There are many types, styles, and flavours of project management offices (PMOs) for you to choose from. One of the broad categories of PMO is a supportive PMO, is this the right office for you and your organisation?

Choosing the right PMO structure for your business sets the tone for the type of projects that get done and how you view their success. A supportive PMO generally is there to be a centre of excellence for your project managers, and even for leaders in the company more generally.

To help you decide if you want to pivot your PMO towards the supportive model, or if it’s how you want to create your all-new PMO, we’re going to look at:

  • The role you can expect a supportive PMO to play
  • What a supportive PMO does during the project lifecycle
  • When this type of PMO is best for your business

What does a supportive PMO do?

A supportive PMO provides the tools and resources projects need to succeed. It is the place in a business that hold the documents and details to be able to run a project from beginning to end. Expect a supportive PMO to have:

  • Process outlines for things like procurement, talent acquisition, budget changes, and more
  • Templates for running a successful project such as Agile frameworks or Scrum weekly planners
  • Procedures that ensure every project is run along the same lines

A supportive PMO is there to allow project managers to run their projects well, without having to duplicate work. It also means that everyone who works across projects knows how to work even when assigned to a new project.

What are examples of a supportive PMOs work?

To best understand how a supportive PMO functions in daily work, let’s take a look at what it can do throughout the lifecycle of a project. These are only some examples of supportive PMO tasks – remember that your PMO can do and be anything you need it to for.

Before a project starts

The framework for every project is held by a supportive PMO. The project manager can usually get planners and calendars from their PMO, as well as help creating a budget. You can also ask this PMO type to ensure that the right resources are ready, whether that be in terms of software, talent, office space etc.

Training is another key element that a supportive PMO should offer. This can be training about working with their resources and upskilling for projects where needed.

During project delivery

Lots of tools and resources should be available from a supportive PMO. Project managers can draw on documentation, templates, and frameworks to make their role functional rather than planning. The PMO should be monitoring the work of projects in order to understand how they are working and if real-time improvements can be made.

A supportive PMO should also help projects achieve milestones by the tracking of work that they do.

After a project is completed

Once a project has been delivered, a supportive PMO should debrief and analyse the process and the outcomes. The office can find the wins and understand what can be learned from each project. The processes and templates they have can be adapted once the lessons – both good and bad – have been learned.

What is the use case for a supportive PMO?

When looking at the framework we have for PMOs, a supportive office style is a hybrid between reporting and proactive. You’ll be producing reports and checking that everything is being done in accordance with your processes, but this is for the purpose of getting projects delivered more successfully rather than simply for reporting.

With this, a supportive PMO is ideal for a company that already has strong project managers but lacks structure. Your project managers don’t need to have constant reports but you also want to ensure the harmonisation of tasks.

The take home

If you’re wondering whether a supportive PMO is the right PMO for you, understand what your business needs from its project office. Choosing this type of PMO will give you a centre of excellence for management and create a one-stop-shop for everything project related. It’s a low-control PMO model that is there to help projects deliver rather than dictate exactly how a project will be run.