The PMO Series (3): The Different Project Management Office Types

A PMO has various functions and purposes: It’s responsible for establishing and maintaining standardized processes, methods and policies in the organization and to make sure that projects align with the organizational business strategy.

The 3 Fundamental PMO types

As we’ve already established, there is no one-size-fits-all PMO, each organization will define the role and responsibilities of their PMO depending on their business strategy, culture and history. A lot of large enterprises will even have several PMOs with varying responsibilities in the organization. What type of PMO an organization chooses to have depends greatly on the range of functions the PMO holds. However, there are three fundamental types of PMOs which you can find in a lot of organizations: 

The Different PMO Types

1. The strategic PMO

The strategic PMO is mainly responsible for establishing and maintaining standardized processes in the organization. The purpose of the strategic PMO is to increase organizational efficiency by introducing business standards and methods, and by making sure that project teams comply with these standards. This makes sure that the projects are aligned with the organizational business strategy and that they reach the goal of increasing business value.

2. The controlling PMO

Just as the name already implies, the controlling PMO is responsible for the project controlling. This means that it conducts the overall project controlling for all projects and assesses the projects regarding the dimensions time, cost, goal realization and quality. The controlling PMO intervenes when projects are struggling and aims to correct mistakes which were responsible for the low performance, such as ineffective project communication or ineffective resource allocation.

3. The operative PMO

Operative PMOs carry out supportive tasks for several subprojects. This differentiates an operative PMO from the project assistance, as the project assistance only supports one project. Their main responsibility is to coordinate and mediate between the projects. Other important tasks are training team members and administrative work.


Previous articles of our PMO blog series:

PMO 1: Definition and Function of a Project Management Office

PMO 2: The Most Important Project Management Office Roles


For further reading:

The Five Different PMO Types as Defined by the Project Management Institute (PMI)

PMI Whitepaper: The Project Management Office

PMI's Pulse of the Profession: PMO Frameworks

PMO Framework and PMO Models for Project Business Management

The State of the PMO 2010

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