As companies continue to grow, expand, and evolve, overseeing and aligning projects has become more challenging. Most organizations today juggle multiple projects that each require strategic planning, resource management, capacity management and accurate forecasting for project success.
While individual projects may have leads or managers, the enterprise project management office (EPMO) is tasked with project portfolio management and ensuring strategic alignment. As more projects compete for resources and funding, EPMO has become even more important for efficient project management to achieve strategic objectives.
EPMO goes beyond portfolio management, however. By helping to eliminate organizational silos across the breadth of an organization, an enterprise project management office (PMO) helps keep companies focused on business strategy to ensure project teams meet business objectives.
Enterprise PMO Best Practices
Project, program, and portfolio management require a proactive approach. Here are some enterprise PMO best practices and tips to help you organize your EPMO and overcome some of the most common challenges.
Organizing Your EPMO
Whether you are creating your enterprise projects and portfolio management team from scratch, spinning it off from your business or IT department, or considering retooling roles and responsibilities, there are several things you need to consider.
1. Align your mission
It’s not unusual for large organizations to have competing goals. This can create a misalignment among stakeholders, who may each have projects that want to be completed. At the least, these projects may be competing for the same resources. Your EPMO must have firm guidance so that all stakeholders understand the purpose and mission.
Some 44% of projects attribute failure to a lack of alignment between business and project objectives. When you can demonstrate that you are holding projects and team members accountable to your objectives, it can help to manage projects more smoothly and reduce frustration for stakeholders.
2. Provide strong leadership
Having the right leadership in place is crucial in every area of an organization, but in the enterprise PMO, it can be the difference between success and chaos. The right EPMO leader must have strong communication skills to work with other organizational leaders so they put the needs of the organization first above all else.
3. Be inclusive
Effective portfolio management requires diverse communication across internal and external stakeholders, suppliers, vendors, and contractors. Success requires coordination across other enterprise functions, such as finance, procurement, HR, and shared services. Everyone has a stake in organizational success and diverse viewpoints can help create better outcomes.
4. Practice agility
A driving force behind the need for an EPMO is the dynamically changing environment that is pervasive in today’s business climate. Things can change quickly and often do. However, even within an agile environment, you still need structure and guardrails so you can pivot when needed while maintaining strategic alignment.
Agility often requires making decisions quickly, which is difficult to do without having all the information you need at hand. When you have a centralized way to break down the walls that separate projects, you have a wider view to facilitate better resource allocation, capacity planning, and better decision-making. That’s exactly what you need to make smart decisions quickly.
You also need visibility and transparency to get buy-in when you do make decisions, especially when they impact multiple projects or stakeholders.
5. Have authority and backing
EPMOs must have the authority to make difficult decisions. As such, they need to report to senior company leadership. While senior leadership retains the authority to overrule recommendations from the EPMO, the enterprise project management office must have the authority down the line of reporting to make decisions.
Some decisions will be unfavorable across parts of an organization, so it is crucial that EPMOs have the backing and full support of top leadership. Without backing from the top, it can cause internal stress for an organization — especially when you consider that 46% of companies report that team members do not understand the importance of project management.
Overcoming Challenges in Enterprise PMO
We also have a few specific enterprise PMO tips for dealing with some of the most common challenges we hear from many of the companies we work with. We’re providing a brief overview and some suggestions about how to overcome these challenges, but we have also developed a series of webinars if you would like to review these topics more in-depth. We’ve provided a link to the recordings for on-demand viewing in each area below.
6. Approaching resource and financial management
Many organizations struggle to understand the available resources and to confidently align resources, capacity, and projects. Without the right tools, it can be difficult to manage every aspect of projects — especially when multiple projects have been funded.
You need a way to manage and monitor all of your resources in real-time and a way to run various scenarios so you can anticipate potential problems and develop solutions quickly.
Watch our webinar on Resource & Financial Management, including tips for:
- Planning resource requirement
- Increasing accuracy for schedule forecasts
- Tracking variations between planned and actual resources and budgets
7. Create better project management data visualization
If you spend hours creating reports or finding the information you need, you need to retool your processes and project management platform. The same goes if you spend hours each month compiling reports. The right process and platform can provide real-time data and visualizations that make it easy for you to track deliverables against the objectives.
Robust data visualizations and real-time dashboards provide an easy way to show others what’s going on to save you time having to translate data for other stakeholders.
Watch our webinar on Project Management Data Visualization, including tips for:
- Visualizing the health of your portfolio
- Creating personal dashboards for digital to-do lists
- Reducing the time spent generating reports from hours to minutes
8. Manage consistency by standardizing control and governance
Efficient project management requires consistency across every level. If your organization struggles with standardization at the EPMO level, your project managers will struggle as well. Conversely, if your project managers fail to provide the information you need to monitor progress and move projects forward, things can get messy.
Watch our webinar on Governance and Standardization in Project Management, including tips for:
- Standardizing process and forms
- Using project templates, stage gate, and approvals effectively
- Implementing project controls
9. Formalize cost improvement programs
Cost control is an essential function of project management. When proven project management strategies are employed, companies waste 21% less money, according to the Project Management Institute. When you consider that nearly 10% of every dollar is wasted due to poor project performance, even a small improvement in cost management can yield significant savings.
To realize significant cost savings, you must centralize the management of programs and analyze data across programs.
Watch our webinar on How to Run a Cost Improvement Program, including tips for:
- Generating cost-saving ideas
- Prioritizing projects
- Tracking benefits and savings
Effective Enterprise PMO Best Practices
When you consider that organizations typically waste 12% of their resources due to ineffective project management, you can see how quickly improving basic planning and execution can make a big difference.
Use these enterprise PMO best practices and tips to improve your organization.