Overview of Projects vs. Programs: Program Management Office (PMO) – What is That Anyway?


Now that we addressed the difference between a program and a project, let’s dig deeper. What is a Program Management Office?

The Program Management Office (PMO) manages a Program. It is led by a Program Manager and support staff needed to manage a Program. The staff of a PMO understands the organizational objective the Program is trying to achieve and the overarching plan to achieve it through the projects that comprise the program.

Simply put, a PMO sets guidelines, puts measures in place, and tracks or oversees the projects in the Program. The guidelines can describe how projects should be started up and managed, set project documentation templates, and define key processes such as for project planning and reporting, and risk and issue management. The PMO sets the measures for projects that roll into some of the key performance metrics (KPIs) for the Program. The PMO also conducts consolidated reporting on the state of the program which entails tracking the performance of each of the projects.

There are many different flavors of PMOs – more to come in a later blog on this – with different levels of authority, decision-making power, and involvement in overseeing the projects in a Program. Consequently, not every PMO is the same.

PMOs do tend to have many of the same Critical Success Factors:

1. Executive-level sponsorship from a leader who is savvy about their organization’s culture, has bought into the organizational objective the PMO is charged with accomplishing and who is willing to defend the PMO and fight for resources

2. Proactive communication with direct customers and stakeholders about the objective of the Program and its accomplishments

3. Change management plan to help the organization adopt to the changes the PMO is making in the organization I hope you have enjoyed our blogs on the Programs vs. Projects.

I will be back in a few months with more about the different types of PMOs and which one is right for you!