PMOs (Project, Program or Portfolio Management Offices)

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This subject looks at the challenges faced in setting up and managing PMOs (Project, Program or Portfolio Management Offices).

Topics included in PMOs (Project, Program or Portfolio Management Offices):

- Developing and Managing a PMO
- Setting and using performance targets
- Enterprise PMOs
- Useful External Web-links & Resources.

Other related sections of the PMKI:

- Integrated Project Controls

Developing and Managing a PMO

PMOs are organizational entities responsible for aspects of the support and monitoring of projects and programs within their area of responsibility:

WP: PMOs (Project Management Offices). The different types of PMO and the functions they may perform.

PP: Establishing an Effective Project Office – The Core Requirements for Success. The implementation of a PO is a long–term project in itself. There are a multitude of considerations that can impact on the pace and scope of the PO service eventually developed. A summary of the requirements is as follows:

  1. The primary requirements are essentially the design phase. The designing of the initiation process, reporting process, change management process and closure process can take from three to six months. This phase is very controllable because it has a limited effect on the projects.
  2. The secondary requirements establish the infrastructure needed by the PO. This phase tends to be less controllable. The training courses and organizational changes start to impact on the majority of staff. This initial effect generates some cultural resistance from stakeholders. Normally three to six months is required for the secondary requirements.
  3. The tertiary requirements are the most critical for long term success. The work practice acceptance, managing the PO behaviour and cultural change considerations will take from twelve to twenty four months or more. The majority of the benefits of the PO are achieved by completing the tertiary requirements.

This paper outlines the stages, processes and supporting systems architecture required to create and support a successful Project Office..

PP: Supersizing PMO Performance. The value of a PMO to its host organization is directly linked to its ability to communicate effectively with both senior management and project teams, in appropriate language, to facilitate access to the information it needs and to have its reports and messages understood and acted upon. By understanding its stakeholders and customizing its communication strategy to meet their different requirements, the PMO becomes a significantly more valuable resource..
Chinese language version

PP: Designing a PMO to Succeed and Survive. To survive, a PMO requires executive sponsorship, management buy-in and a clear mandate (authority and autonomy). To be successful, the PMO should contribute to the strategic alignment of projects and programs, benefits realization, leadership in implementation of best practices, continuous improvement, and being an information highway, facilitating open and targeted communications. Achieving this requires a clear understanding of the PMO's stakeholders and the organization's objectives.

Prs: Stakeholder Engagement: Practical Insights for Advanced PMOs. Stakeholder engagement from a PMO perspective.

Blg: Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future. The questions posed in this post is how accurate do we need to be with our projections to be useful? And how do we persuade managers to make use of the predictions?


KPMG surveys analyzing the benefits of mature Project Offices are available for download. These papers are copyright KPMG:

PriceWaterhouseCooper's surveys are also available for download. These papers are copyright PriceWaterhouseCooper.

PMI's Thought Leadership reports focused on strategic PMOs. These papers are copyright PMI.



Setting and using performance targets

Click through for our papers on achieving project success (part of benefits realization and value).

Blg: Designing effective KPIs. The practical challenges of creating effective KPIs that drive desired behaviours.

Art: Ask for information you can use. If you are not careful, the easy to measure drives out the harder to quantify, even when the latter is more important.

Art: ‘Not knowing’ is no longer an option. Effective governance and management requires timely access to ACCURATE information.

WP: Proactive Project Surveillance. The notion of surveillance begs the question, “What do you watch?” This paper describes the various forms of surveillance from audits to reviews.

WP: Measuring Project Performance - Gateways and Scorecards. A practical look at Gateway Reviews (Stagegates) and Balanced Scorecards in the control of projects.

Art: Assurance for high risk projects. High-risk, high reward projects that have the potential to transform an organization require a robust, independent assurance function!

Art: Three Steps to Validate a Variance. Variances are to be expected, but before taking action to bring performance back into alignment with the plan, it is a really good idea to make sure the variance you are seeing in the control systems is real and significant.

Art: Performance Management. The importance of developing a culture of high performance.

Art: Measuring Culture. The culture of an organization or team is a key determinant of success and an important measure of effective governance - this article suggests ways to measure culture.

Art: What you measure is what you get! Asking the wrong questions and gathering the wrong data can easily be the cause of undesirable outcomes; care is needed!

Blg: A thought on PMOs and Project Controls. The quality guru W. Edwards Deming said ‘In God we trust, all other bring data’. However, recent developments in the Victorian Government health system offer a salient reminder to any PMO manager on the value of data

Art: Lessons for PMO managers from the CBA scandal. The CBA financial scandal was a classic example of the effect of setting the wrong performance targets. If your measurement systems focus on the wrong things, you will get exactly what you asked for!



Enterprise PMOs

Strategic initiatives are essential to success in today's increasingly complex business world, yet 44 percent of initiatives fail in implementation. Our series reveals the critical role of PMOs: to serve as enablers of strategic change in any organization.

Prs: Stakeholder Engagement: Practical Insights for Advanced PMOs. Some practical insights into the actions that advanced PMOs must take to develop that reputation of credibility and competency through managing the relationship with senior stakeholders: influencing decisions, managing resistance to change, and providing a central support structure for stakeholder engagement practices within the organization.

Read PMI's 'thought leadership' publications on strategic PMOs



Useful External Web-links & Resources

Best Management Practice products, UK Government (formally OGC, now Axelos) - the umbrella site dedicated to making access to information quick and easy -
- P3O - Project Offices:


Self-paced PMI-SP Training

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Self-paced PMI-SP Training

Communication management template