2 The Project Management Office (PMO)
Good governance, as discussed earlier, requires clear roles and responsibilities and this may be achieved through a permanent structure within the host organisation. This structure then supports the temporary structure of each project that is undertaken. In an organisation that has portfolios and programmes, the permanent structure will usually support all the projects, programmes and portfolios. This section considers the support structure, i.e. the infrastructure, required where an organisation undertakes various projects and has a PMO.
The Association for Project Management (APM) states:
Infrastructure provides support for programmes, portfolios and projects, and is the focal point for the development and maintenance of P3 management within an organisation.
The definition of a PMO by the Project Management Institute (PMI) is more specific:
A Project Management Office (PMO) is a management structure that standardises the project-related governance processes and facilitates the sharing of resources, methodologies, tools, and techniques. The responsibilities of a PMO can range from providing project management support functions to actually being responsible for the direct management of one or more projects.
The role of the PMO is a difficult one to define accurately due to the variations in approach by organisations and individuals. This section gives generic classifications to define the main aspects of the role and to discuss the possible variations in structure, approaches and responsibilities. The terms Enterprise Project Management Office (EPMO), Project, Programme or Portfolio Support Office (PSO), Project Services or Centre of Excellence are all in common use (APM, 2012a). The Project Support Office (PSO) is sometimes focused on administrative functions and may be for a specific project, although some authors use PMO and PSO synonymously. A Centre of Excellence is organisation-wide and has a much broader remit as the name suggests.
In larger, more mature organisations, the PMO has grown as a separate body from the management of the project. It can be a career path in itself or it can be an opportunity for a project manager to bring their own experience into a PMO at the same time as refreshing their own skills.