Project management offices, or PMOs, have a history of getting closed down very early on in their lives. This can be a worry for those working within one, but it’s not an outcome set in stone. What can you do to ensure the survival of your PMO?

A process that can yield positive results is to pivot from a traditional to a business-focussed PMO. It sounds like an interesting proposition, and here we’ll look at:

  • The differences between the two styles
  • What a business-focussed PMO can achieve
  • Actions that will help you make the change in your PMO

So that you can work to ensure your office is working in the most productive capacity possible.

Traditional vs. business focussed PMO

What differentiates the two different approaches to running a project management office is the end result it’s working towards:

  • A traditional PMO is there to oversee projects and ensure they are completed on time and in budget
  • In a business-focussed PMO, the primary objective is to improve the bottom line of the business through effective projects

Rather than focussing on reports and governance like in the traditional model, a business-focussed PMO is there to partner with individual project managers to bring about valuable improvements to the business.

Why pivot to be a business-focussed PMO?

Shifting the focus of your project management office towards a business-focussed model shouldn’t just be about survival. When a PMO becomes business focussed it means that projects become more focussed on real change.

Oftentimes, a PMO can be seen a barrier to getting projects completed – endless requests for data, myriad reports about compliance and anomalies. When your PMO shifts its focus to the business it can become a catalyst for success for the company.

Other key benefits to making the change include:

  • Integrating the project selection process
  • Better able to absorb change and adapt
  • Can respond to market forces quicker
  • Increase company return on investment

For more information please see Differences between Traditional and Business-Focussed PMO.

What you need to do to make the change

The benefits to the organisation you work in are clear and quantifiable. The C-suite is always going to focus on the bottom line for any spending and a business-focussed PMO should have no problems demonstrating its contribution.

To make the transition into a business-focussed PMO you can use some of these techniques.

Change your model

Most projects are still managed using the waterfall method. This is a sequential way of overseeing a project and can be effective when you have specific deliverables and a small aim.

By moving to an agile method of project management you can become more responsive to the business as it changes and the market. Agile project management works well for big projects that have a range of requirements.

For more information please see Choosing between Waterfall and Agile project management.

Shift your focus

Ensuring processes are followed and data tracked is one of the main functions of a traditional PMO. This can become tedious and doesn’t inherently help the business just by the existence of a report.

When your focus moves to the outcome that will be delivered, you are going to effect change on a more meaningful level. Ensure that your PMO is working to make things better for workers and increase productivity.

For more information on the advantages, please see Advantages of a Business Focussed PMO.

Become an enabler

The focus of lots of companies is shifting from management to leadership. Changing your PMO from a traditional set-up to a business-focussed one reflects a similar change.

Being business-focussed means you look to support projects to bring about positive change rather than just check they’re doing things right. A PMO can work to select the right projects that will see solid financial returns and ensure the right tools and training are in place to make a project deliver.

For more information, please see Enabling Projects with a Business Focussed PMO.


It can be risky to work in a project management office, since they do tend to get closed down reasonably often. A company will want to see results for every pound that it spends, and reports and data production can sometimes be perceived as adding little value.

Pivot your traditional PMO to a business-focussed PMO and you will have a much clearer affect on the business. By enabling the projects that fall under your office, giving them the right tools and projects, and paying attention to the bottom line, you will be able to make your PMO successful and invaluable to the organisation.