It may seem like the most natural thing for a business in some industries to have a project management office (PMO), but do you need one? Conversely, in a new or expanding business, you may not know that a PMO is a common way to run projects in a different sector. We’re going to help you understand industries where PMOs are common to help you decide if you need one.

Following the trends and industry norms can make sure your business keeps up with the competition. Sometimes, breaking to mould and doing things differently is a way for your organisation to innovate.

Whether PMOs are common in your industry and you want to join in the trend, or you want to do things differently and set up an office where it’s not usual, this guide will help you decide if it’s the right decision.

What industries and sectors tend to have PMOs?

You’re likely to find project portfolios managed by a PMO in the following industries and sectors:

  • IT and computing – software, website, and other technology tend to be developed on a project basis, with specialised resources that need coordination.
  • Construction and engineering – buildings, machines, and other hardware are run on a project basis, and budgets and timelines can be very tight.
  • Financial services – projects across banking, insurance, and mergers and acquisitions are high risk and can need a PMO to mitigate them.
  • Pharmaceuticals and clinical products – highly regulated projects need a PMO to manage compliance throughout the project lifecycle.
  • Public sector and government contracts – the range of stakeholders involved in this sector can make a PMO a useful tool to manage relationships.
  • Energy and utilities – high-risk projects with a range of stakeholders in this industry means that a PMO can be very useful.
  • Manufacturing – new products and plants tend to be run as projects, and with big budgets and complex supply chains, a PMO can be prudent.
  • Telecommunications – developing and implanting new networks can share resources and require large-scale budget management that a PMO can help with.

The case for a PMO when it’s common in your industry

With every other business in your vertical using a PMO, does that mean you should, by default? There are reasons why a PMO still may not be right for you, such as:

  • Budget and resource restrictions
  • A need for flexible project approaches
  • Mismatch with the current strategy

However, usually, you’ll find PMOs are common for a reason. Having a PMO will make your projects run to time, on budget, and within the targets and KPIs that have been laid out for it.

Assess what a PMO will cost as well as the cost without a PMO – what is the risk when a project goes off-track? How efficiently will shared resources be allocated without a PMO?

The case for a PMO when it’s not common in your industry

Even when other businesses in your sector don’t utilise a PMO structure, it can be a good idea to set up this type of office. You may still want to have a PMO when it’s not the norm when:

  • Your organisation has a change agenda to implement
  • Your organisation runs complex projects that competitors may not
  • You want to improve management excellence with a project and PMO structure

The decision to create a PMO should be based on your business’s specific needs, not just what the rest of the pack is doing.

Industries that commonly have a PMO

Having a PMO in your business can be logical because every other business does. Sometimes, you need to go outside the norms and create a PMO when no one else is doing it yet. While you’re more likely to create an office when your business is in or expanding into the industries we’ve looked at here, you’re not constrained to them.

Being in an industry where PMOs are common is a good indicator you need a PMO, but it’s not the final deciding factor to consider. We’ll look at other factors in the coming articles.