What is PMO in project management?

September 13, 2021

As your company scales, you may find that adding a PMO can help streamline your operations and improve efficiency.

PMO stands for project management office. Project management offices are in charge of creating and maintaining project documentation. This office also extends this capability by collating best practices, tracking metrics, and offering training. As large projects advance and meet deadlines and work objectives, the PMO can also report progress to stakeholders and use this visibility to prioritize other projects while supporting overall business operations.

What is the role of a PMO?

PMOs play increasingly important roles as companies grow. A small company may be able to operate efficiently without a dedicated PMO, but as companies expand their reach, handle more projects, and engage more stakeholders, PMOs create good return on investment and help operations elsewhere in the company run smoothly.

Depending on the company’s structure and alignment, a PMO may provide support for a number of critical roles, including:

  • Project management: A PMO can inform team members about best practices for work techniques, define project metrics, share key performance indicators, and perform training.
  • Project selection: A project management office can help select projects based on availability of personnel, availability of resources, the need for certain skill sets, and alignment with wider organizational goals.
  • Resource management: PMOs can define roles and responsibilities and help team members managed priorities based on bandwidth.

What is the difference between a PMO and a project manager?

While on the surface their descriptions may seem the same, there are critical functional differences between a project management office and a project manager.

A project manager is an employee or contractor who is in charge of a single project from start to finish. A project manager shepherds individual projects along a determine timeline and may define project goals, schedule tasks, manage project costs, allocate resources, create budgets, and recruit team members to handle individual tasks.

A project management office is typically a team that oversees projects from a higher level and deals in larger scope. When fully built out, a project management office may include finance officers, IT specialists, planners, experts in risk management, documentation specialists, and others who can ensure that projects are properly resourced and are aligned to achieve their defined outcomes.

How do you know when you need a PMO?

Because the roles of a project manager may suffice in many cases, and because your organization’s work flow may not be steady or predictable, it can be difficult to know when you need a PMO. Here are some indicators a PMO is right for your business:

  • Your projects are completed late or run over budget
  • Your projects don’t fully match with your business goals
  • Stakeholders complain that they are not in the loop on projects
  • Projects are not executed in a consistent way
  • Team members are unsure of their steps or duties

Who staffs a PMO?

Your project management office will encompass a variety of professionals aligned around the goal of broad project management and organizational efficiency. Typical staff positions include:

  • PMO director: Person who oversees projects across an entire organization
  • Project and program managers: Officials who report to the PMO director
  • Project schedules, planners, and controllers
  • Administrative staff
  • Trainers and coaches

Benefits to expect from a PMO

Project management offices can have excellent though occasionally hard to precisely measure ROI. If your office is well equipped and well staffed, you can expect:

  • Increased customer satisfaction
  • Fewer project cost and time overruns
  • Improved productivity
  • Better project selection
  • Fewer failed projects

There are clear benefits to using a PMO. Whatever route you choose, your project management team should base its operations around a sound project management software tool like ProWorkflow, which is packed with time saving features and full of productivity hacks. To learn more, contact ProWorkflow today.