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3 Types of Project Management Offices

December 11th, 2007 · 1,355 Comments

There are 3 basic types of organizations.  They vary in the degree of control and influence they have on projects within the organization.

The include:

1. Supportive PMO
The PMO generally provides support in the form of on-demand expertise, templates, best practices, access the information and expertise on other projects, and the like.  This can work in an organization where projects are done successfully in a loosely controlled manner and where additional control is deemed unnecessary.  Also, if the objective is to have a sort of ‘clearinghouse’ of project management info across the enterprise to be used freely by PMs, then the Supportive PMO is the right type.

2. Controlling PMO
In organizations where there is a desire to “reign in” the activities – processes, procedures, documentation, and more – a controlling PMO can accomplish that.  Not only does the organization provide support, but it also REQUIRES that the support be used.  Requirements might include adoption of specific methodologies, templates, forms, conformance to governance, and application of other PMO controlled sets of rules.  In addition, project offices might need to pass regular reviews by the Controlling PMO, and this may represent a risk factor on the project.

3. Directive PMO
This type goes beyond control and actually “takes over” the projects by providing the project management experience AND resources to manage the project.  As organizations undertake projects, professional project managers from the PMO are assigned to the projects.  This injects a great deal of professionalism into the projects, and, since each of the project managers originates and reports back to the Directive PMO, it guarantees a high level of consistency of practice across all projects.

The best type is very specific to the organization, culture, and history of what works and what does not.  But the objectives are – more or less – to:

  • Implement a common methodology
  • Standardize terminology
  • Introduce effective repeatable project management processes
  • Provide common supporting tools

Ultimately, the objective is to improve levels of project success within the organization.  Being aware of these types can help you and your organization more easily accomplish this.
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John Reiling, PMP
Project Management Training Online
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Tags: Project Management Process