Contractor Project Manager

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– Winston Churchill

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Advice on Becoming a PMO / Project Management Assistant hello

A lot of people want to become a PMO / PMSO (Project Management Support Officer) but it seems like these people are the forgotten voice – to my knowledge there is not much written about becoming a PMO, as a result I decided to write this article.

I believe there are a number of levels of PMO; I will attempt to share what I know about how to get a role at each level, in terms of recruitment, training, benchmark of similar roles/typical CV and anything else I can share.

Project Management Assistant
I believe the first level of any such role is that of the Project Management Assistant
These roles can be found on “generic” jobsites, even at high street recruiters.
Typically these roles will pay around £12.00 – £25.00 per hour
Often secretaries and Pas move into these roles.

Typically the duties of such a role include:

  • Document Management and Management of Change Requests
  • Updating and Maintaining Project Address Book, organisation charts and distribute lists for the project
  • Meeting Organisation (internal/external), agenda and status updates
  • Updating vacation calendar, travel planning and booking
  • Project PR, internal newsletters
  • Administration Support of core team members

Normally the candidate will not be expected to have any specific qualifications, but any previous experience of project work in any capacity is beneficial, as is showing some interest in project management.
If you want to be, or are a Project Assistant / Project Administrator / Project Management Assistant, the following examinations could be helpful:

Project Co-ordinator
A Project co-ordinator is a slightly more different role and more like a Project Manager role. Project Co-ordinator roles are often found in smaller and public service organisations, where projects are too small or non-complex or there are many longer “business as usual” pseudo-projects to have a full “Project Manager”. In this case a Project Co-ordinator will be used to manage the projects / work streams.
Typically these roles will pay between £150.00 – £250.00 pounds per day
Typical duties include:

  • Be the Central Point of Contact for projects.
  • Define, negotiate, communicate and maintain the implementation project timeline and milestones in agreement with stakeholders
  • Coordinate many projects in parallel, in cooperation with the customers and internal support teams.
  • Supervise and assist customers in project tasks,
  • Manage the resources to stay on schedule or and monitor the deliverables.
  • Ensure all administrative and technical requirements are fulfilled.
  • Report project progress.
  • Communicate project details as required.

Typically a Project Co-ordinator will be taken from inside the business, to lead the work as required, however are often taken on as contractors or temps.
These roles can also be found on “generic” jobsites, even at high street recruiters, as well as through a more typical contract market via sites like Jobserve and via agencies.
Administrative or subject matter expert knowledge is normally the only pre-requisite experience required but any previous experience of project work in any capacity is beneficial, as is showing some interest in project management.
If you want to be, or are a Project Assistant / Project Administrator / Project Management Assistant, the following examinations could be helpful:

PMO / Project Support
The Project Management Office (PMO) is the department that defines and maintains the Project Management standards and processes. The PMO justifies their existence by saving money throughout the organisation by ensuring projects are consistent and processes are reused and standards followed. They also ensure projects in the organisation are monitored by Senior Management, they are therefore both a police and a support function: by being the source of documentation, guidance and project metrics.
PMO roles pay between £200 and £400 per day
PMO roles are often really only found through the typical contract market via sites such as jobserve and via agents directly.
PMO / Project Support / PMO Analyst roles typically contain the following duties:

  • Consolidation of weekly work stream reports and preparation of Weekly Consolidated Reports
  • Manage and escalate Risks & Issues
  • Managing risks and issues to ensure they are accurate, up to date and being progressed by the appropriate owner.
  • Updating the Product Deliverable Tracker and chasing up Product sign off
  • Providing support to Programme management team and other programme team members as required.
  • Weekly and monthly reporting to Senior Management

Previous experience to become a PMO usually includes:

  • Previous experience of working in a Programme/Project Office
  • Comfortable working in a fast paced and dynamic Programme environment
  • Planning experience
  • Experience in management of risks and issues
  • Pro-active approach
  • Experience of financials & tracking
  • Expert user of MS Office, MS Project & Sharepoint (or equivalent software)
  • Any of the following examinations:

Senior PMO /PMO Manager / ProgMO
Senior PMO roles pay from £400 – £800 per day
PMO roles are often really only found through typical contract market via sites such as jobserve and via agents directly, or these candidates are headhunted.
PMO / Project Support / PMO Analyst roles typically contain the following duties:

  • Provide the business/workstream leaders with project management support, controls and discipline
  • Bridge the gap between the executive board level and the operational teams
  • Focus on the delivery of cost/benefits realisation across all workstreams
  • Experience of financials & tracking
  • Expert user of MS Office, MS Project & Sharepoint (or equivalent software)
  • Any of the following examinations:
  • These roles often involve setting up a PMO / ProgMO from scratch and so need good leadership, influence and stakeholder management skills.

If you want to be, or are a Senior PMP / PMO Manager / ProgMO , the following examinations could be helpful:

This is just my initial thoughts on answering some of the questions I get asked about PMO roles and how to get into such roles.