There is a key person to assist the project manager in the development and analysis of performance indicators and the evolution of the project plan – the project control officer aka PCO.

In short, it can be said that he is the compass of the project manager, the project lighthouse

Some historians say that the compass was created by the Chinese in the century I AC with the aim of identifying the cardinal points.

For a long time (and even today), it has been used in navigation as a form of localization and is to date considered one of the greatest inventions of mankind. The compass helps us know if we are moving away a lot or a little from our goals.

The cardinal points of the project

Each project is unique as well as the references that the plan must follow to achieve its objectives. These indicators can refer for instance to costs, schedules, resources, project scope, quality standard, etc. In other words, they are the cardinal points of the project. These indicators will signal if we are going in the right direction.

In addition, it is important to maintain all project implementation reference material so that other managers can use this information to facilitate the creation of other project plans similar to the one we are implementing.

The role of the Project Controller

The project controller is the right arm of the project manager … it’s the neck that gives the right direction to the project. Its role is to assist the project manager in the management, execution, control and monitoring of project activities.


While the project manager is responsible for managing activities and resources, the controller is the person who will work with the data and documentation.

Its activities range from data entry in the project plan to control of timesheets and management of invoices and financial costs of the project. Here are some examples of PCO activities:

  • Be the link between the manager and the project resources
  • Assist the manager in creating the project plan
  • Control project costs and schedule
  • Support the project manager in the documentation and monitoring of the project management methodology (if any)
  • Enter the data in the project management tool
  • Report the progress of the project by identifying changes in performance indicators, risks and opportunities
  • And several other activities of control and monitoring of the project

How to become a PCO?

To become a project coordinator, you must have at least finished high school. You will probably also need a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field for the industry in which you want to work (IT, management, finance, marketing, etc.).

Many of the project controllers are working on a project team for some time and have the skills and knowledge they need to evolve in management

Then, you must have a basic or intermediate training in project management.

The PCO must be able to communicate with the project manager in a technical way as well as with other resources and stakeholders in a less technical way. He must master all phases and processes of project management.

In addition, it is necessary to develop expertise in the use of frequently adopted tools in the management of projects like MS-Project, Excel, Word, etc.

The salary of a PCO varies according to the experience and responsibilities in the project. According to Canadian standards, a beginner PCO can earn a salary ranging from $ 50k to $ 90k per year.

Do not miss our next article on finding your first job as PCO.

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