PMO vs Project Manager: Know the Difference? (Must Know Info)

Due to technology enhancement, companies tend to fight to keep up with the dynamic trends to improve the organization’s efficiency. With the continued increase in projects that the organization carries out, there is a need to put up a project department and hire skilled project officers to ensure that it remains relevant. However, you need to understand the difference between a project management office and a project manager first.

So, is there a difference between the PMO and the Project Manager? There is a difference with the PMO responsible for the project process management while the project manager does the actual project delivery. The PMO ensure the project processes are adhered to whilst the project manager ensure the project processes are followed to deliver the project.

The PMO concentrates on the projects general operations to deliver viable benefits to the organization by guiding and structuring projects. Whilst the project manager oversees specific projects to completion under the guidance of the PMO. Generally, the project manager works closely with the PMO in all the company’s projects.

Read on to understand the difference between the PMO and the project manager, their roles, and if the two positions can be intertwined.

What Is the Difference Between the PMO and the Project Manager?

The two terms are commonly confused, given that there is a thin line that distinguishes them. The project management office has to ensure that its projects are carried out according to its laid-down procedures. However, project managers’ main duty is to ensure that a particular project is effectively carried out from the initiation up to completion.

Let us find out more differences between the two.

PMO(Project Management Office)Project Manager
The PMO develops processes to guide the project management process until it is completed.Project Managers use these processes and guidelines provided by the PMO to carry out the project task as required.
PMO endeavors to develop a forecast resource requirement to know the available and required resources’ capacity.The project manager utilizes the PMO’s resources to ensure the successful completion of the project.
PMO duties generally include overseeing and giving necessary advice during the project management process.Project managers do most of the project management process’s actual fieldwork have first hand information about the project being undertaken
PMO department is answerable to shareholders and acts as a link between the project manager and the key stakeholders.Project managers are answerable to the PMO, who gives directions on how the project has to proceed.

Table 1: PMO vs Project Manager

From the differences, we find that the PMO manager is senior to the project manager. The PMO deals with various projects; hence, delegates duties to the project managers and oversees their progress. From a wider perspective, you would realize that both departments are unique and special in their way, and they need each for the project to be a success.

What Are the Roles of a Project Management Office to an Organization

Traditionally, a PMO is responsible for establishing a framework for governance and guidelines geared towards achieving organizational goals. Discussed below are some of the responsibilities of a PMO;

1. Project Management Process

The most important role of a PMO is to ensure development, implementation, and consistency in the business processes. The project management process helps in developing general principles that will manage the organization’s projects. This process also helps create a template that can be used to carry out various projects hence saving the company time and money.

2. Gathering Data

During the project life cycle, relevant data is collected by the PMO and presented to the management for review. Using the information provided by the project managers, the PMO will be able to access the status of the projects, thus, help the project management office to compile data to be presented to the management.

3. Portfolio Management

Once an organization has its project portfolio management implemented, it will be the PMO’s sole responsibility to see the entire process facilitated. These duties may include; developing a resource capacity forecast to help understand what is required for the project. It also helps keep track of the pending project status and underway to implement models for assessing pending requests.

4. Project Support

The PMO provides the necessary support to project management by giving guidance to project managers in the organization. The PMO is also responsible for inducting new project managers on the best way to carry out projects.

What Are the Roles of the Project Manager

What does the project manager contribute to the company? A project manager plays a vital role in a project’s life cycle from initiation, as further discussed.

1. Initiation

Objectives, purpose, and scope of the project must be elaborated well by the project manager and key external and internal stakeholders. The project manager is keen on the problem to be solved, the desired results, and addresses issues that may deter its completion.

2. Planning Stage

Once the project proposal is approved, the project managers work with the stakeholders to generate a comprehensive plan to attain the project’s goals. The plan will enable the project managers to outline the scope, risks, time limits, costs, quality, and information.

3. Execution

It is the phase in which team members must complete tasks identified in the project plan to achieve the organization’s goals. The project manager must assign the duties and ensure that they are completed as scheduled. For this to be successful, the project manager confirms that the team is informed of any changes prior.

4. Monitoring and Evaluation

This stage begins from the initiation phase and runs through to the closing stage of the project. It involves monitoring the project’s progress, managing the budget, ensuring that the goals are achieved, and comparing the actual performances with the expected results. In most cases, things do not go as planned, and therefore the project manager must be flexible to adapt to changes easily.

5. Final Stage

Here, the project manager strives to complete the project. The client will then append his/her signature, and the surplus resources will be returned to the organization by the project manager. He will assess the work of the third-party partners, close their contracts, and then keep the project files used for future references.

Once the project is complete, a post-implementation review is done to determine what adjustments can be done if a similar project is done in the future.

Can the PMO Become a Project Manager?

A PMO can become a Project Manager but it will require learning how to do project delivery. As the PMO does project process management while the project manager does project delivery. Therefore, the PMO department is concerned with the process management, which does not affect deliveries, while the project manager majors on delivering project results.

A PMO manager can only succeed when the project budget, methodologies, and procedures laid down for the project management process have strictly adhered to. Some project managers may not want to be process experts since it may be difficult when one is accustomed to executing projects.

They are easily recognized when a project becomes a success rather than the facilitators. Senior managers depend entirely on the project managers to deliver timely and attractive project results to the organization.

One can move from a PMO role to a project executor, depending on how the department is structured. In most organizations, the PMO is a senior manager that every project manager reports to and ensures that the projects are delivered accordingly, and all issues and risks are communicated.

In such a structure, the PMO can easily assume the duties of a project manager. It is also possible that a PMO which has been on the job for a long time and has so far developed enough confidence to undertake project deliveries can easily shift to the project manager position.

The two departments can work back to back, and shifts can be made depending on the structure and experience of working in these positions.


Since the organizations have seen an increased need for PMO and Project managers, it is high time for us to create space for a project department to ensure that our businesses are not left behind shortly. Therefore, organizations should incorporate this as one of their strategic plans.

From a broader perspective, skilled project managers can lead to an organization’s drastic growth since they focus on the prudent utilization of resources at each stage of the project management process. Each organization should take advantage of PMO and Project Management to enjoy a competitive advantage in the economy.

Bal Kang

Bal Kang is a technology expert based in the UK, with experience across a number of technology areas from phones, tablets, computers to gaming.

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