The project management office (PMO) is a concept you’ll already be well-versed in, but a project support office (PSO) may be less familiar. We’re going to explore the project management office vs the project support office and cover what you need to know about both.

You may have seen terminology around project support when applying for new roles or during your studying of project management. A PSO isn’t as common as a PMO, but you should still familiarise yourself with the concept.

Here, you’ll find out:

  • What is a PSO
  • The main differences compared to a PMO
  • When you might need a PSO
  • How to create a PSO
  • The different resources you’ll need in your PSO

In the coming posts, we’ll cover these topics in more detail, too.

What is a project support office?

A PSO is there to support projects to bring them in on time and on budget. The support office is there to take on administrative tasks so as to free up time for project resources to focus on their core activities.

You’ll likely only come across a PSO in large businesses and organisations that undertake a lot of project work or have a portfolio of projects to manage. This is because in smaller businesses, a lot of the PSO functions will be covered by the PMO or the project team.

The PSO is there to make sure the standards and expectations laid out by the PMO are adhered to.

What are the differences between a PSO and a PMO?

There are four main differences you’ll find between a PSO and a PMO when they function simultaneously in a business.

  1. The PMO will set the project methodology, and the PSO will ensure it is being used correctly.
  2. The PMO will train project workers to be more skilled, while the PSO will allocate those workers and skills to the right tasks.
  3. The PMO sets strategic goals and ensures the project meet business needs, and the PSO works with project teams to deliver the results to meet the strategy.
  4. The PMO analyses the data derived from projects and suggests improvements, while the PSO inputs the data and generates the reports for the PMO to work with.

Does my organisation need a PSO?

A project support office is generally for a large organisation that runs a lot of projects. Medium-sized and small businesses that have a PMO can usually sit support functions in that office or use the role of project administrator for larger projects.

However, when your project portfolio gets larger, and you find your PMO is taking on a lot of administrative functions, it may be time to set up a PSO, too.

You’ll be regularly assessing the activities and tasks of your PMO, so when you see the time spent on admin increasing and the time spent on strategy and management being squeezed, it may be time to hive off these roles to a different entity.

How do I create a project support office?

Once you’ve identified the need for a PSO in your organisation, you need to go about creating one. It will follow similar steps to setting up a PMO. We’ll look at this process in more detail in a coming post, but the basic steps you’ll need to follow include:

  1. Make the business case to invest in setting up a PSO
  2. Pitch the concept of the PSO to your C-suite sponsor
  3. Define the tools and processes your PSO will take over
  4. Set out the organisational structure of the PSO
  5. Role out the office to your PMO and project teams

What resources will I need for a project support office?

You may already have the right resources in the business to populate a PSO. This is especially true since you’ll likely have identified the need based on key indicators in the organisation.

Some of the roles you can expect to find in a PSO include project administrators, tool experts, and process managers.

What is a project support office?

A PSO sits adjacent to your PMO in a large organisation, taking some of the administrative strain from your PMO so you can become a centre for leadership and strategy. We’ve looked at what you need to know about a project management office vs a project support office, and we’ll be diving deeper in the coming posts.