Wondering what the acronym PMO stands for? We’ve got you covered: PMO stands for project management office.

Its role sounds kind of self-explanatory, but in many cases, it’s not actually an office that directly manages or oversees projects.

Sounds confusing? We’ll help you understand what is the meaning of PMO, what its benefits are, and everything you need to know to sound like a project management pro!

What does PMO mean?

In the context of project management, PMO stands for project management office and refers to an office that oversees all projects in a department, region, or the entire organization.

While individual PMOs do exist, most PMOs exist as distinct departments.

According to a 2020 PMI survey, 66% of companies have a PMO, and 66% of those companies’ PMOs are department-specific or regional.

PPMO in companies survey

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It might still sound like a PMO directly manages projects, but stick with us here. That’s typically a project manager’s job, and the project manager is not necessarily part of a PMO.

Okay, so what is the difference between PMO and project manager?

A PM is a singular project manager, an individual responsible for a single project, while a PMO is an office that’s responsible for projects on a larger scale.

A PMO doesn’t always oversee a single project. Often, it helps standardize project management practices, improves collaboration, and much more.

What the PMO does depends on the goals and priorities of the organization. For example, a PMO might focus on better integrating technology throughout the company, rather than owning any specific projects.

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Types of PMOs

Depending on its objectives, a PMO can fulfill 3 main roles—directly managing projects, providing tactical support, and monitoring project performance.

The categories can be divided into 3 terms: supportive, controlling, or directive PMOs.

  • Supportive PMOs offer training and assistance to project managers and team members, lay the groundwork for company-wide collaboration, and transition successful projects to the market.
  • Controlling PMOs standardize management practices, deliverables, KPIs, and monitor and rein-in costs and timelines.
  • Directive PMOs directly train project managers who report directly to or work within the PMO.

The role the PMO should play depends on your company’s needs when it comes to project management.

Some of the most popular tasks include:

  • Singling out PMO KPIs
  • Standardizing management
  • Training and developing professionals
  • Direct program management

PMO roles survey

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Pro tip: Standardize your project management practices efficiently with a Work OS like monday.com.

monday.com gives you the features you need to customize the project management platform for your company’s preferred work methodologies, from Agile to Hybrid and everything in between. You can create custom workflow templates that help keep all your project teams accountable and productive.

Design workflow in monday.com

Why is a PMO important?

A PMO can help you do more than improve how you manage projects. At a larger scale, it can help how your organization maximizes ROI and shortens the chain of command.

Let’s take a closer look.

Stick to your budget and timeline

It’s an unfortunate reality, but most projects are mismanaged. The majority of projects significantly exceed both their schedules and their budgets.

Projects that exceed budget and schedule survey results

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The 1963 film Cleopatra, for example, exceeded its original budget by 9 times. It added an extra $339 million in costs when adjusting for inflation. Luckily, for most companies, giant failures are the exception rather than the norm.

Most of the time, it’s not cartoonish mismanagement at that level. You won’t forget individual projects or completely bomb the project delivery. But a lot of wasted resources still add up over time.

Learn more from your finished projects

According to a recent Axelos study, 66% of successful project portfolio management (PPM) teams conduct reviews.

Pro tip: with monday.com, you don’t even need a PMO to start tracking project metrics.

You can create a custom dashboard that highlights the only data you need to see. Focus on budgets, resource management, milestones, and status overviews in a single view.

monday.com dashboard

Guide your organization through change

With a PMO, you can adapt your entire organization to handle change better, no matter what kind of unprecedented times roll your way. Switch to new, more resilient ways of working, like using design thinking and user research at every stage.

Most companies feel unequipped to make large changes—like transitioning to Agile—so support is crucial.

Project preparation survey

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How do I start a PMO?

The 1st step to starting a PMO the right way is taking a closer look at your organization’s strengths and weaknesses when it comes to project management.

Take a long hard look at your current and past projects, and figure out what your teams tend to do right and where they fail.

Is interdepartmental collaboration a weak point? Do projects slow down in stages that need attention from multiple teams or have complicated management processes?

Through real-time project performance monitoring of projects on monday.com, you can gain a better understanding of where and when things veer from the plan.

monday.com chart view

You can use the timeline and chart view for post-mortem reviews of individual projects to figure out what went wrong and when.

Set your PMO objectives, strategy, and services

Once you know where your company stands, it’s time to develop your objectives and overall PMO strategy.

Based on your strategic objectives, you should also outline the PMO services that you need. Think about broader goals like streamlining cross-functional collaboration, rather than KPI-based goals like keeping deadlines.

Select the right team members

Of course you need to fill out the regular team roles like PMO director or PMO manager. But that’s not enough. You also need any specialist talent required for your services.

If a primary PMO service is to implement technology and speed up digitalization, you need to hire a data engineer, not just general managers.

Set up efficient communication

For the PMO to deliver an impact, you need smooth communication between the PMO, stakeholders, departments, and project teams.

monday.com lets you easily share access to real-time information with everyone involved.

You can also control their user level, so only core stakeholders and managers have admin privileges like editing or adding new content.

What does a PMO consist of?

A typical PMO consists of upper-level management like a director, analysts and coordinators responsible for services, and experts in specific areas, like digitalization or Agile techniques.

What are PMO skills?

Essential PMO skills include risk management, scope management, and scheduling. But that’s only the project management side of things. PMOs also need soft skills such as creative problem solving and leadership.

After all, it’s not enough to figure out what everyone in the company is doing wrong. To start solving problems, you need to motivate team members to follow your advice.

If your PMO director is ignored as a negative Nancy and ignored, nothing will change.

Control the big picture better with a PMO

When handling multiple large-scale projects at the same time, it’s easy for companies to lose control. Poor management practices can lead to projects going off the rails or difficulty transitioning to the market after the project is over.

A PMO is an internal office in your company that works to maximize the ROI of all projects. It tracks metrics, maintains standards, and works to boost collaboration between departments.

Use our projects overview template to start managing your projects at a higher level today.

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