What Is PMO? (Definition, Roles and Responsibilities)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 15 November 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

A business can deliver high-quality projects consistently and more effectively by developing standard procedures and techniques. The project management office (PMO) is a unit responsible for supporting project teams in standardising these procedures. If you're interested in project management, you may benefit from knowing what a PMO is and understanding the different roles and responsibilities of members within it. In this article, we outline what PMO is and discuss the roles and responsibilities within one.

What is PMO?

The project management office (PMO) is a department that develops and supports an organisation's project management standards. The professionals in this unit often monitor a project's progress and verify that all relevant staff adhere to the same company's best practices. The department also monitors timelines and analyses data to allow teams to complete tasks quickly and within the budget.

Related: How to Write a PMO Resume in 7 Steps (With an Example)

Reasons for establishing a PMO

Some businesses might gain more from creating one than others, particularly if they wish to enhance their overall project strategies. For example, large organisations with multiple projects may rely on the office to assist executives with resource prioritisation and process standardisation. These offices can access more relevant information and offer objective insights because they collaborate with departments from different business areas.

An efficient PMO can give suggestions for the budgeting process or use a company's strategies to decide which project to prioritise. For example, they may offer guidance when allocating funds for a sales team that requires funds for a new inventory management software and a marketing team that requires capital for an advertising campaign. Companies may also establish one for the following reasons:

  • integrating large-scale modifications to a project

  • increasing the transparency of a project's workflow

  • standardising company procedures

  • tracking project activities more precisely and effectively

Benefits of a PMO department

When a company has a PMO, it may benefit from the following:

Standardises procedures

A PMO helps coordinate a company's project management strategy by standardising its procedures. Project managers can benefit by having guidelines for executing tasks. For example, if two different project managers had the freedom to write reports according to their preferences, they might have different expectations about the final report. Standardisation can guarantee that each documentation follows the same format and includes similar details. Creating a benchmark rubric can also assist upper management in comparing the performances of different project managers.

Provides accurate and consistent outcomes

Standardisation can help when a team is experiencing challenges in completing a task. Guidelines can aid the team in overcoming challenges and making progress. Ongoing documentation also helps provide a straightforward, more precise illustration of determining project duration estimates, setting budgets and assigning resources for upcoming projects.

Increases the likelihood of completing a project

Project managers and teams may focus on carrying out the plan, producing deliverables and hitting milestones. PMO staff provide complementary roles of documenting tasks, reporting, communicating with collaborators and analysing results. Evaluating projects increases the likelihood of completing future projects because it provides a guide that the team can use to modify various methodologies.

Lowers costs

By increasing the accuracy of procedures, companies use lower costs for projects. When the professionals estimate the time and resources required to execute the project, the project is less likely to undergo major adjustments or modifications. Late revisions often result in extra costs that staff haven't factored into the budget. The team continuously monitors project specifics, enabling real-time management to guarantee the team stays within budget.

Aligns projects with company goals

One of the responsibilities is determining whether a project aligns with the company's long-term goals. They can terminate a project if it confirms its completion might not help the organisation achieve its goals. Instead, it might devote time, money and resources to other initiatives that align with those goals. They ensure that the company's operations always add value.

Acts as a source of information for future projects

They might serve as an information hub in several ways. The department knows the similarities between projects in different departments because it serves as the organisation's central coordination point. It can also exchange information to help project teams. The office is aware of each project's specifications and guides teams to learning materials to help them complete their tasks.

Centralises project data

An organisation's PMO serves as the repository for all project data, which eases the process of finding data that teams may require. It also makes project specifics visible to all collaborators, including dependencies and the causes of halted progress. This transparency enables project teams and upper management to discuss challenges and collaborate on developing solutions based on factual information.

Aids decision making

During project management, the department consolidates the goals and experiences of upper management, team management and project teams. This enables them to draw practical insights for decision-making. These decisions might be valuable if a project encounters an issue because the project manager can consult with the PMO to formulate potential solutions based on previous project outcomes.

Related: Decision-Making Skills: Definition and Examples for Leaders

Monitors the quality of the project

The PMO helps the company maintain quality assurance by offering unique perspectives about the project. For instance, a PMO member might recognise that a project team can utilise its resources more effectively and offer suggestions on how to do so. This can assist the team in accurately completing the project and meeting its goals.

Related: The Difference Between Quality Control and Quality Assurance

Tips when initiating a PMO

The following are some tips you can consider to initiate one within a company successfully:

  • Update your task list. You can use project management software to make an exhaustive list of every project stage and requirement, including vendors, tools, staff and supplies. This might aid in understanding a company's goals and project management procedures.

  • Analyse interested parties. Sort the collaborators involved in a project into groups according to their involvement and financial influence. This enables a PMO to develop effective communication methods for each individual.

  • Establish the function of the PMO. Identify which areas of the business can profit from a PMO's insights. For example, a company with a small HR department might hire these professionals to train new hires on how to utilise the project management software the business uses.

  • Apply change management strategies. These strategies describe how the business updates its internal systems or procedures. Consider using change management approaches to aid a PMO in understanding their new responsibilities and supporting each department.

Related:

  • Change Management Skills: Definition and Examples

  • What Are the 10 Main Change Management Principles?

Roles in a PMO

A PMO team can consist of internal staff members that work full-time or part-time or an external unit from a different organisation that specialises in this area. Although a company can set one up following its individual preferences and objectives, this department might have similar job roles. The following are examples of three positions you can find within one:

PMO director

A PMO director frequently monitors a company's project management procedures and guidelines. They develop each stage of a project life cycle and ensure all teams follow these procedures. These professionals might also manage collaborator requests, decide how to allocate resources across several projects and monitor their overall development. The PMO director has many responsibilities, including the following:

  • supervising and directing the PMO's daily activities, including project planning, organisation and management

  • monitoring the management of projects according to the approved project plan

  • guiding project managers throughout a project

  • creating project management techniques and instruments that the team uses for various projects

  • ensuring that all projects have team members who have the required knowledge, experience, skills and capabilities

  • recognising possible risks associated with a project and creating steps to reduce them when possible

Related: Project Manager Skills and Duties (With Examples)

Programme manager

A programme manager focuses on the team's daily tasks. For example, they might oversee timelines and budgets while also assisting team members in adhering to corporate standards throughout the project. Depending on a company's preferences, these individuals may work as project managers for a particular process and often report to the team's director.

Administrative support

These staff handle administrative duties and data collection for PMOs. These professionals might use specialised software to monitor project operations, analyse reports and compile resources. Examples of common titles include:

  • project schedulers

  • project controllers

  • project coordinators

  • project planners

  • project analysts

Related: What Does a PMO Analyst Do? (With Definition and Benefits)

Trainer

Many PMOs have instructors who train other professionals on how to use project management tools and techniques. These professionals can conduct training on Agile project management team roles or expound on how to run a successful sprint. They can also collaborate with an IT team to offer PMO software training and offer valuable guidance on business disciplines.

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