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How to choose the best PMO model

A man standing outside 4 PMO doors & struggling to select one

Written by Rhona Aylward

Rhona is Deputy Everything Officer at Psoda, where she does everything except code. After starting life as a microbiologist she moved into PMO leadership roles around the world before settling in New Zealand with her family.

Project, programme or portfolio management offices (PMO) come in many different flavours – there is no one size fits all.

A question I’m often asked is how to decide which PMO model will work best in an organisation or project.

This is an interesting question and the answer will likely vary depending on who you speak to (see no one size fits all).

For me, the first step is to determine exactly what the organisation wants to achieve with its PMO. I then list a series of questions that need to be answered before I even think about what the PMO will look like:

    1. How mature is the organisation with regards to portfolio/programme/project management? There is no point trying to establish a full flight, all singing, all dancing PMO in an organisation that has barely begun on the project management journey.
    2. Is the PMO a portfolio, programme or project management office?
    3. Is the PMO going to be a permanent or temporary endeavour? The answer will determine the scope of the PMO’s activity
    4. Are there other PMOs in the business already? If other PMOs already exist, the question to ask is if another one is really necessary, and if so, is there any way to leverage what has already been done?
    5. Where will this PMO sit in the organisation’s hierarchy?

PMO models

Here are some suggestions of PMO models based on real-life answers to the questions above:

Question Scenario 1 Scenario 2 Scenario 3
1 Immature project management processes Mature project management processes Mature project management processes
2 Project management office Portfolio management office Project/programme management office
3 A permanent endeavour Permanent endeavour Temporary endeavour
4 No other PMOs 3 programme management offices and 5 project management offices Enterprise PMO
5 The PMO will sit in operations At the C-level Within the project/programme of work
Recommendation A supportive, process driven PMO with a roadmap to increase the organisation’s project management maturity and in turn its own level of responsibility A high-level portfolio management office. Responsible for ensuring that the existing programme and project management offices are working on the correct programmes and projects, and that the portfolio is properly balanced A hub and spoke PMO. The hub provides the key PM templates and the spoke decides the methodology, KPIs, communications, and stakeholder engagement


As you can see, the choice of PMO model that works best for an organisation very much depends on what you want to achieve. Making sure you select the right model in the beginning will go a long way towards ensuring its ongoing success, or failure.

If you’re looking for software to support the development, implementation and ongoing organisation of your PMO, look no further than Psoda. Sign up for your free trial now.

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