The widening scope of project and programme management has opened up new career path opportunities for today’s professional – and the rewards can be exciting, too.
As more organisations embrace the importance of best practice project management in a climate of tight financial controls and highly complex projects, this is being reflected in the role structure of businesses.
Research results from the Association for Project Management (APM) has revealed that change management and project or programme office (PMO) management are now seen as key roles in their own right, with a salary to match.
According to APM’s Salary and Market Trends Survey, conducted with career development partner Wellingtone Project Management, a change manager and PMO manager can command a higher base salary than a project manager.
As expected, the traditional route from support and planning roles through project to programme to portfolio management shows a corresponding upward salary increase. But now, coming in between project and programme managers on the salary scale are change and PMO managers.
On average, change managers earn £48,875, which is higher than the average for project managers on £43,387. PMO managers do even better on an average salary of £52,530, while a programme manager can earn an average ££57,000 a year.
"Traditionally, many perceived change management as part of the project manager’s job,” explained Vince Hines, managing director of Wellingtone Project Management.
“However, in the last few years smarter organisations are waking up to the fact that change management is different.
“They recognise that projects deliver change, but managing people through that change, getting them to adopt and embrace it and so realise the project benefits requires a different skill set. It’s seen as a niche role and because of that it commands a higher salary – and I think we are going to see more of this.”
A PMO is very different from a project support office which provides administrative backing for projects, he added. The job of the PMO and the PMO manager is to keep overall control of all of an organisation’s projects and programmes, ensuring they are delivered in a consistent way in line with corporate strategy.
“As more companies become more project-centric and recognise the need to be better at running projects with better governance, they understand the value and importance of a PMO,” said Vince.
“As a project manager, there could be an opportunity to move into change management if you have the right mind-set. But you need to get your ‘badges’ before you can take a shot at becoming a PMO lead,” he advised.
“The best route is still to work through those badges, starting as project coordinator and, as you are given more responsibility, becoming a project manager. Then it’s all about building experience.”
“But there will always be a demand for professional project managers and this will only grow as organisations realise the benefits of best practice project management.”