2.3 PMO services
The services provided by a PMO depend strongly on the size, maturity and capability of the organisation. A smaller and/or less mature organisation may undertake fewer projects, and therefore the PMO in such an organisation will have less capability to provide a full range of services. The larger the organisation, the more projects they undertake and therefore there is a greater need for project support. Consequently the capability grows to provide more, and higher level, support.
The following descriptions are drawn primarily from the APM Body of Knowledge (APM, 2012a) and PMI Body of Knowledge (PMI, 2013). Which services are included in the responsibilities of the PMO for each type of activity will depend on the type of PMO and their role within the organisation and the function of the organisation.
Planning and scheduling
All types of PMO, whether basic, intermediate or advanced, will be involved with planning and scheduling. For a basic PMO this may be entering and updating information generated by the project manager, whereas an advanced PMO may take the lead in actively seeking information from different parts of the project team, drafting schedules and recommending resources drawing on experience from similar projects already undertaken within the organisation.
Again, all types of PMO will be involved in administration, but the degree of administration and the level of autonomy of the PMO will vary. A basic PMO will provide the necessary administrative support to the project manager but the authority will remain with the project manager. An advanced PMO may have a high level of influence or authority when interacting with the project manager. For example, an advanced PMO may collate the information and prepare documentation for the project board when assessing the continued financial viability of the project compared with the business case at gate reviews or stage reviews.
Reporting is a key service provided by the PMO, however, the degree of reporting will depend on the type of PMO. A basic PMO typically reports only to the project manager, who then reports to the project sponsor and senior management. The way in which an intermediate or advanced PMO and the project manager interact to produce reports, for example, who takes the lead and who supports, will depend on the roles and responsibilities of both the project manager and the PMO within the organisation and the governance structure.
In bid management the organisation’s business development department would take the dominant role, and the project sponsor is usually the lead for the business case. A basic PMO may undertake the purely administrative support, whereas an advanced PMO may be involved in the collating and reporting to senior management responsible for the prioritisation of projects and the allocation of resources. At this level the advanced PMO is supporting decision making at the executive level.
This group of services is firmly in the realm of the advanced PMO and has a broader function in supporting the development of organisational maturity within the field of project management.
‘The rise of the PMO’ contains an answer to the question: ‘What advice would you give to PMOs to develop their capability?’ It highlighted the important role that the PMO might play, or might aspire to, as the repository of knowledge and skills within an organisation.