What is the PMO?


PMO stands for "Project Management Office". It is a generally set up as a department, however, it could be structured in any form ranging from a group, a practice, to even a business unit. The exact function of a PMO is very much dependent upon the exact structure of the parent organization and the intended purpose of setting up of the PMO.

Why a PMO

Most organizations need to undertake at least some project work, if not a lot. In order to be able to succeed at this specialized work, the organization would need to find a solution for the following:

  • People with specialized skills to manage that work
  • Best practices on how to get that work done
  • A consistent and concerted effort to succeed at project work
  • A continuation of the practices and improvement over time
Types of PMOs

Depending upon various categorizations of the PMO, a PMO could fall into any of the following types:

  • Practice & Audit Group Sets up processes and ensures processes.
  • Professional Service Group Lends professionals for specific problem-solving.
  • Shared Service Group Provides services and people to be shared by the entire organization.
  • Delivery Group Responsible for delivering business-critical products and services.

As you come down this list, you can see that the level of delivery responsibility on the PMO grows. In most organizations that are not structured as projectized organization, PMO's role will veer somewhere in between point no. 3 and point no. 4.

Responsibilities of a PMO

At a very basic level, a PMO is responsible for defining, managing and ensuring project management processes within the organization. However, this responsibility could be broken down into many objectives and goals that ideally a PMO would need to achieve - and thus would need to deliver on relevant tasks. Let's take a look at some of the key ones that stand out:

  • Project Creation
  • Project Management
  • Project Closure
  • Project Deliverables
  • Project Documentation
  • Project Governance
  • Project Environment Organization
  • Project Management Systems
Roles within a PMO

Following are the roles you would typically find within a PMO. Except for the director of the PMO, each of the other roles could be further qualified by all variations of Senior, Intermediate and Junior:

  • Project Manager
  • Program Manager
  • Portfolio Manager
  • Project Scheduler
  • Project Coordinator
  • Director of PMO
Structure of a PMO

A PMO generally takes a pyramid form with the Director of PMO (in most cases) heading the "Office", and Project Managers along with Program and Portfolio Managers forming the structure within the organization. Just like any organizational pyramid, a PMO pyramid could be tall or wide - could have many levels or just two or three levels.

  • wide-pyramid PMO
  • tall-pyramid PMO
  • balanced-pyramid PMO
Key Performance Indicators

These days, data is the closes thing to God. You need data for everything. Measuring success is no different. And when you have done something big, like setting up a PMO, the big question is - how do you make sure that your efforts are bearing fruit - the PMO is actually helping the organization. This is where comes in KPIs - Key Performance Indicators. These are values that determine if things are improving or deteriorating. And if things are improving, how fast are they improving.

What KPI's we need to look at would depend upon the type of PMO we're talking about. And then, every organization poses different types of challenges and thus would need different KPIs. Without getting into the deep trenches of specifics, let's look at some key KPI's for each type of PMO:

  • Practice & Audit Group - Organization's Project Delivery Rate, Organization's Project Success Rate, Organization's Process Conformance Rate etc.
  • Professional Service Group - Rate of Request Resolution, Request Success Rate
  • Shared Service Group - Client Satisfaction Rate
  • Delivery Group - Group's Project Delivery Rate, Group's Project Success Rate

Anyway, that is an initial primer on what a PMO is, what it's responsibilities are, who are part of it, how to structure it and how to measure its performance.


In this post we reviewed what a PMO is, why is it needed, what are the various types of PMOs, what the responsibilities of a PMO are, what are the roles you’d find within a PMO, how a PMO is structured, and what the key performance indicators (KPIs) to use to evaluate the success (or failure) of a PMO. Hope this post has provided you a good idea about the PMO.

Please feel free to comment and provide feedback.