Who Runs a PMO? (Must Know Info)


An organization increases the capacity of its project delivery through a PMO. However, the success of the PMO is highly dependent on the candidate chosen to lead the PMO. Unfortunately, many organizations perceive PMO leaders as administrative officers and often neglect the need for experienced resources and solid project management skills.

So, who leads a PMO? A PMO manager is responsible for leading and maintaining the PMO’s efficiency and all its components. Their role includes ensuring that all operations define and comply with company standards, setting processes, and monitoring various aspects of every project’s development and execution.

The head of a PMO goes by various titles depending on the organization. While some refer to the leader as a PMO director, many refer to the head of a PMO as a PMO manager to the individual who leads and oversees the PMO. Read on to find out more about the head of a PMO, the roles of a PMO manager, and the skills required to become a PMO manager.

What Does a Head of PMO Do?

The position of a PMO manager can be summarized to involve collaboration with other department managers, communicating and liaising with executive staff, and supervising the work and the personnel of the PMO team. However, to oversee all aspects of project development and project management, PMO managers have a list of essential and specific duties and responsibilities.

These duties center around the following elements.

  1. People: People make things happen, and as such, they are the primary focus. A PMO head must consider people’s abilities, competencies, and maturity levels when forming the PMOs.
  2. Processes: Processes and operations are at the core of PMO. A PMO is in charge of the definition, standardization, consistency, and efficiency of the project’s operations. If these aspects run smoothly, the PMO’s performance will be more robust, efficient, and effective.
  3. Technology: Technology, and more specifically, information technology, is a significant boost and enabler of effective project management. However, it relies on people and processes to offer any contribution to the project.
  4. Customer satisfaction: A PMO needs to understand the needs of the customers. A good PMO leader will manage the expectations of the customers and the project management team.
  5. Strategy and implementation. The PMO manager focuses on the framework, system, structure, staff, style, skill, and goals to help achieve successful project delivery.

A successful PMO head strikes a balance between these five concepts for successful project delivery.

Here are 5 specific functions performed by the head of PMO.

1. Project Planning

During the project development stage, a PMO manager has an important role to play in facilitating planning. The role includes actions such as prioritizing tasks, setting deadlines, and assigning staff to specific deliverables. They facilitate project planning, ensuring that the project will start and run efficiently, with minimal wastage of time and other resources.

2. Analysis of Financial Information

The head of a PMO also analyzes the financial data of each project under their control. This task involves the efficient distribution of resources, implementation of budgets, and quantifying any monetary risk and its impact. The head of a PMO also tracks the budget and frequently provides outlines and financial reports to senior executives such as the CFO (chief financial officer).

3. Modify Processes

Once the project is underway, the head of a PMO is continually monitoring the processes to ensure that the project continues to run effectively. This monitoring and evaluation help the manager improve all new and pre-existing processes to evaluate the project’s applicability. They will also engage other managers and personnel in troubleshooting and problem-solving.

4. Ensure Documentation

All stages of the project, including project creation, development, and execution, should be documented. While this is not the head of the PMO’s role, they are responsible for ensuring that these documents are completed with accurate information. This may involve reviewing the documents as they are completed, and providing assistance in the writing documents, converting a project’s scope, budget resources, and justification.

5. Governance

Ensuring the project runs according to project standards is essential and the head of PMO provides oversight, including auditing and reviewing the processes being undertaken by the projects.

Core Skills of a Successful PMO

Considering a PMO manager oversees the office personnel and their duties and works across multiple departments to collaborate and communicate with senior stakeholders where relevant. A successful PMO manager should have a unique ability to be attentive to detail and focus on technicalities while not losing the big picture. They should also be innately able to thrive even under pressure, have excellent interpersonal skills, and efficiently juggle various projects and responsibilities.

In addition to these personal traits, here are a few skills that make a great PMO manager.

1. Interpersonal Skills

Being a PMO manager primarily involves dealing with different individuals, each with unique skills and experiences. One crucial strength would be to recognize the strengths and weaknesses of their team effectively. This information will help the PMO manager know who works best in different positions and tasks.

The role also involves constant communication with senior stakeholders. A good PMO manager should be able to communicate with them efficiently to achieve different results. For starters, you should be able to instill confidence in them effectively, and secondly, you should be able to seek insight from them without appearing unprepared or in over your head.

As such, a good PMO should be able to navigate personalities easily and know how to work with each type to achieve results.

2. Improvisation and Adaptability

A PMO manager needs to be able to improvise and be very adaptable. In any PMO office, challenges may often present themselves at various stages of project management.

As a leader, the head of the PMO needs to evaluate the situation and change things accordingly to ensure you promote efficiency. Being adaptable will ensure your team trusts you and your judgment even in uncertain times.

3. Multi-Tasking

Multi-tasking is a key trait for any leader. The head of a PMO is in charge of all the aspects of the projects under the PMO. This role will require the PMO manager to have an in-depth grasp of each project, and this will involve a lot of multi-tasking. This ability allows the PMO manager to maintain control over all aspects of the project without making any damaging mistakes that may be irreversible or expensive to correct.

However, making use of the available task and project management software will help you keep track of relevant documents so that you can easily access them for reference.

4. Networking Skills

As the head of a PMO office, you will be the face of the PMO office and most projects. This means that you will accumulate contacts in your industry. However, collecting the contacts is not all there is to it. A PMO manager needs to use these contacts to open further opportunities for yourself and the business.

Networking will also allow you to consult on complicated situations, keep you updated with industry advancements, and give you a deeper understanding of what more you can do to ensure successful project delivery.

5. Personnel and Time Management

Time management is crucial in any profession. The head of a PMO has various duties on their plate, and often, more than one project may be running concurrently.

A good PMO manager needs time discipline but still be in a position to ensure that the project is working with realistic goals and timeframes for the projects. This involves considering aspects such as skill level, budgets, resources, and the entire team’s capacity.

Final Verdict

Depending on the discretion of the organization, a PMO is headed by a manager or a director. Either way, their roles are almost the same, and often, the organization defines their specific duties and responsibilities.

The head of a PMO is in charge of running the office projects, managing the resources and funds available to the PMO, and the personnel. The primary goal is to work with the PMO team with the available resources while consulting with and updating senior stakeholders about the ongoing projects, from commencement to completion.

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