If you were asked “what does your PMO do?”, how would you answer?  Take a moment to think…..

  • Do you provide reporting?
  • Do you consolidate information?
  • Do you provide standard tools / templates?
  • Do you align projects to strategic goals?


You probably have come up with a number of good answers.  However, are they all activities / transactions and, importantly, do they really give a true understanding of the benefit?

After completing the recent series of articles covering the offshore PMO Model, it made me think that it is very easy to view the work being completed as an activity as opposed to a wider service offering.  Therefore, I wanted to quickly cover this concept as it adds important context.

When a decision is taken to set-up a PMO, one of the early steps is to define the objectives of the PMO.  This should be aligned to the strategic goals / vision of the organisation (see Capturing the PMO Vision and Mission).  This in turn will drive the work the PMO needs to complete.  The “work” equates to the “services”.

It is easy to think that it does not matter.  However, I have found that using the language of “services provided” usually means there is a higher chance that the true value is recognised.  It makes sure that it is presented as a professional service not just administrative activities.  Of course, the PMO must be able to deliver a good service to support the claims!

The good news is that, if you have aligned your PMO to the objectives, this should not be difficult.  An approach I have used in the past is to use a single slide (landscape) and then add boxes for each of the services offered.  Each box should contain a heading that clearly indicates the service i.e. Reporting, RAIDs, Finance, etc.  Then within each box explain the service offering and the key activities.  This should use words that detail the service not the activity.  You are looking to convey the importance of the service and how it helps achieve the overall objectives.

I want to stress how important having this list of services is in respect of an on / offshore model.  Trying to explain your offshore model can be difficult, especially when you are looking to offer the service to project teams and sponsors.  Having a professional looking slide that clearly details the services you can provide will convey that you have something real to offer.  It may be strange, people tend to believe something more if it is written on a piece of paper.

It also is very helpful when you are meeting with sponsors and project teams to offer services i.e. report production / consolidation.  Having the services detailed on a piece of paper that can be used to drive the conversation will help people understand what is available and how it can help.  This is important as, in order for the offshore model to be successful (and onshore PMO), the service needs to be used.  People need to feel confident that they will be provided with a good service.  If not they will build their own capability.

Having the services documented is only part of explaining the service offering.  It is very important that you and the team change the language they use to explain the services they provide.  Make sure the whole team (on and offshore) understand what services are and ARE NOT being offered.  Coach them to talk using the same terms so as not to confuse stakeholders.

You also need to ensure that everyone knows the appropriate process on how new work is taken into the service.  Do not just say “yes” to be helpful.  There needs to be a structured approach to take work into the PMO so that a quality service can be provided.  When you first announce the capability, you may be inundated with requests.  You probably will not be able to transfer them all in at the same time.  Create a list and prioritise, ensuring all stakeholders are aware where they are in the process (managing expectations is critical).


  • Documenting the PMO Services is valuable, it helps promote the available services
  • Ensure to describe service / benefits not activities
  • Coach your on and offshore team to understand and use the same language
  • Have a structured approach for on-boarding projects into the PMO
  • Prioritise and manage expectations

These simple steps can really help present your PMO as adding significant value in a professional manner.