Communications – a key PMO responsibility

Communication word cloudThe PMO has multiple roles to play when it comes to communications. The roles may also vary depending on what sort of PMO you are in. But whatever the type of PMO and whatever the role, there a few basics to adhere to.


Communications basics

These apply to personal communications as much as any communications from the project and within the project:

  • Listen as well as talk. As the meme below says, you have one mouth and two ears, use them in that proportion.
  • Listen to understand. Don’t listen to just enough to formulate your next response. Listen to understand what is being said back to you That way you can respond with an appropriate communication and not just the next line in your comms plan
  • Remember the feedback loop. All communications should have a feedback loop to check that the message you sent was received and interpreted as intended.

Overall communications role

The PMO should be the custodians of the communications plan. They should be the single place where anyone involved in or want information on the project should be able to come for answers. You don’t need to know all the answers, just where to find them. This is a vital service to the project/programme/portfolio manager. So the PMO should have the repository of all comms that have gone out. It should manage the feedback process and at least hold a copy of the most up to date communications plan.


Internal communications role

The PMO is there to support the PM in keeping the team up to date. If it is a project PMO, this should be fairly straight forward. But if you are in a programme or portfolio PMO you will have to disseminate comms to constituent PMOs ensuring the cascade is cionsistent and accurate. As a programme or portfolio PMO you may also need to communicate the need and rationale for how the programme or portfolio governance and controls are organised. Clear explanations hear go a long way to removing objections and also improving the quality of reporting. For example, explaining the ultimate audience of a status report can help set the tone and level of the report avoiding re-work further up the line.

External communications role

The role here for the PMO is ensuring external comms are delivered in a timely manner and are fit for the intended purpose. The feedback loop is crucial here with the PMO often the first people to hear about how the project/programme/portfolio is perceived by other parts of the organisation. They are often the eyes and ears of the PM in that respect.


In many of the above roles the PMO may be instrumental in collating, compiling and even writing many of the comms themselves, especially summary progress reports. All in all, the PMO has a vital part to play in ensuring effective communications.

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