What is a Project Management Office and why do you need it?

More and more companies are setting up PMO, but what is prompting this shift? What is the primary role, and how can it help your company?


What is the role of the PMO (Project Management Office)?

It’s not easy to categorically define what a PMO is, because it varies so much from business to business. In general, the Project Management Office takes the form of a department that encompasses the know-how and skills of many people, tools, but also a set of processes and methods.

The PMO aims to standardize and optimize the costs that are systematically found in project management.  It takes a look at project management as a whole to provide processes, methods, and tools to harmonize the implementation of projects.

What are the benefits of a project management office? 

Depending on the business, a PMO’s responsibilities may include:

  • Strategic planning and project governance
  • Development of good practices and effective processes
  • The identification and dissemination of a common language, culture and mentality
  • Resource management
  • Implementation and maintenance of project management tools

In some Project Management Offices, we also find management of project portfolios, training and support for project managers.

Some numbers?

In 2014, the German Association for Project Management and Nürtingen-Geislingen University conducted a study entitled “The PMO in Practice” among 257 participants (PMO manager, PMO staff, project managers and operational staff), in companies of all sizes. The results of the study demonstrate the benefits of setting up a Project Management Office within a company, but also the difficulties that this can generate:

  • 94% consider the general contribution of the PMO very significant for their company
  • 55% think a PMO avoids duplication of projects
  • 42% believe a PMO offers greater reliability to achieve strategic project targets

However, many Project Management Offices still suffer from a lack of good indicators to measure their performance, while 70% have no indicators at all to highlight the effectiveness of their actions. As a result, their acceptance within a team is difficult. Coaching teams when setting up a PMO, as well as clear performance monitoring is essential to the success of the department.