5 Steps to Set Up a Successful Project Management Office

Ken Martin
By | Updated July 9, 2018 | 6 min read
5 Steps to Set Up a Successful Project Management Office

The Project Management Office (PMO) set up process is divided into five phases to ensure a controlled implementation of a PMO. This delivers the most value with the least disruption to stakeholders.


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Creating a project for the implementation of a project management office (PMO) is considered a best practice, which will maximize the outcome.

All the key tasks and status of setting up a PMO can be tracked and reported in BrightWork ensuring maximum visibility and buy-in from the relevant stakeholders.

With the different templates that come with BrightWork, you can also create a PMO office with underlying projects reporting rolling up to the PMO office. This creates a single source of truth, a significant benefit of having a PMO within an organization.

In addition, BrightWork templates allow the project management maturity of the organization to grow with the establishment of the PMO.



5 Steps to Set Up a Successful Project Management Office

Here is an outline of the project phases and tasks to set up a PMO.

  1. Assessment and Strategy
  2. PMO Initiation
  3. PMO Establishment and Development
  4. Staged Implementation
  5. PMO Continuous Improvement.


In the plan below, the duration of the phases and tasks have been omitted as every Project Management Office (PMO) set up is specific to an organization. Task durations will depend on the scope of the PMO role and the readiness of the organization to use the services of a PMO.



The first goal of this activity is to assess the current status of project management and the current project portfolio within the organization.

This assessment is followed by the development of a desired future state and a gap analysis between the current and future states.

1a) Assessment

The goal of this activity is to find the issues, gaps, challenges and key decisions to be made.

1b) Current Project Portfolio

This includes carrying out a review of any existing project-based structures and a high-level assessment of the current portfolio of projects.

1c) Organisational Culture

This should cover how projects are done today, the perception of project management, and what things are valued.

Establish what existing project management methodology and governance reporting are in place.

In addition, name the stakeholders who will be a key for the PMO project success.

1d) Desired Future State

Outline a desired future state for Project Management based on the assessment findings.

1e) Gap Analysis

Perform a gap analysis between the desired future state and the current state. This analysis will form the basis of the initial PMO Strategy and an Outline Business Case.

1f) Approval to Proceed to Next Phase

The PMO strategy and the Outline Business Case will be submitted the PMO Steering Committee for approval to go to the next phase.

pmo - phase 1




Based on approval from the earlier phase, the set up of a PMO will be formalized in this phase as a project.

2a) Business Case and PMO Charter

As part of this phase, a Business Case for the  PMO will be completed as well as a Charter for the PMO.

2b) PMO Services

A successful PMO will offer a range of services which business units can rely on time after time. From the outset, the capability to deliver and support such services will not be in place.

The aim of the PMO Charter is to outline what is in scope for the PMO and what services it will initially offer.

2c) PMO Roadmap

Services have to be introduced gradually and the PMO roadmap should clearly highlight this, explaining when certain key deliverables will be achieved.

The PMO Roadmap will be ready with input from all stakeholders.

The roadmap will include the rollout scope document that describes the goals, approach, risks, and constraints. It should also link to the training and change resistance strategies.

2d)Approval to Proceed to Next Phase

Subsequent approval of the Business Case and the PMO Charter by the PMO Steering Committee secure funding for the next phase – the PMO Set Up and Development Phase.

pmo - phase 2




As part of the approval from the previous stage, the PMO secures funding to set up the PMO and develop the processes and tools.

3a) PMO Office Establishment

The physical place for the PMO is established, roles are defined, and staff are appointed to those roles to set up the PMO office.

3b) Approval to Proceed to Next Stage

On completion of the design of PMO key artifacts, training of the project managers and completion of the PMO pilots, approval will be sought from the PMO Steering Committee to go to the next phase.

pmo - phase 3




Having fully defined how the PMO will run, projects will be transitioned into the PMO, the planning of which will largely be driven by the outcome of a project review, carried out as part of the current situation analysis.

pmo - phase 4




The PMO improves its own operations by measuring its effectiveness, implementing changes to existing services, and adding new services.

The PMO may also need to update its Charter.

The PMO should assess the overall capability of the organization to reliably deliver acceptable project results on time and within budget. It can then develop and carry out a long-term plan to improve that capability.

pmo - phase 5




This short video recaps the five-step process and will help you explain the approach quickly to your team and management.


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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in April 2015 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

Ken Martin
Ken Martin

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