Project Management Office (PMO)


Project Management Office

What is it?

PMO can be known as Programme, Portfolio or Project Management Office. It is at the core of a controlled environment created for the management of change. The role of PMO is to remove obstacles to delivery by defining and then implementing pragmatic governance and controls, extracting insight from planning and performance information. In addition the PMO can also provide a range of support services for project teams ensuring these teams are not distracted by peripheral activities and remain focussed on their stated deliverables.

Establishment of a PMO

There are a variety of different PMO's. They will vary from those providing a comprehensive set of services to those providing no more than basic administrative support. Each organisation needs to determine what type of PMO it requires. For example, it needs to be established precisely what degree of control and influence the PMO will exercise. Once agreed, the activities and roles and responsibilities of the PMO should be incorporated into a terms of reference document. This can then be used as part of a service agreements outlining the services that the PMO will and will not provide.

A list of functions that should be considered as part of a PMO will include the following:

  1. Standards - establish standard processes and templates for all agreed activities and communicate them to the programme.
  2. Planning - ensure plans exist at programme, portfolio and project levels. To include quality assurance of plans with visibility of key milestones.
  3. Reporting - ensure that regular reporting is completed and communicated as required and that actions are documented to counter any overdue items. A check and challenge may also take place to ensure reporting information is consistent and accurate across the programme.
  4. Risks and Issues - ensure that key risks and issues are identified, reported and visible at project and programme/portfolio level. A check and challenge should be carried out on all of these risks and issues to ensure they are valid and also have appropriate actions and target dates recorded against them.
  5. Dependency Management - ensure that dependencies are identified and reported as agreed, together with any identified actions.
  6. Change Control - ensure changes are identified and documented and that information is communicated to key stakeholders.
  7. Quality Assurance - review and ensure that agreed governance is followed and that reports are completed and submitted as required.
  8. Budgetary Control - ensure financial forecasts are maintained and that costs are monitored and variances identified together with actions to resolve the variances.
  9. Document Configuration Management - include establishment and maintenance of a project library, document naming and version control standards.
  10. Resource Management - monitor and manage resource requirements, including estimating future demand and supply and identifying actions to meet future requirements.
  11. Benefits Tracking - documenting and reviewing progress against benefits identified at project initiation.
  12. Administrative Support - this will include a range of activities that will have to be agreed with the programme management. Precise activities should be agreed as they can have a significant impact on the numbers and level of PMO staff required.

When setting up the PMO it is crucial that the essential and core disciplines are agreed and then implemented consistently.

In order to be measured as a success the PMO needs to be seen to be adding value to the programme. A measurement system should be designed and implemented to illustrate this. The project/programme position prior to establishment of the PMO should be the benchmark used for comparison purposes.

Are PMO's a Success?

Success may be seen to be dependent on the way in which the PMO was originated. If the PMO is set up with agreed and documented standards and controls, has the support and backing of directors/senior managers and is part of a planned programme of change, there is an increased likelihood of success. If not, then it may be more of a challenge.

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