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Over the last several months, I have been asked several times to give my presentation “How to Build a PMO” based on my 2012 book “The Tactical Guide for Building a PMO”. In that book, I cover a topic that is very near and dear to my heart called “The PMO Cycle” The PMO cycle states that the average PMO lasts 3-5 years and with the amount of requests I am getting for this presentation, it is clear that the cycle holds true. One company might be shutting down a PMO whereas another company could be starting one up. Often times the catalyst for change is the arrival or departure of a major executive.

What I wanted to do is spend a little time on the core components that would be immediately useful to you if you are going to start building your PMO.

There are twelve steps to starting or building a PMO. These steps include:

  1. Start with a Plan    
  2. Obtain Executive Support
  3. Create PMO Staples
  4. Select 4 P’s of PMO (including Methodologies)
  5. Select PMO Model
  6. Create PMO Maturity Model (Categories and Measurement)
  7. Obtain PMO Resources
  8. Select PMO Training
  9. Implement PMO Methodologies
  10. Select PMO Reporting
  11. Select PMO Tools and Processes
  12. PMO Complete

Wow, that’s a lot of steps and I want to tell you right now that building a PMO is no easy task. You have a huge project in front of you and you need to treat it like a project. You will hear quite often from your sponsors that they want you to go go faster and get your PMO up and running, but you have to stress to them that this takes time and that this is not something that can happen overnight.

tactical pmo

What I want to do now is spend a little time and look at each of these 12 steps and if you just so happen to be building a PMO now, this extra information is going to be extremely helpful to you.

Here are these steps again, let’s spend time and go a bit deeper on each of them.

Start with a Plan Creating a PMO is a huge project and so it is important to spend the time and create a WBS and get the tasks for this huge project into a scheduling tool. It does not have to be perfect, but it does need to be in a place where you can track and report progress.

Obtain Executive Support – This is probability the most important task in building a PMO. Without it you are dead in the water.  Lack of executive support is something that will hurt your PMO in the long run. One best practice I like to do is get 1 -2 executives to support my PMO in case one moves on and you lose their support. Having a backup executive is a smart thing for any project manager to do.

Create PMO Staples – PMO staples are the four main components of any organization. They include Mission Statement, Vision Statement, PMO Value and KPI’s and PMO Budget. Locking these for any organization is important, locking them for your PMO is critical.

Select 4 P’s of PMO (including Methodologies) – Selecting what type of methodology you will have in your PMO is critical. Will you be a Portfolio only PMO, a Program/Project PMO, a Project only PMO. Regardless, of the methodology you select, don’t forget the 4th P, the People in the PMO.

Select PMO Model –  Selecting your PMO Model consists of determining your PMO type. The industry defines ten main models including Support, Controlling, Directive, Enterprise…etc. The 5th step in this process is determine with your sponsors and executives what type of PMO model will you be. You executives will have an opinion on which model they want you to perform.

Create PMO Maturity Model (Categories and Measurement) – Every PMO needs a maturity model in order to determine how and were to mature. You won’t know if you are running an effective PMO if you are measuring how well you are doing.

Obtain PMO Resources – This step of the process consists of hiring the people you need in your organization. I strongly suggest that you use a PMO Roles and Responsibilities Staffing model. Based on a RACI, this staffing model will determine the PMO Service Offerings and determine what roles you need to fill those offerings. Without this PMO Service Offerings chart, you will have no real mechanism to justify the staff you need for your PMO.

Select PMO Training – Now you have your staff, this is the time you spend to begin training them. Focus your training priorities on PMO Mentoring Programs, PMO Buddy Systems and hard and soft skills. Every member of your PMO team is going to need all of these areas of training to really be effective in their roles.

Implement PMO Methodologies – Now that you have your PMO Model and your 4 P’s of your PMO, now is time to merge the two worlds together and make it real. This consists of creating playbooks, guides, training, operating manuals, essentially everything to execute the tasks in your organization. You can say you are going to be a Directive PMO, but if you don’t give your PMO staff guides and operating procedures, you are not really directing them now are you?

Select PMO Reporting – In this stage of the project, this is where you lock your PMO reporting and dashboards. Don’t rush into creating dashboards, get some manual reports setup and working first and then spend the time and automate those manual reports. Dashboards are awesome, and they can be amazing to see all the data in your PMO in one spot, but they come at a cost and at the stage of building a PMO, you don’t need a dashboard. Save your money, get manual reports up and running first and look at dashboards later.

Select PMO Tools and Processes – In this final stage of building your PMO, you are going to spend time and select specific tools and processes for your PMO. Tools will be based on Portfolio, Program and Project Management and processes will consist of the ones that are directly related to the automated tool you bought for Portfolio and Project Management. Don’t be fooled, these tools come with a lot of processes and that will be something you need to incorporate if you decide to purchase these tools.

PMO Complete  – That’s it you did it. You need to spend some time and celebrate and congratulate your team on doing this huge project. Now the work of running the PMO begins and that’s where all the fun happens. Stay tuned, more information on running a PMO soon.

Well that’s it, that’s the twelve steps in building a PMO broken down in  consumable chunks for anyone to start using immediately.

Like what you read? Want to see the full guide with much more information?

Click here to download the full guide!

Here are some articles that you may be interested in:

Check out this article I wrote on this subject for on PMO’s.

Implementing a PMO: Does it Have to be So Hard? (CLICK HERE)


Bill Dow, PMP


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

LinkedIn Profile - CLICK HERE
LinkedIn Group - CLICK HERE
Articles by Bill Dow - CLICK HERE

Bill Dow's Website - CLICK HERE


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