How to Become a PMO?

Much has been said and written about becoming a Project Manager, but almost nothing is mentioned on how to become a PMO. A PMO is an executive position, which makes it even harder for anyone trying to become one.

Although the career path to become a PMO is not as clear and defined as the one for the Project Manager, the following can be noted:

  • PMOs come from a Project Management background. PMOs were usually outstanding Project Managers and were promoted into this position based on a decision from upper management. Note that sometimes the promotion is only political and independent of the actual proficiency of the Project Manager, this usually happens when a senior executive pushes a “favorite” project manager into the position, regardless of the latter’s worthiness worthiness. Nevertheless, provided no one is pulling the strings for the promotion, the following should hold true in order for someone to become a PMO:
    • Outstanding organizational skills
    • Shrewd conflict management techniques
    • Accurate estimates
    • Brilliant risk management

    In general the person should have already mastered all areas of Project Management. Note that if you remove the first word of any item in the above list you will end up with the skillset of an average Project Manager.

  • A potential PMO is a respected Project Manager. He is respected by his team, his colleagues, and more importantly, upper management. Support and respect of upper management is very critical since it is (usually) the only authority for promoting someone into this position, often regardless of what others think about that person.
  • The person has to have the years of experience. A minimum of 4 years of Project Management experience is required to become a PMO. The number of years is proportional to the size of the organization (bigger organizations will require more years).
  • It is easier to be become a PMO in your current organization and nearly impossible to get hired by another company immediately as a PMO. Getting hired for a PMO position is like getting hired for a Project Management position, no one will give you a chance if you don’t have the necessary hands-on experience. Hence, it is much easier to search for PMO positions in your organization, which will be more comfortable hiring you for an executive position. Once you’re already a PMO and have the hands-on experience, it will become easier for you to get a PMO job somewhere else.

Due to the exponential increase in Project Management jobs across the world (even in today’s economy) as well as the fact that many Project Managers nowadays are not-that-much-experienced and in need for proper guidance themselves, there will be definitely a boom in the PMO job market in the coming years.

© 2010 Project Management Learning – Reproduction of this material is strictly prohibited without the written consent of Project Management Learning.

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