There is no shortage of publications on PMOs. Be it a book, a tweet, a blog, an article, a whitepaper, the breadth on this topic is amazing.

Despite this wealth of information, there has always seemed to be a gap in depth on both the tactical approach to building a PMO and the topic of the people in a PMO. I wrote one of the first and only step by step books for building a PMO called “The Tactical Guide for Building a PMO.” I live and breathe PMOs, they are my passion and I love leading and building them. Let’s dig a little deeper into the “P” in PMO, and not define that “P” as Portfolio, Program or Project, but rather “People.”

One of the most valuable things I’ve learned running PMO’s is if you don’t focus on the people, you don’t have a PMO. Irrespective of the PMO model, Supportive, Directive, etc., don’t forget that the people are what make your PMO successful. I added this topic in my book so other PMO Managers could learn about it as well. In my book, I cover the people side of running a PMO in several different chapters. Chapter 4 has PMO Manager’s qualifications, Chapter 6 covers staffing models, Chapter 7 covers training and education, mentoring and buddy systems, Chapter 15 has capabilities analysis … The list goes on and on. As you go through my book, there is a focus on the people side of the PMO as well as a focus on the methodology, tools and dashboards. Too many PMO managers spend their time and focus on the latest methodology, creating cool dashboards, and building great metrics, but don’t factor in or think about their people.

The P in PMO has to mean something, right?

Here are the Top 3 People Tips and Tricks when running a PMO:

1. People First – Whatever new process or procedure you put in place, think about the impact it will have on your people. Do they need to do something different? Do they need to work more hours? What is the impact of this new process on them?

2. People Gatherings – Most PMO’s have Program and Project managers that are busy doing their work and never come together to help each other. Ensure you have a gathering at least weekly where you bring in your resources and have them connect directly.

3. Buddy or Mentoring Program – In my book, I suggest building a buddy or a mentoring program for your employees. People need support and often do not want to turn to their manager when they are in trouble. Most project managers would rather turn to a peer than their manager to get them out of a project situation.

In closing, PMO management is difficult and something that takes years to master. If we keep forgetting about our people (the P in PMO), we are going to struggle to run a productive organization. Continue to focus on your PMO metrics, dashboards and methodologies, but don’t forget about your people. They will love you for it!

What do you think?
Bill Dow, PMP, ITIL



Tell me your thoughts in the comments and let’s open a dialog. I would be excited to hear other opinions on this topic.

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Bill Dow

Bill Dow

Contributing Author

Bill Dow, PMP is a recognized expert in Project Management by the Project Management Institute (PMI) for specifically developing and managing Project Management Offices (PMOs.)  His extensive experience with Project Management and PMOs have enabled him to co-author several comprehensive books available through

Bill has taught at the college level for more than 15 years in Washington State, British Columbia and Ontario, Canada, and has worked at Microsoft for more than 10 years.  He has spoken at multiple Project Management Institute (PMI) conferences, breakfasts and events nationally.  


"PMO Lifecycle: Building, Running, and Shutting Down,"  June 2017  (Amazon Link)

“Project Management Communications Tools,” May 2015  Co-authored with Bruce Taylor

“The Tactical Guide for Building a PMO,” August 2012,

“Project Management Communications Bible,” June 2008  Co-authored with Bruce Taylor

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