Does your company often struggle with project management? Or maybe your team seems to check all the right boxes but still can’t shake off delays and avoid scope creep. A vanilla PMO can just be the game-changer that will bring order to all the project management chaos. And this brief post will show you how, as we dive more into the details of how this simple yet effective model can make your project management more agile. 

What is a PMO and what does it do? 

Keeping a project on track is no easy task, and the role of a Project Management Office (PMO) is to ensure that projects are completed on time and within budget. PMO calculates the costs, allots resources, delegates tasks and monitors them, and ensures that deliverables get done on time. 

What do you need to set up a PMO? 

Setting up a successful PMO is no easy task and requires careful coordination and planning before taking the plunge. Clearly define your goals for the PMO, identify the right people and tools that will help you achieve those goals, and design a workable plan to ensure all elements of your PMO come together successfully. 

But more than anything else, you must understand what kind of capabilities and resources need to be in place for the team to succeed. But with as many as 14 key capabilities that typically get linked with a successful PMO, it makes you wonder which ones you should focus on first. 

Down below is a list of five major capabilities you must have in place before you set up a PMO: 

1. Stakeholder management 

Without stakeholders, projects would be impossible and ineffective. Stakeholders often have valuable insight that can help keep tasks, resources, budgets, and timelines under control. Whether you need to track progress or communicate with stakeholders, it’s always important to keep them in the loop. Later, when your PMO is up and running, this will improve collaboration across departments and cross-functional teams while making sure the project stays on track. 

2. Planning and design 

The planning and design aspects come next on the scale of importance. You can’t just rush headlong into setting up a PMO. If you don’t invest time and resources in planning and design, you could end up stumbling blindly through unknown territory, resulting in chaos that could have been avoided altogether. 

Planning and designing your PMO thoroughly will show you the clearest path to your goal. Constructing project lists and having a vision in mind help to direct the overall direction of the project. Creating a strategy is then necessary to help achieve this vision, something that shouldn’t be taken lightly as it can make or break a PMO in its entirety. 

3. Framework and methodology management 

Framework and methodology management are indispensable to the success of any PMO. To set up and run a successful PMO, you need to understand the right maturity model, type of PMO, and lifecycle management. Project management, resource management, stakeholder management, deadline management, and ultimately producing desired results can all be made simpler with the right framework and methodology. 

4. Change management 

Many companies don’t factor change management into setting up their vanilla PMOs. We have always wondered why. Your PMO can’t fully flex its muscles if change management is overlooked. You need to be able to identify when change will be necessary and how best to manage it. You have to understand that your project plan is never set in stone. Resources may need to be swapped, and your project plan may need to be modified. 

By having appropriate change management processes and systems in place, you can make changes or adopt new approaches with minimal disruption. This will ensure the success of your PMO while also enabling teams to remain agile amidst rapidly changing environments. 

5. Controls management 

Good controls management is absolutely essential for an effective PMO setup. It provides structure, clarity, accountability, and assurance of process compliance. When done correctly, controls management will also provide teams with a process that they can follow to allocate resources, tasks, and timelines in an organised manner. This makes it easier for everyone involved in a particular project or program to stay coordinated and ensure alignment with the stated objectives. 

How can you make your PMO even more agile? 

Wondering how your PMO can be even more agile? It may seem like reaching for the stars, but with the right tweaks, yes, you can. Here is how successful companies have made their PMOs an even more integrated and unified force: 

They form cross-functional teams 

Many companies have found that putting together cross-functional teams in their PMOs is one of the best ways to deal with the uncertainty of modern business. By bringing together people from different departments, they can break down silos and collaborate more efficiently. 

This brings to the table a diverse range of skills and viewpoints that can propel the project to its quickest and most cost-efficient completion. There is a sense of shared ownership of projects, which encourages discussion among employees from different departments, who may have been working in isolation before. 

They are flexible in their approach to project management 

Companies are realising that they should be more agile in their PMOs and are embracing a more flexible approach towards their PMO operations. A flexible approach allows companies to react quickly and make sure they don’t miss out on potential opportunities. 

They encourage experimentation 

These companies are not just ready for change but are also prepared to pivot quickly when needed. Experimenting with new approaches and technologies becomes fair game. Their teams get the freedom to try out new methods and approaches, and companies can ensure that they can respond quickly to changing market conditions and customer needs. 

They embrace technology 

Could you imagine trying to keep up with all the changes associated with projects and resources if your PMO didn’t use any technology? No, it wouldn’t be easy. To make sure their PMOs stay agile and can easily handle all the complexity and pressures of today’s business environment, many companies have turned to technology. They can keep their tasks and resources under control and make necessary changes to their plans with cutting-edge tools made possible by technological advancements. 

They encourage communication and welcome feedback 

Companies with successful PMOs cultivate an environment where communication and feedback are highly encouraged. With this kind of culture, members of the PMO can easily let each other know what needs to be done and discuss ideas freely. In turn, this also encourages proactive collaboration, which not only helps the team reach its goals faster but also keeps everyone on the same page. 

Final word 

Setting up a PMO requires considerable effort and understanding. To increase the chances of its success, it is essential to first understand the key capabilities of a vanilla PMO before committing to establishing one. Knowing the right capabilities and resources involved makes the entire process of setting up a PMO much smoother. And remember there are many flavours of ice-cream, like they are flavours of PMO. But we all know that if you start with vanilla, you’re in for the win! 

Want to find out more about how AMO can help with your project management capability? Have a look here ( how our team can help yours reach their full project management potential. If you want to know more, contact us on