Which PMO Structure Is Best for Your Company?

The structure of your organization’s project management office (PMO) may be the difference between effective and ineffective project management. Your PMO structure must blend in with the organizational culture to ensure project management success.

When your PMO structure matches your organization's needs and resources, projects are more likely to be delivered on time and within budget. To determine the best PMO structure for your company, you must first answer these questions:  

  • Do you often face bottlenecks in project management?
  • Does your organization have a standard project management methodology for all projects?
  • Does your organization run multiple projects simultaneously?
  • What resources do you have for a project management office?

What is a PMO structure?

A PMO structure is a group or department that defines and maintains project management standards within an organization. PMO can also mean Program or Portfolio Management Office. The PMO oversees the metrics, benchmarks, quality, and documentation required for consistent project management and execution. 

A PMO structure may be internal or external. The PMO is to a project management team what the SEC is to Wall Street; it provides the framework and organizational standards for managing and executing the projects under its governance

Are there different types of PMO organizational structures?

There are several types of PMO organizational structures. Each company's culture influences its PMO structure and how it evolves. The most common PMO organizational structures are:

Directive PMO

This PMO wields a lot of control. Directive PMOs manage projects by providing project management expertise and hands-on supervision. They set the standards for project management in the organization. Project managers report to the Directive PMO. 

Controlling PMO

Controlling PMOs have a moderate level of control. They create documentation, methodologies, templates, and frameworks for project managers to follow and ensure organizational standards for successful project management and execution.

Supportive PMO

This PMO acts as an organization's project repository. They have little control, and their role is mainly consultative. Their duties include sharing expertise, templates, training, and information to help project managers achieve their goals. 

There are other types of PMO structures based on organizational hierarchy. Some of these are:

Individual PMO

Individual PMOs are responsible for providing infrastructural and training support for single projects and programs. They set project management standards and supervise project activities. 

Business Unit PMO

The Business Unit PMO structure, also known as a departmental PMO, is responsible for multiple projects within various assigned departments. They handle program and project management and report to the division manager. 

Enterprise PMO

The enterprise PMO structure exists in large enterprises. They oversee strategic project planning, resource allocation, project selection, and prioritization. They also create the standards, procedures, and methodologies for project management across departments. 

The following PMO structures are based on organizational structure:

Decentralized PMO

This PMO structure acts more as an adviser to the project manager. It keeps project managers involved in decision-making and the team in control of their tasks. 

Centralized PMO

This PMO structure works in a more controlled manner. Unlike the decentralized structure, the PMO decides on project standards and processes and has a lot of authority around decision-making and problem-solving. 

Examples of PMO structures with charts

Which PMO Structure Is Best for Your Company? 2

PMO structure best practices

PMO organizational structures are an effective business practice undertaken by many successful organizations. Implementing PMO structure best practices ensures that your organization delivers projects on time and within budget. These best practices include:

  • Standardizing project management processes across departments
  • Proper and precise documentation of project scope
  • Reporting useful status information
  • Acquiring skilled personnel with a good company culture fit
  • Establishing a flexible project management process that reduces organizational risk

What are the different roles within a PMO? 

PMOs are the backbone of successful project management in many organizations. PMO roles are determined by organization size, stakeholders' needs, and business environment. The key PMO roles are:

PMO Head

The primary responsibility of the PMO head is to manage the PMO. This role requires strong leadership and management skills and knowledge of portfolio, program, and project management. The PMO head: 

  • Manages the PMO team 
  • Works closely with stakeholders to develop and apply projects' governance framework 
  • Reports progress to the project manager and other stakeholders using management boards 
  • Keeps all parties informed when a project's strategic goal changes 
  • Takes responsibility for the continual improvement of the PMO

Project Specialist

A project specialist provides support to project managers and key stakeholders. They give advice and guidance in a consultancy capacity, and their responsibilities include:

  • Working with a project manager at a project's onset to define the project governance and structured project management
  • Creating and developing standards and templates
  • Tailoring guidance to each project
  • Creating and updating a repository of proper project documentation 

Project Officer

A project officer improves the project planning and delivery process by collecting and maintaining data. Here are the responsibilities of a project officer:

  • Coordinating the project 
  • Managing the quality review process 
  • Supporting the creation and maintenance of project plans 
  • Applying templates and guidelines to collect and maintain data consistently

How to develop a strategy for your PMO

You increase your chances of project success when your company's culture, needs, and resources align with your PMO strategy. 

By creating an aligned strategy that clarifies the methods, tools, and resources needed for project success, PMOs make better decisions, reduce risk, and contribute to business growth. 

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to creating a strategic plan for your PMO. There are, however, common steps to follow when developing a PMO strategy.

1. Clarify your organization's goals, vision, and mission

Getting clear on your organization's big picture is the first step to an effective PMO strategy. What are your organization's goals? What are its values? What problems do you solve? Once you have answers, analyze your organization's past performance, strengths and weaknesses, potential opportunities and threats, and areas for improvement. 

2. Note the resources needed for a successful operation 

Your organization's assets and resources, to a large extent, determine the degree of your strategy's effectiveness. Analyze the following categories of your company's assets:

  • Finances: You should know the estimated and actual cost of a project. 
  • People: Consider your staff size, skill sets, and availability.
  • Assets: These comprise tactile resources that you may have to purchase or lease, including machinery, software, or professional service providers. 

3. Agree on a mode of communication 

Projects fail when there is no clear and streamlined system for communication. When creating a strategic plan for your PMO, ask:

  • Who are the stakeholders? What are their responsibilities? Will they be continuously updated on relevant information?
  • How will project managers and teams keep each other in the loop?
  • How will team members communicate deadlines, bottlenecks, and emergencies?

4. Establish a process for progress tracking   

Once you determine your communication system and set a timeline for your project or program, the next step is to identify a set of metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) for tracking progress.

5. Establish a process for conflict resolution and overcoming project bottlenecks

By closely managing project details and progress, your PMO can adjust when necessary. Proactively develop conflict resolution plans and procedures for overcoming bottlenecks in project management and execution.  

How can Wrike help organize your PMO?

Efficient PMO structures require powerful project management and collaboration tools to provide insights into your organization’s projects, programs, and portfolios. You can leverage this data and adjust your organizational plan to fit new demands as business environments change and your company grows. 

Wrike provides an agile, collaborative workspace for teams to organize and streamline all ongoing projects. With Wrike's enterprise project management software, you can set clear PMO standards and best practices, collaborate in real-time, simplify project approvals, and eliminate communication silos. 

Get started with Wrike's two-week free trial to organize your PMO, turn strategies into results, and achieve positive project outcomes.

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