Project Management Office

What is a project management office?

Simply put, the project management office is the nexus that joins together projects. It acts as a focal point for reporting, documentation, guidance and governance. But there is much more to the PMO than this.

It is the most common type of PMO. (The other two being portfolio management office and programme / program management office.)

The project management office plays a crucial role in ensuring that project delivery continuously improves through:

  • Providing the insights that enable leaders of change and sponsors to make informed decisions and lead effectively
  • Defining and maintaining project standards
  • Ensuring that lessons learned are captured and communicated
  • Developing and coaching project managers

Importance of the project management office

Ultimately, the project management office should be a strategic function aligned to the business that is capable of increasing delivery certainty.

This can be broken down into three broad areas:



At its very foundation, a PMO is about enabling successful project delivery. It should provide clear and strong processes for the oversight of project delivery and project standards. 

However, this does not mean ‘complicated’ and ‘time consuming’. In fact, the temptation to solve issues through adding more compliance processes and administrative overhead should be avoided where possible. The exception is where it is expedient to the successful delivery of projects with greater certainty and in line with overall business objectives.

Reporting should be handled in a similar manner. The goal is the provision of timely, relevant insights that enable good decision making. Consequently, from the steering committee down to the most junior PM, reports should include the information they need, in the manner they need it. And this important information should not be buried amongst extraneous data.

A good project management office understands this balancing act very well. They know that an over-engineered project management office can be just as detrimental to projects as an ill-prepared one.


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. 


As a central store of important knowledge, PMOs have an important role to play in building PPM capability within the organisation. This includes the coaching and development of project management talent. 

However, this goes beyond the arranging training courses for staff, such as PRINCE2. It involves actively mentoring and coaching those involved in project delivery. For this reason, it is important to have seasoned project professionals within the PMO. After all, coaching and mentoring needs to be provided to all levels of project management talent within the organisation. 


Finally, the mentoring of those members of staff who are not professional project managers is particularly important. For instance, those who may be seconded into a project away from their business-as-usual roles. 

Capturing and communicating lessons learned is also a key part of this. It ensures that current and future projects benefit from the hindsight of projects past.



Increasingly, good project management offices are not only consultative but actively accountable. While project managers are in all cases to be encouraged to manage their projects, proactively make decisions and escalate problems, many PMOs now take accountability for improving project delivery overall.

This is about leading the project delivery function overall through increasing levels of maturity to improve certainty and enhance outcomes.

Reputational issues with project management offices

Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Many project management offices have focussed too heavily on mechanics over outcomes. This is an increasing tendency over the last decade ( read evolution of the pmo).

For this reason, the PMO has gained a somewhat deserved reputation for bureaucracy for bureaucracy’s sake. This has the impact of undermining stakeholder confidence in the PMO as a strategic function. Unfortunately, many now see it as more of a support cost – a necessary evil – rather than actively adding value. This in turn has led to many PMOs becoming either understaffed or under-skilled in a bid to save costs in the mistaken belief that ‘starving the beast’ will ultimately be in the interests of project delivery.

It isn’t.


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Project Management Office (PMO) as a Service

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.