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PMO Staffing Models

Hey there, before you dive into the article, I also wanted to let you know I created a YouTube video on the topic as well. You can check that out here:

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My assumption, if you are reading this, is that you want to grow and excel in the profession as a PMO Manager. Running a Project Management Office (PMO) is a tough, yet rewarding, position. If you are a person who enjoys challenges, solving problems, and being a “fixer,” this may be the perfect position for you.

I have many years of experience as a PMO and Project Manager. My name is Bill Dow, PMP and my company is Dow Publishing LLC. I am an experienced PMO and Project Manager, author, and career coach and mentor. What I find most rewarding now, at this stage of my life, is to coach and mentor other budding PMO and Project Manager(s). Both really, the roles are different, but I have lots of experiences in both. I am proud of my successes, and invite you to view my training website and YouTube channel to view my training courses and my accomplishments.

The focus is this article is about staffing your Project Management Office. Many PMO Managers today struggle with understanding what resources they need in their organization and do not know how to start. Some PMO managers fill their organizations by using contractors only. Some use only employees. There are also hybrids.

Most commonly, PMO Managers use both. I am often asked about the best staffing mix. You can find more information about this topic in my book, “The PMO Lifecycle: Building, Running, and Shutting Down“. Here, I would like to share with you some secrets from the book – specifically the section on PMO Staffing.

There are three main areas that PMO managers need to consider. 

The first is what I term the “4 Ps.” What sort of PMO will you be running? It might be Portfolio Management or Project Management. Remember the 4th P is for People. 

Second, what are your PMO Service Offerings? Based on your selection (Portfolio, Program or Project Management), what services do you plan to offer? It might be Portfolio Prioritization, Governance, Resource Management… etc.

Finally, you need to determine PMO Staffing Requirements- Are you going to hire PMI certified only? How many years’ experience will they need to have? What about their technical skills?

See, it is the combination of these three factors plus any special requirements from your management leadership that is going to help you determine how to staff your organization.

So, let me give you some examples of what I mean, and show you my PMO Roles and Responsibilities Model that will help you staff your organization.

Figure 1.1 PMO Roles and Responsibilities Staffing Model

PMO Staffing Model


Let’s take a simple example of that model shown above and show you how you can/would staff your PMO. In this scenario your PMO is defined with the following: 

4 Ps–Program and Project Management

Service Offerings–Program Management and Project Management. As you can see in the Figure 1.1 PMO Roles and Responsibilities Staffing Model, there are 3 tasks listed under Program Management section. They include “Drive Program Management, Drive Program Process, and Drive Program Staffing Process”. This is just a sample of what would go into this matrix, but enough to explain how to use it. For your PMO, you would list several items under both Program and Project Management. 

Staffing Requirements–Only hiring 10+ years’ experience and PMP certified people

Ok, now you have those facts, let’s look at the Staffing Model and figure out the resources we need for your PMO.

If we start at the top of the model, the first Service Offering listed is “Provide Executive Support for the PMO”. Well, that would be you who does that and therefore, got to the “PMO Manager:     ” where you see all the other roles and fill in your name. in my case, I put Bill Dow. 

Same with the Service Offerings called “Provide Leadership and Drive PMO”. Again, you, did you fill in your name for the PMO Manager. 

Keep going down the model. Next one says, “Provide Portfolio Management Services for PMO”. Nope, not needed in this PMO, so you can safely delete those rows in the model and delete the Portfolio Manager role at the top of the chart. Remember, we did not have Portfolio Management as one of the Ps of our PMO. 

Ok, now we come to “Provide Program Management” That’s one of the 4 Ps selected and therefore  we are going to need a Program Manager. Ok, find a program manager’s name and add it to the top of the chart. Wait, what, we don’t have any Program Managers at our organization? Nope, so guess what? You need to hire them! See, the executives signed off on the 4 Ps and they said they want Program and Project Management; therefore, you can go back to them now and say I can’t do Program Management without a Program Manager. I need to hire them. You now just justified your first PMO hire. Cool right? 

Ok, keep going down the model. In this example model for the article, you don’t see the rest of the rows on the chart, but you can imagine, the next thing you would see is Project Management. Same thing, we have a PMO, and we have no Project Managers? Well, that’s ok, because again, you use this same process to hire Project Managers as you did with Program Managers we covered above.  You take this same chart to your leadership and say “You asked me to do Project Management, I need to hire Project Managers. 

Does that make sense? 

You have essentially used this tool to help you justify and hire staff for your PMO based on the agreed upon services you need to do for the organization. Aka. Your PMO Service Offerings. 

How great is that? 

When it comes down to hiring for your PMO, you will need to go over those key Service Offerings and determine do you have the people or not and then use the tool to justify your need to hire them.

Follow this process and you will have a fully staffed PMO. In working these three areas together, you’ll end up with the right resources for your PMO and the right people to perform your respective Service offerings. 

Once your team has been assembled, you may find it helpful to gather and continue to refine and tweak the services of your PMO. This will include a review of what you are doing today, what should you do tomorrow… etc. 

Use of a PMO Roles and Responsibilities Staffing Model will guide you in the right direction and will set you up for hiring the right staff for your PMO. Staffing models are, at best, challenging. At worst, they are bewildering. 

Project Management Office staffing, done correctly, will assist you in several areas. My book, The PMO Lifecycle: Building, Running, and Shutting Down,” will help you get things moving again should you find yourself in this difficult situation. Instilling best management PMO practices will help you and your team to be successful.

Please peruse this site for e-book PMO and Project Management offerings.  Also, if you want to get the latest and greatest information from Bill and be the “first to know’, join my PMO and Project Management Weekly newsletter. Sign up here today!

What do you think? 

If you like that article, I would love to point you over to this one as well, it is on PMO Service Offerings and I use the same tool for two different purposes. You are going to love it. PMO Service Offerings – Selecting the right ones for your PMO!

Bill Dow, PMP

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Bill Dow, a PMP-certified expert in Project Management Offices (PMOs), has co-authored books on the subject. With over 20 years of teaching experience and having built 10 PMOs across 4 companies, including 13 years at Microsoft, he currently serves as the PMO Director at the University of Washington Medical.

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