The hiring dilemma


The right combination of resourcing and management can help PMOs overcome staffing shortages without compromising quality.


Guaranteeing a high-quality deliverable is impossible without the best team members on a project.

In my experience, the human resourcing options for a project management office (PMO) often consist of a core number of full-time employees augmented by full-time contractors working in various delivery roles.

However, when the demand for project work peaks, this model performs poorly, as it becomes more difficult to recruit qualified full-time contractors from the open market.

As a result, a PMO needs a resourcing model that enables it to support critical services, yet is flexible enough to ramp up and down resources to meet peak and weak demand.

Some organizations address this problem by creating a pool of associate contractors—highly qualified workers whom the PMO notifies of job openings before the roles are advertised to the general public—to quickly fill resource gaps. But again, on short notice, the organization may struggle to recruit associate contractors because of their commitments elsewhere. What is a PMO director to do?


One possible solution is to employ vendors to expand and contract the provision of resources to meet variances in demand. Depending on the PMO's core function, the PMO may have to enter into agreements with multiple vendors to provide specialist resources to help meet the shortfall of team members on an organization's projects.

However, vendors usually have their own working cultures, which may conflict with the way the PMO operates. Therefore, the PMO director must integrate vendor resources with the PMO's work ethic and culture to protect the aggregate customer experience from degradation. Where appropriate, this can be accomplished through training and governance.

Additionally, the PMO should enforce a robust governance model to manage vendor contracts. Considerable money can be saved without compromising the quality of services during peak project demand or when the demand is low, as the vendor resources are rolled off. But keeping vendors working productively requires support from permanent staff. A happy and cohesive unit is one of the most important components for building sustainable PMOs.


A PMO needs the right mix of novice and experienced personnel. Though veteran staff members typically perform the most challenging roles, new team members should not be excluded from such opportunities. If they are, they may think there is a limit to what they can do, lose motivation and look elsewhere for a job.

Employees can also lose their enthusiasm for the job through too much repetition over a long period of time—the activities become monotonous. Rotating roles reduces boredom and reinvigorates the team.

Staff training can also keep PMO resources productive and engaged. Before a PMO director can train the staff, he or she should thoroughly assess the team's deficiency in technical and business areas. Creating a staff-training plan can help accomplish this. Once the PMO director has this information, only then can he or she make a decision on how to effectively train staff.

A flexible resourcing model combined with the right approach to manage permanent staff can help PMOs overcome resource challenges without compromising quality. PM



Abid Mustafa is a director of corporate programs for Du Telecoms, a telecom operator in the United Arab Emirates. He has more than 20 years’ experience in the IT and telecommunications industry, specializing in the establishment and operation of PMOs, and delivering tangible benefits through the management of transformation programs and projects.




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