Most businesses that run a portfolio of projects will have a project management office (PMO), but a project support office (PSO) is much less common. We’re going to look at the four main differences between a PMO and a PSO so you can decide if your organisation is ready for both.

A PSO is generally found in a larger organisation that deals with lots of projects in a portfolio. Its function is to bring together administrative tasks of projects and allow resources to get the project work completed.

Setting up a PSO will mean some functions will be taken out of your PMO, freeing up your team to do more leadership and strategic work. Here, we dive into the four key differences you’ll see between a PMO and s PSO.

1.      Methodology

When your PMO was created – and ever since – you’ll have been working to define and refine the project methodology your projects will use.

This refers to the way projects are run, such as:

  • Waterfall
  • Agile
  • Kanban
  • Scrum

Your PMO will have processes and documentation designed to help projects work within the project methodology you lay out.

A project support office will take over some of the roles to support the use of your chosen methodology. This can include gathering the data that monitors the process and project success. The PMO should focus on improving and refining, such as offering training in the methodology where needed.

2.      Upskilling

Along with training around the project methodology, your PMO will retain the role of offering training and upskilling more generally.

The PMO is there to make sure the skills are needed, and the pool of people your project can pull on is suitable for the projects that are in the pipeline.

The role of the PSO is to make sure that the right people are then assigned to the projects they are needed on. Resource allocation and scheduling is something a PSO focuses on, so they should be optimising the resources your office is improving.

Both offices will work together on this, with the PSO letting the PMO know what skills will be needed so that the PMO can plan and bring in the right people accordingly. The PSO should also have tool and process experts on hand to make sure project staff can be effective without learning a lot of new tools from scratch.

3.      Strategy

A major role of a PMO is to deliver the strategic goals of a business through the projects it selects and manages. This could mean ensuring environmental, social, and governance goals are built-in or ensuring that ROI is delivered on each project, for example.

Your office will continue to focus on delivering strategy, while you can expect a PSO to make sure the results are reported on and eventually delivered. This will include the support office gathering data about the strategic goals you set and delivering reports that your PMO can take action on.

4.      Data handling

There will always be a lot of data produced by projects that will need to be gathered and reported on. If you decide to disrupt the working of your PMO and introduce new technologies, you should also see more consistent, better-quality data.

Many PMOs will spend a lot of time gathering and reporting on data from projects, such as how well schedules and budgets are being adhered to and the tasks that resources are working on.

The gathering of the data and initial reports can be handed off to your new PSO since their role is to support your office and projects. You can then focus on finding the story and insights from the data provided and decide how best to optimise projects instead.

The differences between a PMO and a PSO

A PMO is about managing and improving projects, whereas a PSO supports projects in their tasks. The four main differences between a PMO and a PSO cover how they interact with the project methodology, directing training and providing expertise, what element of business strategy they work on, and who generates reports and acts on the data.