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Volume 6 | Issue 6 | June 2012

Daniel Vitek, MBA, PMP

Program Management Office (PMO) varies greatly from organization to organization. PMOs typically perform a broad scope of activities ultimately focused on containing and/or reducing costs and improving delivery throughput/results.

At the highest of levels a PMO provides influence and oversight of the assessment, measure, analysis, support, reporting, and related control of enterprise-wide organizational initiatives and related work efforts; including enterprise planning, performance monitoring, and the improvement activities including standards, practices, and processes to improve project delivery across the PMO’s scope of oversight. To be successful at this a PMO must have recognized authority to influence schedules and decision making across the enterprise.

PMOs typically fall into a few broadly defined categories. Some of these categories include:

Repository model serves as a source of historical project information, standards, and methods. Activities performed by this type of PMO are often core to organizational success. However, as a standalone PMO this model provides little to no true business value to the sponsoring organization.

Supporting model serves as a source of information for best practices, processes, standards, and methods. Activities performed by this type of PMO are primarily coaching and mentoring of managers and coordinating communications. This model does provide some tactical value to the sponsoring organization but little to no value to senior or executive management who are more interested in how such tactical initiatives align with demand drivers, strategic objectives, and budgets.

Governing model provides general and supportive services with a focus on controlling activities such as periodic reviews, project audits, and performance assessments. Additional activities may include risk management, quality assurance, and enforcement of standards. Value gained from this model is still more tactical and directly correlated to the success of cost containment efforts and completion of projects and deliverables within acceptable schedule and cost boundaries. Once the value of such efforts begins to plateau this type of PMO must evolve.

Directing model provides strategic central control of all major projects across an enterprise. It manages risk and plays a critical role in identifying and managing programs and cross-project dependencies. This type of PMO is often staffed with a very senior management team and is intimately involved in building and managing the enterprise portfolio and related governance processes. Although productive, true bottom-line business value from such a PMO is not achievable unless it interacts directly with senior and executive managers to deliver relevant results.

Deliver Value Now model is sponsored at the highest of organizational levels. This PMO works closely with senior managers and executives and is focused on delivering measurable value by accelerating project delivery across the organization’s portfolio of efforts in a manner that is clearly aligned with enterprise goals and strategic objectives. Activities performed by this type of PMO include support and facilitation of strategic planning, governance, and portfolio management; operational and project estimating, planning, and forecasting; training, mentoring and coaching; identifying and accelerating opportunities; identifying, managing, and avoiding risk; integrating schedules and status reporting; knowledge capture, archive, and transfer. Success metrics are tied directly to senior management goals, objectives, strategies, and performance measures. As a standalone PMO this model provides maximum value to the supporting organization. Value delivery is transparent in bottom-line results through cost containment or reduction and improvements in throughput... doing more with less.

  • Regardless of classification, there are core functions that every successful PMO should perform in order to provide bottom-line results for its supporting organization. Some of these functions include:
  • Facilitating strategic planning, ensuring the organization’s work portfolio is appropriately prioritized and aligned to its mission and goals
  • Developing centralized report center and archive of project, resource, asset, budget, strategic, and performance information that tracks and reports progress to all levels of stakeholder
  • Providing help/support, training, mentoring, coaching, and relevant tools to stakeholders
  • Developing and maintaining a methodology that minimizes overhead and reduces time to deliver

This and other data is critical to understanding and communicating what is going on across an organization and vital to answering key questions in support of successful delivery such as:

  • What are the organizations goals and strategic objectives?
  • What projects make up the inventory of organizational activities?
  • How does each of these inventory items support the organization’s strategic objectives?
  • What other actives, not currently part of the inventory of activities, must be completed to achieve organizational strategic objectives?
  • What resources are available to complete all current and planned activities?
  • What resource gaps must be addressed to achieve planned objectives?
  • How are projects performing against planned scope, schedule, budget, and quality?
  • If any issues exist, what are the root cause, plan for mitigation, contingency actions, and plan of action to reduce impact of such root cause on other efforts in the future?
  • How can projects be completion more quickly by delivering more while utilizing fewer organizational resources?
  • How can we apply lessons learned to better predict the success of future initiatives?

For more information and tools related to the topic(s) covered in this newsletter, the CDC Unified Process, or the Project Management Community of Practice please visit the CDC Unified Process website at

Please also visit the CDC Unified Process Newsletter Archive located at for access to many additional newsletters, articles, and management related topics and information.


The CDC UP offers a short overview presentation to any CDC FTE or Non-FTE group. Presentations are often performed at your location, on a day of the week convenient for your group, and typically take place over lunch structured as one hour lunch-and-learn style meeting.

Contact the CDC Unified Process at or visit to arrange a short overview presentation for your group.


The CDC Unified Process Project Management Newsletter is authored by Daniel Vitek, MBA, PMP and published by the Office of Surveillance, Epidemiology, and Laboratory Services.

For questions about the CDC Unified Process, comments regarding this newsletter, suggestions for future newsletter topics, or to subscribe to the CDC Unified Process Project Management Newsletter please contact the CDC Unified Process or visit



  • January 27, 2012
    Topic: Leadership
  • March 01, 2012
    Topic: 2012 Project Management Summit
  • March 23, 2012
    Topic: Understanding Records Management
  • April 27, 2012
    Topic: Contracting
  • May 18, 2012
    Topic: Cloud Computing at CDC
  • June 22, 2012
    Topic: Project Change Management
  • July 27, 2012
    Topic: PM Best Practices - A Panel Discussion
  • August 24, 2012
    Topic: Enterprise Performance Life Cycle
  • September 28, 2012
    Topic: A conversation with CDC Policy Leadership
  • October 26, 2012
    Topic: The Value of Alternative Analysis
  • December 07, 2012
    Topic: Managing Risk


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