Many of us that are former project managers, are dealing with the challenges of setting up, running or closing a PMO. So far, there is not a one size fits all criteria to be successful at it. The main reason why there is no list of defined steps and as far as I can tell (and there might never be one) is because PMO’s are a new concept in the industry. In my professional career as a PMO Leader I have learned skills and steps that can help you be successful. Here is what I’ve learned:

Do not rush. Do not try to implement processes from one day to the other. Try to know the company’s culture, your peers, the environment, competitors, etc… you will know when the right time is. Just like in the first round of a boxing fight, you do not want to rush since still you do not know how hard your opponent can hit. Believe me, reality can hit you hard.

Build trust. Work with your team. Launch the project and see how people respond. See who supports you. This will allow them to get to know you. If they trust you then it will be easier for you to implement any process so they follow it. I see this as the mid-fight.

In this challenge, you will most likely be reporting to the executive management, compared to a Project Manager position where you report to a PMO leader. Therefore, your analytical skills should be sharp. Practice reading reports and understanding what is being said in those and especially try to become effective at understanding emails with content written in a more formal context. Also, win their trust by showing them that you cannot only work with them but also that you can work with anyone at any level. This will make the judges like you and allow you to win a few rounds.

My last advice is to become resilient. You will be exposed a little more to rejection and resistance, much more often than in any other position than you have had before (maybe except for sales positions you’ve previously had). To fight in the last rounds of any fight you have to have a resilience.

The purpose of this article is not to define a framework to run a PMO. I know that there are many great professionals worldwide with the talent and skills that are doing so. My objective is to share a little of the real world experience that I think will make allow you to be successful in your journey in setting up a PMO. At the end, to win the fight, we need to make our peers, executives and company win.


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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Luis Duran

Luis Duran

Contributing Author

Luis is a PMO Manager and a Project Management Professional with several years of experience in several industries such as Manufacturing, IT, Business Process Outsourcing and Education. He has worked in projects in many countries too: USA, Mexico, Canada, Italy and Switzerland among others. One of the things that Luis enjoys about Project Management is seeing how theory can be put in practice and how practice can become theory.

Helping others succeed in this profession is also something that he enjoys about Project Management.

Luis is passionate about PMO, Portfolio Management, Six Sigma and ITIL. He holds 3 internationally recognized certifications: PMP, ITILv3 and a Yellow Belt in Six Sigma.

He is always available to speak and learn about new trends in the industry. His goal is to become a worldwide recognized author in Project Management.


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