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How Associations Can Leverage A Project Management Office
PMO-leverage

While the general concept of project management is undoubtedly utilized by associations for key initiatives like events and membership management, many associations can augment their various teams’ efficiency and program effectiveness by establishing a Project Management Office (PMO).

For anyone unfamiliar with this term, a PMO is defined as “an organizational structure that standardizes the project-related [and/or program-related] governance processes and facilitates the sharing of resources, methodologies, tools and techniques.” (Project Management Institute, 2017, p. 48).1

Types Of PMOs

At first glance, this is a pretty loaded definition. But stick with me, because Figure 1 shows how there are different types of PMOs that can be implemented. In addition, each association can tailor the PMO structure to align with organizational culture, current level of project management maturity, and strategic requirements.

Figure 1: PMO Types and Definitions

PMO Type Extent of Influence & Control
Supportive *PMO type utilized at fusionSpan This type of PMO primarily provides consulting. Below are some examples of resources to provide direction to staff, access to important information and tools, & prevent having to always “reinvent the wheel”:

  • Best practices
  • Training and professional development for staff
  • Templates for frequently needed documents (e.g., project plan, issue trackers, onsite event registration forms, surveys for members, etc.) Note: PMOs can add to the template repositories and manage revisions to templates on as needed basis.
  • Repositories for standardized business processes/standard operating procedures, lessons learned from previous projects, etc.
Controlling This type of PMO supports the organization similar to a Supportive PMO, but there is a required compliance component. For example:

  • Adherence to particular project management frameworks
  • Required use of particular templates, methods, tools, etc.
Directive This type of PMO entails the highest level of control, where the PMO directly manages projects. Project managers are responsible for reporting project status to the PMO.

For many associations, the best fit would be the Supportive model, which is what we have adopted at fusionSpan. It is the easiest to implement and there should be fewer challenges associated with buy-in. A Supportive PMO can be especially beneficial for associations that frequently need to share resources, as it allows for standardization and additional resources to ease stress on busy staff.

Organizations that align their Enterprise-wide PMO to strategy report 27 percent more projects completed successfully and 42 percent fewer projects with scope creep. (PMI)2

Additionally, associations that host large scale events can leverage PMO tools and resources to improve project delivery. Regardless of the type of PMO that is selected, a required element is strong support from an association’s leadership to encourage buy-in and successful adoption.

Implementing A PMO

In planning to implement a PMO, it is important to develop a road map or game plan for what your association wants to achieve via the PMO. Association leadership should collaborate to define the PMO’s goals, and also contemplate the following questions to determine how to structure the PMO (while also delivering value to your organization):

  • What are the pain points or challenges we face in project execution? How have those issues impacted our association’s performance?
  • Do the PMO goals align with our association’s mission and strategic objectives?
  • How can we achieve our goals given our current resources and their corresponding skill sets?

Associations can even take it a step further and establish metrics to gauge PMO performance and value add. These performance measures will largely vary across association, but could include:

  • Number of projects or programs supported by the PMO
  • Number of templates/tools available
  • Number of staff with [x] certification

While working at fusionSpan, I have been part of the Salesforce team’s effort to set up and maintain a Supportive PMO internally. Despite it just being implemented, it is evident that having a one-stop-shop for things like standardized templates, processes, etc. has had a positive impact on our team’s efficiency and project delivery. For more information on PMO best practices and project management generally, I strongly recommend visiting the Project Management Institute’s website (pmi.org).


  1. Project Management Institute. (2017). A guide to the project management body of knowledge (PMBOK guide). Newtown Square, Pa: Project Management Institute.
  2. “The High Cost Of Low Performance.” PMI’s Pulse Of The Profession, www.pmi.org/-/media/pmi/documents/public/pdf/learning/thought-leadership/pulse/pulse-of-the-profession-2016.pdf.
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Stephanie Lovett

Stephanie Lovett

Stephanie Lovett serves as a Project Manager, working primarily on Salesforce implementations. She brings over 5 years of diverse work experience supporting projects in the legal and government contracting arenas. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her Yorkshire Terrier puppy named Ziggy.
Stephanie Lovett

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