What efforts are needed in building a PMO

According to research conducted by the Project Management Institute, the lifespan of the average Portfolio Management Office (PMO) lasts 2-3 years. Regardless of your company’s project management maturity, you need a way to communicate to your business stakeholders the value of your team’s contributions to the bottom-line. And that’s where a Portfolio Management Office comes in.

A PMO doesn’t have to be a full-time job. Depending on the size of your portfolio, your company culture, and the tools you leverage, setting up an easy to maintain PMO can be just like any other project. Scoping, planning, executing on deliverables, and reinforcing the change all have a place in setting up a PMO. Here are some questions and thoughts to get you started.



What do you need your PMO to do?

While the PMO Frameworks report calls the Enterprise/Organization-wide/Strategic/Corporate/Portfolio/Global PMO the “highest level PMO in organizations having one,” we consider the functions of this PMO to be the most value-add to your organization. Such a PMO should communicate key metrics on the health of your portfolio to your business stakeholders in terms of how those projects align with the business strategy. There is no better way to tie your portfolio to value than to demonstrate that your team is working in lock-step with the rest of the business to accomplish your strategic goals.

At best, your PMO not only communicates value, but also optimizes and prioritize your projects to generate more value. At worst, you’re aligned to business strategies that were set at the top that may or may not have taken your company in the right direction.

But what does your PMO need to accomplish this?


  • Portfolio size over time
  • Inventory of process, tools, and skills
  • Project Health
    • Statuses
    • Budget
    • Resources
    • Scope


  • Business Case
  • Project Charter
  • Project Management Plan
  • Project Schedule
  • Communication Plan
  • Go-live Plan


  • Which steps are required every time?
  • Does your project manager need to use all of the available templates or just some?
  • When is it necessary for a project to go through project governance?
    • Above a certain dollar amount in capital expenses?
    • Above a certain threshold of internal resource hours?
    • How does your business measure the expenses related to a given project?



How often your PMO needs to report out helps your project managers stick to a deadline for updating the project statuses and documentation. Knowing when they need to have their latest updates saved somewhere the rest of the company can view them gives even your part-time project managers the structure they need to put their best foot forward.


What levels of the company will see these reports? Do different levels of management need different levels of granularity?

Ad hoc

What information does not need to be regularly reported, but would be good to collect for when your leadership wants to see a different view on your portfolio?

Monthly reports are common, but sometimes your top-level leadership wants to see the long-view. Are you prepared to pivot and display your portfolio on a quarter by quarter basis? How about on an annual basis? If your boss asks for a view of 2018, do you want to show-off what projects were completed in Q1? If you’re showing completed projects, how do you want to address projects that missed their target go-lives?


Great, now what?

Now that you know what information and deliverables you need, it’s time to find the right set of tools and processes to deliver on that information. You’ll want to use cloud-based sharing platforms like SharePoint or Atlassian to store your project artifacts, or you’ll be tied to pulling tribal knowledge out of your project managers’ heads every time you’re prepping to present to your executive team.

Similarly, make your templates easily accessible in a versionable format, so you’re not emailing different copies of the same business case back and forth. Work with your technology team to identify tools that meet your needs in terms of cost, collaboration, and reporting flexibility. There is not a one-size fits all solution to project management software, so you’ll have to vet the tools yourself to determine what your team can easily adopt and maintain based on the complexity of your individual projects and the skills of your team members. It may even be a combination of several tools, like PowerPoint on SharePoint, or PDF and Confluence.