As shared in our previous blog, revisiting the basics of PMO, we have been helping new, as well experienced, project professionals get to grips with PMO. In our PMO webinars, we opened the floor to our peers who had questions. Here are the answers to some need-to-know PMO questions.
What is a virtual PMO and how do you make it work?
A virtual PMO isn’t something in the metaverse (though that would be cool). It’s when there are PMO functions and services in the organisation, but they are all provided by individuals within their roles, for example project finance is provided by the finance team. There is much debate about whether a fully virtual PMO can be truly efficient, but many organisations have virtual members, such as in finance or procurement, so this works for them.
Where does change management sit within the PMO?
Where change management sits within the PMO very much depends on where change management sits within the wider organisation. If it is considered a type of project, or embedded within programmes, it’s likely that the methods, processes, etc, will sit within the PMO alongside the project methods and processes. If change is seen to be something different it may have its own PMO – a CPMO (change PMO).
What determines whether you would set up a temporary PMO instead of using your organisation’s established PMO? What if you have already begun the delivery phase?
A temporary PMO is set up to support one specific project or programme. There are a number of reasons why this may be beneficial, including localising of methods and processes, level of support required, geographical location and range of services required that are not provided by a central PMO. It doesn’t matter if the delivery phase has already begun?
When we talk about analysts in PMO, do you mean in analysing information coming into the PMO such as reporting and risk information?
Yes. The portfolio analyst will have ownership of the portfolio dashboard and will be able to provide insight and guidance to the senior teams about what decisions need to be made, the implications of those decisions and where their support is required.
Have you seen many instances where a Portfolio Office exists on its own, with no project or programme offices? Any reasons why this wouldn’t be viable?
Organisations may have a strategy or business planning department (often reporting into Finance) who work with, and on behalf of, the senior executive. Their role is often more focussed on determining the organisational strategy and less on delivery. Some may also consider the benefits of delivery activities, but may not have a direct link through to programme and project scoping and delivery. It is viable if there is portfolio office that sits alongside or links down through the programme offices.
A prime example of a very large PMO structure that operates in this way but is ‘standalone’ is High Speed 2 (HS2), which featured in our first PMO 101 webinar. Here the Integrated PMO (portfolio management office by another name) was responsible for the ‘overarching’ performance of the portfolio and strategy. There were streams of PMO focussed on:
- Integrated PMO (strategy / benefits/ competencies Portfolio Office)
- Strategic planning (supports the portfolio office – high level planning)
- Risk and assurance (high level risk management and second line assurance)
- Controls (performance, change management and estimating (modelling))
- PMO (quality / first line assurance / methods and standards)
HS2’s Integrated PMO is a very large, standalone PMO model that is not part of a larger organisation. The HS2 programme is in effect a new delivery organisation that will exist for a minimum of 18 years.
Our industry continues to evolve, for those just starting out in PMO, or looking to explore PMO further, visit or APM PMO SIG page, where you’ll find interviews, articles and opinions.
You may also be interested in:
- What is a PMO?
- Revisiting the basics of PMO
- The Virtual PMO (vPMO) team: threats, opportunities and benefits
- Being a part of the project community
This blog was co-written by Neil Banks and Emma-Ruth Arnaz-Pemberton
Emma-Ruth Arnaz-Pemberton is a Project, Programme and Portfolio specialist with extensive experience in the change management industry with a particular focus on collaboration, PMO conception & strategy, method and capability development.