Project Management

The Four Archetypes of the PMO

Mark Mullaly is president of Interthink Consulting Incorporated, an organizational development and change firm specializing in the creation of effective organizational project management solutions. Since 1990, it has worked with companies throughout North America to develop, enhance and implement effective project management tools, processes, structures and capabilities. Mark was most recently co-lead investigator of the Value of Project Management research project sponsored by PMI. You can read more of his writing at

As I have assumed responsibility for gantthead's Program Management Office department, I have tried to raise some of the fundamental challenges and issues that face the typical PMO in an organizational context. While admittedly theoretical in some regards, the first few columns have endeavoured to lay the groundwork for a more involved discussion of developing PMOs. This column continues a multi-part series that addresses the practical steps and considerations in setting up a PMO in today's organizations.

For many of us who are assigned responsibility for developing a Project Management Office, one of the greatest struggles is the identification of a model that we can adopt as a framework for our development activities. The utmost challenge in this regard is the sheer diversity of frameworks that have been adopted in implementing PMOs in organizations.

While previous columns have discussed specific dimensions that drive the diversity, my company's recent research work has led to the realization that there are several archetypes or scenarios that define the majority of PMO frameworks. Our success as PMO managers in choosing the appropriate model, therefore, is determined by our ability to select an archetype that reflects our chosen outcomes and to stay true to this model as we face the tests of responding to specific scenarios.

The key influences on the archetypes we …

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