What is the difference between PMOs and Project Managers

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Although companies appoint PMOs and Project Managers for projects, many people still do not understand the differences between the roles. There is a lot of confusion among companies hiring candidates for Project Manager and PMO roles as well as what the PMO’s role is in managing a project. As a result, incorrect titles and responsibilities are used in job descriptions meaning candidates are hired who do not meet the correct profile for the job.

Although they are functionally similar, let’s look at the difference between PMOs and Project Managers.

What is a Project Manager?

The Project Manager is responsible for taking overall control of the project. This includes planning, execution, managing resources, hitting milestones, and project scope. They oversee the project from beginning to end to ensure it is delivered on time and within budget. As the Project Manager owns the project, they take overall responsibility for its success or failure.

What skills should a Project Manager have?

For a Project Manager, the following skills are essential:

  • Leadership skills
  • Approachability
  • Ability to deal with people at all levels including team managers, suppliers, and customers
  • Great communication skills, both written and verbal
  • A good influencer
  • A negotiator
  • Able to deal with conflicts
  • Strategic thinker with good plannings skills
  • Time management
  • Budget management

What are the responsibilities of a Project Manager?

As a Project Manager, you will be responsible for planning and defining the project objective. You will be the main point of contact for the client and will need to negotiate and gain the clients’ agreement, as well as the support of key stakeholders.

The role involves communicating with the Project Team where you will undertake and develop the detailed project plans, risk assessment and contingency plans, whilst always keeping your team motivated and on track. The Project Manager is responsible for the handover to the PMO once the plans are in place.

What is a PMO?

Many people assume that PMO stands for Project Manager Officer. However, PMO is the Project Management Office. A PMO is a concept of Project Management that has grown in popularity over the last decade. The PMO is a group of professionals within the organisation or business who help Project Managers by monitoring and controlling the project. The PMO keeps the documentation, metrics, and project status updated and maintains the project standards.

What skills should a PMO have?

Many of the skills required by PMOs are shared with people working as Project Managers. People working in a PMO setting will also need the following skills:

  • The ability to choose projects that align with the organisational goals
  • Confidence to make tough decisions and provide reasoning behind it
  • Identify weaknesses within the project and address them accordingly
  • Be ready with up-to-date information and data
  • Resource management
  • Risk management

What are the responsibilities of a PMO?

The responsibility of the PMO is to gain support from stakeholders whilst communicating with the team. They will be involved in risk assessment and contingency plans whilst maintaining documentation, controlling and monitoring progress whilst motivating the team as necessary. They are also more involved in the financial aspects of the project and manage the change control process whilst developing corrective actions where necessary.


Not every project needs a PMO, but it will need a Project Manager. Therefore, it’s important to understand what your organisation needs. The PMO is a branch of project management and works under the project manager but is still considered a senior role. The PMO is generally a mix of people, resources, and tools, whereas a Project Manager tends to be one person overseeing the success of the project.

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