Your Guide to the Project Management Office (PMO)

The Project Management Office (or as it’s more commonly known, the PMO) is an organizational group that oversees and standardizes a business’s project management processes. This may include managing resources, budgets, tools, and project data to ensure they align with organizational goals. As businesses evolve, however, the role of the PMO has become so nuanced that its function can seem like a mystery. This guide offers an in-depth look how a PMO works, different types of PMOs, common PMO performance metrics, and how an enterprise PMO (EPMO) software can help make life easier for the entire organization. 

Project vs. Program vs. Portfolio Management: Where Does the PMO Fit?

PMOs, or Project Management Offices, are now mainstream, even ubiquitous, across organizations. According to Wellingtone’s 2020 State of Project Management report, 89% of organizations state having one or more PMOsincreasing steadily from 71% reported in 2016—with 50% having more than one. But in fact, the prevalence and role of the PMO have substantially evolved over time. 
7 challenges every PMO banner

The versatility of the PMO may lead one to wonder how it compares with other types of PPM roles. A big part of the problem when trying to work through the myriad details of PMO, PPM, and PM, is the complexity and confusion involved, not only by the acronyms themselves but also with the many different definitions of these disciplines provided by industry experts.   Let’s see how PMOs compare — and work together — with project portfolio management, project management, program management.


PMO vs. Project Portfolio Management

Distinguishing the concept of project portfolio management and PMO involves understanding their distinct responsibilities within the project ecosystem. Let’s take a closer look.

Project Management

A project manager assumes the pivotal role of overseeing the daily operations of a project. In this capacity, project managers collaborate closely with the project team, ensuring the timely and budget-conscious completion of tasks.

Portfolio Management

A portfolio is a collection of programs and projects. Portfolio management is primarily responsible for ensuring that the organization has chosen the right projects to work on.


By contrast, the PMO is tasked with ensuring that the projects are done right using the proper process and technologies. Once again, a PMO zooms out to look at multiple projects and portfolios to ensure they’re completed on time, smoothly, and with the involvement of all relevant stakeholders.


So, a PMO have similar responsibilities compared to project or portfolio managers, but it focuses on the whole organization rather than business units (like departments or teams). A PMO can go a long way towards enhancing and elevating portfolio management practices at the organization level.

PMO vs Program Management

Program management is the process of managing multiple interdependent projects, establishing strategic goals, and facilitating everything that needs to happen to bring those goals to life. Instead of focusing on deliverables or outputs, as a project management office or team might, program managers oversee business and technical outcomes.

Let’s visualize these differences in another way. Project management offices are chiefly concerned with:

On the other hand, program managers focus on: