Organisations (and methodologies) use similar but different terminology with subtly different meanings to describe teams that support projects. One key distinction is whether the team is seen as managing, controlling, monitoring or supporting the work. Watch out for the following descriptions:
In the ePMbook, we will focus on the Project Office team, who support the Project Manager in the management and administration of the project. In the smallest projects, the Project Manager may need to do such things personally. In the largest projects, there is likely to be a whole team of people providing services to the Project Team.
A Project Office might only be administrative in nature. In other cases, a whole range of cross-project specialist issues and services might be provided. Where a project has several sub-teams addressing different, but related, aspects of the project, it is often necessary to identify individuals to control common issues across the various aspects. These roles might be placed in specific sub-teams or they might be defined as functions within the Project Office.
Here are some typical roles for the Project Office; the most common roles are listed first. Note that these are all roles where the specialist advice, management, control or support would be applied across all sub-teams and aspects of the project.
|Administrator||Handles day-to-day administration such as team communications, procedural controls (eg documentation control, issues control), filing, organising meetings, tracking whereabouts of participants, obtaining facilities, services and materials as required.|
|Project planning and tracking assistant||Handles the main detailed workload of creating, consolidating and managing project plans. Processes timesheet data. Updates progress tracking information and reports.|
|Secretary||Provides a resource for all typing needs. Receives and routes telephone calls.|
|Project Office Manager||Manages overall Project Office functions. Typically, the Project Office Manager is also the lead for the specialised project management tasks such as detailed planning and tracking.|
|Graphics support||Specialist graphics staff to create visual content - eg website content, presentations, diagrams|
|Technical support||Installs and maintains the team's technology - eg servers, networks, PCs, software. Provides technical assistance to team members.|
|Change Manager / specialist(s)||Responsible for organisational/behavioural change management. Assesses needs for change. Plans strategy and tactics to achieve that change. Manages and controls activities to bring about change.|
|Training Manager / specialist(s)||Provides specialist advice on needs for training. Defines training programmes. Creates training content. Organises training resources: venues, facilities, trainers. Ensures adequate training is received as required.|
|Solutions Architect||Has responsibility for the design of the overall business solution, including applications, processes, organisational design, procedures, facilities, etc.|
|Testing Manager / specialist(s)||Provides specialist advice on needs and approaches for testing. Defines and oversees testing programmes.|
|Web Master||Responsible for the creation, development and maintenance of the project's website(s). Provides specialist advice regarding web components of the business solution.|
|Technology Architect||Has overall responsibility for the technology architecture. Ensures the technology design meets all needs, across sub-teams and functions.|
|Configuration Manager||Responsible for the version control of the various deliverable components.|
|Quality Manager||Oversees the Quality Processes. Identifies specific quality requirements. Monitors work and deliverables to ensure requirements are being met. Audits completed work and deliverables for compliance with Quality Standards.|
|Communications specialist(s)||Handles external and internal communications relating to the project. Establishes needs for communication in conjunction with the Change Manager. Determines best media and distribution channels. Creates communications. Monitors effectiveness.|
|Security Manager / specialist(s)||Provides specialist advice on needs and approaches for security. Builds, tests, controls and maintains security features.|
|Database Manager||Responsible for the creation, development, tuning and maintenance of the project's database(s). Ensures standards and compatibility of usage across the various sub-teams and functions.|
|Organisational Design Manager / specialist(s)||Provides specialist advice on needs and approaches for creating or changing organisational structure, defining job descriptions, assessing skills requirements, recruiting, laying off staff, etc.|
|Project Accountant||Deals with all financial aspects. Has prime responsibility for creating and managing the Benefit Case. Tracks and reports progress against financial targets (budget, expected benefit). Handles the financial dealings of the project, eg purchases, payments to sub-contractors.|
Bear in mind that large projects can be more like free-standing businesses requiring a full range of support functions, eg: purchasing, stock control, stores, inventory control, accounting, HR, facilities management, maintenance, catering, cleaning, receptionist, etc.
A set of tools will normally have been chosen to assist in the administration of the project. Several of these will require some level of specialist knowledge. Project Office staff will need to be trained as appropriate.