Since the release of the OGC P3O guidelines and subsequent qualifications in 2008 the PMO became a hot topic in organisations as the move from the perceived “expensive typing pool” was encouraged to shift to an empowered state where it provides an interface between senior management and project management within the business. However the subsequent recession in 2009 and further doom and gloom with the global economic climate, we have seen a dip in the level of PMO roles available in the UK. Over the past year or so the shift seems to have moved towards effective programme and project managers taking the helm with PMO responsibilities being part of their remit. As the recession dictated a lower yield of roles generally in the PPM field it seemed to focus on key deliverers. Understandably if there are lower budgets but projects still need delivering the PMO will fall short. But I have always believed that the best PMO people will have experience in both supporting and managing projects as greater understanding of the reality of delivery can benefit those supporting and vice versa. Therefore I feel there is a great opportunity for PMO people to develop themselves further by taking on delivery of projects to strengthen their knowledge and understanding and demonstrating their adaptability to both areas.
There are still some PMO roles about so it is not all bad news but the competition is high and with employers increasingly asking for candidates who currently work in that industry it becomes harder for PMO professionals to transition into new roles beyond their sector. I do not agree with the employers as the role of PMO is about method not necessarily the “product” but in a risk averse world this is becoming the norm.
Moving forward I advise you offer up yourself for delivery in your current role as a PMO, taking on small projects to start and gaining experience and trust from programme managers etc will always strengthen your CV – but taking these measures will also place you in a better position for the job market today. Through being empowered in the PMO you will already have great stakeholder engagement experience and will also know the structured method to delivery, now it is time to put the theory into practice.