Functional Elements All Project Management Offices Need To Survive

Desks, Chairs & Whiteboards are Not the Only Thing an Enterprise Project Management Office Needs to Function Right

by Rod Dunne on October 26, 2011

in Creative

Enterprise Project Management Office (EPMO) has a far more comprehensive reach in an organization compared to a traditional Project Management Office (PMO). Usually a grass root approach is taken while starting a Project Management Office, and hence their effect remains confined to a particular department, and over a particular portfolio of projects.

This approach, although quite effective on the departmental level, will often lack the control and direction of the senior management. Many times the PMO was even denied executive sponsorship.

At the very least, their risk management process was lacking due to planning horizons being unpredictable, future resource demands being unknown and costs being loosely estimated.

All of this has resulted in the evolution of Enterprise Project Management, which takes into account strategic prioritization of the organization as a whole. In this post, I’ll show you the key functions that differentiate the EPMO.

Enterprise Project Management Office Functions

Enterprise Project Management has several important functions, which are quite essential for corporate survival. Here I shall discuss each one, and bring out their role in relation to the whole organization. In reading these functions, you should be assessing which ones are missing from your own new product development processes and how departments within your own company could work together better using such functions.

1: Portfolio Management

Project management office functions, includes portfolio management, which forms the core function for prioritizing different projects, according to the goals of the organization.

Here a portfolio is created of future and existing projects, and decisions are taken about accepting or rejecting a project. The individual projects are scrutinized based on budget, business line, term of the project and so on.

2: Project Implementation and Support

Planning, implementing, and managing the various projects forms the main function of the PMO. Plans, budgets, schedules, timesheets, cost estimations, and constant updates are generated for every project. Where necessary even project management training may be provided in-house.

The support staff will perform different analysis to control changing factors and variances. Tracking analysis and progress reports are also generated on a regular basis using whatever project and time management tools are being used. Best results are achieved when a single enterprise tool is used by all staff rather than trying to integrate different software.

3: Centralized Project Cost Management

Project cost management has to be implemented with an overall perspective, and therefore it requires a centralized approach rather than a disjointed view. Cost management is a vital function, which will determine the budget, compare the forecasted cost with the actual cost, indentify potential over-runs, monitor the consumption rate, and staff related costs per project.

To maintain a central perspective on the costs of various projects, a structured approach has to be implemented, with proper expense forms, registers, and approvals for plan updates.

This centralization of cost management is often missing from startups as something which all growing businesses need to incorporate into their business improvement techniques. Certainly to continue expanding and to gain further venture capital/funding you need to have a strong grasp on the levels of internal costs.

4: Implementing User Friendly Project Scheduling Software

Various software tools are important for managing projects centrally. Project scheduling software is a core module for effectively managing projects, and is used by the project manager for allocating resources and planning their implementation.

The software can give a fair estimation of expected deadlines and resource requirements. It also provides a guideline on how and when, tasks are to be executed.

While selecting such software it is important to see that it incorporates three essential functions.

  • Firstly, project management software tools should provide a facility to label tasks as per their priority.
  • Secondly, the software should be accessible by all the people working on the project, and allow editing of details by the authorized people. This will ensure all data will be centralized, and will provide easy tracking & reporting of different tasks.
  • Lastly, the organizing capability of the software should be outstanding as that will avoid duplication, and help in saving time.

5: Project Managers

The PMO is in charge of the development of project managers, and it should be made clear what does a project manager do. Clear guidelines about what does a project manager do in particular projects have to be provided.

The PMO also maintains a database containing information about project managers, including their skill sets, qualifications, and experience. Managers for each project are chosen based on this information, and hence this database should be constantly updated with success rates and performance levels of the project managers, after the completion of each project.

In addition, your PMO needs to be considering various best practices for succession planning of key team members. This means being aware of key skill sets, irreplaceable individuals and what sort of hiring will be needed in the short to medium term should individuals decide to leave one of your projects.

6: Maintaining Standards, Methodologies and Check Lists

The PMO develops and maintains certain standards for the management of various projects. The office acts like a central repository for methodologies, forms, templates, checklists required for different projects, and should be accessible to all the team members.

This knowledge base should also be frequently updated according to evaluation of each completed project, and comparing it with the methodologies that were used.

7: Mentoring and Evaluations

EPMO should be the main management center from where expert advice is given, even when individual departments are involved in the project management. The last word on important matters should come from this office, and evaluations of projects should be based on actual audits conducted for determining the efficacy of the various processes.

8: Training and Development

Development of the team members forms an important function of Enterprise Project Management Office. Firstly, there should be a set target of the competencies expected from team members, and their performance levels are to be judged based on these expectancies.

Required training will have to be provided wherever necessary, and the PMO will have to participate closely with a training vendor to see that the courses are tailored to the requirements of the organization, and based on methodologies and corporate culture currently practiced.

Does Every EPMO Have These Functions?

The simple answer is NO… But they should always aim to have some mix of these functions.

Any project management office can grow as the company grows. In doing so, the eight functions above will become increasingly important to you. If they are not adhered to, or at least encouraged, then you risk having enterprise project management functions which fails to control, administer and predict proper outcomes for your projects.

It is possible however to gradually integrate some of these functions in your enterprise project management office as your firm grows and as you become more comfortable using the processes and software within your organization.

Author Rod Dunne...

Blog owner and sole writer Rod DunneI am the owner and sole writer on This is my personal blog detailing troubleshooting tips for small businesses. Posts are based upon 2 decades in consultancy & innovation management within startups/maturing companies.

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