In the last 2 blog posts have covered the importance of having a PMO Mission and PMO Vision Statement.  Having both of these well thought out, clearly documented and communicated, means you are in a position to define some key PMO Design Principles.

What are PMO design principles?

Very simply, they are the rules and principles that will be followed in the design of the PMO.  In theory, if you have designed your principles to align to your mission and vision statements, you should be designing a PMO to support the strategic direction of the organisation.

As you design each component of the PMO, you should check what you are proposing against each of your design principles.  If what is being proposed is aligned, then it can be included.  If it does not, you need to review and rework the approach so that it is aligned.  Note: is you are finding it hard to align a particular component to the principles, do not be afraid to review the principles to make sure that they make sense.

 How to establish PMO design principles?

The PMO Manager and, ideally, other team members should take the mission and vision statement and then come up with a number of rules and principles that, if applied, should ensure the PMO will execute its duties aligned to the mission and vision.

This works well in a form of workshop where the mission and vision statement can be posted on the wall.  The attendees can then capture and debate principles so as to come up with approx. half a dozen that capture the sentiment of both statements.  It is a good idea to use the end of the session to check and validate that the principles cover all aspects.


It is a good idea to ask key stakeholders, especially the PMO sponsor to review and validate the principles.  This provides a further check that the principles are aligned, allows for them to be adjusted and enables buy-in from senior management before being formally communicated.

Example PMO Design Principles

  • Pragmatic – only do something if it is needed and adds value.
  • Fit for Purpose – avoid over engineering and duplication of tools and processes.
  • Transparency – ensure clear and consistent reporting (the principle of no surprises).
  • Consistency – ensure consistent and a normalised approach across all projects / programmes.
  • Strategic Alignment – ensure projects / programmes are aligned to strategic objectives (if not why are they being done?).

Where to capture the PMO design principles?

These should be captured in the same place as the mission and vision statement i.e. key presentations, PMO charter and PMO terms of reference.


Spending the time to define design principles before rushing ahead with building a PMO should help ensure that you construct a PMO aligned to the objectives, only build the functionality that is required (which avoids bureaucracy), meaning that it offers the correct level of support and oversight to the project teams.

It is also good practice for the PMO to conduct a periodic review that the principles are still fit for purpose and that they are operating in accordance to the principles.