The Right Way to Set Up Your PMO

Posted in : Blog Author : Arturo Barrientos

What is a PMO

A project management office (PMO) presents a solution as a management structure that; defines the project governance, standardises the project processes, develops best practices and facilitates the use and sharing of resources, tools, methodologies, and techniques in the best interest of the organisation.

Delivering projects can be a very challenging and complex endeavor, especially when an organisation manages several projects simultaneously. There are many problems with how projects are executed, such as late and over budget delivery, or inconsistency in the initial estimates from one project to another. Sometimes, even the project scope is not clear, or there is no defined priority as to which objectives are key.

Whether the need comes from problems on past and current projects, or just to give some structure to your organisation. A PMO will enhance the quality of a project’s deliverables. However, adapting the corporate structure to include a PMO is not always necessary – it can be a virtual team that is spread across the organisation. In all scenarios, it is vital to have the support of the stakeholders, robust change management and communication processes to ensure its adoption brings the desired results.

Before you decide to move forward with the implementation of a PMO in your organisation, you should know the following information:

  • Who is the client? Is it the CEO, CIO, or the top manager?
  • What is the maturity level of Project Management practices in your organisation?
  • What is the integration level within the organisation?
  • What are the areas of concern?
  • Will the PMO have enough funding and support to face the threats and opportunities ahead?

The Right Setup

Once you are certain that your organisation needs a PMO, the above questions will help you decide the best setup of a PMO according to the level of maturity of your organisation. This is defined in a three-tier system:

In tier 1, the PMO will be a supportive organisation with low influence on projects. The ‘Supportive PMO’ will act more as a consultant bringing in the knowledge required to deliver the projects, while also providing mentoring to the team.

Tier 2 includes the roles of tier 1, plus a coordination and monitoring role on projects, this includes managing the resources and developing standards and methodologies. The ‘Controlling PMO’ would require compliance with the governance and standards defined.

Tier 3 does all of this and takes the role of the PMO on an enterprise level to ensure the projects are aligned with the strategic objectives.

What are the Benefits?

Regardless of the status of your organisation, the PMO implementation strategy should focus, in due time, on becoming a tier 3 PMO that ensures the strategic objectives are met and considered over the individual project objectives. This requires the alignment of projects with the strategic objectives and the selection of the right projects to achieve them. This prioritisation of projects leads to an improved Return on Investment (ROI) on projects and human resources. In return, the organisation should expect the following returns:

  • Higher client satisfaction
  • Aligned vision and expectations within the organisation
  • Clearly defined governance and processes
  • Definition of standards and best practices across all the projects
  • Implementation of Project Management tools, methodologies, and templates
  • An increase in the project performance
  • Improved project quality
  • Consistency in the delivery of similar projects
  • Training and mentoring programs


The process of setting up a PMO will differ from one organisation to another – there is no silver bullet that solves every organisation’s problems. After all, each organisation has its own goals and objectives. An initial assessment will enable understanding of the requirements so that all stakeholders may buy into the implementation of the appropriate PMO type and model, at the right level according to the organisation’s needs.

If you’d like any help setting up your PMO, get in touch!

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