Seal of PMO Mandate

PMO mandate

A common, even number one reason that so many project management offices fail is because they are not given the right mandate.  A decision may be made to form a PMO or, even worse, it is more of a suggestion that a PMO is formed.  Unfortunately, as one of the duties of a PMO is to provide transparency and visibility of the status and progress of projects, many project managers are very resistant.


This is understandable as why would you want to have an independent function shining the spotlight on your work, especially when it is not going well.  Many project managers and stakeholders would be far happier keeping close control on what is reported and when so as to control the message flow.  This of course is the very reason there are so many surprises near the end of a project as the project has not been honest about progress and status.

Make sure the PMO has a Mandate

For the reason above, it is very important that the PMO is publically given the mandate at the start.  The mandate should:

  • Be issued by senior management (not the PMO)
  • Clearly state the objective (goals) of the PMO
  • Empower the PMO manager
  • State what is expected
  • Explain why it is important to the organisation

Clear Communication

Time should be spent crafting this communication as it is very important to the success of the PMO.   It must convey the importance of the PMO in achieving the objectives.  It must not convey any sense of bureaucracy, this will be used to damage the PMO.

It is also very important that the communication is sent to all relevant stakeholders within the organisation.  It is no good approaching a project manager to complete regular reporting, etc if they are unaware of the mandate because it has not been sent to them.

The PMO manager should spend time ensuring that the distribution list includes all relevant parties.  This can then be given to senior management.

Example PMO Mandate e-mail Communication

The senior management team have identified and approved 4 projects that are critical to the strategic objectives of the organisation.

  • Project 1
  • Project 2
  • Project 3
  • Project 4

To provide focus and support to allow these projects to be successful, a project management office will be formed to:

  • Provide support to the project managers
  • Provide oversight and challenge on progress and status through standard reporting
  • Provide a platform for the identification and resolution of risks and issues threatening delivery
  • Provide a governance structure for rapid decision making
  • Ensure senior management are able to make informed decisions

The PMO is very important to the organisation.  Therefore, <PMO Manager> has been appointed as the PMO Manager reporting to <Senior Manager Name> and will be responsible for:

  • Building the PMO function
  • Defining tools and processes
  • Providing consistent and frequent updates to <Senior Management Forum>

Please can I ask that you provide your full support to <PMO Manager> and the PMO so as to support the successful delivery of the strategic projects.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact <PMO Manager> or myself.

In Summary

A PMO must have the support of senior management and a visible, widely communicated mandate.  Take time to ensure that this mandate is clear and communicated to all of the appropriate stakeholders, especially the project managers and sponsors.