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Back2Basics – What is Project Management Office (PMO)

Back2Basics of Project Management Office – What is Project Management Office (PMO)

This week we are going to kick off another Back to Basics Series about Portfolio Management Office (PMO). The topics we are planning to cover in this series of articles are

Let’s start with the basic and know about project management (PMO), its function, roles and responsibilities.

When does an organization start thinking about a project management office (PMO)?

The business challenges that an organization faces in managing multiple projects leads it to think about project management office. Greater Efficiency and Better Monitoring of project management processes are two prime reasons why organizations would like to set up PMO.

Some of these typical problems organization would be facing while managing projects are like

  • When organization is struggling to coordinate & deliver multiple projects across departments
  • Getting organization ready for major organization change
  • Project managers are overburdened with administrative activities and feel directionless
  • Difficulty in managing its cross departmental resources & optimally assigning them to projects
  • When management team has hard time in getting the real picture of status of all or specific projects
  • When it want to clearly see how much time its resources are spending on different projects, tasks
  • When it would like to enforce a consistent way of tracking project progress information
  • When it would like to ensure projects are governed in right manner to avoid risky situations

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What is Project Management Office (PMO)?

There are similar definition of PMO defined that can be found at TechTarget or PMI website. Let me share a broader definition that answers what is a project management office (PMO).

PMO is a group or department within a business or enterprise that defines rules, standards, processes and best practices for managing projects and maintaining these rules, standard for the organization. It is also responsible to monitor whether these standards are followed and address challenges involved

What is Project Management Office (PMO) - Functions

What Does Project Management Office (PMO) Strive to Achieve?

A well-structured and well-supported project management office (PMO) can help organization to have highly successful project management approach. PMO is a function or system that enables well-defined decision making information and system; though PMO may not make business decision by itself. Project management office drives the project management and project delivery processes such that business changes, new initiatives are planned, executed and monitored in structured manner.

What Are the Goals of a Project Management Office (PMO)?

As I mentioned earlier, the essential objectives to set up project management office for an organization is to garner higher efficiency of delivering projects and better monitoring of projects. PMO can achieve these objectives by defining project management standards and ensure these project management policies, processes, best practices are followed.

A matured project management office is often sought after as focal point of guidance, corroboration, documentation, performance evaluation parameters regarding managing projects in an organisation. To support these, project management office also helps project specific planning of activities, issues, follow up with project teams. PMO may report the progress, requirements, problems and risks to management team using a centralised tool to enable decision making process for executive management. For this purpose, PMO team defines and implements project management KPIs to measure performance of projects undertaken, staff members engaged, etc.

PMO defines rules/standards for

  • New projects requests are processed
  • Change requests are managed
  • The way projects are planned,
  • How resources are secured/assigned,
  • The way issues, risks, meetings are managed,
  • How project progress is reported

The project management office (PMO) derives its principles, processes, standards based on industry standard methodology like PMBoK (defined by PMI) or other like PRINCE2 or so. With these standards, ith these rules, PMO strives to drive its organization toward making consistent, predictable project management processes so as to make the project organization business-goals oriented, to achieve business objectives. PMOs across the world are also learning, adopting and evolving in terms of best practices of project management processes. Nowadays organizations are imparting strategic importance to PMO so that it can serve as a bridge between business goals and project delivery; thereby bringing predictability in doing business. Organizations are learning to empower PMO so that it can influence organization towards change and improvement.

There are as many variances in the structure, format and focus of PMOs as there are definitions of the term.

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Types of PMO

Depending on purpose, mode and scale of operations there are four types of PMOs are defined.[1]

  • Internal or Departmental PMO
  • Specific purpose PMO
  • Outreaching PMO (supplier/customer PMO)
  • Enterprise PMO (internal/external PMO)

In the next post, we will look at what does a project management office do.

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About Zilicus

Zilicus offers the best project portfolio management tool ZilicusPM, with robust project management tools capabilities and easy ways to track project management KPI,

Know more about project portfolio management, Gantt chart, best project management tool, project management office, project management tips, project planning guide, project risk management, project scope management, effective project management, project manager guides and know more about Project Portfolio Management Software, Project Management Software Guide.

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I am a co-founder of Zilicus Solution and I write about project management, collaboration, productivity, project management software, cloud computing, requirement management and business empowerment.