What are PMO Technical Competencies?

Last week I carried out a project management careers clinic for someone looking to move on in their PMO career. There was an interesting part of the conversation when I mentioned that of course PMOs differ in different organisations but generally there is a core set of PMO technical competencies.

I never really think about how I talk about this kind of stuff because I guess I’ve been talking about it for years and I assume that people know what you’re talking about when you mention competencies. Same goes when I talk about PMO functions and services.

But sometimes it takes someone to point out that actually, I’m not 100% sure what you’re talking about when you say technical competencies.

So time to take a step back and explain what PMO technical competencies are – and what is considered to be the core technical competencies too.

So competencies are skills or attributes that you need to be able to do the job.

Technical PMO competencies are the more tangible areas of project, programmes, portfolios or PMOs that a practitioner is carrying out.

With PMO practitioners, this list pretty much sums up what the technical competency areas are:

PMO competencies taken from an ongoing research study over at PMOFlashmob.org

BTW, if you’re interested in the list and work in PMO, take part in the study and you’ll receive a lovely spreadsheet with the competencies listed.

You’ll see that the list is pretty long – each of these items on this list we call PMO functions too. Within each of these functions are a list of activities or tasks that are carried out – we call these the PMO services.

So for example, when we’re referring to the PMO technical competency on configuration management, what we’re expecting to see things like document control, version control, maintaining registers, formatting documents and administering document tools.

The list above also goes some way to showing you what the core PMO technical competencies are for people working in a PMO – regardless of the type of PMO it is. The top five of governance, reporting, administration, risk management, communications (and PMO management if you’re managing a PMO) tell you that these are the most important technical competency areas for PMO.

So if you’re fairly new to PMO, you should pretty much concentrate on these areas of development first.

If you’re more advanced in PMO, the technical competency areas which are lower in the graph above, tell you that these areas are potentially the ones where there is less experience and skill availability in the wider marketplace. For example, we know that resource management in project organisations is difficult but needed. In the table above, we can see that only 40% of PMO practitioners carry out some form of resource management function or service.

If I was still a PMO practitioner today, I would be making sure my development and experiences focused on these areas because when an organisation is specifically looking for resource management skills as one of its core technical competencies in a PMO practitioner, I’ll know that there aren’t as many of those PMO practitioners in the marketplace and therefore less competition for the job.

If you’re interested in getting into the detail of what some of the tasks and activities are for each of these competencies, take part in the quick research project and receive a great big list.



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