PMO success through alignment with enterprise-wide goals

Value can be subjective. The value of a PMO to any organization is how it is aligned to organizational goals. By aligning these goals, the best-fit PMO framework can be applied to sufficiently support business needs. The Project Management Institute (PMI) performed an in-depth analysis on the state of PMO Frameworks . They sought out to determine a basis for defining frameworks and associated characteristics and value-add for each of the entities. The result was five distinct models.


The Enterprise PMO (EPMO) model is the most strategically aligned and typically resides at the operations level in organizations. Within this structure, this PMO provides governance, metric and portfolio reporting to senior leaders, and may have influence and direct responsibility of other PMOs. According to the survey, 39% self-report as having an Enterprise Project Management Office.

The Organizational Unit PMO is the largest framework in use today with 54% of the respondents with 33% of those sitting within Information Technology. This model aligns itself with unit goals and is self-sustaining but with the absence of an EPMO would need to ensure strategic alignment not only with the device lines they support, but also with enterprise goals. Rounding out the rest of the five frameworks:

  • Project-Specific PMO – Program/project specific pop-up entity to provide overall governance, reporting, and support for throughout the life of the project
  • Project Support- Portfolio, project management, and tool support across the enterprise
  • Center of Excellence- A best practice PMO which provides methodology support, governance for projects and guidelines, and training for project management professionals.
  • There are other frameworks in use but these are not fully defined. These may be hybrids of the five models depicted. Four percent of the respondents said their PMO did not fit into any of the five frameworks in the survey.

    The importance of strategic alignment can not be understated, and therefore the need for all PMOs to be strategically aligned with high-order, organizational goals and objectives. Which PMO works best in any given organization depends on the culture, structure, risk appetite, resources, and the needs of the organization. A key to success for PMOs is to separate governance from management of the work. Organizations can utilize assessment tools to define, measure, and gauge alignment. There are several tools, self-assessments and those administered by specialized consultant to gauge the maturity level of organizational processes and services. They can assess, how they measure up, what gaps exist, and how to put controls in place to ensure compliance. Some of the assessments available are: Isaac’s COBIT 5 Process Assessment Model (PAM), PMI’s Organizational Project Management Maturity Model (OPM3), or the CMMI Institute’s, Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI), the latter is required knowledge for government contract work, particularly with software development. COBIT 5 works in conjunction with PMI, and ITIL frameworks to created a single integrated IT governance structure.

    Whether standing-up a project management office or optimizing an existing one, it is good practice to examine, and periodically re-examine this alignment to ensure success. Is your PMO aligned with strategic goals? How did you get there and how do you sustain it?