Usually I read it about as a area or department, the Project Management Office. But, in my company, the newly created project management department is using the word to describe:

  • The schedule of activities ("hey, send me the PMO so I can follow the project, ok?")
  • The function of project manager ("you're the PMO of this project, isn't?")

The word itself means only Project Management Office, right?

3 Answers 3


Officially, yes, PMO strictly means a separate department, the Project Management Office. However, if you are just beginning to introduce project management, or if you have another role with the acronym PM, it is likely that the people you deal with will use PMO to mean "representative of the Project Management Office" until you train them to call you a Project Manager.


Yes, the word itself means "Project Management Office" and it is a department not a job role. The PMO department can have staff with different roles other than a Project Manager. In larger organizations there can be people responsible for defining the corporate Project Management policies and procedures, documentation templates etc and not have any direct Project Management responsibilities.

The role of PMO department can also vary from organization to organizations. In fact in organizations where PMO is serving as 'consultative' role, they may not be managing any project at all. Contrast it against PMO in organizations which have 'directive' role, who manage the projects themselves.

It is also entirely possible to have more than one PMO in large organizations. One at the enterprise level and then at the divisional/departmental/functional level.

Hope it helps to clarify.


Traditionally "PMO" should mean Project Management Office - what the role of the organization's PMO is variable. One military contractor I worked for had the PMO split into different "disciplines" with Business Operations PMs (poor dudes who just had to generate requirements from the Government), Implementation PMs and Software Dev PMs all in different areas.

Other organizations the PMO is the chief authority and acts as more or less as an consultant within that Organization to make sure practices, processes, frameworks and/or any other HR/Business buzzwords that they append to Project Management as a whole is followed - I've been in a small insurance company where the "PMO" had a Program Director and a bunch of other Business (not technical) people in it that directed the IT department in how they were supposed to lead projects and develop software.

And even rarer - I was in another MIL/GOV Contractor company that had a PMO mean Project Management Officer, he was essentially a Director or VP of Operations that tried to institute his Waterfall methodologies to our Scrum Teams.

So - examples aside, if it is a new department there will be some growing pains, especially as it continues to evolve and define itself.

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