A project management office, abbreviated to PMO, is a group or department within a business, agency or enterprise that defines and maintains standards for project management within the organisation. The PMO strives to standardise and introduce economies of repetition in the execution of projects. This includes creating and maintaining project documentation and best practices, track metrics, and offer training. They may also report project progress to executives and stakeholders, help prioritise projects, and ensure all projects support the overall business objectives of the enterprise.
PMOs are no panacea for project challenges, including battling today’s tepid business climate. For one thing, there is no uniform recipe for success — it’s important that the PMO structure closely hews to a company’s corporate culture. PMOs also won’t give organisations a quick fix or deliver immediate, quantifiable savings.
While project management offices vary in terms of size, structure and responsibilities, the expectation is that PMOs to function in the following seven areas:
- Project support: Provide project management guidance to project managers in business units.
- Project management process/methodology: Develop and implement a consistent and standardised process.
- Training: Conduct training programs or collect requirements for an outside company.
- Home for project managers: Maintain a centralised office from which project managers are loaned out to work on projects.
- Internal consulting and mentoring: Advise employees about best practices.
- Project management software tools: Select and maintain project management tools for use by employees.
- Portfolio management: Establish a staff of program managers who can manage multiple projects that are related, such as infrastructure technologies, desktop applications and so on, and allocate resources accordingly.
And there are normally 3 approaches to a PMO, best explained in a diagram: