Tips for Choosing your Ideal PMO Structure

A Project Management Office is commonly viewed as one of the most effective means of business practice that is being undertaken by many successful organizations.

However, to ensure the success of the PMO it is important that the PMO structure blends well with the organization’s culture.

Every organization has a distinctive culture that is embedded deep into its inner workings. Therefore your PMO must match this culture in order for the successful implementation and general running of the PMO. A PMO can range from a very simple assembly to a more complex centralized structure that takes full control of all aspects relating to an organization’s projects.

Making the decision on what type of structure an organization should uptake requires time and an in-depth evaluation. Some key questions that need answering should include:

  • What resources do you have available to be involved in a project management office?
  • Do you run many projects on average during the year?
  • Are you currently facing problems when managing your projects?
  • Is there a standard methodology across the organization?

The expectations of the PMO should match the ability of your organization otherwise the chances of success will reduce greatly.

The two most common PMO structures:


This PMO structure would deliver high-quality reports for all projects. As a whole, this structure would act as an adviser around the project management methodology standards and any project issues that may arise. The most cost-effective of them all this structure keeps the department managers involved in the decision making of the projects and the project team highly involved in their tasks. At times this structure can hold an organization’s PMO back from reaching its full potential and forming its ideal project methodology. However, having a proactive team in place can help a situation like this from arising.


At the other end of the spectrum is the centralized structure. This structure manages the PMO in a more controlled manner. Decision-making and problem-solving tend to fall with the head of the PMO following a consultation with their project managers. Standards and processes are established and imposed by the PMO. Unlike the decentralized structure, the centralized structure tends to drive the PMO to implement its project methodology. There is a good support system in place as the project managers are encouraged to work closely together. An issue that may arise when examining this structure is the fact that the PMO has a lot of authority around decision-making and problem-solving. It is important that this authority doesn’t have a direct effect on the teamwork and communication channels that were embedded into the organization’s culture.

Deciding which PMO structure matches your needs is important however the way in which you establish the chosen PMO structure should be given the same dedication and time. It is worth putting in the effort in order to reap the rewards.

Alternatives to a PMO

If you’re interested in selecting and successfully delivering more strategically aligned projects you should consider establishing a Strategy Realization Office (SRO). What is a Strategy Realization Office and how is it different from a Project Management Office? While an SRO and PMO are very similar in their approach, in that they are both adding value to the organization, the PMO is more focused on delivering projects, whereby the SRO is more focused on delivering your organizational strategy. Project Management advisor and lecturer, John McGrath examines five areas of difference between a PMO and SRO in “What is a Strategy Realization Office?”.

Find Out More

If you’d like to see how your current project management practices measure up try our PMO Maturity Assessment Calculator.

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