ePMO – It’s more than just programme admin


What is a Programme Management Office (PMO)?

A Programme Management Office (PMO) is a key part of the delivery function of an organisation with responsibility for overseeing and governing projects, standardising delivery approaches and practices and ensuring that there is clarity on the status of each project in a portfolio. Although not an exhaustive list, some of these responsibilities are highlighted below.


  • Project Governance – defining and implementing project management standards, policies and procedures. By establishing repeatable processes and methodology each project will follow a well understood path leading to greater clarity during implementation
  • Reporting, Communication and Stakeholder Management – fundamental to good delivery is an understanding of the status of each project, including highlighting any key risks and blockers that could impact the project and the overall project performance. The PMO facilitates this reporting, but also ensures that there is excellent communication and collaboration across the project, stakeholders and wider impacted community
  • Support for Project and Programme Managers – the PMO function fulfils a mentoring role for those leading the projects, and also provides the tools, methodology, standardised templates to support the work being undertaken
  • Risk and Issue Management – working closely with the project team, the PMO helps to identify, analyse and mitigate risks associated with the project, and to devise risk management strategies and plans. Proactive management of the risks and issues ensures that the project stays on track to deliver
  • Demand and Change Management – scope creep can significantly delay a project and impact the cost and quality of the deliverables and put the business case at risk. The PMO sets up the change management structure and procedures, ensuring that any scope change is carefully considered, and the impacts are fully understood before being agreed
  • Quality Assurance – sometimes the QA elements of a PMO are feared by the delivery team. However, the purpose of this is not to catch people out. By performing pro-active assurance and audits of a project it will ensure that they stay on track and help the Project Managers deliver. Not policing but proactive guidance
  • Resource Management – resources are scarce, and the right skills are not always available at the right time. This may be people, equipment or tooling, and the PMO can help to ensure that the right resources are available at the right time, or to help to update a plan in line with when the resources become available
  • Financial reporting and budgeting – whilst the Project Manager needs to own the budget and the actuals against the plan, the PMO can assist in the budgeting processes ensuring consistency across the portfolio. Additionally, the PMO can control budget reporting and updates needed, ensuring that the communication around the budget is provided to the correct stakeholders at the right time.



At the heart of a good Programme Management Office is strong portfolio management where each project is reviewed and prioritised based on the vision and strategy of the company. The PMO has a full picture of the projects being undertaken, the dependencies between the projects, each projects status including risks and the tracking against plan for resources, budget and quality. A good PMO is fundamental to the successful delivery of the portfolio of projects.


Different types of PMO

There are many different thoughts on how a PMO function is sized and scaled, from some companies having dedicated PMO’s for just assurance or compliance; a good way to think of different types of PMO’s is based on the scale of support they are providing. Here we split by Project/ Programme, Portfolio and Enterprise PMO (ePMO).


  • Project/Programme PMO. This type of PMO offers tactical services to support delivery and execution on a project, including consistent reporting, risk and issue management, and an integrated delivery plan. Its focus is on one programme and is good to employ for small organisations or those engaged in a small amount of change. It offers real oversight over the programme but has no interaction with other programmes or dependencies between them.
  • Portfolio PMO. Sometimes known as a Centralised PMO, it is responsible for oversight of all or most of the projects within an organisation. This Programme Management Office provides key project metrics to enable management to make informed decisions about resource utilisation, optimisation, and conflicts. It has a high level of authority and visibility and aligns projects with the organisational strategy and goals.
  • Enterprise PMO (ePMO). A fully resourced ePMO that can deploy flexible and scalable PMO capability throughout a project or programme lifecycle with a PMO Centre of Excellence (CoE) at its core. An ePMO allows for better management of time, cost and scope and coordination between different initiatives, as the number and complexity of initiatives increase. Optimised PMO capabilities that focus on continuous improvement and cross-department collaboration to achieve strategic goals.

“Thank you for all your hard work on the project – we feel it has been a great success so far. It’s been wonderful to work alongside you these past few months.”

Head of CEO Office

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Four steps to a high performing Programme Management Office

Whilst each company’s Programme Management Office will be different and vary in terms of scope of service (typically based on their industry, company size, complexity of projects and level of delivery maturity), there are four common steps to achieving a high performing PMO.


  1. Vision and strategy. Quickly mobilise to understand your ambition for your PMO. How do the services that the PMO provides underpin the company’s vision and strategy; are there changes that need to be made? It is vital that all key stakeholders sign up to this vision and strategy.
  2. Maturity assessment. An organisation may have a PMO or may be starting from scratch. For those with a Programme Management Office, you need to understand your current capability maturity, agree where you want it to be and work out with you the action plan to make it happen.
  3. Design, build and implement. Once you understand the current maturity and the target state for your PMO you can then start to implement the changes needed. This is typically done in sprints to deliver value early rather than waiting until everything is ready to go. Agreeing key design principles and then incrementally building and implementing the PMO capability will see greater value delivered early.
  4. Transition to business as usual. This is typically done concurrently with Step 3 and ensures that the embedding of the PMO processes and methodology is done in a timely way. By becoming part of BAU, it will be the approach that all the delivery team start to use naturally and will ensure capability across people, process, information and technology.



The key to implementation and maturing of your Programme Management Office function is to be very clear on the services that your PMO is going to provide, the authority that it has in the delivery process and ensuring there is full stakeholder buy-in to the PMO. Working in the PMO is a specialist role, and whilst some PMO experts have come through the Project Management route, others have chosen PMO from the start of their careers.


Make sure that you have the right skilled people in place throughout your PMO, including a PMO Director, PMO Manager and PMO analysts. Finally, by having a senior executive as the sponsor or owner of the PMO, it will demonstrate the importance of the PMO to the organisation and give it further credibility.


We are change experts

At Project One, we set-up and operate Project and Programme Management Office functions: providing management of delivery plans, milestones, risks, issues, dependencies, costs and changes.​


We scale our support from the Programme to Portfolio level – providing discrete operational PMO services through to ePMO services.


We make a real difference by:


  • Helping you to stay in control of delivery.
  • Establishing an early warning system to prevent a crisis​.
  • Managing the single version of the truth.​
  • Involving the right people in decision-making​.
  • Driving real-time prioritisation as business context changes​.
  • Ensuring control with optimised plans and resourcing.

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