Last month I attended the PMI Synergy 2015 event in London. It was the first time I had spoken to so many Project Managers and Change Managers in one location and it was great to hear all their different experiences.

One conversation stood out the most for me. It was with a very passionate, self-employed French lady who spoke four languages fluently and had worked on large scale projects for multi nationals all over Europe. Circumstance happened that she arrived in England in January 2015 and for the first time in her twenty year career, she was struggling to find an assignment. It wasn’t for the lack of opportunity but something that has also been my nemesis for a long time.

What she found was that in the UK (as opposed to the norm in Central Europe), clients are looking for Project Managers, PMO, Change Managers PLUS a specialism. For me, and her, Project Management is in itself a specialism and should come before anything else.

For example only today I saw a vacancy advertised for a consultant PMO. The requirements ticked all the PMO boxes…
• Develops and implements the PMO strategy, policies and procedures.
• Supports implementation of best practices.
• Coordinates and chairs the project initiation and review process.
• Maintains a central repository
• Analysis to provide information and direction to leadership on balance of project workload to available resources.
• Identifies and anticipate conflicts or issues relating to Site Portfolio.
• Collaborates and aligns with the network PMO groups on global projects.
• Establishes strong working relationships with key stakeholders and demonstrates personal ownership and accountability for results.
• Ensures compliance to all applicable procedures and regulatory requirements.
• Performs additional duties as assigned by their Manager.

….and more

The final requirement?
“A Bachelor in Science.”

I believe that the PMO provides a vital service in many aspects of the planning, management and governance of projects and is a skill in itself.

What I fear is that the skills and successful track records of Project Managers and PMOs are not being fully recognised and fall way behind in the check list when projects are being planned and executed.

I am sure that the organisation that posted the vacancy for the PMO, believes that the PMO needs to have a Bachelor degree in Science to be able to understand the project team. But just how much does the PMO really need to understand the work of the Scientists on the project? Perhaps the scientists should be allowed to continue with research and a skilled project team should manage the project.

I am not saying that there is never a case for a specialist in project management. But all too often it appears to be the default position and for me and my friend at Synergy, this shouldn’t be the case.

What do you think?

Until next time.

Oliver