Saturday, January 03, 2009

Two Types of PMOs - Yours and NOT yours

That’s my premise; there are only two types of PMOs - Yours and not yours.

Why do I say this - Well, I have some ideas that have been percolating for a while. Not original ideas by any means, maybe it’s just me catching up. Here are some observations that have led me to this thinking.

There is NO clear model or template for a PMO.
Try as we might with the innumerable descriptions of PMOs we can’t seem to come to an consensus – a quick web search shows these:
  • General PMO
  • Supportive PMO
  • Controlling PMO
  • Directive PMO
  • Insider PMO
  • Assisted PMO
  • Virtual PMO
  • Excellence PMO (center of Excellence)
  • Administrative PMO
  • Strategic PMO
  • Project Specific PMO
  • Organizational PMO
  • Special-purpose PMO
Well, you get the idea. Some overlap there.

Everyone is doing something different
Don’t’ take my word for it; look at Dr. Hobbs study here. We’re bi-polar and all over the map.

So why is this?? Are we all confused? Are we stupid? Perhaps we are looking at this wrong? I’m going with the latter.

At the PMO SIG Symposium in November, I was leading the Accord session, and the ideas and comments from the participants really made this gel for me.

First – There isn’t a “right” PMO or a “perfect” PMO – the only type of PMO is YOUR PMO. By that I mean simply that PMOs are unique - similar certainly, but unique none the less. That means that we can apply a framework, but not a template. We’ve been trying to apply a template and not a framework.

Second – The consensus of the participants at the Symposium was that you can build a PMO from basic building blocks, but you can’t pre-define the entire organization. We need to look at PMO capabilities and services as separate entities and not as components of a whole.

PMOs are modular structures, not pre-fabs.

What we need is a framework or skeleton that tells us how to put these components together in a way that works best for one and only one PMO - YOURS.

So, there are really only two types of PMOs – Yours – and not yours.


Lindsay said...

Hi there

This is a area of PMO we have grabbled with for a while - I form part of a UK specialist interest group called the PPSOSIG (Programme and Project Support Office) more details at

Anyhow, frameworks for PMOs - in the UK the government launched a new framework called P3O - Portfolio, Programme and Project Offices - and the initial thoughts by the PMO community in the UK is that it looks pretty good - and supports your modular approach as mentioned in your blog piece.

Could this be something you might find useful?

Derry Simmel said...

Thanks so much, a very interesting site. I would love to hear more about the P3O framework. can you point us there?



Anonymous said...

I concur with your assessment. It makes intuitive sense as well as being pragmatic. Projects are by definition unique. Logically each exponential layering of them is in itself unique; programs, portfolios and PMOs follow that as well.

krishan kukreja said...

"PMOs are modular structures, not pre-fabs"

well said ,Derry . I agree with u that PMOs can play many roles .For example PMO may function as the depository of the organization’s templates from previous successful projects , Lessons learned logs and skills of current and developing project managers.Or may act as a co-ordinator only or (rarely though) may actually own the project also. So PMOs are no pre-fabs.

Unknown said...


Total 13 PMO mentioned in this post.

project management institute said...

It won't truly have success, I suppose this way.

Casey Dale said...

To be successful in your career, a positive interaction with people working around is a key. In a similar manner, it is extremely important to identify and manage stakeholders. Stakeholder management is important to the success of every project. Involving and engaging with the right people in a positive manner is highly important for project success.

Anonymous said...

PMO said...

PMO is a must in any organization to manage multi-project. It can project, programme or portfolio management.