What is Project Management Office - PMO?

PMO is a group or department organization that creates and maintain standards for managing projects, programs, and/or portfolios. As a management organization, PMOs help companies align strategy with execution and delivery. It can also be a center of excellence for project management standards and career development for practitioners.

Why the organization needs a Project Management Office?

PMOs play a key role in meeting corporate strategy. The following is a statistic from the Project Management Institute.

The number shows that the use of PMOs is on the rise and plays a key role in supporting a business ability to deliver value.

From 2007 through 2017, the use of PMOs generally has increased over those years. And here are a few additional PMI statistics of interest concerning the benefits of a PMO.

1. The percentage of PMOs that establish and monitor projects success metrics has grown from 62% in 2007 to over 80% today. That's almost a 30% increase.

2. Among organizations that have a PMO, half have an enterprise PMO.

3. Organizations that align their PMO to strategy report a 38% more projects meeting their original goals and business intent. And finally, 33% fewer projects are deemed failures.

Now this is positive news and should help demonstrate the value of a PMO can bring to an organization.​​

What are services that PMO can provide?

  • Management of Program and Project

  • Management of Portfolio

  • Risk Management

  • Organizational Change Management

  • Resource Management

  • Organization Communication

How to know if an organization needs a PMO? 

Look at their ability to deliver projects and programs.

  • Are business objectives being delivered inconsistently? 

  • Do they have high failure rates? 

  • Are there challenges around organizational change management?

  • Are those receiving the product, project, or program unaware of intended benefits or impacts on them?

  • Is the market not ready for the products and services of this organization?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, the organization would likely benefit from a PMO.

Types of PMO

1.  Directive PMO

This type of PMO directly manages projects, thus the degree of control and influence is very high. This type actually takes over the projects by providing the project management experience and resources to manage the project. As organizations undertake projects, professional project managers from the PMO are assigned to the projects. This injects a great deal of professionalism into the projects, and, since each of the project managers originates and reports back to the PMO, it guarantees a high level of consistency of practice across all projects.


2.  Supportive PMO

This type of PMO acts as a consultant to projects by providing access to best practices, templates, training and also proven information and lessons-learned archives from past projects. You can consider this type of PMO as a library of project information. This PMO has very low control and low influence over the projects it assists. 


3.  Controlling PMO


This type of PMO requires compliance to their frameworks or methodologies by the projects they support. This can include the required use of processes, templates, forms, tools, and governance. In addition, project offices might need to pass regular reviews by this type of PMO, and this may represent a risk factor on the project. Control and influence are relatively moderate compared to the other types of PMO.

PMO Framework

There are 5 Frameworks of PMO you can choose for setting up for your company:

Business Unit PMO

  • Provides all PMO services such as best practices, tools, templates, techniques and training

  • Services are limited to one department or business unit within the organization. We often see this in information technology

  • Often found in IT; offers processes, resource allocation, training, governance, reporting, other project/portfolio management activities


Project Specific PMO

  • Large projects or programs might need own PMO

  • Temporary set up, perhaps staffed from company’s main PMO

  • Can deliver governance activities for the project, coordinate reporting, be bridge between main PMO and project, provide administrative support, gather other relevant data.


Project Support PMO

  • Across the organization; set-up focuses mainly on what is required to get the job done

  • Are keeper of processes and procedures

  • Own tools and practices, offering training on tools, techniques and processes; likely have a large template library and have access to experts in PM software and tools


Enterprise PMO

  • Highest level of PMO in an organization; often found on the organizational structure just beneath the executive level

  • Most often report to a board members, or even CEO

  • Main objective of a PMO at this level is strategic alignment: to make sure that project and program work perfectly fits to strategic goals


Center for Excellence

  • Supports project work by improving capabilities, knowledge and skills of the people doing the work

  • Involves maintaining a company library of project management textbooks, organizing and delivering training courses,  coaching and mentoring, etc.




What is PMO Responsibilities in Agile Environments?

  1. Develop a training program and provide coaching.

  2. Assist with reporting.

  3. Assist with compliance needs such as ISO, Sarbanes–Oxley, or other organizational rules such as data security requirements

  4. Manage the intake of new projects.

  5. Assist in establishing and collecting metrics.

  6. Reduce waste by introducing lean processes and guidelines.

  7. Create consistency among teams by communicating best practices.

  8. Coordinate teams similar to a program manager.


Alternative Names for Agile PMO

  • Agile Center of Excellence 

  • Scrum Competence Center

  • Scrum Office

  • Development Support

[content source from Introduction to PMO - EDX & University of Washington]