PMO vs PMP: Do You Know the Difference? (Must Know Info)

The terms Project Management Office (PMO) and Project Management Professional (PMP) are often wrongly used interchangeably. However, these two terms encompass different ideas. From my experience in large multinational companies, I agree that the use of the two terms is confusing at first, but once you break down their roles in their different capacities, their variation is easy to grasp.

So, what is the difference between a PMO and PMO? The difference between a PMO and a PMP is that a PMP is a management professional with a highly valued certificate in project management, widely recognized in many companies, domains, and countries. On the other hand, a PMO is a specific office that provides control, support, and directive for projects and project managers.

Irrespective of their connection, a Project Management Office has a bigger and wider scope with diverse functions while becoming a certified Project Management Professional is an entirely separate phenomenon by itself involving a diverse world of roles and duties in project management. Read on to fully understand these two roles, their differences and similarities.

How Does a PMO Differ From a PMP?

PMO refers to a Project Management Office. It’s the specific office that’s responsible for enterprise-level planning, risk management, methodologies. The PMO does not directly manage projects but it’s directly involved in scheduling, constraint, risk management, and planning of a project.

A PMP on the other hand refers to a Project Management Professional. For you to become a project management professional, you need to achieve a PMP certificate from a recognized Project Management Institution. The Project Management Body of Knowledge contains the PMI standard for project management.

Below is a table highlighting the main differences between the roles of a PMO and a PMP.

Project Management Professional (PMP)Project Management Office (PMO)
Manages all the constraints e.g. schedules, quality, cost, and scope of the projects individually.

Accountable for achieving the approved goals for the projects they are managing.Lives up to the enterprise’s standards of Project Management.

Adhere to the practices and guidelines standardized by the PMO when conducting the project Planning, execution, and preparation
Manages the standards, methodologies, metrics, overall opportunities/risks, and the interdependence between the projects at an enterprise level.Accountable for achieving the enterprise’s approved goals.

Establishes and maintains the standards of project management for the organization via the execution and standardization of scalable and repeatable processes.

Source of all the guidance, metrics, and documentation regarding the execution and practice of Project Management.
Table 1: PMP vs PMO

What is PMO?

Simply put, a PMO refers to a group of project professionals — hence the term office — that direct, support and liaise with the respective stakeholders within a project, inclusive of the project manager.

Typically, the roles that take place within a Project Management Office include:

  • Project planners set up and schedule the projects with sponsors and all other project stakeholders.
  • Specialists in IT assist with the setting up of the relevant software and related issues.
  • Financial specialists and admin support deal with day to day issues like contractual issues.
  • Specialists in risk management perform overviews and reviews of ongoing projects.

Parts of a PMO Team

Head of the PMO – Establishes and runs the permanent office.

PMO Sponsor – Champions and directs the creation and evolving operation of the permanent management office. The sponsor is a member of the board.

Head of the Project Office – Establishes the temporary project offices.

Portfolio Analyst – facilitates the development and maintenance of the optimized portfolio.

Project Officer – Consistently collects and maintains data to improve and plan the delivery process.

Project Specialist – Proactively plays a role in promoting project management standards and methods, monitoring projects, and implementing good project management practices.

Types of PMO’s

The three types of PMO’s include;

Supporting PMO

Supportive PMO’s provide support in the form of templates, best practice, on-demand expertise, and access to information. It works best for organizations that manage projects successfully in an environment that is loosely controlled and requires additional control. If the objective of the project management is to lay off some workers, supportive PMOs can be used freely by the project managers.

Controlling PMO

If your organization has the desire to control all the activities, procedures, documents, and other management processes, controlling PMO handles these roles. The controlling PMO will help your organization have the support it needs, but they must follow certain set procedures to attain this.

It is very easy for controlling PMO’s to handle these management tasks. It often has specific requirements that include adopting specific methodologies, template forms, application of other controlled sets of rules used in a specific PMO and conforming to governance.

Project offices might need to pass some regular reviews of the controlling PMO. These reviews determine whether the projects will continue running in their current state. This only happens when the project complies with the project management requirements of an organization.

Directive PMO

Directive PMO goes beyond controlling and takes over the entire project by providing experiences of project management and the necessary resources needed to run the project. Professional project managers who are from the PMO are the ones assigned to the organization’s projects.

This type of PMO injects professionalism into the project because all the project managers not only originate but also report back to the PMO directly. It guarantees you a higher level of consistency when it comes to project management. Directive PMO’s are very effective for large organizations that need to matrix support in different areas.

What is PMP?

A PMP is also known as a project manager and is responsible for initiating, planning, designing, executing, monitoring, controlling, and successful project closure.

PMP Certification is only given to professionals that meet the experience and educational criteria of the Project Management Institute (PMI). The certification process was created to institute a standard for project management extending over varying locations and industries.

Other than the required certifications, project management professionals must have special skills such as problem-solving, conflict resolution, and management skills effectively play their roles. Here are some of the important roles they play.

Activity and Resource Planning

Project managers set clear goals and come up with well-devised plans for the success of the project. Good project managers have to set realistic aims and plans. Projects can be risky and unpredictable; as a project manager, you have to deal with each setback and make necessary adjustments.

Ensuring Customer Satisfaction

Each client has special expectations when they are assigned to certain projects. Deviation from these expectations can lead to unhappy and dissatisfied customers. It is the duty of the project manager to make sure that this does not happen.

Cost Estimating and Budget Development

If a project is over-budgeted, a client will not oblige, and this might make an organization lose its customers. As a project manager, you should keep a clear record of the budget. You should also track spending vis-a-vis the budget so that it does not diverge from the initial plan.

Time Management

Time management is crucial to any project and delays in delivery is considered as failure. A project manager should have specific set deadlines that are realistic. The set time should neither compromise the project quality nor make the client wait past the deadline.

Organizing and Motivating the Project Team

A good project manager will never walk ahead of the team. The project manager will work together with them to achieve all the set goals. Other organizational roles include setting up clear objectives, explaining the plan to the team, and also motivating them to work harder.

Managing Reports and Documents

Documentation of the projects that are ongoing, those that have been done, and those that are being planned for a crucial role played by the project manager. Documenting will help keep a clear record of all the necessary terms required to run the project. At the end of each project, the project manager is supposed to write a report.

The comprehensive report should be elaborate because it can be used as a reference document in the future. Reports act as an archive that stores all the information about team activities, expenditures, and project dates.

PMO and PMP Are Two Distinct Terms

While PMO refers to an office, PMP refers to a project manager with a PMI certification. Therefore, a project management professional (PMP) works in a project management office (PMO) due to their high skill set.

Therefore, as a project manager, you will need to consider undertaking a PMP certificate (if you have not taken one already) to recognize yourself as a project management practitioner and increase your chances of climbing the organization ladder.

Bal Kang

Bal Kang is a professional content writer based in the UK, writing articles for a number of different websites for the past ten years.

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