Recent research on project management indicates that the field is about to enter the spotlight. Once an isolated function, project management is quickly being elevated in strategic importance. According to analyst firm Gartner, by 2017 senior executives in the largest organizations in America will rely on enterprise program management offices (EPMOs) to execute projects in alignment with overall business strategy.
The business case is there, of course. An article in CIO Magazine by Moira Alexander of Conture Business Advisors cites Project Management Institute research illustrating that EPMOs are capable of significant ROI. Specifically, they are estimated to improve confirmation of business priorities and project alignment with strategic objectives by 10 percent.
If you wish to keep pace with your market and competition, it’s wise to adopt the EPMO model sooner rather than later. Paraphrased here are some initial ideas Moira Alexander recommends in her article.
The principal role of an EPMO is to ensure that all business units are engaging in initiatives that are in line with the company’s vision. Therefore, it’s more important than ever that PMOs gain a seat at every table in the organization. By being everywhere at all times and by leading company-wide planning sessions in which they are able to communicate the organization’s direction, traditionally siloed PMOs become EPMOs that deliver greater value to the business.
EPMOs work closely with senior management from the very beginning so that all projects throughout the organization tie directly to business goals. They are instrumental in helping executives determine what matters to the organization and establish key performance indicators so that these priorities are measured and monitored properly.
This means that the executive management team must view the EPMO as a strategic partner that reports in directly and has full access, rather than just another business unit that happens to be project-based. Senior management and the EPMO should maintain an ongoing conversation so that business objectives and projects never fall out of alignment.
Management involvement doesn’t stop once a project is off and running. At the end of each initiative, the EPMO is responsible for quantifying the success rates in relation to the established objectives and communicating this data to the executive team. Senior management and the EPMO should work together to assess lessons learned and make the changes required so that future projects can better meet business goals.
As we proceed further into the 21st century, more will be expected of stellar project managers. Members of the EPMO, says Moira, will need to be exceptionally efficient and effective, and maintain high performance in the face of constantly changing economic and business conditions. Since they’ll be operating at a higher level, their results will be scrutinized by more sponsors and other internal and external stakeholders, and they’ll be regularly challenged to raise the bar.
If your PMO is still a bit limited in scope, the most intelligent first step is to open a dialogue with senior management about the EPMO concept. Review Gartner’s research with your executive team and brainstorm together how your PMO can better understand and work against current company priorities. Perhaps you can select an initial business goal and project, and engender senior management’s trust by exceeding expectations.
Project managers, do you consider yourselves part of a PMO or an EPMO? What do you see as the essential differences? Do you think full strategic alignment with the business and involvement in all business units is feasible for your team in the near future? Want the tools to help get you there? Join us January 21 for a free Webinar with expert, Gordon Tredgold, "Creating a "GPS" for Your Business - from Project Request to Success."