What’s a PMO?
By Christian Bisson
PMO stands for Project Management Office. Since it’s objective & responsibilities vary from company to company, it is not necessarily easy to understand what it is.
So what is it?
The typical definition of a PMO is a group of people or department in an organization that is responsible for defining and maintaining project management standards. Note that in smaller organization, even one person could be considered the PMO.
Their responsibility may go beyond that:
- Portfolio management: Either by participating actively to the management of the portfolio or being fully responsible for it;
Resource management: They may have the responsibility of managing who works on which project;
Actual project management: they will either manage all projects or the most important ones;
Documentation / templates: Can also include which PM tools are used; and
Project managers’ training: Making sure the efficiency of project managers satisfy the projects’ needs.
Also good to note:
- A variation called PgMO exists, which Program Management Office. The idea is the same but applies to programs instead which are groups of projects that share similarities that make them more efficient to manage as a group rather than individual;
A PMO can have authority within the whole organization or just a department. Therefore, it is possible to have more than one PMO inside an organizational.
To complement the item above, it is also possible to have a PMO that manages the departmental PMOs.
What’s in it for Project managers?
- Great way to share opinion, and gain knowledge from others;
Work in an environment where project management maturity is higher;
Receive help if required;
Career opportunities can rise within the PMO;
PMO are a good sign that an organization as reached a certain maturity with project management, therefore it can be something that project managers seek when looking for a job. As long as objectives are clearly defined for it, PMO greatly rises the success rates of project overall. On the other hand, a poorly defined PMO can head useless overhead to projects and have a negative impact.
Christian Bisson is a project manager from Montreal, QC, Canada. His PM experience is concentrated in the Internet world, and he helped deliver over a 100 projects over his PM years. You can read more from Christian on his blog.