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PMO (Project Management Office): A Beginner's Guide - What You Need To Know

Mastering Project Risk: A Comprehensive Checklist for Project Managers

MetaPM Team

Broadly stated, a PMO exists to ensure that an organisation's investment in a project is sustainable––with a focus on improving solution delivery. Follow this guide to garner a beginner 101 on the various factors that give rise to the Project Management Office.

What is PMO (Project Management Office)?

PMO is an acronym for Project Management Office. It refers to the office, group or department––internal or external to a company––responsible for overseeing, maintaining and ensuring project management standards across an organisation.

Although the exact roles and responsibilities of a PMO differ from organisation to organisation, a PMO is essentially a gatekeeper of best practices––responsible for all documentation, guidance, and metrics relating to project execution while ensuring that projects are completed on time and within budget.

Benefits of Implementing a PMO

The PMO Provides Guidance

With a PMO at the ready, you have a group to align each project with the company’s overall mission and strategy. With guidance from the project management office, you can work within the boundaries of your long-term plan while staying focused on today’s projects. Ultimately, this guidance leads to more efficiency and growth.

Your Business Will Stay on Track

Projects have momentum; sometimes, a big project can cause your business to veer away from its long-term goals. A PMO acts like an external mechanism to deliver projects successfully.

Because the PMO uses metrics-based assessments, it can help keep projects on track and forewarn you when scheduling and budgeting issues threaten the project’s success. Instead of running off the rails, you can quickly get back on track before the subject leads to project-ending problems.

Maintaining the Big Picture

Most businesses have several projects going on at the same time. The PMO has an acute understanding of the links between those projects. They understand how the projects may affect each other in terms of resources, budgeting, personnel, scheduling, etc.

Therefore, a PMO gives your business a bird’s-eye view of the big picture. When your company’s work plays out on a larger canvas, you can see how small moves can have significant repercussions for other projects.

The PMO Facilitates Productive Communication

Your project management office has the ears of your stakeholders in ways you might not, so they’re vital in facilitating communications. A project management office can answer the call if you need help ensuring your project is delivered and understood.

Share Resources Throughout the Organisation

When you use a PMO, you facilitate sharing resources throughout the business. Instead of trading and begging for help from another project, the PMO can oversee resource distribution. In other words, your project management office can increase productivity and harmony at the same time.

The Roles and Responsibilities of a PMO

How does a PMO fit into your organisation? What duties will it assume? PMOs can provide the foundation for successful project delivery by providing expertise, governance, execution support and transparency. Let’s look at a few critical responsibilities of project management offices.


A PMO will ensure the right people use the right information to make the right decisions. Tools might include peer reviews, audits, the development of appropriate project structures and effective accountability.


With accurate and timely information, business leaders can make informed decisions. A PMO facilitates organisation-wide transparency, so everyone has critical information.


How much time is wasted “reinventing the wheel” every time a new project begins? Since PMOs document lessons learned and offer templates and best practices from the past, new projects can start with greater efficiency.

Delivery Support

With team members working here and there, poor communication can stall progress and impede project success. A PMO helps to facilitate project teams so everyone can do their job more effectively. The project management office streamlines processes and bureaucracy, offering training, guidance and quality assurance.


A PMO also manages all documentation produced by the project, which is used to create a project history. With standardised documentation available, your organisational knowledge increases and compounds, paving the way for more efficiency upon completing each project.

You can measure your current PMO capability by completing this free online survey. You'll gain immediate practical recommendations built by experts to improve your PMO's performance.

Different Types of PMOs

As per the Project Management Institute, a PMO can fall into several categories. Each varies according to the level of control and influence they have on projects within the organisation. For the purposes of this guide we’ll focus on the following main three:

The Supportive PMO

Supportive PMOs offer no direct intervention or control. Besides serving as a repository of project best practices, readily available to PMs on an as-needed basis, their role is consultative. From supplying templates, training, and access to information to best practices and lessons learned from other projects.

The Controlling PMO

Controlling PMOs provide moderate support and are dependent on compliance, including but not limited to project management frameworks or methodologies, using specific templates, forms, and tools, or conformance to governance. 

The Directive PMO

Directive PMOs offer a high degree of control. As indicated by its name, the directive PMO is responsible for directing projects. It uses its high degree of oversight to provide resources and support to an organisation’s projects. This type of PMO assigns project managers to specific endeavours, and they report back on their progress. 

A Directive PMO helps to bring out a high degree of consistency across an organisation. Its single reporting and authority structure best suits strong matrix or projected business structures.

The function of a Project Management Office is to establish structures for project selection, ensure alignment with strategic goals, allocate resources to programmes and projects, resolve conflicts over resources and identify dependencies within organisations. 

The best type of PMO for your organisation is the one that suits your business and meets your unique needs. 

Concluding Thoughts

A PMO can be incredibly valuable if it’s the right fit for your business. 

Now that you've garnered the 101, you're probably intrigued, and tossing between do I or don't I. And why not? It is, after all, a department that can keep track of multiple projects, and manage team capabilities while standardising project management practices that lead to better business outcomes.

Either way, it’s important to have your questions answered. Talk with us to find out how a PMO can help your business to operate more efficiently and effectively. 

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