How the PMO Fits into Your Company (PMO Part 2)

A well-established PMO fulfills the expectations of stakeholders.

The PMO Series in the Meisterplan Blog

In Part 1 of this series, we discussed what a PMO (Project Management Office) is and what benefits you gain from having one. Now, you may have more questions, such as: “Where does the PMO fit best within my organization’s structure?”, “Who should work in this new department?”, “What is the relationship between the PMO and the stakeholders?”, and “What are the expectations?” Read on for answers to these questions.

The Flexible PMO

Where the PMO fits into your company’s hierarchy is flexible and depends on the specific tasks that will be assigned to it. Those tasks, in turn, are based on the needs and characteristics of your company. Basically, there are three types of PMOs.

  • The Corporate Level (SPMO for Strategic PMO or PPMO for Project Portfolio Management Office) is responsible for:
    Planning, prioritizing, and controlling all projects (PPM), setting standards and processes of project management, and working in close cooperation with management.

  • The Department and Program Level (Program Management Office) is responsible for:
    Controlling projects, managing resources, and creating synergy effects between departments.

  • The Project Level (PO for Project Office) is responsible for:
    Controlling and supporting activities, and working in close cooperation with project managers (this is only worthwhile for large projects).

As the strategic tasks of the PMO increase, PMOs usually land on the same level as operational planning and directly below senior management. The proximity to senior management makes sense because the PMO ultimately implements the company’s vision and mission-derived strategies and goals. (Source: PMI)

A well-established PMO fulfills the expectations of stakeholders. Click to Tweet

Who Works in the PMO?

The PMO director can be an internal employee or an external specialist, depending on his/her professional skills, as well as his/her experience, personality, soft skills, and career plan. The ideal person is often a senior project manager with a good relationship with project leaders and senior management.

Since there are few traditional training opportunities for PMO employees, it is especially important to staff this department with the right people. The question arises whether the team should consist of well-rounded employees or mutually complementary specialists. The best choice may be less experienced employees who understand project management. These candidates should be highly resilient, fast learners with great development potential. Knowledge about the processes can be learned by doing. (Source: PMI)

PMO Stakeholders and Their Expectations

The PMO is the central hub between senior management, department heads, resource managers, controllers, and project managers. All may have different expectations of the PMO.

The PMO is the central hub between senior management, department heads, resource managers, controllers, and project managers. All may have different expectations of the PMO.

Senior Management:

  • Perform multi-project management

  • Organize and prepare the portfolio board with well-prepared data and scenarios for project portfolios

  • Directly solve minor resource conflicts and prepare decisions in the event of major resource conflicts

  • Increase visibility of project risks

  • Evaluate ongoing projects and results

  • Support project managers as much as possible

  • Increase the end quality of projects

Department Head:

  • Control resource requests and assign appropriate employees

  • Communicate the actual resource availability rather than the theoretical capacity

  • Prioritize projects according to company goals for optimal resource management

  • Provide the roadmap for the best possible management of long-term resource allocation


  • Control budget requests

  • Communicate up-to-date plan information for the budget calculations

  • Prioritize the projects according to the company’s objectives so that the budget can be reserved for the most important projects

  • Provide the roadmap for the best possible management of the long-term budget

Project Manager:

  • Assign clear project assignments

  • Support project planning with best practices and current data

  • Approve changes, commit resources and budgets

  • Select appropriate tools and train employees to use the tools and methods

  • Coach and mentor new and current employees as needed

  • Prepare and conduct relevant meetings

PMOs and project managers usually have the most difficult relationship, since project managers are directly affected by the decisions and actions of the PMO. The PMO should reduce the burden on project managers as much as possible, imposing only a few bureaucratic obligations, as well as making clear the benefits of the necessary overhead.

Other Stakeholders:

The PMO needs to provide assistance and collaboration to other stakeholders when they have specific questions. Customers interact only indirectly with the PMO, as they are only interested in the results. They don’t often see how projects are completed, but they will notice if the PMO consistently provides good results.

If you have not had a PMO for a long time or are just thinking about introducing a PMO, this blog post has hopefully given you a good overview of the how the PMO and its roles function in an organization. For those who have an established PMO, it is worthwhile to carry out a stakeholder analysis and to record the different expectations. Only then will the PMO’s central responsibilities and areas of work become clear.

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By |2019-08-14T07:58:32+00:00July 21st, 2017|Categories: Project Portfolio Management|

About the Author: Annegret Widmer

Annegret Widmer has ended her years-long love-hate relationship with Excel as a PPM and RM tool for an agency and now helps companies and organizations discover Meisterplan and best practices for resource planning and project portfolio management. When she’s not moving pixels or resources as marketing manager at Meisterplan, she’s moving game pieces across one board or another.