Standardizing the PMO Will Improve Project Success

This is one in a series of blog posts discussing Divurgent’s 2014 IT Organization Best Practice Study.  To view earlier blogs from this series, click here.

The Project Management Office (PMO) is a group that defines and maintains standards for managing projects. The primary goal of a PMO is to achieve benefits from standardizing and following portfolio and project management policies, processes, and methods. While there was no consensus on the current need for a formal office, most of the CIOs interviewed see the need to improve their Project Manager (PM) expertise and recognize the development of a standard PM methodology as a way to improve their project success rate. In the future, the existence of a PMO will be the rule not the exception.

Presented below are the three PMO organizational styles. Organizations typically progress through these organizational styles, starting with the Project Repository style (establishing a “virtual” PMO) and moving progressively to the Project Coach and Formal PMO as the organization becomes comfortable with the PMO concept and begins to see the benefits

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The study participants mentioned several pitfalls PMOs must avoid if they wish to be successful. These include

  1. The PMO becoming an audit function that is focused on approving and rejecting projects
  2. PMs becoming disconnected from their user base, not understanding the business/clinical processes or the technology already in place
  3. PMs being overly concerned with the PM process, obsessed with completing PM tasks, while losing sight of the business or clinical objectives of the project.



“The good part about a PMO is it is easier to follow standard processes, do education, and look at dashboards across the whole organization.”

“PMO did solve a few problems: who should manage a project that crossed many teams and mentoring others on how to manage projects.”

“We do not have a PMO. We have a standardized project methodology in place. Our group of PMs meet on a monthly basis to review projects and standards.”

“I don’t think we need a formal PMO, but I think we need a few people who are capable of running enterprise wide projects.”

“We haven’t formally called it a PMO because there are some bad connotations with it. In a sense, we have a virtual PMO with a common set of project management practices without the formal organizational structure.”

The topic of the next blog entry will be Big Data – Part 1

To hear more about our study, please contact Divurgent at

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