This PMO is a great success!


Let’s shut it down!



By Stacey Cellier, PMP and Melissa Cowart

Texas, USA


The company was one delayed go-live away from losing a big client.  They were about to transition to a new and radically different core business system and no one knew how 800+ team members were going to be trained.  Project managers cried.  This was the tipping point at a $1B national healthcare company.  If ever there was a need for a PMO, this was it.

With a PMO, the company turned their at-risk client into an evangelist. They prioritized, organized and delivered on their strategic priorities, including that core business system. They brought in Quality Assurance and BA functions that transformed the organization. After 20 months, they shut down the PMO.

Was this PMO successful?  

How we look at perceived “success” and “failure” measurements of project management offices depends on how it was designed in the first place.   Setting up (or reimagining) your PMO with the end in mind can help you stay in the “success” column.

The Learning Objectives for this paper are:

  • Learn current perceptions of modern PMOs
  • Understand the critical attributes of successful PMOs
  • Know the questions to ask when considering a PMO

What is a PMO?

Current definitions and understanding of a “PMO” 

A 2016 study identified 47 different PMO models (Monteiro, Santos, & Varajão 2016) Which can be the ultimate challenge for PMO leaders when it comes to expectations management.

Some generally accepted definitions include:

  • A (PMO) is an organizational structure that standardizes the project-related governance processes and facilitates the sharing of resources, methodologies, tools, and techniques (PMBOK 6th Ed.)
  • A (PMO) is a group or department within a business, government agency, or enterprise that defines and maintains standards for project management within the organization. (Wikipedia, 2021)
  • A project management office (PMO) is usually created to solve a specific problem:  generally, the IT organization’s inability to deliver IT projects on time, on budget and in scope. (Gartner Glossary, 2019)

There are fading barriers between “IT” and the “Business.” Dissolution of IT into the business functions mean faster and more collaborative project teams.  It also means that there are more models, methodologies, and approaches to defining and delivering value than ever before.

Differing views on what a PMO is, rapidly evolving business needs and strategic plans that are more dynamic all mean that the modern PMO is required to match this flexibility and adjust its services to stay in step with the business.

Managing Change is the new PMO Driver

Multiple studies, articles and surveys predict change management as a key driver evolving the PMO (including IT PMOs) to an enterprise-level change management function.  We have found in our respective PMOs that there is a key differentiator in determining the perceived success or failure of a PMO: clear scoping of the PMO that considers the purpose of the PMO as well as how long that purpose might be served and managing the intended change through the PMO life-cycle.


To read entire paper, click here

Editor’s note: Second Editions are previously published papers that have continued relevance in today’s project management world, or which were originally published in conference proceedings or in a language other than English.  Original publication acknowledged; authors retain copyright.  This paper was originally presented at the 14th UT Dallas PM Symposium in May 2022.  It is republished here with the permission of the authors and conference organizers.

How to cite this paper: Cellier, S. and Coward, M. (2022). This PMO is a great success!  Let’s shut it down! presented at the 14th University of Texas at Dallas Project Management Symposium in Richardson, TX, USA in May 2022; republished in the PM World Journal, Vol. XI, Issue VII, July. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/pmwj119-Jul2022-Cellier-Cowart-this-pmo-is-great-lets-shut-it-down.pdf

About the Authors

Stacey Cellier

Texas, USA


Stacey Cellier, MBA, PMP, an internationally recognized thought leader and national keynote speaker on PMO topics, and was recognized as the 2019 Top 8 PMOs in The Americas by the PMO Global Alliance. With over 20 years of experience in project management, strategy, and business development, Stacey is a passionate advocate for the impact a strong project management and change management culture can have on an organization – especially in the rapidly changing world of healthcare.

Stacey’s project management experience ranges across projects from eight-figure healthcare process and technology system change initiatives to real estate to global product security. She founded the PMO office for a multi-billion-dollar real estate and property management company and established and led national and international project management offices for public and private-equity-backed companies in healthcare, brand security and Fortune 200 healthcare.

Stacey received her PMP in 2006 and holds a Master Certification in Applied Project Management from Villanova University, a BS in Business Management from Western Governors University, and an MBA from the University of Texas at Dallas Project Management Program. She can be contacted at stacey@cellierconsulting.com.


Melissa Cowart

Texas, USA


Melissa Cowart is a life-long creative problem solver and thrives on overcoming complex challenges! Her resume is a series of “pivots” through which she has successfully built upon her diverse professional experience in commercial interior design, software sales, marketing, business development, and now project management. She is a passionate servant leader, encouraging those around her to take pride in their work, deliver quality projects, celebrate success, and have a positive impact on the organization.

Melissa’s career in project management began in 2018 with an opportunity to become a project manager for a private-equity-backed healthcare company, focusing on cross-functional delivery of projects expanding market share and enabling continuous improvement around patient care and experience.

She has since founded, and now leads, the PMO at a larger private-equity-backed healthcare company where she continues to drive strategic projects and support the development of the global domination roadmap.