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PMO Types – Supportive, Controlling, Directive

PMO Types

PMO means Project Management Office. It is one of the important organizational structures that helps in the smooth execution of projects within an organization. In this article, we shall see what is a PMO, the meaning of PMO, different PMO types according to PMBOK and Gartner such as Supportive PMO, Controlling PMO, Directive PMO, etc.

What is a PMO?

PMO means “Project Management Office”. PMO is a group or department within an organization, and it is responsible for defining and maintaining the standards of project management within.

A PMO helps to centralize and standardize the management of projects in an organization. It is also a source of documentation, guidance, and metrics on the practice of project management for its organization.

PMBOK‘s Definition of Project Management Office (PMO)

“PMO is an organizational structure that standardizes the project-related governance processes and facilitates the sharing of resources, methodologies, tools, and techniques.”

PMO Types according to PMI PMBOK 6

Based on the degree of control and influence they have on projects, there are several types of Project Management Offices. However, of the many types, there are 3 distinct types of PMO

  1. Supportive PMO
  2. Controlling PMO
  3. Directive PMO

Supportive PMO

A supportive PMO acts as a repository to your organization’s projects and provides support as and when required. It supplies standard project templates, provides guidance on best practices, conducts training, tracks lessons learned, etc. It plays a consultative role in projects. Its exercises a very low level of control over the projects, and are best suited for organizations with Functional or Weak Matrix type of Organizational Structure.

Quick points

  • Consultative role to projects
  • Supplies templates, best practices, training, access to information, lessons learned from other projects.
  • Cannot enforce anything on any project
  • Low level of control over projects.

Controlling PMO

A controlling PMO does everything that a Supportive PMO does and more. The most important aspect of this type of PMO is that it has the power to enforce compliance with organizational practices. A Supportive PMO can only guide and recommend but does not have the power to enforce compliance across the projects. A Controlling PMO exercises a moderate level of control over the projects and is best suited for organizations with Balanced Matrix type of Organization structure.

Quick points

  • Provides support, guidance in managing projects.
    • Training in Project Management and PM Software
    • Assisting with specific tools when required.
  • Enforces compliance to Organizational practices through various means such as
    • project management frameworks or methodologies
    • Use of specific tools and templates
    • conformance to good governance frameworks
  • Has Moderate Control over projects

Directive PMO

As the name indicates, this type of PMO has the authority to Direct Projects. It has a very high degree of control or full control over the project by providing resources and support to manage the project. Project Managers are assigned to project’s by and report to this type of PMO.

Directive PMO helps in achieving a high level of consistency across the projects because of the single authority and reporting structure. It is best suited for organizations with Strong Matrix or Projectized of Organization structure.

Quick points

  • Projects are directly managed by the PMO.
  • Project managers are assigned by and report to it.
  • It is responsible for the results of those projects.
  • It has a High level or full control over projects.

PMO Types - Supportive, Controlling, Directive

Gartner’s 4 Types of PMOs

Gartner states that

“There is no standard or template for determining the type of PMO PPM leaders should set up. The best type of PMO is one that is tailored to support organizational needs at a level the organization can embrace and from which it can realize benefit.”

However, Gartner has identified 4 different types of PMOs

  1. Activist PMO
  2. Delivery PMO
  3. Compliance PMO
  4. Centralized PMO

This classification into 4 different types of PMO’s by Gartner is based on the below aspects of PMO functioning

a) Degree of controlling/Enabling that a PMO can exercise

b) Broad view and Actions or the limited view and informing that a PMO can do

The Activist PMO

This type of PMO takes a broad view and enabling an approach as opposed to a controlling approach.

The main function of the Activist PMO  is to make a careful and critical examination of project business cases and project proposals for their alignment with project objectives and risk, thereby supporting the decision-makers. 

Activist PMO is popular in organizations with distributed and business-centric project ownership.

The Delivery PMO

Also known as “Project Delivery PMO” – most commonly found type of PMO.

Gartner estimates that at least 40% of PMOs are mainly Delivery PMOs charged with planning and controlling the tactical execution of projects to business expectations.

Project managers are encouraged to manage their projects, proactively make decisions, and escalate problems. The goal is also to build repeatable processes and techniques that will work to build a culture focused on results.

The Compliance PMO

The compliance PMO is often the most suitable style for organizations where documentation, processes, procedures, and methodologies are lacking or inconsistent. The main objective of establishing a Compliance PMO is to establish standard practices for measuring project performance and knowing the status of key project initiatives.

The Centralized PMO

When the Project Portfolio Management (PPM) Maturity level of an organization is low, such an organization tends to depend on key individuals to get work done. This means that the Organization as a whole is dependent on a few key individuals. Centralized PMO is something that is established in this type of situation, to reduce this type of dependency on a few individuals, by establishing reliable processes for project tracking and reporting.

So, in a Centralized PMO, new hires are quickly brought in to speed up on how best to get project work done in the organization.

Gartner 4 PMO Types


Gartner’s Four types of PMO’s

PMI – PMO Evolution


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