Program office manager
A program office manager is the lead role in the program office. The program office may be dedicated to supporting a single program, or it may support a number of programs. The level of resourcing for the program office will vary depending on the size and capabilities of the agency. For example, with appropriate expertise, the program office may be a centre of excellence for all programs and projects within the agency, providing specialist expertise and facilitation across the program and its projects. In many cases, the manager of the program office will also act as deputy to the program manager.
The program office usually provides two separate functions strategic support to programs and projects; and operational support to programs and projects. In many instances the strategic aspects are moved to a portfolio management office or officer leaving the program office to provide an information hub for, and operational support to, programs and constituent projects. This typically involves helping the programs and projects perform appropriate levels of:
- tracking and reporting
- information management
- financial accounting
- risks and issue tracking
- quality control
- change control
- benefits tracking.
The program office is comprised of a number of full and part-time experts and resources providing an environment to make programs and projects successful. They might include subject matter experts, tool experts, business process experts, administrative support, register or log (e.g. risk, issue, benefits) ownership etc.
A program office manager exhibits a combination of capabilities from the Skills Framework for the Information Age (SFIA) and the Leadership competencies for Queensland.
Within the SFIA profile, the program office manager has level 5 and 6 capabilities, i.e. ensures and advises on the skills outlined and initiates and influences their use. The SFIA profile is outlined below.
Refer to the framework for descriptions of the seven levels of responsibility and accountability.
SFIA skill code
SFIA skill level of responsibility
SFIA skills level descriptor
Takes responsibility for understanding client requirements, collecting data, delivering analysis and problem resolution. Identifies, evaluates and recommends options, implementing if required. Collaborates with, and facilitates stakeholder groups, as part of formal or informal consultancy agreements. Seeks to fully address client needs, enhancing the capabilities and effectiveness of client personnel, by ensuring that proposed solutions are properly understood and appropriately exploited.
Plans, directs, and co-ordinates activities to manage and implement a programme from contract /proposal initiation to final operational stage including the transition into business-as-usual; plans, schedules, monitors, and reports on activities related to the programme. Ensures that programmes are managed to realise business benefits and that programme management is informed by an awareness of current technical developments.
Change implementation planning and management
Creates the business readiness plan, taking into consideration IT deployment, data migration, capability deployment (training and engagement activities) and any business activities required to integrate new digital processes or jobs into the "business as usual" environment. Determines the readiness levels of business users with regard to upcoming changes; uncovers readiness gaps and creates and implements action plans to close the gaps prior to going live. Assists the user community in the provision of transition support and change planning and liaises with the project team. Monitors and reports progress on business readiness targets, business engagement activity, training design and deployment activities, key operational metrics and return to productivity measures. Defines the series and sequence of activities to bring stakeholders to the required level of commitment, prior to going live.
Leadership competencies for Queensland describes what highly effective, everyday leadership looks like in the sector. In simple, action-oriented language, it provides a common understanding of the foundations for success across all roles. The profile describes three performance dimensions (vision, results and accountability) and 11 leadership competencies required against five leadership streams.
Leadership streams are not connected to a level or classification, but rather reflect the balance between leadership and technical skills required of an individual. Individuals can consider the value proposition of roles rather than the traditional lens of hierarchical structures or classification levels. The five leadership streams are:
- Individual contributor (Leads self and does not supervise others)
- Team leader (leads a team and typically reports to a program leader)
- Program leader (leads team leaders and/or multiple areas of work)
- Executive (leads program leaders or other executives)
- Chief executive (leads the organisation).
When developing a role description, identify the role type and then focus on the most important attributes and create a balance between SFIA skills and leadership skills.
While a formal tertiary qualification is considered highly advantageous to work as a program manager, it is not essential. Significant experience working within project teams and managing projects is essential and experience within the area of ICT is highly regarded. Very strong communication and negotiation skills are essential, as is a thorough understanding of organisational strategic objectives and goals. Skills in team leadership and risk management are essential for a program manager.
Undergraduate courses in information technology or business and certification and accreditation courses in project and program management are well regarded.