What is a PMO?

woman leading a pmo assessing a process on a board

Learn how your business can benefit from setting up a Project Management Office

Project management is an important part of your business. Your project managers keep information flowing and teams moving towards their targets. But as your organisation grows and you hire more project managers, how do you ensure they work to a uniform process and uphold best practices?

That’s where a project management office (PMO) comes in.

Definition of a PMO

A PMO is a team of people responsible for defining and maintaining best practices of project management in an organisation, making sure projects are delivered on time and within budget. This team sits above your organisation’s project managers, providing them with support, mentoring, and process standardisation so that all projects progress efficiently.

Common goals of a PMO include:

  • Knowing the company’s value stream, a set of actions that develop to add value to a customer from the initial request.
  • Making sure the project portfolio is in line with the objectives of the organisation.
  • Listening and taking into account the customer’s needs.
  • Putting collaboration first and focusing on outcomes over outputs.

Types of PMO

There are several different types of PMOs to make sure all project managers they govern correspond to your company’s strategy and goals. Some businesses implement a supportive or advisory PMO, which organises projects while playing a more consultative role in the company, providing knowledge based on previously finished projects. PMOs can take greater control when enforcing standards and best practices. These are often called ‘directive’ PMOs and they are central authorities on projects.

Many factors influence the design of a PMO, including an organisation’s goals, cultural aims, industry strengths, company history, and leadership ethos. However, there are traditionally three main structures:

  • The enterprise PMO: This involves the PMO in all projects, enabling it to assess scope, allocate resources and verify time, budget, risk and ideas of the impact before the project starts. There is usually funding for direct budgeted allocation for services and a fee-for-service charge for others.
  • The project repository: This is used as a holding area for documents and other resources produced and required in the project life cycle. Project managers continue to report to, and are funded by, their respective business units.
  • The project coach model: This shares some project management practices across business functions and uses the project office to coordinate communication. Best practices are documented and shared, and project performance is constantly monitored. This is a permanent structure with staff and has some type of responsibility for all projects.

Some of the methodologies used by PMOs are:

  • Agile: Projects that need to be done quickly and must be flexible to deliver projects to customers in a shorter cycle, breaking the cycles into sprints.
  • Waterfall: Enabling increased control in each project phase but is still flexible enough to be changed if need be.
  • Six Sigma: Getting rid of the possible defects of a project.
  • Scrum: Workgroups coming together to discuss priority and improve productivity when taking part in a project.

What are the benefits of a PMO?

Establishing a PMO can have many benefits for your organisation. As mentioned earlier, its chief purpose is to make sure projects always align with your company’s goals and objectives, championing clarity and accuracy at every step of a project.

Standardising project processes and best practices can also reduce costly mistakes and delays in the software development lifecycle. Having accurate estimates of the time, money and resources needed for a project decreases the potential for mid-project changes.

Overall decision-making in your business is also improved. The PMO is where the aspirations and experiences of upper management, team management and project teams mix, meaning the PMO can draw actionable insights from them. This can be valuable in the case of a disruption – a project manager can talk with the PMO to consider alternative actions based on past project solutions.

A PMO centralises your organisation’s data, eliminating communication issues between project teams and upper management and allowing them to work together to create solutions based on real data. Decision-making can be further enhanced by implementing automation into your PMO structure, streamlining and accelerating the processes behind data collection, reporting, and analysis. This can lead to more informed decision-making, risk assessment, resource allocation and project tracking.

What to consider when growing a PMO

PMOs are usually staffed by highly-experienced people in project management who are experienced in budgeting, scheduling, planning and organisation. However, your PMO should not be solely constituted of long-tenured staff – your organisation can grow a robust PMO by hiring entry-level workers into junior positions such as PMO Analyst, Project Support Specialist, and PMO Coordinator.

Regardless of experience level, members of a PMO must possess a range of skills to be successful including:

  • Effective communication
  • Conflict management
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Empathy
  • Negotiation
  • Problem-solving
  • Teamwork

According to a report from PMI and PwC, the five capabilities which are essential to successful project completion are relationship building, collaborative leadership, strategic thinking, creative problem-solving and commercial awareness. The report found the top 10% of companies with successful project management place greater emphasis on recruiting individuals with these skill sets.

Grow your PMO with promising talent from the Ten10 Academy

Our expert trainers teach a core technology primer before coaching prospects through specialist pathways based on their strengths. That means you can grow your PMO with new talent that will bring fresh perspectives and creative solutions to the challenges your organisation faces every day.

Speak with a member of our Solutions Team to learn how we can help you.