The Rising Importance of the PMO in Any Organization

The future of HBO may be faltering (did you hear that HBO Max is now just “Max”?), but the PMO is more important than ever.

In fact, more and more businesses are learning about the vital role of the project management office (PMO) in their organization. Especially today — as projects span across remote teams and even different countries or continents — PMs need all of the support they can get to manage their resources and stay on track towards business goals.

As Wellingtone reported in 2020, 89% of organizations now have one or more PMOs — up from just 71% in 2016. And, unsurprisingly, 26% of those were less than two years old. Over 70% also said the value of their PMO will increase in the years to come.

So, now that we’re in 2023, do you know where your PMO office is? Is it newly built or not built at all? Is it in the planning stages or already launched and still expanding?

To help guide the future of your PMO, we’ll dive into what a PMO is exactly, why it’s so important, and which tools you can use for PMO success.

What is a PMO?

A PMO is a project management office that, to put it simply, oversees the project management function of an organization. So, what does that entail? Many responsibilities, including:

  • Tracking project progress and KPIs to meet overall business goals
  • Allocating resources and setting budgets for projects
  • Facilitating project approvals
  • Establishing PM standards and best practices
  • Housing, organizing, and managing access to PM documentation
  • Training project managers on new techniques and strategies
  • Updating PM tools and templates to streamline productivity

As Wellingtone reported, the top activities undertaken by PMOs include project status reporting and maintaining project portfolios and methodologies. 

Now, it’s easy to confuse PMs and PMOs. (As we’ve noted, the project management acronyms are endless.) But remember that project managers are individual people who are responsible for overseeing and running specific projects or groups of projects. Meanwhile PMOs are offices or structured teams of people from various disciplines who plan, manage, and allocate resources for projects across an organization.

What are different types of PMOs?

There are commonly three different types of PMOs:

  • Supportive PMOs — Provide resources, insights and suggestions to help assist project management without contributing to the decision-making process.
  • Controlling PMOs — Exercise some control over project management processes by overseeing how standardized tools, methods, and best practices are applied.
  • Directive PMOs — Fully direct project portfolios, assign and oversee tasks, and lead planning strategies. While the first two types of PMOs largely act as consultants for project management, the directive type has total control over decision-making processes.

The type of PMO you choose will depend on your organization’s needs, resources, and goals. Larger businesses with extensive project portfolios, for example, might need a directive PMO to organize multiple timelines and maintain standards and consistency across teams.

Why are PMOs so important?

PMOs are vital organizational success. They have the power to optimize processes and results, and keep collaborators aligned across projects.

So, if you haven’t built out your office yet, consider these major benefits of PMOs:

  • Saved time and resources. By establishing standards and templates for reference, PMs can more efficiently launch new projects and get collaborators set up on their platforms.
  • Unified data. PMOs serve as a centralized hub for project management data, making it easy for stakeholders to check in on progress and access real-time reports.
  • Enhanced decision-making. PMOs can use insights from past projects and other organizational departments to make more informed decisions and improve results.

What are helpful PMO tools and strategies for success?

PMOs don’t have it easy: They’re under pressure to manage a large array of resources, teams, and documentation.

According to Wellingtone, the biggest project management challenges for organizations include running too many projects, using poorly trained PMs, and failing to properly manage resources. This lines up with Proggio’s survey findings: 77% of PMs feel overwhelmed by the amount of projects they manage and 70% need better visibility into their portfolios.

The good news is that there are tools and strategies PMOs can use to increase efficiency, including:

  • Prioritize projects according to business goals — With projects piling up, you want to make sure you’re focusing your attention and resources on the most pressing tasks. You can use a project prioritization tool to automatically rank projects based on key business drivers and goals. And as those goals shift — because they often do — you can easily reprioritize without missing a beat.
  • Adopt risk management tools — Pinpoint roadblocks before they occur by managing and mitigating project management risks. The right PM tools will automatically flag issues in need of attention according to critical, high, medium, or low risk. So you can take preventative measures and avoid slowdowns in your timeline.
  • Use an adaptive project portfolio management (PPM) platform — Find a comprehensive PPM solution that your PMO can use to house all of your data, share real-time reports with stakeholders, and foster collaboration across the organization. This PPM should also adapt to your needs and provide a bird’s-eye-view of your entire project portfolio, so you can track progress in a glance. 

The truth is, project management is only going to get more complex as hybrid workplaces become the norm and organizations go through digital transformation. Meaning, businesses will need PMOs to oversee their portfolios, set the standards, and keep collaborators connected. And how can PMOs make that happen? With the right project management tools to guide them.

Ready to update your project management platform for better results? Book a demo with Proggio.