What are the Responsibilities or Functions of a PMO?
Different PMOs will be assigned different responsibilities, depending on the needs of the business at the time. In fact, with so many meanings assigned to PMOs (Project Management Office, Programme Management Organization, Portfolio Office, Centre of Excellence, or the trendy Transformation Office, you name it), it’s no wonder that you may be confused about the responsibilities of a PMO. In practice, what does a PMO do?
You may call your PMO whatever you want – in the end, it’s what they do that makes the real difference. The simple answer is…it depends. As with most aspects regarding PMOs, there is no one-size-fits-all. However, typical responsibilities of a PMO tend to fit in one of three categories:
Delivery-enabling responsibilities refer exactly to what it says on the tin; they aim to directly facilitate the delivery of projects and programs. Working in the field, the main stakeholder group for the activities included in this category is the Project Managers. Responsibilities include assisting projects getting approved through the different stage gates, assuring the quality and delivery of work packages, providing basic support such as booking meetings or managing the different logs and documentation from projects, and providing advanced expertise such as project scheduling, project recovery techniques or coordinating dependencies across projects.
Project Governance, Project Scheduling, Project Recovery, Quality Assurance, Administrative Support, Documentation Management, and Dependencies coordination.
Centre of Excellence
Responsibilities related to the PMO as a Center of Excellence (CoE) are all about embedding a project management culture and building project management capabilities. This group of responsibilities is aimed to support all project staff, thus, includes aspects such as the development of processes, templates, and guidelines, the ownership over a project portfolio management (PPM) tool, the provision and clarification of best practices, converted into a scalable and tailored project management methodology, or the facilitation of project learning and collaboration, through the establishment of a community of practice where project teams can discuss challenges and transfer knowledge. From a capability-building perspective, training, coaching, and mentoring or competency assessments are examples of responsibilities that a PMO can take.
Processes, templates, guidelines, PM Methodology, Best Practices, Tools and Technology, Training, coaching and mentoring, Community of Practice, and Knowledge Transfer.
While most PMOs start their mandate focusing on enabling successful delivery and acting as a hub for excellence in project management practices, as they mature, their scope will likely expand to also include portfolio responsibilities. Activities included in this group of responsibilities will be particularly useful for senior management by facilitating informed decision-making and providing oversight over the portfolio's health and value. PMOs operating in this sphere will be responsible for assisting in selecting and prioritizing the portfolio and reporting the status and progress of projects and programs. Additional responsibilities related to managing a resource plan and solving allocation bottlenecks, and demonstrating that value is being delivered by facilitating the benefits realization process.
Portfolio Prioritization, Portfolio Optimization, Portfolio Reporting, Resource Allocation, and Benefits Realization.