What Is a PMO in Project Management: A 2022 Guide

Written by Coursera • Updated on

Learn about a PMO, what it does, and how you can work in the industry. Discover the in-demand project management skills needed to get a job in a PMO.

[Featured image] A project manager is in the office talking to their coworker.

A PMO, or project management office, is a specific group within an organization that provides project management support to projects. They ensure that best project management practices and standards are met, and help the company deliver maximum value through its projects. 

Nearly eight out of 10 organizations have a PMO, and 50 percent have two or more [1]. Research also suggests that businesses are increasingly embracing PMO implementation, so if you’re interested in working in this field, learn about the different PMO roles, education requirements, and required skills to succeed.  

What is a PMO?

PMOs are groups within businesses, government agencies, or other organizations that maintain and define standards for project management. A PMO can be responsible for multiple or a single project across the organization. 

The PMO has several functions, like ensuring that projects are completed on time, within budget, and to the required standard; the main tasks include:

  • Project planning

  • Project process improvement

  • Project resourcing

  • Project monitoring

  • Project control 

The PMO also provides support to project managers in the form of templates, best practices, and training. In some cases, the PMO may also be responsible for resource allocation and management.

PMO vs. project manager

As a project manager, you’ll handle all the day-to-day management of the project. They work with the project team to ensure that tasks are completed on time and within budget. 

The PMO is responsible for setting and maintaining project standards. As a member of the PMO staff, you’ll help support project teams and project managers while also working with other departments to ensure that projects are coordinated and aligned with organizational objectives. 

PMO roles

A specialized team makes up the project management office that supports project managers in delivering projects. If you work in a PMO, your job will likely include providing centralized coordination and support for specific or all projects of an organization. 

To facilitate the management of the organization's resources and best practices, the PMO provides process expertise, administrative support, and knowledge of management coordination. This may include a variety of roles within the office, including:

  • Administrative support staff to work on report generation and software support

  • Process-focused staff to provide support through training, leading projects, assuring quality, and developing methodologies.

  • Knowledge management staff keep records of methods, standards, and lessons learned in a project database.

  • Resources managers ensure that resources are suitable for project requirements, manage and balance scarce resources, forecast and assist in resource acquisition plans, and secure key resource assignments.

The PMO may also provide oversight and governance so that projects are aligned with organizational strategy and goals and that they are being executed effectively and efficiently. 

4 Types of jobs in a PMO

The PMO team normally works collaboratively, sharing information so that projects stay on track. Consider some of the different roles in the project management office:

1. PMO manager 

A PMO manager manages the entire PMO. They’re responsible for ensuring that the processes are followed and effective. PMO managers also oversee project managers so that they follow the correct procedures. They’ll often liaise with senior managers to ensure that they're updated with progress and that any project risks or issues are promptly addressed.

Average annual salary (US): $130,596  [2]

2. PMO analyst

As a PMO analyst, collect and analyze data to help the PMO manager and project managers make decisions about projects as a PMO analyst. Create reports and presentations to communicate their findings to project stakeholders.

Average annual salary (US): $93,104 [3]

3. PMO process specialist

A PMO specialist is responsible for providing expert knowledge and advice to the PMO manager on all aspects of project management. PMO specialists are responsible for the implementation and coordination of PMO processes. This role works closely with the PMO manager to ensure that the processes are followed and effective. PMO specialists may also be involved in training and mentoring other members of the PMO team.

Average annual salary (US):$96,494 [4]

4. PMO coordinator 

The PMO coordinator is responsible for supporting the PMO manager in all aspects of the PMO. This includes maintaining project documentation, coordinating meetings and events, and communicating with project stakeholders. They work closely with the PMO manager to promptly complete all activities.

Average annual salary (US): $86,302 [5]

Reasons to consider working in a PMO

PMO roles can give you a foundation for career progression into strategic roles and project leadership. You can develop competencies, gain exposure, build your reputation, and contribute to the success of diverse projects. This can be a fulfilling career move, an advancement to work in project management, or may enhance your career prospects in various ways.

Develop your project management skills.

A PMO can be an opportunity to enhance your project management skills and professional networks by working on various projects and learning from experienced project managers. Working in a PMO  may also provide opportunities to work on diverse aspects of project management and help you establish a rounded project skill set.

Gain exposure to portfolio management. 

Working in a PMO can give you exposure to portfolio management, an understanding of how different projects fit together, and ways to optimize resources across multiple projects. You'll learn about how resources are allocated to different areas or projects, changing project priorities, and the project management lifecycle

Increase your visibility across the organization’s portfolio.

A role in a PMO can increase your visibility across all of the organization’s projects to help you identify potential problems and recommend solutions. This may help you gain more exposure to project management, influence in your organization, and improve your career prospects. Being a part of the PMO offers valuable insight and experience with an organization’s strategic side, which you might not be able to gain in individual elements of a project.

Improve processes for more effective project management.

Working in a PMO, you’ll be responsible for continuously improving the organization’s project management processes and procedures. This will help ensure that projects are completed on time and within budget. 

What are the requirements to work in a PMO?

There isn’t a single set of requirements for working in a PMO. The required qualifications vary depending on the organization and position you’re applying for. Some common things many employers look for include having a degree, professional experience, and relevant skills.

Obtain a bachelor’s degree.

A bachelor’s degree in project management, business, or a related field is typically required to work as a manager in a PMO. However, there is no definitive college degree or career route to working in a PMO. You can develop suitable skills in various backgrounds or by studying various types of degree programs. To work as an analyst in a PMO, for example, you may benefit from a computer science or data analysis-related degree. 

Get experience in projects.

It’s typically required to have experience working on projects for anyone looking to work in a PMO. You can gain this experience through working in a software team, an infrastructure team, or working in a project management team. Some PMO positions require several years of experience working on projects. 

Required skills.

Different PMO roles require different skill sets. Some of the main skills you should look to demonstrate on your resume when applying for PMO roles include:

  • Excellent written and communication, and interpersonal skills

  • Adaptability and strength in working both independently and as part of a team

  • Strong analytical and problem-solving skills

  • Detail-oriented with the ability to see the big picture

  • Flexible and adaptable to change

  • Organized, efficient, and able to meet deadlines.

Consider a master’s degree. 

A master’s degree in project management or a related field can be beneficial when looking at PMO roles. If you’re looking to advance into more senior roles, a master's degree may give you a competitive edge. Advanced degrees can help you to stand out as you move up the career ladder.

Certifications for PMO job roles

Certifications aren’t strictly necessary, but it may help boost your career. With appropriate courses, you'll learn best practices, get insights into the latest trends and technologies, and put yourself ahead of the competition.

Whether you're looking for a new PMO role or want to advance your career in your current PMO role, here are eight PMO certifications that can help you stand out from the crowd:

  • Advanced Project Management Certified Professional

  • Certified Manager Certification (CM)

  • Certified Scrum Master (CSM)

  • IT Information Library Foundations Certification (ITIL)

  • ITIL Foundation

  • Managing Programs and Projects with Project Server 2013

  • PMI Risk Management Professional (PMI)

  • Project Management Professional (PMP)

Next steps

A career move into a PMO can be a good choice to build project skills and experience. In a PMO, you’ll have the opportunity to use and improve your skills, while also playing a key role in ensuring that projects are completed successfully.

If you’re starting your career in project management and want to learn job-ready skills, consider the Google Project Management: Professional Certificate, on Coursera. You don’t need a degree or any experience to complete it; it can provide you with valuable skills and experience that employers value.

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Article sources

1. Mondayblog. “24 Project Management Statistics You Don’t Want to Miss in 2022, https://monday.com/blog/project-management/project-management-statistics/.” Accessed July 12, 2022.

2. Glassdoor. “How much does a PMO Manager make?,  https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/pmo-manager-salary-SRCH_KO0,11.htm.” Accessed August 26, 2022.

3. Glassdoor. “How much does a PMO Analyst make?, https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/pmo-analyst-salary-SRCH_KO0,11.htm.” Accessed August 26, 2022.

4. Glassdoor. “How much does a PMO Specialist make?, https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/pmo-specialist-salary-SRCH_KO0,14.htm.” Accessed August 26, 2022.

5. Glassdoor. How much does a PMO Coordinator make?, https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/pmo-coordinator-salary-SRCH_KO0,15.htm.” Accessed August 26, 2022.

Written by Coursera • Updated on

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