A programme or project management office is a single, central support structure, designed to aid change and delivery initiatives within an organisation. The PMO will have specific supporting role to its parent programme or project and will supply and receive information to and from its departmental Portfolio, Programme, and Project Office (P3O).

Responsibilities of a PMO

A PMO should act as an information hub for the programmes and projects it supports. Ideally a PMO will add value to these programmes and projects through the knowledge, experience, and skills of its staff. The PMO has a key role to play in coordinating programme and project assurance activities including the scheduling of Gateway reviews, if appropriate.

Resourcing the PMO will depend on the size and capabilities of the organisation and the specific remit it decides the PMO should have. The degree of value-added service the PMO provides will vary and usually falls into one of four levels:

  1. first level PMOs will have a mainly administrative role with a primary focus on requesting, collating, and reporting programme and project information for senior managers
  2. second level PMOs will add some services around providing basic best practice advice and guidance, as well as resources like standards and templates for common documents or processes
  3. A third level PMO will provide specialist programme and project consultancy in areas such as business cases, risk management or benefits realisation. It may also provide short-term programme/project management input and specialist input on methods, for example PRINCE2 and MSP, and tools such as MS Project.
  4. A top level PMO occupies a strategic position within the organisation; it may have board level representation and a key role in direction setting, planning and challenge on matters of organisational change and service delivery

The Portfolio, Programme, Project Office (P3O) sets out best practice for PMOs.


A Programme (Management) Office provides scrutiny, challenge, and support for the programme board. It should also be a valuable source of information in relation to the health of the constituent elements of the programme.

For its respective programme, a typical programme office provides the means to:

  • Ensure scope is clearly defined, understood and unambiguous
  • Coordinate internal communications
  • Facilitate the development of the high-level programme plan and the collation or project and transition plans
  • Identify and manage dependencies between projects
  • Identify threats and opportunities, and evaluate the true implications of aggregated project risk
  • Maintain accurate configuration records of all programme deliverables and administer audits as appropriate
  • Forecast future resource requirements
  • Forecast and track projected benefits
  • Maintain sufficient management information to report up to senior management and P3O

The programme office also provides services at project start-up (tailoring advice, guidance, templates, support etc) and project closure (archiving information, deployment of resources, coordinating follow on actions etc)


A Project (Management) Office provides services to the project board in a similar way to the programme for programme board, but at a lower level. For example, dependencies across tasks and activities are identified and managed, rather than across projects. Where a project is part of a programme, the scope and activities of the project office will be heavily influenced by the programme office to maintain alignment and consistency across all processes and systems. Some project office services may be provided directly by the programme office.

On small projects, the project office services may be provided by a multi-tasking project officer, or in some cases, by the project manager.

Purpose of PMOs

A programme or project management office (PMO) can provide a variety of support to a single programme or project, or it can have a wider support remit to programmes and projects across the organisation.

This applies particularly in an organisation where there is a lot of ongoing programme and project activity. Without such a PMO, an organisation is forced to replicate support arrangements repeatedly as programmes and projects come and go.

Reasons for organisations to establish a corporate PMO include:

  • better continuity and maintenance of standards
  • increased skills development and transfer
  • the ability to collect and handover vital lessons learned from one initiative to the next

A corporate PMO may eventually adopt a portfolio management role, looking across all programme, project, and other related activity in the organisation. This enables organisation-wide standards and processes and provides senior managers with important information on progress, costs and resources which helps with key decisions.

Further information

For further information the Association for Project Management has a Specific Interest Group for PMO professionals.

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