What is a PMO?

What is a PMO?

A PMO is the team that sets project management standards within an organisation. Traditionally, its goal was to achieve benefits from standardising documentation, assurance and reporting across project delivery. Yet the meaning of PMO is evolving. It has an important role today in ensuring the consistency of decision making, best practice delivery, managing risk and budgetary management.

The PMO oversees the entire lifecycle of projects from initiation to close-out. It provides effective project oversight and control to minimise failures and improve the chance of overall success. The main types of activity can include:


Centralising project support, for example, administration, logistics, scheduling, consistent reporting, risk management, configuration management, communications and facilitation


Guiding the methods, standards, processes and tools, internal delivery and standards assurance, education, coaching and mentoring of delivery staff and subject matter consultancy


Business leadership, for example, developing project portfolio management structures, tools, processes and governance, strategic decision-making and CxO communication

What does PMO stand for?

The acronym stands for Project Management Office but sometimes organisations define it as Programme Management Office or Portfolio Management Office. These are different types. The difference depends on the level of insight your organisation’s Board needs.

(The term Project Office Management (POM) is the discipline of working within the PMO.)


The three most common types are:

  • Portfolio Management Office – the centralised department at portfolio level ensures consistency in all change programmes across an organisation. This office can manage a wider variety of both related and unrelated projects to achieve maximum value within resource and budget constraints
  • Programme Management Office – this function sets the standard for related change projects across a programme of work, helping the programme achieve agreed objectives and emergent organisational benefits
  • Project Management Office – this smaller function normally provides guidance to local level projects within a predefined scope of work. The team utilises existing capabilities to achieve the benefits within agreed timescales and costs

What is the value of a PMo?

If your Project and Programme Management Office is seen as a bureaucratic burden, you may be missing a trick. When set up with the right structure and staff, a PMO acts as a hub for Continuous Improvement across your entire organisation.

The benefits can be substantial, from improving time to deliver projects to giving senior stakeholders the information they need to prioritise and manage change initiatives. However, many organisations use inexperienced administration staff to resource the PMO meaning it can actually become a blocker to project progress.

By investing in suitably qualified expertise, the PMO will begin to add far more tangible value, both to the Board and to Project Managers delivering organisational change. 

PMO as a Service enables you to access that expertise quickly and cost-effectively. 

PMO as a service is a flexible managed service that enables you to gain a fit-for-purpose PMO staffed with real experts and leading software , tools and templates.