We interviewed one of our project management placement students and asked him about his role as a Project Support Officer (PSO)…

In your words, what is the definition of a PSO?

A PSO is responsible, along with the other members of the project team, for the day to day responsibilities of the project, lead by the project manager. A PSO could be asked to fill in for any of the different roles and responsibilities such as change control, risk coordination and quality management.

What are the roles and responsibilities of a PSO, either generically or in your specific sector?

Generally liaising with all the different project functions, disciplines and project roles (as you could be involved in any of the roles). You need to have the ability to be highly adaptable to different circumstances, as it can change day to day what you are doing. Depending on which role you are taking part in, you could be responsible for:

  • Administration of the different management functions.
  • Filling in schedule variants.
  • Keeping track of change logs.
  • Looking after the risk log.
  • Helping facilitate meetings.
  • Be involved with the delivery of presentations
  • Assisting different parts of the team (for example the quality team members) in a variety of different tasks.

What things do you enjoy about your job?

I love the complete variety of jobs that I have to complete. When I first started it was a bit daunting as I was thrown in at the deep end and now, I have a grip of the different responsibilities, I love that challenge of the work and how it differs from week to week. Sometimes there will be a strict deadline and I will be under pressure for three days along with the team to get a certain task done, other times we may need to be philosophical and ponder/ come up with ideas to solve a problem. The variety keeps me interested and enthusiastic.

What are the challenges in your job?

Because of the ever- changing and quick paced nature of projects (and the variety of jobs you need to complete) it can be easy for small tasks to slip through the net. You need to be really good at prioritising tasks and keeping track of where you are, so excellent organisation is also key.

What is career progression like in this area of work?

When you are a PSO, you are getting experience in a variety of different roles, so it is a good job to do if you are unsure about which project area you want to move into. Some people are happy doing the PSO role, others do it then realise they want to specialise in an area, such as risk coordination. There is a lot of scope for personal and career development.

What sorts of qualifications does somebody need to become a project support officer?

There are actually quite a lot of different routes to becoming a project support officer, and it depends on the requirements of the employer. The PSOs I have met during my work experience have all come from a variety of backgrounds. Some have a project management degree and/or accredited project management qualifications like the PMQ, others have a degree but it’s in something like quantity surveying, engineering or construction management. Other people I have met don’t have any degree but have worked in projects and accumulated a lot of practical experience. Obviously now you can do an apprenticeship now in project management, so there is a lot of options out there for people. 

Any other things to add?

One thing I would like to add about my own experience in a PSO role, particularly in this early stage in my career, is that there is a great level of job satisfaction that you can get from this role. I really enjoy handling the responsibilities assigned to me and it’s great being in a hard working and friendly team.