The Value of a PMO


By Marisa Silva

Portugal and UK


Rick Bouter

The Netherlands


Where lies the Value of a PMO?

The challenges of our times point to a unanimous direction: in a highly unpredictable and complex environment, organizations cry more and more for predictability, setting the scene for the discipline of Project Management to flourish. Coincident with the growing awareness to the importance of Project Management worldwide, the implementation of Project Management Offices, aka PMOs, has faced an exponential growth in the last decade, and a large number of organizations now have or are planning to have a PMO in place. While the implementation of PMOs was a sort of a fad, the focus is now on measuring the actual value added by these structures in organizations, as a considerable number of PMOs still keep failing.

In fact, there is no use in stating that PMOs add value if value is just a buzzword, without a clear and meaningful significance. PMOs can bring value to an organization in several ways, and this is dependent on a number of factors, however, in general terms, we can say that there are ten areas where their contribution can be noted the most:

  • Consistency: of best-fit-practices, terminology, and processes, leading to discipline and alignment of expectations and behaviours
  • Visibility: over the status and progress of projects that enables Senior Management to gain a general overview of the portfolio and actually decide with lights-on
  • Transparency: through independent, objective and unbiased audits and recommendations, able to act as a source of truth based on facts
  • Quality: through quality reviews of project deliverables and management products, that ensures that products are complete, delivered according to acceptance criteria and fit for purpose
  • Assurance: allow confidence, management by exception, and informed decision-making, by performing rigorous reviews, providing recommendations, and challenging assumptions, estimates, and approach
  • Predictability: of delivery timescales and costs, and of resource requirements, enabling agility, foresight for long-term, and capacity planning
  • Accountability: through a clear definition of roles and responsibilities, allowing people to be held accountable for the delivery and benefits realization
  • Alignment and focus: so that effort and resources are put in the right, priority initiatives, and only projects that contribute to the organization’s strategic objectives are carried out and projects that are not aligned are not conducted
  • Organizational learning: of what is to be replicated and what is to be avoided in the future through the establishment of risk and knowledge databases that enable knowledge transfer across projects
  • Resilience: by running what-if scenarios, exploring project dependencies, and ensuring mitigation/exploitation strategies are covered so that the organization can leverage their risks and opportunities and be resilient

Due to its positioning in the organizational structure, PMOs can act as a communicating bridge between strategy planning and strategy execution, and this is where their main value lies – they are business-driven strategic partners and integrators, as well as enablers of organizational change and drivers for business success. In fact, high-performant PMOs don’t just support the execution of strategy through the delivery of projects and programs, they actually shape the strategy by playing an active role in strategic planning.

There are as many types of PMOs as there are companies in the world. Each PMO is unique and, accordingly, so the potential of value they can provide will be. A classical configuration of PMOs is that of a Project Support, where the PMO is mostly the project manager’s assistant, whose functions and services consist mainly of administrative support such as arranging meetings and producing meeting minutes, updating the project logs, and taking care of the project plan and general project paperwork. While this type of PMO can prove of use to the day-to-day of a Project Manager (I’m sure he will appreciate the help!), there is little value to be gained at the organizational level just by having a PMO performing an administrative role. If you are relying just on a Project Support Office, you are not unlocking the full potential value that a PMO can provide.


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About the Authors


pmwj38-Sep2015-Silva-PHOTO1Marisa Silva


Portugal - small flag


Marisa Silva
is an accomplished Project and Portfolio Management (PPM) professional and trainer with over 7 years of experience gained internationally and cross-industries. Passionate about PPM and Project Management Offices (PMOs), Marisa has developed her career from management consulting and has held positions as PMO Analyst, PMO Manager, PPM consultant, PPM Competency Centre Manager, and Country Manager. Currently she works as PMO Analyst at Oxford University Press.

Marisa holds a BSc. in Management, a specialization in Competitive Intelligence, a PgDip in Foresight, Strategy and Innovation, and is currently a MSc. candidate in Strategic Management of Projects, at University College London (UCL). As a trainer, Marisa delivered over five hundred hours of training in Project Management foundation and advanced courses and PMP preparation courses. She is certified as a PMP, PMD Pro Level 2, PRINCE2, and P3O professional, as well as a Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) in regards to PPM tools.

Marisa has authored Project Management articles and scientific papers presented and published in international conferences, and is also an active member of the Project Management community and professional bodies. She is a member of PMI, APM, Founding Member of the IIBA Portugal Chapter, and has served as a volunteer in the PMI Portugal Chapter. Marisa can be contacted at [email protected].


pmwj38-Sep2015-Silva-PHOTO2 BOUTERRick Bouter

The Netherlands



Rick Bouter is an international travelling and operating PMO for the Capgemini University via Sogeti. In his role Rick focuses on program management, process optimization & defining business needs. Rick has a passion for new technology and loves to write about the Internet of Things, Industry 4.0, Internet of Everything & the Industrial Internet and other disruptive technology. You can find his articles at the Sogeti Labs, & Capgemini’s Expert Connect program, his personal blog “My Thoughts” and his LinkedIn profile. Previously, Rick studied Economics, and specialized in the minor Business Model Innovation (BMI). His specialization was about Innovating by Leadership, Strategy and Trends.