Improving Organization Core Competences through PMO Team Development

SECOND EDITION                                                            

José E. Reyes Gonzalez

Project Manager

Panana Canal Third Set of Locks



This paper provides a comprehensive overview of the practical applications and skills developed in order to establish the Project Management Office (PMO) for the Third Set of Locks Project of the Panama Canal Expansion Program. The motivation for writing this paper comes mainly from the experience of the author in running the PMO for more than three years to facilitate the understanding of the elements of competence that project managers and their teams need to acquire in order to close the gap between pure processes and influences of context and behavior of individuals, whereas projects are directed and performed by people. Modern project management cannot ignore the importance of so-called soft skills that are part of the tools applied discipline in achieving the objectives of the organizations.

The paper is not intended to establish a guide or template to follow that will guarantee success to manage and implement projects, programs or portfolios, but rather, create the reference that encourages creativity, innovation and talent in project management and transform knowledge into power of doing to ensure the expected results by organizations. The project director of the XXI century in addition to the traditional concepts of time, scope and cost must master himself  in organizational strategy to align his decisions with the objectives thereof; should be able to manage the elements of the context, as are stakeholders and the legal  framework, should lead his team using negotiation skills and talent management,  and master himself in the elements and processes of quality management, which help to fulfill the requirements and implementation of continuous improvement, Finally, he must manage the risks to achieve anticipate changes and respond to them without affecting the objective of your organization.

With the profile and focus of the modern project manager described, the paper will describe the competence map developed with the objective of preparing a high performance team for the one of the most worldwide known visible project, the Third Set of Locks Project of the Panama Canal. The paper will describe the process implemented to determine the key competences required in the project team and the actions taken to guarantee the sustainability of the PMO operations during the project life.

We hope that students and instructors can take advantage of the concepts and expand them and that its contents are validated effort to achieve responsive to the needs and skills demanded by organizations of our time.

Keywords: Project Management, Competence, Project Team, Succession Plans in PMO


To read entire paper (click here)

Editor’s note:  Second Editions are previously published papers that have continued relevance in today’s project management world, or which were originally published in conference proceedings or in a language other than English. This paper was originally presented at the 27th IPMA World Congress in Dubrovnik, Croatia and included in the Congress Proceedings, October 2013. It is republished here with permission or the authors and congress organizers.

About the Author

pmwj19-feb2014-reyes-AUTHOR IMAGEflag-panamaJosé E. Reyes Gonzalez

Panama Canal Authority


Mr. José E. Reyes Gonzalez, P.E. PE, MBA, PMP, IPMA C is recognized for his capacity to maintain and to develop systems of Strategic Planning, development and implementation of Quality Management Systems, Establishment of Activity Base Cost Systems, Project Management, Computer Aided Design and Drafting CADD, Civil and Geotechnical Engineering. He has knowledge in computer application packages as: Microsoft Project  Autocad, MicroStation, Office 2000 tools  and Corel 98.  He is a well-known designer of geosynthetic applications, ground stabilization and environmental applications. He has knowledge and experience in feasibility and investment projects. Well-known practice in Project Management, graduate study professor in Project Management processes. Mr. Reyes is Certified Lead Auditor under ISO9001:2000. Consultant and training in Balanced scorecard, Performance Index, Labor Competence, and Certified PM from PMI and IPMA.

Mr. Reyes graduated in Civil Engineering at the Universidad Santa Maria (1985) and has a Masters Degree in Business Administration, and graduate studies in Management and Strategic Planning from Universidad Interamericana and Project Management at George Washington University.  He has received training at INCAE and US and European universities and had participated and attended workshops technical seminars in diverse countries of America and Europe. Currently engaged in his Doctorate degree at SMC University, Switzerland, scheduled to complete in 2014. Mr. Reyes has 30 years of experience working in different managerial positions at the Panama Canal Authority and as part-time Managerial and Engineering Consultant.  He possesses an extensive formation and practice in Civil/Geotechnical Engineering, Quality Management System, Strategic Planning, Organization and Project Management.

Mr. Reyes, is an extensively known professional in the field of engineering, and participates through Panamanian Companies in Quality and Project Management as in geotechnical designs, as designer, speaker, trainer, project manager  in numerous projects inside and out of the of the Panama Canal Authority. He is author of technical papers in Construction Quality Management, and a textbook on Project Management Competences.

In the Panama Canal, he has participated and directed such projects as:  Widening of the Gaillard ($200MM), Landslide Control Program ($4MM), Locks Maintenance Projects ($3MM), Towing Track Rehabilitation ($150MM), Management Maritime Capital Program ($85MM), and since 2008 as Project Manager for the Construction of the Atlantic Third Locks Project ($1700MM), among others.  He is also Chairman, Panamanian Association of Project Management (APGP) member of IPMA, March 2011 to Date and Professor, Project Management Graduate Course at Universidad Interamericana de Panama (Laureate University) Jan 2007 to date. Jose can be contacted at [email protected].