How does the PMO / EPMO Office create value? Together with the Association of International Project Management Officers (AIPMO), we were fortunate to be invited to take part in the Sydney PMO Vision 2030 – The Future of PMOs Works and the question of How does the PMO / EPMO Office create value was a hotly debated topic.

The end goal was to understand and look towards building a Worldwide PMO standard whilst taking into account micro and macro-economic factors.

We came away with some great points to consider and importantly a practical overview of the PMO EPMO office and the valuable role and contribution it can make within an organisation.

On the point of value, the value that can be added by the PMO function is largely dependent upon how it is viewed and empowered. In many instances, this can be difficult to assess, which is why we have provided some points that may assist in determining where the PMO function may fit.

The PMO (Project Management Office)

A project management office is a group or business unit within an organisation, government agency, or enterprise that defines and maintains standards for project management.

The PMO strives to standardise and introduce economies of repetition in the execution of projects and they are the source of documentation, guidance, and key metrics on the practice of project management and execution.

As an example, the creation of the PMO branch within the Transport Services Department was designed standardise reporting and governance practices aligned to DoT strategic objectives. This ensures consistent application of project methodology (frameworks, tools, etc.) and ensures capabilities to meet business needs. Where there is a maturity gap, the PMO will drive continuous improvement.

The key responsibilities of a successful PMO include:

    • Ensure PM standards and quality across the organisation
    • Strategic and portfolio project management
    • Support of the PM community regarding capabilities
    • Owner of the system(s)
    • Coordination of projects and resources
    • Increasing effectiveness and efficiencies

PMO Key functions

    • Project and program governance and assurance through the Investment Lifecycle
    • Analysis of program and portfolio data to support good reporting and good decision making
    • Provide support and advice to PMs in the areas of forecasting, risk, scheduling
    • Business case pipeline to determine future projects, programs
    • PM and system capabilities
    • Owner of the system
    • The challenges facing the PMO

What are some of the key factors that have an impact on an organisation:

    • Cultural
    • Social
    • Legal
    • Technology
    • Economic
    • Environmental
    • Political
    • Geographical

The EPMO (Enterprise Project Management Office)

The EPMO will typically provide the Board and Executive with an enterprise-wide view of all significant and strategic projects across the Corporation. You often find that the EPMO supports improved governance, tracking and reporting of projects and is responsible for providing a project investment and delivery framework that guides a consistent approach to initiating, delivering and reviewing projects across the organisations project portfolios.

We typically tend to find that the EPMO is outside of any operational business unit and reports directly to the CEO or CFO and maintains a top-down view of an organisation’s portfolio of projects.

*The sum used to determine significant projects vary from organisation to organisation which is why it is difficult to put a dollar figure against this.

There is no consistent approach to configuring a PMO, they vary from administrative to highly valuable.

Below will provide you with a few things to think about which will assist you in determining how influential the PMO/EPMO function is within your business.

We have tried to categorise them from least to most influential:

The least influential PMO

    • Typically reports to a Program or Portfolio
    • Low level of control over Project/Program/Portfolio outcomes
    • Performs project administration tasks
    • This is a good model if the organisation executes its projects successfully

The PMO with some influence

    • This is the most common type of PMO that we have seen structured within organisations
    • Reports outside of the Project organisation
    • Develops frameworks, Policies, Procedures, Processes, and methodologies
    • Active involvement in reviewing projects/programs/portfolios
    • For this type of PMO to be successful there needs to be executive support and ensure that controls are in place

The most influential PMO

    • This is where the reports are within the Project Organisation
    • As a result of the project managers reporting back into the PMO, there is a higher likelihood of consistency and practice across all projects
    • High degree of control on projects where required, this assists in the recovery and turn around

The ideal EPMO scenario

    • Operates with the executives of the organisation and is seen as a core function
    • Business ownership with P&L responsibility that reports into the C-Suite
    • Has control of portfolios
    • Provides enterprise-wide services which may include
    • Transformation
    • Knowledge management
    • Governance

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An exploration of project management office features and their relationship to project performance

Christine XiaoyiDaia William GWellsb1

a Management Science Department, School of Business and Public Management, The George Washington University, 2115 G Street, NW, Washington, DC 20052, USA
b 8900 Carmel Valley Road, Carmel, CA 93923, USA
Received 17 October 2003, Revised 2 March 2004, Accepted 2 April 2004, Available online 2 June 2004.