Project Management as a Service; challenges and key considerations

Discussion of PMaaS is growing online and in project management communities.

Smart PMaaS providers have begun marketing very effectively to firms looking for project management services. But are PMaaS providers all they are cracked up to be? What do PMaaS solution providers offer, and what are the benefits and drawbacks of engaging in such an arrangement? Are some project types better for PMaaS than others? Here I will consider these questions and help you with everything you need to know about these solutions.

What Is PMaaS?

PMaaS stands for Project Management as a Service. It refers to the situation where companies can buy in project management services on demand. They do this from organizations that specialize in project management and can offer skilled and talented professionals who can jump in and hit the ground running. PMaaS providers offers the Project Management Office, carrying out assessments, providing guidance and governance, and the people and tools to improve project delivery and success.

Why Use PMaaS?

So, what are the benefits of using project management on-demand services? One of the main ones is that if you purchase PMaaS you are buying in professionals specializing in project management. In a PMaaS firm, project management is the company’s core competency. Likely, project management is not a specialist competence for your organization in the same way it is for a company that does this. This type of service offers access to qualified and talented people who know project management inside out. What is more, they are quickly and easily accessible through PMaaS provider companies, just when you need them.

There can also be a cost-benefit associated with PMaaS. Just like other “as a Service” offerings, with PMaaS you pay for what you need. This means that you don’t run the risk of being understaffed when you need a great project manager, or overstaffed if projects dry up for a while. You keep control over the process, which helps you to also control costs in this area. In addition, providers of PMaaS state that they can help to make project management costs more predictable. This is because they can all be factored into the agreed contract. For many, they can see it as a cost model in comparison to other options such as recruiting project management staff, or bringing in a contractor.

In certain cases there may be types of projects that are more likely to require PMaaS solutions. For example, some projects are very agile and changeable and they are more likely to lead to the requirement for scaling up resources very quickly — and scaling down again equally as rapidly. Recruitment of staff is not really an option in such a scenario, as this is wasteful and inefficient.

In addition, projects that require specific types of governance or compliance may also benefit from an expert in a specific area. In this case too, it is not the best use of resources to hire a permanent member of staff. Given that the PMaaS solution can be cost effective, this can make it a good option. Other situations where PMaaS may work well are on large scale projects where there are a lot of stakeholders and where time is tight.

The Challenges

Project Management as a Service is not without its risks. Unlike some other “as a service” offerings such as Software as a Service and Platform as a Service, with PMaaS you are buying in the help of people. While people may be very effective project managers, they may not necessarily be a good cultural fit for the organization.

Some proponents of PMaaS argue that when these solutions are good, then the provider will take cultural factors into account and place an individual that is a good fit. However, this seems at best, a very complex undertaking that could be prone to failure. This aside, people working within the culture already are likely to have a better idea of the “way things work around here” and how to get things done. With this in mind, in some cases it might very well be preferable to gain the required project management competencies in-house.

Key Considerations For PMaaS Use

There are some recommendations that can be made for the use of PMaaS in any organization. In the first instance, it is essential to be clear about your own requirements from the very start. Come up with a wish list of what you need from your PMaaS provider, and vet these companies against this. Secondly, it is important that the people brought in are a good cultural fit. Check with your potential providers what they do to achieve this. Thirdly, contracts should be underscored with KPIs within the service level agreement so that the contract can be carefully managed.

Some PMaaS solution providers offer a contractual agreement whereby you can retain a certain percentage of the monthly service cost, pending the KPIs being met. If the PMaaS provider meets the KPIs, they get the money, but if not, you retain it instead. This type of arrangement can be beneficial because it helps keep the PMaaS provider on their toes, making sure that they do indeed meet the KPIs.

It is worth noting that PMaaS is a relatively new idea. As such, there is not much evidence to show either way whether it is effective or not. Following the recommendations above will likely help you avoid any of the major problems that may arise. However, you should certainly be aware and on the lookout for the possible drawbacks, just in case.


PMaaS has the potential to solve the age-old problem of project management resourcing and skills within organizations. The service may be cost-effective due to the organization’s ability to scale resources up and down as needed. The concept is unproven, and there are some risks cannot overlook, such as corporate culture challenges. If you do your due diligence when selecting a PMaaS partner, you minimize some of the risks involved in utilizing these services.

Until next time, you are up to date.

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