I am working to establish a formal PMO in my current organization. Senior management and I agree on most things, but there is one point on which we cannot agree. We have several software maintenance teams in the company, and senior management believes that a project manager should be assigned to these teams as operational support. I, however, define projects as pieces of work with a distinct beginning and end. Thus, I feel these maintenance efforts should fall under the purview of someone else. I'm wondering if there is any authoritative literature on the subject that will help clear up the matter (in either direction). Thanks all in advance!

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    Ongoing support is an activity, not a project. Perhaps you ought to ask them what it is that they think a project manager is supposed to do in a non-PM role.
    – Todd A. Jacobs
    Commented Apr 7, 2016 at 21:26
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    Whilst I agree 100% with @CodeGnome here, I have also seen PMs asked (and I have myself been asked) to "run" a high work-turnover software maintenance operation because they are deemed to have the rigour to plan, track, control and manage such activities effectively and efficiently. However that is not project management and is actually a secondment of a PM into a service management (and usually process improvement) role. Is that what your management is trying to achieve?
    – Marv Mills
    Commented Apr 11, 2016 at 10:39

2 Answers 2


Operations and maintenance operations are a function of a healthy system development lifecycle. For reference, check out IEEE-12207. That document clearly defines what Operations and Maintenance activities are.

Operations activities are normally defined as largely upgrades and installs. While these can be checklist-driven, they are time-boxed. For example, if you have a middleware server, it will probably receive updates on a quarterly or monthly basis. As a O&M PM, you would need to get the patch, apply it in a test environment, regression test all of the systems on that environment, and then migrate the patch into production. Your PMO definitely drives this.

Maintenance activities revolve around defect corrections or minor enhancements. While the development supporting these operations are not difficult, they also have a specific release schedule and process.

Call-center activities are another aspect of maintenance activities. You dont' need a PM to run those.


ITIL Service Operations might provide the background you need to support your view.

On its roles, there's no reference to Project Manager per-se.

Notice, however, that most of the roles there are borderline with the 'common Project Management' role, such as the IT Operations Manager.

Most important than define roles, is to understand that although a project may not need a manager, it might need management. If it's going to do by a Project or a Operation manager is a minor discussion.

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