Thinking about meaning of a PMO

PMO meaning

I am a firm believer that we are all far more intelligent than we think.  What I mean is that we all know more than we realise and because of this, what is obvious to one person, is a revelation to someone who does not know.  This is what I refer to as “learned knowledge”.

It is the principle of “learned knowledge” that can cause us to step over and miss important bits of information in reports, presentations, updates, etc.

I am sure you can think of situations where you have been explaining a project issue and there is one or more confused faces in the meeting room.  This is because the update you are providing only makes sense if you have a core level of understanding.

The principle of “learned (acquired) knowledge” applies to all aspects of life and is important to remember when delivering messages.  However, it got me thinking – the same applies to many topics that are covered on the PM Majik website.

So in this post I wanted to take a pause and cover the fundamental question – PMO meaning (hint: PMO is the acronym for Project Management Office).  To do this I will reference some of my other articles.

What is a PMO

There are many answers to this question and it is not a simple case of saying what is right.

The Project Management Institute (PMI) provide the following definition in the Project Management Body of Knowledge (2003) PMI.

“An organizational body or entity assigned various responsibilities related to the centralized and coordinated management of those projects under it’s domain.  The responsibilities of the PMO can range from providing project management support functions to actually being responsible for the direct management of a project”

Wikipedia lists the following as the definition:

“A Project Management Office (PMO) is a group or department within a business, agency or enterprise that defines and maintains standards for project management within the organization. The PMO strives to standardize and introduce economies of repetition in the execution of projects. The PMO is the source of documentation, guidance and metrics on the practice of project management and execution.”

The reason for different definitions is that PMO’s have different objectives.  Therefore, the description will change based on the purpose being served.

I like to use the terms Administrative / Reporting, Hybrid and Managerial / Proactive to describe the different levels of maturity.  Again, do not be confused these are simply labels to help describe the type of service being provided.

More details can be found in the article What is a PMO.

Is it a PMO?

Many organisations will use different acronyms to describe departments, processes, etc.  This can be confusing when you do not have the knowledge.  It is for this reason I wrote a simple guide on the different acronyms that are used to describe a PMO.

Inforgraphic showing PMO definitions

The meaning of PMO acronyms

So as you can see, when you have the knowledge and realise different terms are often being used to describe the same thing, it becomes less confusing.  You can find out more in the article Different names for a project management office.

What is the PMO’s purpose in life?

Another good question.  We all like to know and understand purpose.  After all, if there is no purpose, what is the need?

I personally work much better when I understand what is my role, the reason for what I am doing in a job.  It allows me to value and connect with the work.  This in turns means I become invested in the outcome.

For a PMO’s purpose, the answer may be:

The PMO supports the implementation of the organisations strategic objectives by providing a full set of professional PMO services.  Working in partnership with project teams, stakeholders and sponsors to attain successful outcomes. 

You can find more information in the article PMO Vision.

While this only covers some elements, it does lead me to the original question….

PMO Meaning

In this article I hope that this has helped gain an understanding that:

  • What is a PMO – an organised function to aid project delivery
  • Different names of a PMO – not to be confused by different acronyms
  • Purpose of a PMO – why it exists

All of these together contributes to the PMO meaning.

If I was to write a statement on PMO meaning, I would use the following:

“The PMO is a function that is given the responsibility to deliver the projects within it’s scope to a single defined set of standards so as to provide management with a greater visibility of project performance and to increase the probability of success through standardisation and good practice.”

I hope that this has helped fill any gaps for those who are new to the PMO space so that you are equiped to acquire more knowledge.

A good next step is to download a copy of my free guide, 7 Steps to Set-up a PMO.

If you do decide to sign-up for my email updates, after the initial emails I will send you a special bonus, free access to my bonus PMO Set-up Mini Course..

PMO Meaning Presentation