What is a project management office and do you need one?

What is a project management office and do you need one?A project management office (PMO) is a group — internal or external to a company — that sets, maintains and ensures standards for project management across that organization. They’re the keepers of best practices, project status and direction — all in one spot.

“At the end of the day, PMOs are in place to help orgs deliver value to their stakeholders to projects and programs,” commented Brian Weiss, vice president, practitioner career development of the Project Management Institute.

According to PM Solutions research, 85% of companies had a PMO in 2016, up 5% from 2014. They also found that 30% of companies without a PMO plan to implement one.

The role of the PMO could change as artificial intelligence and digital transformation take hold, but in today’s business climate, here’s what a PMO should do, what types you should consider, and who really needs one.

Roles and responsibilities of a PMO

A PMO makes sure company procedures, practices and operations go right — on time, on budget and all in the same way. “PMOs are there to ensure project and program success, and that’s critical because organizations deliver value through projects and programs,” said Weiss. “How they do that depends upon how they’re situated within the organization.”

According to PMI’s 2017 Pulse of the Profession, those companies that align their enterprise-wide PMO to strategy had 38% more projects meet original goals and business intent than those that did not. They also had 33% fewer projects deemed failures.

Michael Fritsch, vice president PMO at Confoe, which both provides PMO services and helps companies create their own internal PMOs, says that a good PMO:

  • Provides tangible, repeatable, long-term benefits to the business
  • Aligns with corporate strategy and culture
  • Is agile enough to adapt as strategy shifts
  • Is a key enabler for the high-performing organization
  • Integrates data and information from corporate strategic projects/supports the balanced scorecard
  • Enables sharing of resources, methodologies, tools and techniques for project success across the enterprise
  • Identifies and develops project management methodology, best practices and standards
  • Coaches, mentors, trains and provides oversight for project managers and staff