A PMO model is the framework used for the design and implementation of a project management office (PMO). The practical application of a PMO depends on a number of factors (size of company, PMO tooling, type of projects, etc.), and because of this, the ideal PMO architecture for any specific company is subject to debate. In the sections below, several important considerations for the selection of a PMO model will be discussed.
Among most project management professionals, it is generally agreed that there are three types of project management offices: supportive, controlling, and directive.
The supportive PMO model, also known as the “center of excellence” model, serves as a support / help desk for a company’s project management needs, providing templates, methodologies, tooling, and best practices for project and program managers. Though acting as a base for PM knowledge, this model does not require the implementation of its resources as other models do.
The controlling PMO model, also referred to as the “control tower” model, is a central governance office for all project management processes. This model requires project managers to comply to certain methodologies, tools, and templates, which in turn refines project life cycles and creates a system of uniformity at project, program, and portfolio level.
The directive PMO model, also named the “resource pool” model, directs the affairs of project management entirely. In this office model, a supply channel of project managers and resources are strategically distributed to the various projects throughout the company, allowing the PMO to directly control each project’s delivery.
In addition to the three PMO models above, there are other factors that determine what type of PMO is most appropriate. One such factor is the size and level at which the project management office runs. For most companies, a PMO functions on one of two levels: department or enterprise. An IT department often has its own PMO to hone in on its specific programs and portfolios, while an enterprise level model handles the PPM needs across the company.
The architecture of a PMO largely determines the methodologies and software to be used in project, program, and portfolio management. However, many project managers believe that the strict adherence to management methodologies and software solutions can often be ineffective and even hinder productivity. Author Mark Price Perry, a prominent leader in PMO implementation, considers methodologies to “give an illusion of project management consistency, when in reality most users find them too detailed to use or too time consuming to follow.” Focusing on the process, Perry argues, brings more to the table than focusing on the methodology, for the process allows PMO architecture to be more flexible and PPM software to be more adaptable.
Choosing the right PPM software is key to creating the best PMO model. Because software is often the interface in which projects (IT projects especially) are handled, the software must make visible all project management affairs, providing the PMO with the most relevant information. Bringing metrics and reporting to one centralized location is important in any PMO model, for it places team members, project managers, and executives on the same page. With a mature architecture and well-structured collaboration software, many departments and enterprises can discover the benefits of a PMO model.