The 3 types of Project Management Offices (PMOs)

A Project Management Office, (PMO), plays a vital role in organizations by supporting standardization and governance over how work is performed and managed. While there are best practices that any project management group should maintain, a PMO can vary in its scope depending on the organization.

Let’s look at the three types of Project Management Offices which each have a different type of relationship with teams. Understanding the differences can help you select the right fit for your organization’s unique needs.

Supportive PMO

First up, the Supportive PMO. This type of PMO acts as a mentor and provides crucial guidance to projects. They are like coaches and consultants who offer valuable insights, but without interfering in day-to-day management.

If you have strong project managers that are already part of individual teams, this approach may work well because the PMO can simply provide guidance to those existing project managers.

Directive PMO

The Directive PMO, on the other hand, creates and maintains standards for processes, setting expectations for the “what,” “how,” and “when” of project work. They are your go-to for ensuring standards are implemented and continually improved.

This is the perfect “middle” ground between the rather hands off Supportive PMO, and the Controlling PMO, which is the next one we’ll discuss. A Directive PMO can be hands-on in specific areas of projects, yet leave subject matter experts free to make key decisions based on their domain expertise.

Controlling PMO

Last but not least, we have the Controlling PMO. This PMO assumes a more active role by assigning resources and overseeing execution, with a special emphasis on effective communication and delivery.

This type of Project Management Office works best when centralized control is currently lacking or where many siloed teams need to be coordinated across disciplines, geographies, and competing priorities.

There is a wide variance between these three types, and while none strictly prescribes an exact set of approaches, thinking in terms of this spectrum may also help you formulate a winning approach to setting up or modifying your PMO to be more successful. While each organization is unique and requires its own tailored approach – consider what your organization needs to find the perfect PMO fit for you.

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​Blog – GK5A – Agile Business Transformation

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