A Project Management Office – What & Why?

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A Project Management Office can significantly improve the delivery of projects for an organization. Surveys show that organizations with PMO’s have higher performance measures than those without PMO’s and that reporting, monitoring and controlling, and the use of templates and methodologies rank high in PMO functions. Given the appropriate governance, it can improve communication, establish an enterprise standard for project management and help reduce the disastrous effect of failed development projects on enterprise effectiveness and productivity. PMO’s can save organizations money by enabling better resource management, reducing project failures, and supporting those projects that offer the biggest payback.


A PMO is an organizational unit to centralize and coordinate the management of projects. Its goal is to apply a consistent project management methodology across an organization. It functions as a shared competency designed to integrate project management within an enterprise. A PMO can be a key resource in establishing an enterprise competency in project analysis, design, management, and review.

When should an organization consider setting up a PMO?

An organization should consider setting up a PMO when projects become a major portion of the work the organization performs.

Consulting capacity – providing project managers in business units with training, guidance, and best practices; Centralized version – with project managers on staff who are loaned out to business units to work on projects.

Basic organizational styles for a PMO:

There are three basic organizational styles for a project management office. Each has unique functions that define its role within the project development-to-management life cycle. · The project repository – the project office simply serves as a source of information on project methodology and standards. · The project coach model – in addition to being a repository, project management practices are shared across business functions and the project office coordinates communication. Best practices are documented and shared, and project performance is monitored actively. · The enterprise project management office – the most permanent, consolidated organizational model concentrates project management within a project office. This implies direct management or oversight of projects wherever they occur within the enterprise.

Designing a PMO:

It is important that the PMO structure fits in closely with the company’s corporate culture. The PMO that is established must be one that makes the most sense for the particular organization. Defining a logical PMO organization: Before designing a PMO it must be defined how it will function logically within the organization. The following major components define a logical PMO. · Sponsor: The sponsor is the person responsible for the PMO funding and, in many cases, the sponsor is the manager to whom the PMO reports. Sponsors are absolutely critical for a culture change initiative such as the PMO. · Stakeholders: Any people or groups (internal and external) who have an interest or a partial stake in the products and services the PMO provides. · Clients/customers: While there may be many stakeholders, it is important to recognize who the clients are and how the PMO will focus on helping them meet their project and business objectives. · Objectives: Concrete statements describing what the PMO is trying to achieve. A well-worded objective will be specific, measurable, attainable/achievable, realistic and time bound. · Products/services: Define tangible items that the PMO produces as the result of a project. The PMO achieves its objectives through the creation of products and the delivery of services. · Transitional activities: These are the specific activities and projects required to implement the physical PMO. · Other aspects: The PMO vision, principles, goals, objectives, skills, roles and responsibilities.

Benefits a PMO provides to an organization:

· Rigorous PM methodology: All project management activities follow industry standard guidelines e.g. PRINCE2®, PMBOK, etc. · A resource pool of PM’s: Project managers are 100% dedicated to management. More even deployment of project management resources. · Templates: All projects will have a complete set of supporting documents available that have the same organizational look-and-feel. · Processes: Uniform ways of managing schedules, costs, risks, communications · Metrics: Consistent quantitative measures used to determine performance of projects · Knowledge base repository: Knowledge sharing between projects is encouraged, e.g. lessons learned, best practices, past risks etc. · Standardized tools: Industry-standard project management software. · Mentoring: Experienced project managers can offer guidance to junior project team members.

Ants PM T&D consulting approach: ANTS PM T&D can assist your organisation in establishing a Programme Office to oversee and provide ongoing support to a portfolio of projects, or a Project Support Office for a stand-alone project. Ants will assist you to identify the project management needs of your organization. We will advise you on the optimum organisational structure and size of your project office and will assist with the training of staff.

References 1. PMD Consulting, “The Benefits of a Project Management Office” 2. D. Bradbury (2005), “PMO: What is it and do you need one?”