functions or geographical locations, those that impact many people or involve significant technological complexity. Examples of major projects could include integrating the business of an acquired company in a corporate merger or the implementation an enterprise resource planning system (e.g. SAP or Oracle), to replace interrelated business systems such as HR information, finance/accounting, sales and customer relationship management. Progression beyond the role The position of PMO Director is typically a career destination role that marks a high point in the career of a project management expert. Progression from here may involve taking on larger or more complex projects, operating at a higher strategic level in the organization (e.g. PMO Vice-President) or making a move into project management consulting. External Factors Impacting the Role There has been increased scrutiny on businesses in recent years as a result of various corporate failures and the recent global financial crisis. Consequently, the financial services industry is facing increased regulatory requirements in addition to more demanding customer expectations. The PMO can make a unique contribution in helping financial services organizations meet regulatory requirements and demonstrate better quality, consistency, security and social responsibility of its business operations by applying world-class project management methods. 9

10 The role of PMO Director to expected to grow in visibility and value as positive business outcomes resulting from well-managed strategic projects are l increasingly recognized by executive leaders. Employment Trends and Outlook Employment Trends The field of project management as we understand it today originated in the 1950s as a highly technical practice. It was founded on the belief that adherence to a set methodology would ensure successful project outcomes. While the application of a specific discipline was a helpful development, it did not always guarantee success. By the 1990s, a greater appreciation had developed for the importance of socalled soft skills in project management, such as interpersonal relationship building, strategic mindset and other leadership skills. This recognition has improved project performance significantly, but has also created a recruitment challenge when employers look for candidates with the right combination of technical and soft skills. Today, the field of project management is challenging practitioners even further by extending the traditional role of technical expert to include the ability to connect with and challenge - business partner project sponsors. PMO Directors are using their expertise and experience ever more to advise their business leader colleagues on strategic project alignment, timing and prioritization. Compensation PMO Director is typically a salary-based position with the potential for a performance-based bonus. 10

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