3.4 PO roles


3.4 PO roles

The exact composition of the PO in terms of the number of personnel, their responsibility assignments, their expertise, and whether they each have single roles or wear several hats depends on the number of projects in the project portfolio, the number of projects in execution at a given time, the projects' size, and the type of PO implemented. Responsibility assignments, however, should not be arbitrary; accountability must go hand in hand with authority and involvement in the decision process. Typical roles that have evolved through the practice of project management are presented below.

3.4.1 PO manager

The PO manager is responsible for running the PO and for the management of the project portfolio. Typical tasks include the following:

  • Preparation and maintenance of the organization's master and resource plans;

  • Continuous evaluation of project performance to (1) allow the forecasting of future resource needs and (2) highlight areas of deviation where management action is required;

  • Recruitment and evaluation of permanent and temporary PO staff;

  • Participation in the project's planning sessions;

  • Prioritization of efforts and resolution of issues within area of responsibility;

  • Preparation of budget, business cases, scenario analysis, contract reviews, and risk-management strategies within area of responsibility;

  • Introduction of new technologies and best practices for project management;

  • Participation in project steering groups;

  • Mentoring of potential project managers;

  • Coaching of PO members in the application of the organization's defined processes, methods, and guidelines, and in the use of the organization's tools;

  • Facilitation of team meetings;

  • Facilitation of sales support;

  • Auditing of projects for compliance with guidelines.

The position of PO manager is a very important one, one that due to its characteristics could be used as a training ground for those being groomed for senior management. Besides the technical competencies and the experience necessary to perform effectively in this role, the PO manager must possess business acumen, a network of contacts, the ability to take the initiative when required, an understanding of the points of view of all project stakeholders, and a system-thinking attitude.

3.4.2 Project controller

The project controller is responsible for all project accounting and cost control within the PO. Typically, the project controller will have two reporting lines: one to the PO manager, the other to the organization's controller. More specifically, the project controller provides financial and accounting guidance to the PO and the project managers, and ensures the integrity of the projects' budgets by controlling scope changes, fiscal changes, and overhead allocations, and by flagging significant project overruns and underruns. Typical responsibilities include the following:

  • Challenging all inputs to assure their validity and appropriateness;

  • Authorizing funds disbursements;

  • Establishing procedures for financial reporting;

  • Preparing financial reports;

  • Providing assistance and expertise related to the organization's financial system;

  • Verifying that all expenditures are properly recorded;

  • Assisting the project manager in developing the WBS structure to identify the tasks or project elements to be controlled;

  • Establishing account numbers for the projects;

  • Assisting project managers in the preparation of the project's budgets;

  • Identifying and reporting current and future deviations from budgets or other financial problems;

  • Assisting the project auditor in the conduct of project audits;

  • Conducting follow-ups on contract payments.

3.4.3 Project auditor and quality assurance personnel

The project auditor and quality assurance personnel are responsible for verifying the state of the project based on objective evidence, performing QA tasks, and assessing third-party quality systems. Responsibilities include the following:

  • Conducting interviews;

  • Analyzing project deliverables;

  • Analyzing project data;

  • Preparing reports;

  • Participating in tollgate decisions;

  • Defining opportunities for improvement;

  • Conducting root-cause analyses;

  • Writing and maintaining the projects' quality plan;

  • Developing, adapting, and tailoring development processes;

  • Coaching members of the team in the application of the project's processes, methods, and guidelines;

  • Facilitating team meetings;

  • Promoting process adherence;

  • Auditing products for compliance with guidelines;

  • Writing action items concerning risks and nonconformances with the prescribed guidelines;

  • Collecting project metrics;

  • Reporting project metrics.

3.4.4 Project manager

The project manager plans and executes the project on behalf of the project sponsor. To do this, the project manager must coordinate and integrate activities across multiple functional lines. Typical responsibilities include the following:

  • Performing key planning work and giving adequate direction to those performing detailed planning;

  • Reviewing contracts and proposals;

  • Assuring that all goals, plans, and schedules are consistent;

  • Establishing and maintaining effective control of the project work and expenses;

  • Issuing work guidance;

  • Leading the team;

  • Promoting a healthy working environment;

  • Interfacing with the project sponsor;

  • Interfacing with the customer;

  • Interfacing with third parties (suppliers and subcontractors);

  • Monitoring results to assure that specifications and contract conditions are being met by all parties;

  • Controlling changes in the scope of work;

  • Participating in risk/opportunity studies;

  • Participating in tradeoff studies;

  • Authorizing project payments/expenditures;

  • Approving project reports.

3.4.5 Project coordinators

The project coordinator assists the project manager in the administration of the project. This position will usually exist only in medium to large projects where the administrative load would distract the project manager from his primary role, or where the organization uses an apprenticeship approach to develop project management competencies. Typical responsibilities include the following:

  • Preparing and maintaining the project schedule;

  • Preparing and maintaining all the project's correspondence;

  • Preparing and maintaining the project's library;

  • Preparing and releasing, on approval of the project manager, work authorization documents;

  • Maintaining the project ledgers, verification of invoices and their correct holdback, invoice coding, and allocation;

  • Obtaining periodic progress reports from all responsible managers;

  • Recording the minutes of the project review meetings;

  • Following up on action items.

3.4.6 Configuration management personnel

Configuration management personnel are responsible for documenting, monitoring, evaluating, controlling, approving, and communicating all changes made to project charters, the requirements dependency matrix, and any other information shared by more than one individual or organization. Typical responsibilities include the following:

  • Organizing and facilitating configuration control board meetings;

  • Developing, adapting, and tailoring the project's change management processes;

  • Conducting configurations audits;

  • Entering and maintaining metadata for configuration items;

  • Receiving engineering change proposals.