The role of the project management office (PMO) in product lifecycle management : a case study in the defence industry

Paton, Steve and Andrew, Barrie (2019) The role of the project management office (PMO) in product lifecycle management : a case study in the defence industry. International Journal of Production Economics, 208. pp. 43-52. ISSN 0925-5273 (

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Research on Project Management Offices (PMOs) has concentrated on their structure and role as an integrator to facilitate, coordinate and support project activity across organisations and portfolios. This ‘lateral’ focus across organisations has to some extent disregarded the ‘longitudinal’ scope of the PMO and its potential to aid in the effective implementation of product lifecycle management. Here we examine critically the PMO's role as a longitudinal integrator of activity across the product lifecycle. More specifically we examine the PMO's potential to bridge the interface gaps that exist between product lifecycle phases. It uses the findings of an empirical study carried out in a multi-national defence company to research the interface between the bid submission stage and subsequent stages. It finds that interface gaps bring issues of inconsistent strategic intent across phases, dissimilar process and method used in separate phases, and poor knowledge management within the gaps between phases. It finds that the PMO can provide continuity across phases by maintaining coherence of purpose, process, and method, and integrity of knowledge to enhance the performance of both the pre- and post-gap phases of the lifecycle. It further suggests that exploration of the lifecycle-based role of the PMO may present opportunities to enhance the strategic value of the PMO within organisations and also improve the integration between project management practice and product lifecycle management. The study contributes to both the product lifecycle management literature and the literature on the role and function of the PMO.