delivery service process office flat 3d web isometric infographic concept vector. exterior and interior isometry rooms with people staff workers. warehouse management. creative people collection.When project after project is being completed with delays of above 20%-30% unrelated to major issues, executors complain of poor coordination and PMs report progress without a unified model, you might be in a situation that would benefit from the centralization of your governance in a Project Management Office (PMO).

PMOs are versatile: they are adaptable to the nature of the organization that creates them. Therefore, when implementing a PMO in your company, you will need to decide what the roles and responsibilities of the PMO will be. By understanding what needs to be addressed and the issues currently faced at your organization, you can shape the PMO as a response to those factors.

Internal Evaluation

The first step to determine the most appropriate type of PMO for a company is to know what the expectations of the PMO are. Ask yourself and your internal customers the following questions:

  • What are the main problems or areas of improvement within the organization? Have you detected inefficiencies in any of our processes?

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  • What is the balance between formal and informal communication flows and reporting from the company? Is the company coordinating too much work in a spontaneous and decentralized way? Does this pose a problem for the evaluation of management processes? These questions are especially important in relation to the size of the organization: while small teams can afford a high degree of informal communication, a growing the business must follow the path of standardization. It’s vital to persuade all staff to adopt new procedures and to identify the risk low adoption.

  • What is more central: operations or projects? PMOs are designed to work with projects, not operations. If the latter are predominant, you may use a PMO to frame operations in a broader scope or to integrate them with other sections of the company. However, this is a very indirect form of projectization.

  • Is the company currently achieving its main objectives? If not, why might this be?

  • What are the measures to adopt if the organization does not meet the intended objectives?

When finally implementing a PMO, you must decide what a successful PMO might entail, and how to know if it is not operating as it should.

Objectives, size, maturity and corporate culture

The structure and objectives of a PMO depend on the degree of efficiency required by the company. For example, a PMO can serve to manage both a business for profit as well as any other humanitarian purposes. However, more often than not economic profitability takes precedence when setting up a PMO.

Another aspect to consider is the size of the company: Project scope, type of product, target audience, etc. will vary. While a small business can use a less structured approach, in a larger company the number of simultaneous processes that can potentially coexist multiplies, and so does the importance of standardization and structured reporting systems.

It’s particularly important to maintain the balance between support and control. Focusing too much on control can cause discomfort among workers and increase resistance to change, while offering too much support can lead to excessive documentation and training no one will actually use.

One possible solution is to begin with less demanding PMO models with supporting functions, and gradually pivot towards controlling and directive approaches.

Selecting the most appropriate PMO for my company

Here is a list of situations where it would be advisable to choose a specific type of PMO. Although the classification of the 3 types of PMO remains orientative, it can serve as a good starting point to size the scope of the project and identify good practices.

You should choose a Supportive PMO if:

  • Your company lacks methodologies, procedures and project management tools.

  • Project Managers have not developed specific skills in project management

  • Your company lacks adequate training programs and updated project management.

You should look for a controlling PMO if:

  • There is a moderate project management culture in your company.

  • Project managers have basic knowledge in current PM standards.

  • The organization is accustomed to multidisciplinary projects.

  • Project management standards and compliance practices are implemented.

  • The supportive PMO is already implemented.

The directive PMO would be best if:

  • The company has successfully implemented the previous two types of PMO.

  • There is an established project-based mentality.

  • Schemes to monitor all processes with structured reporting systems are effectively established.


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Example of organizational structures: Functional hierarchy of the National Organization for SpaceOrganizational structures are one of the core elements that fall into consideration when measuring the influence of environmental factors in project management: they can seriously affect resource availability and determine the style of project management.

Although in the real world each company follows its own idiosyncratic organization, tradition has three types of organizational structures, which we illustrate with graphic examples -some real, some generic.

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Functional structure

Functional structures are a classical hierarchy structure in which each employee has a clearly-defined superior. At the highest level, the company is organized according to a function-based approach (accounting, engineering or production, for example). Members of the workforce only respond to a superior from their own department and so look for a direct line of communication between the lower and higher levels. Each area can be subdivided into more specific functional units. Each department undertakes work and activities on a project independently, with the projects framed by the functional areas of the organization. Within this type of structure, projects requiring various different departments tend to encounter greater difficulties during development as they cut across the organizational structure and no specific position is recognized for the project manager.

Projectized or project-based structure

Example of organizational structures: Simplified model of projectized organizational structure with 3 projects on vertical axis

A simplified model of projectized organizational structure

In this case of organizational structure, the organization has a similarly hierarchical approach with limited interaction across its sections. However, projects are assigned to a fully equipped team and to a project manager, who occupies a high rank within the organizational chart and has subordinates report to him. In fact,  it’s not uncommon for project teams to be consolidated into departments headed by a project manager.

It’s easy to see that this is a very simple (even simplistic!) organizational structure with powerful limitations, like the severe issues in knowledge transfer across projects. Whenever this structure is adopted, it’s important to also implement functional algorithms designed with the intent of negotiating trade-offs between projects. As these compete for limited financial and non-financial resources, scenario-based project prioritization can help strike the best balance for the organization based on objective data.

Matrix structure:

Example of organizational structures: matrix organization

Matrix organizations combine the vertical (functional) axis with the project (horizontal) axis

Among all the organizational structures, matrices are very common in service providers and fast-growing organizations that manage multiple projects at the same time. Matrices have commonalities with both functional and project-based structures, and depending on the exact balance of one over the other there can be three types:

  • Weak matrix structure: this is very similar to a functional organization, with the role of project manager as a coordinator or facilitator; in other words, this person both helps and coordinates, meaning they are unable to take personal decisions but can interact with all the functional areas involved in the project.

  • Balanced matrix structure: project managers have with greater autonomy than in a weak matrix structure but who is not given full authority over the project, especially its funding.

  • Strong matrix structure: this shares many characteristics with projectized organization because it has a full-time project manager and administrative team without that necessarily changing the functional structure. Project managers have full authority over their projects and act at the same level as those in charge of the functional areas.

Choosing organizational Structures

In spite of the fact that matrix structures are highly correlated with more mature organizations, it’s important to be unbiased about which organizational structures might be a better fit for each situation. In certain organizations with a lean approach to management a purely project-based structure may work perfectly. In the end, the nature of the activity, objectives, corporate culture and the demands of new customers will have a strong say over which structure should be chosen.

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