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  • Writer's pictureBill Holmes

Standing up the Portfolio Management Office (PfMO) Part 5 – Do you need a Results Management Office?

Project, Program and Portfolio Management
When things go poorly, the instinctive reaction is to add controls!

“Management cares about only one thing. Paperwork. They will forgive almost anything else - cost overruns, gross incompetence, criminal indictments - as long as the paperwork's filled out properly. And in on time.” Connie Willis, Bellwether

“Superficial knowledge is potentially more dangerous than ignorance. It gives a false sense of security encouraging an ignorant man to persevere in his efforts that can result in huge damage.” Eraldo Banovac

Both quotes are simultaneously accurate and very sad.

The last article I published focused on the differences between the three types of PfMO’s and suggested that in many instances a Directive PfMO was the correct choice. I also suggested that even though it may be the correct choice, it was almost never chosen because of the organizational implications. Unfortunately, leaderships unwillingness to embrace the right choice often leads to projects that are out of scope, over budget, late and fail to deliver the intended business value.

Enter the Results Management Office (RMO). If you are interested in reading the entire PMI article, you can see it here: https://www.pmi.org/learning/library/the-results-management-office-roles-objectives-5886

It is a fascinating read! The hypothesis is that there is a need within the traditional PMO to move from “processes to outcomes”. Furthermore, “Executives in the C-suite are challenging PMOs to think beyond the traditional mechanics of project tracking and reporting, and focus instead on delivering measurable business results. However, many of today's Program Management Offices (PMOs) are focused only on delivering programs on time, within scope, and on budget.”

Exactly! That is why you need a Directive model. One of the shortcomings of the controlling model is that the PfMO becomes a referee, calling foot faults and determining winners and losers with no regard to the ultimate outcome. Business value? Who cares? Did the business get what it needed? Not important! The controlling PfMO cares about sticking to rules and reporting outputs. This leads to a complete lack of focus on the actual reason for the work itself.

Furthermore, the article states that “The RMO does not eliminate the need for traditional PMO functions. The need for core Program Management skills, and the ability to execute well don't go away. Rather, the RMO complements the PMO with specific functions that are designed to position organizations for greater success in delivering large programs. The PMO focuses on execution of the program, whereas the RMO focuses on value and outcomes delivered to the organization by the program.”

Sounds great! How is that different than a Directive PfMO? I have no idea. But it is a new office with additional staff!

I do know that it is the nature of governance to want more governance. Do governments ever voluntarily get smaller? Of course not! Do programs ever get voluntarily eliminated? Nope.

I commented on this in an earlier post where I noted that the 6th Edition of the PMBOK was almost 200 pages larger than the previous edition. I pointed out that at some point PMI needed to stop adding things and focus on simplicity and core principles. You can read that article here: https://www.projectmanagementforum.net/blog/that-new-pmbok-is-a-big-kid . I followed that up with what appeared to be several examples of increased complexity for complexity sake.

The broader point is that there is always a desire to find a new solution to something when the current solution would work just fine if executed correctly. In this instance, I believe that a properly executed directive PMO or PfMO negates the need for the additional overhead of a RMO.

Next, we will continue to compare and contrast the RMO with the Directive PfMO.


We are in the process of standing up a Portfolio Management Office, and many of the discussions in this blog are being worked real time. It is a fascinating process. I find that being on a schedule to publish a weekly blog forces me to research these issues from both an academic and practical perspective. I would encourage my colleagues to begin to write about their experiences. Trust me, writing about your craft will make you better at your craft!


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