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The role a PSO plays in providing the foundation for your project’s success.

P3M & Data

A project team should be, just that, a team… that is, a group of individuals, with different skills or roles, who come together around a common purpose or shared vision. Effective project teams should recognise and value the contribution made by each member, but that is not always the case.

Project manager, business analyst and change manager roles are normally well understood, but the part played by Project Support Officers (PSOs) can sometimes be underplayed – after all, they just support everyone else, don’t they?

Well, it is certainly true that having a PSO in place does not guarantee project success. However, if they are not fully effective or are poorly implemented, significant negative impacts on the project can be almost guaranteed.

PSOs are responsible for the standardisation of project management processes and procedures. If these are not fully effective, there may be inconsistencies in the way projects are managed and reported, leading to confusion and errors, as team members may not understand how to properly carry out project tasks.

Poor implementation may mean the PSO lacks the necessary resources, tools, or authority to oversee projects effectively. This can result in a lack of project visibility, with no centralised mechanism for tracking progress or identifying potential issues. This can cause delays or cost overruns if not addressed quickly.

Effective communication is crucial to project success, and a PSO plays a key role in its facilitation amongst project stakeholders. If the PSO is not fully effective, the consequent breakdown in communication could lead to misunderstandings, rework, and delays. Beyond this though, the project loses a key tool in overcoming resistance to change. Without the engagement and governance provided by the PSO, stakeholder buy-in and confidence could decrease, potentially putting the project at risk.

So, the next time you are thinking about your project team, consider recognising the importance of your PSO. Yes, their role is to support everyone but in doing that they are providing the foundation for your project’s success.

By Mark Dalrymple-Smith, Head of Portfolio, Programme and Project Management at CMC Partnership Consultancy Ltd

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