Many organizations do not comprehend the difference between PM and PMO functions. Many of them assume that PM (Project Management) and PMO (Project Management Office) are interchangeably the same functions. Hence, they expect their PMs to work as PMO and vice versa, without knowing the uniqueness of each job role. Consequently, the overburdened PMs, even if they are the best Project Managers, leave their organizations and get settled in better ones. This article is about difference between PM and PMO

The purpose of this article is to:

  1. Elaborate the functions and responsibilities of PMs and PMOs.
  2. Guidance on how to utilize your existing staff in the most efficient way.
  3. Create better job descriptions for hiring new PMs or PMOs for your organization.
  4. Enhance the overall efficiency of Project Management Team and improve the governance of the organization through strong PMO functions by knowing the difference between PM and PMO

So, to understand the difference between PM and PMO, we have to understand these individually first. Let us start with PM first.

What is Project Management (PM) Function

First, let us quickly refreshing the fact that a project is a specific task that has a clear time, cost and scope expectation along with clear acceptance criteria. Based on this definition, Project Management is the practice of initiating, planning, executing, controlling, and closing the specific task to achieve specific goals and meet specific success criteria on the specified time. Understood? Let us continue to understand the Difference Between PM and PMO

While there are different Project Management frameworks (PMI, PRINCE2, Agile, Waterfall, etc) let us limit ourselves to PMI to understand the concept of project management.

As per Project Management Institute (PMI), a Project Manager is supposed to work in 10 Project Management Areas throughout the span of the specific project (and not for the overall department)

  1. Procurement Management
  2. Risk Management
  3. Resource Management
  4. Integration Management
  5. Scope Management
  6. Time Management
  7. Communication Management
  8. Quality Management
  9. Stakeholders Management
  10. Cost Management

Each of the domain requires specific techniques, tools and record management systems (such as SharePoint) in order to successfully plan, initiate, monitor and close the project. The PM prepares project plan and many other necessary documents through which he takes the E2E ownership to govern the overall success of the project.

With more pressure of triggering revenues, many organizations adopt the shortest possible ways of delivering the products or services to their customer urgently. While it is great to practice lean techniques to minimize errors and maximize productivity, yet several critical aspects of Project Management are ignored by several organizations. Consequently, the organization takes the path of short-term gain and long-term pain. With poor project management practices, many organizations end up with reduced market share, poor customer satisfaction, bad decision making, low business intelligence and other issues.

Difference Between PM and PMO

In order to control and eradicate such issues, the PMO function come and play its role. 

What is Project Management Office (PMO) Function

A PMO function defines, establishes, monitors and governs the overall function for Project Management Team. Exceediance believes that PMO has 3 core pillars of excellence:

Pillar-1: Establishing the Governance Rules

  • What are the key processes for each function? What are different checklists for each activity.
  • What templates will be used by all Project Managers (Design template, Scope of Work template, Project Communication Template, Minutes of Meeting Template, Vendor Payments Template, Billing Template, Acceptance Template and many others)
  • What are different KPIs for Products and Services and how these KPIs will be measured and monitored
  • What is the mechanism for Record Management. How the audits will be done and different teams will be ranked according to the audit criteria and result
  • What is the structure of Logging of Project Expense and how the Analysis will be carried out. What kind of reports will be produced.
  • How Revenue Assurance will take place. What controls and measures will be initiated to ensure timely triggering of revenues
  • How frequent Trainings and Skills Enhancements planning sessions will be arranged. How skillsets will be sharpen based on job needs.
  • What is E2E Procurement Governance system.
  • What are Training needs and plans for the Project Management team
  • How Risk Management will be done. How escalations will be managed.
  • What are different Performance points for individuals & Teams
  • How Reporting of Projects will take place. (Cost, Scope, Time, Delivery Status, Acceptance Status, Revenues, Deviations etc.)

Pillar-2: Monitoring and Controlling of Governance Rules

  • Closely monitor the rules of the game (defined under first pillar.)
  • Frequency of audit and measurement criteria should be very clearly defined to avoid any ambiguity when the reports are released.
  • Any discrepancies and deviations should be handled from corrective and preventive perspective
  • New policies and process enhancement activities to be initiated

Pillar-3: Executive Reporting and Management Visibility

  • Consistently updating the management through histogram reports on how well the organization is performing over the course of time.
  • New ideas to be discussed with management and then transforming leadership vision into actions that may lead to process enhancements, new preventive measures, evaluating new products or services or defining new Performance Measures. Such ideas will feed into pillar 1 to develop new strategies, KPIs, governance points and action plans.

Hopefully, by now you would have grasped a high-level understanding of PM and PMO roles. If you have any remarks, please do share in the comments sections below. 

Difference Between PM and PMO

Project Management (PM) involves the detailed planning and execution of individual projects, with Project Managers overseeing tasks, resources, and timelines to achieve specific objectives. On the other hand, the Project Management Office (PMO) operates at an organizational level, focusing on standardizing and optimizing project management processes across the entire organization. The PMO ensures consistency, efficiency, and alignment with business goals, providing guidance and support to project managers and overseeing the broader portfolio of projects to contribute to overall organizational success.

Excellence Through Exceediance Services

Exceediance provides following services in order to achieve excellence in PM and PMO domains:

1-      Audit of Project Management Function

  • Identify the best practices that are not being applied.
  • Guidance on how to establish a successful Project Management Function

2-      Audit of Record Management

  • Guidance on how to establish strong Record Management Function
  • Guidance on how an effective PMO can ensure the compliance of Record Management

3-      Audit of Databases

  • Audit of data storage approach
  • Establishing data validation rules for accuracy
  • Database integrity and archival

4-      Using Business Intelligence for PM and PMO Functions

  • Exceediance has prepared a sample dashboard that you can read here or watch here.
  • Identify pain points for each business segment to plan the improvement strategies
  • Identify key players of the organization and empowering them for more productivity and great results.
  • Comparison of stats for different quarters / months to see the effect of different decisions made during that span of time.
  • Planning the change of roles based on individuals performances and trainings.
  • Delegation of improvement strategies to specific personnel.
  • Identify revenue leakages and delays
  • Analyzing the quality of work for segments and personnel.

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Specific to the Business Intelligence and Dashboards, please check out