PMO frameworks

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PULSE of the



The role of the Project Management Office (PMO) in organizations continues to be a topic of great interest to project management practitioners. As organizations mature their project, program, and portfolio management practices to better align work with strategic goals, to support effective stakeholder communication and collaboration, to develop talent, and to place a focus on realizing value from organizational investments through effective benefits realization management, the PMO has many potential roles to play as a contributor to advancing these important topics. Yet, for many organizations a struggle exists to define the PMO role, to position the PMO for long-term success, and to leverage the PMO to support achievement of the organization's strategic objectives. While no two PMOs are created equal, it is clear that the role of the PMO is expanding in many organizations and that for many others there is a strong desire to expand the PMO role to be much more strategically focused through expanded scope of responsibility and partnering with business leaders to advance important organizational objectives.

As a PMO practitioner, I am personally very excited to see the publication of this PMO Frameworks report as it represents an important starting point for formalizing PMO roles and responsibilities, understanding how PMOs are leveraged in organizations today, and identifying good practices that practitioners can leverage as the basis for maturing an existing PMO, starting a new PMO, or revitalizing an existing PMO. While it is likely that no PMO will perfectly fit into one of the frameworks described, the general practices described by this document, and supported by quantitative research, provide an excellent starting point for understanding the types of PMOs that generally exist today and how these PMOs create value. By using the information contained here, practitioners can gain additional perspective on the general frameworks of PMOs that exist in practice today, the domains of activities that they undertake, and how these activities contribute to PMO success. This PMO Frameworks report provides strong support of the important role of PMOs in helping organizations achieve business success through effective project, program, and portfolio management practices ; excellent guidance to help practitioners understand the types of good practices that are in use in PMOs today; and how adopting these practices can enhance the processes and methodologies within an organization's PMO.

It is noteworthy that this report is intended as a helpful guide for practitioners and with extensive input from a variety of PMO practitioners, whose unique perspectives on how PMOs are leveraged in their own organizations adds a diverse and unique practitioner focus to the work. As a member of the volunteer team initially chartered with developing the PMO Frameworks model, I can personally attest to the tremendous expertise and collegiality that was assembled to support this work. The Project Management Institute should be commended for recognizing the need for this report and investing in the resources required to bring it to publication.

I believe that this report will be a foundational contribution to understanding the current state of PMO practice as well as for assisting practitioners to develop the next generation of PMOs. The PMO Frameworks report provides a useful framework for practitioners to consider in the context of their own PMO as well as a basis for further work to expand our understanding of how to enhance the PMO's business value. Every PMO must chart its own path—let this guide be your starting point for understanding how to chart your PMO's path to long-term success.

With best regards,

Craig Letavec, PMP, PgMP

Vice-Chair, PMI Program Management Office Community of Practice

We would like to recognize the efforts put forth by PMI's PMO Community of Practice (CoP) in forging the building blocks, which was the starting point for the workshop. The PMO Community of Practice team was instrumental in developing the “first draft” of the definitional configurations and the key workflows, which ultimately got hashed out by the workshop team of Subject Matter Experts (SMEs). Instrumental in refining the configurations, we would like to sincerely thank all of our SMEs for their time and dedication. The list of attendees (in alphabetical order) is as follows:

Monique Aubrey, Professor and Author, University of Quebec in Montreal

Terry Doerscher, PMO/PPM Consultant, YourProject Office and BOT International

Folake Dosunmu, Sr. Project Management Consultant, Otsuka America Pharmaceutical

Darlene Fladager, Project & Program Management Leader, PHT Corporation

Jim Furfari, Enterprise Project Office Senior Project Manager, Colorado Springs Utilities

Pawla Ghaleb, Senior Project Manager, ICF International

Michael Kaplan, Founder of SoftPMO™ Solutions, SoftPMO Solutions Consulting

Terri Knudson, Director of EPMO, Mayo Clinic

Craig Letavec, Director and Head of PMO, Risk, Quality, and Security, Atos International


In late 2012, as part of a broader thought leadership initiative on PMOs, PMI conducted exploratory research to understand the issues encountered with building, managing and operating a PMO. One of the overarching discoveries from this exploratory work was that many are challenged with some of the most basic notions about a “PMO:” What do the letters actually stand for? What kinds of PMOs exist? What are the functions of the various types? Who do PMOs report to? Surprisingly, the very same questions existed at all levels of management from executive level leaders in charge of entire global organizational project and program management operations to line managers in charge of operating the single function, divisional or departmental PMO. Despite the abundance of existing—and helpful—literature on the subject that we reviewed, there was little consensus around many of the very basic issues. So one of the goals of the effort was to develop a foundational starting point that we can all build upon. PMI, as the leading global project management body and in working with its partners, put forth this effort with the aim to continue evolving this work over the next few years to refine our understanding and thinking on PMOs.

PMI set out to define and understand the PMO and then create standardized definitions to set a stake in the ground on the meaning of the actual terms having to do with a project, program or portfolio management office. But it's more than just the terms themselves; it's also about the situational constructs of the various management offices operating in different contexts that consider things like purpose, form, role, mission, makeup, etc. For instance, what does an enterprise PMO look like versus a divisional PMO for IT, what is the optimal team size of each, who should each report to, and what other facets should be considered?

This Pulse of the ProfessionTM: PMO Frameworks report complements the Pulse of the ProfessionTM In-Depth Report: The Impact of PMOs on Strategy Implementation report by comparing the methods, services and processes used by the various types of PMOs and highlights the performance and value each framework delivers. The reports enable PMOs to benchmark themselves against measured criteria and identify areas of focus to help measure and demonstrate value to the organization.


The first objective of the PMO Frameworks project was to form a foundational understanding of the most common types of PMOs. To do this, PMI identified and brought together SMEs who have spent much of their professional careers managing, operating and building different kinds of PMOs in different settings and contexts. The SMEs were brought together in an intensive one-day workshop where the group was tasked with working together to develop descriptive profiles (or frameworks) of the most prevalent PMO types.

Specifically, the intent of the workshop was to:

1. Identify and reach a consensus on the most prevalent PMO frameworks in practice today,

2. Establish and define the variety of PMO practices (i.e., domains and enablers), and

3. Develop the framework profile of each PMO configuration by identifying practices associated with the PMO's purpose and mission.

This first phase served as a foundational understanding that would later be tested with quantifiable measures via a survey. Thus, based on the input from the team of SMEs invited to the workshop, the goal was to develop 5 to 7 PMO configurations that practitioners could relate to within their own personal context stemming from their day-to-day jobs.


Once the foundational configurations (i.e., the “frameworks”) were completed by the SMEs in Phase I, they were then transposed into the “Pulse of the PMO” survey that helped further develop the underlying constructs of each framework. Specifically, the function and configuration of PMOs refine our understanding by the greater [statistically significant] masses. In order to do this, survey respondents (people who operate/run/manage a PMO) identified the framework that best matched their actual PMO and responded to questions on form, function, capabilities and performance related specifically to that PMO.

Below are the five PMO Frameworks that the SMEs identified, which the majority of the survey respondents (53%) said matched perfectly/very close to the actual functions of the PMO in which they work. Another 43% said the PMO descriptions somewhat describes the functions, whereas only 4% said there was not a good description.

Organizational Unit PMO/Business Unit PMO/Divisional PMO/Departmental PMO
Provides project-related services to support a business unit or division within an organization including, but not limited to, portfolio management, governance, operational project support and human resources utilization.

Project-Specific PMO/Project Office/Program Office
Provides project-related services as a temporary entity established to support a specific project or program. May include supporting data management, coordination of governance and reporting, and administrative activities to support the project or program team.

Project Support/Services/Controls Office or PMO
Provides enabling processes to continuously support management of project, program or portfolio work throughout the organization. Uses the governance, processes, practices, and tools established by the organization and provides administrative support for delivery of the project, program or portfolio work within its domain.

Enterprise/Organization-wide/Strategic/Corporate/Portfolio/Global PMO
The highest-level PMO in organizations having one, this PMO is often responsible for alignment of project and program work to corporate strategy, establishing and ensuring appropriate enterprise governance, and performing portfolio management functions to ensure strategy alignment and benefits realization.

Center of Excellence/Center of Competency
Supports project work by equipping the organization with methodologies, standards and tools to enable project managers to better deliver projects. Increases the capability of the organization through good practices and a central point of contact for project managers.

The following are the domains of work, i.e., the things that PMOs do, which the survey respondents aligned as their PMO's primary and secondary workstreams:

Standards, Methodologies and Processes
Methodology definition; metrics definition; process development and improvement

Project/Program Delivery Management
Define the business goals; resource management; schedule/cost/scope management; business realization management; risk management; stakeholder management; communications; project integration

Portfolio Management
Prioritization; strategic alignment; portfolio reporting; resource management allocation; opportunities and investment analysis; risk management; benefits realization tracking/reporting

Talent Management
Training, career paths, career development, capability/skills development and certifications/qualifications/credentials

Governance and Performance Management
Performance reporting; issue escalation; information distribution; metrics/KPIs; compliance; financial management; PMO performance management

Organizational Change Management
Customer/stakeholder satisfaction; managing resistance; readiness assessment; stakeholder management; communications

Administration and Support
Tools (provisioning/implementation/support); consulting; IT/IS support

Knowledge Management
Defining knowledge management policies, managing intellectual collateral/property, lessons learned, content management and collaboration

Strategic Planning
Confirming strategic priorities; defining business goals and aligning to initiatives; environmental scanning; opportunity analysis

The table on the following page illustrates the key descriptive and performance criteria in a side-by-side comparative view to highlight the differences across the five different PMO Frameworks. Following the comparative table are the five Framework descriptions, including more pertinent information on each.


(NOTE: See the Appendix to read the questions used in the survey, which will help to provide context on each of the criteria.)



The PMO Frameworks research undertaken by PMI set out to identify the different configurations of PMOs, i.e., Frameworks, in order to learn about their respective missions, goals and objectives as well as how they are structured, how they operate, and what they look like. This important first step laid out a basic understanding of the current PMO landscape and addressed questions raised by mid- to upper-levels of management responsible for developing, reincarnating and managing PMOs. Furthermore, by aligning performance metrics in the delivery of business value, the study is able to determine which PMO Frameworks are being more effective via the use of methods, services and processes.

The resulting output from this research, therefore, gives PMO directors and managers the ability to:

1. Compare their own PMO with a closely matching framework to benchmark against important service and performance criteria; and

2. Learn about best common practices across all the PMO Frameworks and the higher performing PMOs.

With this information, PMO managers are in a better position to reengineer their provision of services and support for executing an organization's portfolio of projects and strategic initiatives.


Questions used in the survey that help describe the descriptive and performance criteria.

% who have this PMO in their organization:

Q4.  Which of the following types of PMOs does your organization (all divisions and global locations) currently have? Select all that apply. For more detailed descriptions of all PMO types please click here. This is not an official PMI typology of PMOs. It has been created solely for the purposes of this survey.

Primary Functions Performed (top 3 listed with % responding):

Q10. Please select the primary and secondary areas of focus of your PMO.

Services provided routinely (top 3 listed with % responding):

Q11. In this series of questions, indicate the extent to which your PMO provides each of the services specified. Please select one answer for each: Routinely/Occasionally/Rarely/Never

Criteria that the PMO is evaluated on (top 5 listed with % responding):

Q40. Please indicate the criteria by which your PMO is currently evaluated (Current) and the criteria that you feel are or would be most appropriate for evaluation (Recommended), including any currently used criteria that you feel are appropriate. Evaluative criteria (e.g., project cost vs. budget) may be examined individually or in aggregate. Select all that apply in each column.

Customer Mix: (% mean) internal stakeholders (vs.) external client facing

Q21. To what extent is your PMO focused on external, customer-facing projects, as opposed to projects for internal stakeholders? % of budget

Project Management Maturity: High/Medium/Low

Q22. Project management maturity comprises not only the state of performance within portfolio, program, and project management, but also the organization's evolution toward an improved state as illustrated by Standardizing, Measuring, Controlling and Improving (SMCI) its performance. How would you characterize the project management maturity of your organization?

Average number of projects completed in excess of $250K: (mean)

Q23. How many projects with budgets in excess of $250,000 did your PMO complete in 2012?

Estimated value of projects completed by this PMO: (mean)

Q24. What was the total estimated value of projects completed under your PMO in 2012 in terms of budget?

Estimated financial value (revenue/cost reductions) delivered by this PMO: (mean)

Q25. What was the total estimated financial value (revenue increases or cost reductions) delivered to the organization by the projects completed under your PMO in 2012?

Number of employees by type: Project managers/Managers/Project staff/Other

Q27. Indicate the numbers of regular or contract employees of each type in your PMO.

Percentage of Project Managers that...

... Are PMP credential holders:

Q28. What proportion of your project managers are PMP credential holders?

...Hold other project management certifications or credentials:

Q29. What proportion of your project managers have project management certifications or credentials other than the PMP credential?

...Are contract employees:

Q30. What proportion of your project managers are contract employees?

PMO reports to:

Q33. To whom in your organization do you report?

Reporting frequency of PMO progress:

Q42. How often do you report on the progress of your PMO?

PMOs effectiveness in meeting its primary purpose:

Q45. Overall, how would you rate the current effectiveness of your PMO at meeting its primary purpose? Extremely effective/Very effective/Somewhat effective/Not too effective/Not at all effective

Involvement of PMO in each phase of strategic management:

Q52. Please characterize the involvement of your PMO in each of these phases of strategic management. Routinely/Occasionally/Rarely/Never

PMOs potential to contribute business value to the organization is... Fully or almost fully realized/Partially realized/Not at all realized:

Q55. Would you say that the potential of your PMO to contribute business value to the organization is being: Fully realized/Almost fully realized/Only partially realized/Not at all realized

Percentage of projects that successfully met original goals and business intent:

Q62. In your estimation, what percentage of the projects completed within your organization in the past 12 months successfully met the original goals and business intent of the project?

Percentage of projects that finished within their initial budgets:

Q63. In your estimation, what percentage of the projects completed within your organization in the past 12 months finished within their initial budgets?

Percentage of projects that finished within their initially scheduled times:

Q64. In your estimation, what percentage of the projects completed within your organization in the past 12 months finished within their initially scheduled times?

Functional reporting area of the PMO:

Q69. Which of these best describes the functional area to which you report within your organization?

Considered High Performers (80%+ of projects met original intent/budget/time):

NOTE:   This was not a question to the respondents but an algorithm based on the three performance metrics to create a definition for “high performers.”

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November 2013



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