The eighth Inside PMO Report from the House of PMO is focused on the evolving role of the PMO and the controls function – and the relationship between them. Given the critical roles of both functions in successful project management we aimed to investigate the current perspectives and changing dynamics between these functions. Recent developments have brought to light new challenges and opportunities, impacting not only the functions themselves but also the organisations they support.

PMO Vs Project Controls – a Little History

Back in the 1990s, with technology booming and Y2K on the horizon, PMOs were originally called Project Support Offices (PSOs). Their focus was on providing administrative support to Project Managers and their teams.

In the early 2000s, the PMO name became more popular, and best practice guidance was minimal until 2008 when the Project, Programme, and Portfolio Offices (P3O) was launched. PMOs were now providing support and services at project, programme and portfolio levels and the concept of PMOs at the organisation level – ePMO (enterprise PMO) was gaining popularity.

Further project management developments in areas such as benefits management, business cases, resource management, portfolio management, delivery approaches such as Scrum have all had an impact on the scope of services the PMO provides.

Yet even further back in time, into the early 1900s, a function already existed that also provided support to project managers (civil engineers) and their teams—the project controls department.

Project controls align with engineering, construction, transportation and utilities-based industries where large infrastructure and capital projects are the focus.

Today, project controls are viewed as the data engine of the project (or programme) using specific technology, software and tools for “data gathering, data management and analytical processes used to predict, understand and constructively influence the time and cost outcomes of a project or programme” (Pat Weaver, 2014)


The report, available to download, highlights what both the PMO and project controls function do for organisations today, the differences and similarities between them, the career possibilities that exist and what the future holds based on the current challenges and opportunities.

Inside PMO Report - PMO Vs Project Controls


The Inside PMO Report Conclusions


“PMO Versus Project Controls” is not project controls or PMO. Organisations choose the functions and services that they need to help support the performance of projects, programmes and portfolios in their business.

It is clear that project controls and PMO are currently providing a different level of service to the organisation and that service level is determined primarily due to the nature of the projects. Project controls is predominantly used in large infrastructure capital projects whilst PMO has expanded across all types of businesses and industries supporting projects such as IT and business change.

However, both PMO and project controls and the people who work within them, think their organisations do not fully understand what they do , how to get the best out of them and the benefits of having them.

This misunderstanding in many cases has had a negative impact especially in limiting professional development opportunities and providing clear career paths.

The similarities and differences between project controls and PMO need to be clearly understood to take advantage of areas of collaboration and avoid overlap and duplication of services. This understanding also helps to create a clearer view of all the careers and opportunities available within project controls and PMO.

There is currently a clear distinction between the roles in the PMO and roles in the project controls function. Within the PMO there are more generalists whereas the project controls function has specialists in areas of planning, risk, finance etc. Yet there are similarities in many activities they perform, reporting for example, which runs the risk of duplication and overlap.

The future of project management, especially with the advances in AI technologies, will mean changes to the way everyone works. Project controls and PMO will be significantly impacted due to the vast amount of data related work they undertake each day. There is a real opportunity for the combined skillsets of the PMO and project controls to come together, to find new ways of working together which help to increase project performance and success rates for all our organisations.

The future of both functions – the PMO and project controls – depends on a more formalised career path, preferably a combined one which opens up the full range of opportunities for professionals working in the area of PPM support – regardless of whether you are working in PMO or project controls, the common goals of ‘enabling project success through a series of different supporting services and activities’ remains the same for both.


To find out more and to uncover more insights such as:


The opportunities that exist in relation to advanced project data analytics and the use of AI technologies


The service area of project assurance and the need to remain objective


The adoption of project controls and PMO in the same organisation – how it works


The outputs and outcomes expected from each function



You can download the Inside PMO Report – PMO Vs Project Controls now and also join us for a new event focused on the report taking place on Wednesday 4th September at 12noon BST

Join Us for the Session


PMO Vs Project Controls