PMO Skills and Competencies

At the PMO Flashmob in November we started taking a look at PMO skills and competencies. We decided to concentrate on this area because currently there is no standard PMO competency framework (unlike project managers) and many PMO practitioners would like to change this for two reasons. One, for their own self-development and career path. Two, to help them when managing their PMOs within an organisation as it is an area that is frequently requested by their organisations.

We started off by getting the group into smaller teams. Within each team we shared the following brief presentation.

This session was all about starting to think about the high level elements of a competency framework. For simplicity we opted for the GAPPS. “GAPPS is the independent reference benchmark for alignment and transportability of competency based Project and Program standards and qualifications”. You can find out more about that organisation here. What is particularly useful to us is the fact that all their materials are free to use. They already have Project Manager and Programme Manager standards so it makes sense to look at these and see if we can use elements of those frameworks.

So this is what we are trying to do:


Taken from GAPPS

The GAPPS framework does this by these three areas:


Taken from GAPPS

At the PMO Flashmob with limited time we wanted to start work on the first two.

What would the Units of Competency be? And within each Unit, what were some of the Elements?

To give it some context, here are the Units of Competency for a Project Manager:



Taken from the GAPPS Project Manager standards

And an example of the elements:


Taken from GAPPS

How did we get on?

The really interesting thing that initially started to happen was fairly typical of PMO practitioners. Straightaway the teams were getting down into the detail, really grassroots stuff. There was talk about things like dashboard reporting and methodology development, areas that really come later when we’ve defined the higher level.

2014-11-27 20.05.05

In the GAPPS standard for project managers you can see that there are only six high level areas. Were we going to be able to do a similar number for PMO or was it going to be more complicated than that? The struggle for the groups was trying to define the areas of PMO work that would encompass the majority of PMOs in operation. There were lots of discussion around portfolio management offices, some of the groups were reluctant to get concerned about including competencies in the area, given that it is a type of PMO that is still not as popular as say project and programme offices (especially amongst the PMO Flashmob demographic at the event)

This particular group got as far as thinking about the key areas of PMO work:

2014-11-27 19.59.45

One way to try and think about the high level competency units was to think about the value that a PMO brings to an organisation. If the PMO Flashmobbers could start to think about which value areas they provide, it may lead to a clearer way of thinking about this.

This led one group to present four competency units as shown at the bottom of this image:

2014-11-27 20.05.26

What came out of this session?

In the space of 90 minutes, this was the outcome. Four groups in four corners – just click the image to enlarge it and view it.

At this stage in the process we’ve taken about 40 people’s views about PMO skills and started to see commonalities across PMO areas. I wanted to make sure that if we were serious about creating a PMO competency framework that we would start the process by asking the people who work in PMOs everyday. We’ve done the first step.




NB – I used Mind Genius to do the mind map

What happens next?

From this brief session we wanted to see if a PMO Competency Framework could be put together, the group felt it could be done.

The next step is to put together a smaller working group of PMO practitioners who are interested in putting in time and effort to develop this further.


PMO Flashmob PMO Skills and Competency Session

[metaslider id=1119]

Thinking about it later over a pint!

[metaslider id=1138]

About Lindsay Scott

Lindsay is the founder of PMO Flashmob and a Director at PMO Learning - the sister company to PMO Flashmob and the best training company for PMO people in the world! She's also the creator of London's first dedicated PMO Conference; Director of Arras People and PMO enthusiast. Loves dogs and gin.


  1. adedeji babatunde

    very educating article

  2. Looks like a lot of work was done in the short amount I feel time you had. Look forward to seeing this being developed further

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *