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What is a PMO?

In essence, a PMO is a group or department that establishes and upholds project management standards across an organisation to ensure that change initiatives will achieve their scope, time, cost, and quality objectives, and realise their benefits. The ‘P’ in PMO is interchangeable – it stands for Project, Programme or Portfolio.


A Project Management Office is responsible for supporting the delivery, control assurance and governance of projects (short term activities with a defined outcome and timeframe).


A Programme Management Office supports a programme, which is usually a collection of projects and other initiatives that align to a strategic theme or objective of an organisation.


A Portfolio Management Office is a centrally located function that not only sets the standards for delivery of a portfolio of projects and/or programmes, but also helps to prioritise and plan the portfolio to deliver maximum value in relation to organisational strategy. This is sometimes called an Enterprise PMO, or EPMO.


As well as different levels based on organisational structure, there are several different approaches for PMOs when it comes to the level of control:

  • Supportive PMO – consultative and low level of control to maintain a repository of templates, processes and information to support delivery.
  • Controlling PMO – moderate level of control to provide the delivery methodology and assure the compliance.
  • Directive PMO – a high level of control over methodology and resource management.


With businesses adopting more of agile ways of working, there is also the Agile PMO, which focuses on a lighter control environment, lower-level prioritisation support and measurement of value based on available metrics used to track agile delivery.


This blog post forms part of our Complete Guide to Setting up a PMO.


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