The Different Types of Enterprise Project Management Offices (ePMOs)

Pinnacle has been guiding and assisting our clients in implementing and improving Enterprise Project Management Offices (ePMOs) for over 15 years. Our experience shows us that there are 3 main types and numerous hybrids of these 3:

  • ePMOs focused on Best Practices
  • ePMOs focused on Governance
  • ePMOs focused on Portfolio Management and /or Application Portfolio Management

As mentioned above, many organizations blend aspects of these 3 types of ePMOs. Other organizations, especially large corporations or government agencies, will have multiple PMOs and possibly an Enterprise PMO. These may be owned by Executives, Functional Groups, Shared Service groups, Lines of Business / Product Lines, or even Major Programs.

ePMOs Focused on Best Practices

These types of Enterprise Project Management Offices do the development for project management processes and best practices across the enterprise. They may act as the clearing-house for the PM assets to be used freely by project managers. Building a standard library of reports that define workflows in the EPM tools may be part of this ePMO’s duties.

In some cases ePMOs may "own" project support staff. They may have Project Managers, Schedulers, Financial Analysts and other project support personnel on their staff and loan them out to projects. Often the most politically contentious part of an ePMO is the ownership of PMs. PMs are often selected based on their knowledge of the business area or product line and they are part of a specific business unit that will be supported by the ePMO.

Pinnacle has helped establish ePMOs that also own and administer Enterprise Project Management or Portfolio Management systems (such as MSP Server). These ePMOs are often responsible for training both the EPM/PPM tools and practices for the Project and Portfolio Management community. When an organization standardizes on a set of common PM practices these ePMOs will often own and maintain a PM web portal, WIKI, or Process Asset Library.

Along with ownership of the EPM tools, often comes the task of collecting and incorporating information from financial systems to provide integrated Cost and Schedule and Portfolio information. This requires the ePMO to work with the Finance or Accounting group. A successful Enterprise Project Management Office may need to work with a number of Enterprise level systems and groups.

Successful Best Practice ePMOs are seen as partners with the business and not dogmatic enforcers of process for the sake of process. A successful ePMO will also understand the PM maturity and business drivers of their organization and have a Roadmap that iteratively improves the Project and Portfolio performance accordingly.

ePMOs Focused on Governance

Governance oriented ePMOs can be responsible for projects for entire organizations, a shared service organization (e.g., IT) or major programs.  This is often the case in government agencies.

The ePMOs are the Project, Program and Portfolio data collectors.  Often they are responsible for conducting analyses for projects.  Pinnacle has worked with clients' ePMOs that:

  • Analyze Project and Portfolio performance data
  • Perform audit at thresholds
  • Recommend project re-baselining, corrective action planning, or portfolio re-prioritization
  • Develop independent estimates for project costs and schedule performance

As with the Best Practice ePMO type, a Governance oriented ePMO may pull together data extracted from various tools for analysis and produce corporate level dashboards for executives.  For US Government Agencies the ePMO may generate reports to be used outside the Agencies (e.g., The Federal IT Dashboard or DCMA).

In very large organizations the ePMO may need to pull data from many different EPM/PPM systems.  Pinnacle has worked with groups that use a mixture of EPM/PPM products including MS Project Server, Primavera P6, Planview, CA Clarity, HP PPM, along with the inevitable, homegrown MS Excel based tools.

ePMOs Focused on Portfolio Management

There are significant variants in responsibility and authority with all of these ePMOs.  Portfolio oriented ePMOs may be responsible for:

  • Establishing, prioritizing and analyzing the financial achievement of a company's portfolio of project and products.
  • Supporting executive steering groups in the decision process for portfolio management.
  • Focusing less on financial achievement and more on their projects and their performance with regards to Costs, Schedule and Risks.

Many organizations are keenly focused on reducing the cost of their IT infrastructure and applications.  Application Portfolio Management (APM) may fall to this type of ePMO.  These ePMOs are often tasked to:

  • Inventory an organization's applications and software licenses
  • Reduce the number of applications and licenses
  • Ensure that groups across the organization are aware of available tools and solutions
  • Ensure that when tools are required the first choice should be existing tools

An Enterprise Project Management Office focused on Portfolio Management may look at costs for tools acquisition, internal development projects and operational costs for IT. In addition to the responsibilities listed above, these ePMOs are often tasked with coordinating the “sun-setting” of tools and ensuring replacement systems are up and running in time.

Common Elements of All Types of ePMOs

Successful ePMOs share a common set of functions and traits.  These ePMOs are:

  • Providing visibility into project and portfolio performance
  • Reducing risk and improving project and portfolio performance
  • Supporting their users and not hindering performance or the business
  • Developing and executing effective communication strategies
  • Providing knowledge transfer to the business for PM and Project Portfolio Practices
  • Supporting groups like IT in meeting the business needs of the organization
  • Evolving practices and policies in line with industry and the corporation's best practices
  • Facilitating adoption of best practices in the organization

Common Success Indicators for ePMOs

Successful ePMOs require Executive Sponsorship.  Pinnacle has worked iwht many ePMOs that provide value and have access to CEOs, CFOs, COOs and other key decision makers.  These ePMOs have the ability to show the financial value of their work, sell their successes to the organization, and navigate the political challenges in their organization.  If the skills required to do this are not present in the group, then the ePMO champion must promote the PMO.

The successful Enterprise Project Management Office must also be effective in communicating to the business community their value and proactively engage their stakeholders.

Communicating how the business engages with the ePMO is critical. Keeping a high profile within the business is important; sitting back and waiting for the organization to come to you is not an option.  Understanding the business and the business drivers of an organizaion is essential to the success of the ePMO.

The skills and capabilities required to achieve the goals listed above often are not within a typical ePMO.  Executives who create and sponsor ePMOs must ensure or remedy this for the organization to see the value of their investment.

If you are architecting, implementing or re-organizing an Enterprise Project Management Office in your organization please contact Pinnacle today.


 


 

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