Project Management Office

Following last weeks blog on ‘Projectification‘, this week a look at the PMO – The Project Management Office. The PMO is the part of the organisation that should help manage projectification.

What is a PMO?

According to the Association for Project Management (APM) the Project Management Office (PMO) is:

An organisational structure that provides support for projects, programmes, and/or portfolios.

The Project Management Institute (PMI) definition is a little more descriptive:

A management structure that standardises the project-related governance processes and facilitates the sharing of resources, methodologies, tools, and techniques.

In this blog we will look at what a PMO should do for an organisation.

Other Names for the PMO

There are many alternative names for this office. The P could be for Project, Programme, or Portfolio. Other names include:

  • Project Office
  • Portfolio Office
  • Project Controls Office
  • Project Support Office

Whatever it is called, the PMO should support projects within the organisation.

What does a PMO do?

The PMO serves the Project Management needs of the organisation. This will include looking after the projects, programmes, and portfolios.

A Project is defined as:

A unique transient endeavour undertaken to bring about change and to achieve planned objectives.

A Programme is defined as:

A group of related projects.

A Portfolio is defined as:

A collection of Programmes and Projects used to structure and manage investments at an organisational or functional level.

The PMO is especially needed when there are many projects and they are competing for insufficient resources. This might be when a organisation moves from using projects tactically, and decides to use projects as a strategic approach. This may be because of Projectification.

What Should a PMO do?

The Project Management Office might operate at different levels. Ideally the PMO needs to operate at the highest of these levels, although there will be benefits from using the PMO at all levels.

Level 1: Centre of Excellence:

Perhaps the first actions a PMO can do after being created is to set up some of the administrative foundations for Projects and Project Management. The PMO should document the:

  • Training that staff have, and should attend
  • The Project Management tools that should be used
  • Certification/Membership that Project staff should aspire to
  • The Project Methodologies that should be followed
  • The Processes that should be used when managing projects

Level 2: Support Project Delivery:

For real organisational benefit, the PMO should:

  • Monitor and Control projects, and report (independently) on project status
  • Provide metrics and KPI’s to senior management
  • Audit projects, and be part of the Project Review process
  • Manage Multiple Projects, and look after Programmes and Portfolios
  • Provide expert help for specific Project Management tools such as Schedules, Risk Management, and Earned Value Management

Level 3: Strategic:

At the highest level, a PMO should:

  • Support the Company Vision through business leadership
  • Link corporate strategy to project delivery
  • Select projects based on Financial and non-financial appraisal
  • Manage the Project Pipeline
  • Support Project Governance
  • Encourage a higher level of Project Management Maturity (PMM)

The PMO should be set up to deliver at least level 2 for the organisation.

Tips for Project Management Office Success

Here are some simple tips to ensure that the PMO operates successfully:

  • Support from Senior Management is vital
  • The PMO should be responsible for ALL projects – no exceptions
  • The PMO should deliver consistently for all the projects
  • Benefits and successes should be clearly communicated

A PMO runs the risk of being an overhead on the organisation. Showing benefits and success can reduce the risk of the PMO being disbanded!

Benefits of the Project Management Office

A good PMO will deliver benefits to all Project, Programmes, and Portfolios:

  • Improved Project success rates
  • Clear centralised communication
  • Impartial reporting of project progress
  • Templates for easy and consistent project start up
  • Executive view on project status

Operating at the highest level, ad PMO can help an organisation achieve their vision and strategy by delivering successful projects.


Does your organisation have a PMO? Is it operating at the correct level? Could it be an APM PMO award winner?

Whilst there are many benefits from running a PMO, a PMO that is under-resourced, or managed badly will simply be a drain on company resources.

Posted On: 25th January 2021

Join the conversation