26 PM NETWORK FEBRUARY 2017 WWW.PMI.ORG
Abid Mustafa has worked with project manage-
ment offices for eight years. His book In the Age of
Turbulence: How to Make Executive PMOs Successful
is available in paperback and on Kindle.
Voices INSIDE THE PMO
Every EPMO needs its own survival strategy.
By Abid Mustafa
In the table’s example, the EPMO’s performance
is poor in the area of project delivery. This might
prove problematic in situations where kudos are
given for project delivery. This weakness could
trigger pressure on the EPMO to justify its existence. One way of addressing this issue—assuming
the EPMO has quality program managers—is to
combine the EPMO’s program management methodology and cross-functional collaboration strengths
to target departments that struggle to deliver programs. If the opportunity is seized correctly, the
EPMO could strengthen its reputation by supporting
execution and helping to drive results.
ACTIVATE LATENT SKILLS
The capability assessment process is also an
opportunity to change how the EPMO views and
capitalizes on its strengths. There might be latent
capabilities that can be put to more effective use.
For example, the EPMO staff could possess exceptional skills in the areas of IT strategy and organization design that are packaged as part of the
office’s overall activities but never used alone.
Consider a scenario where the human resources
department is unable to provide resources to
restructure IT operations. The CIO is forced to
consider bringing in an external consultancy. The
EPMO could step in and perform the task by combining its strong latent competencies in IT strategy
and organization design. Apart from saving time
and money, this will boost the EPMO’s relative
Establishing a robust EPMO strategy comes
down to knowing how to apply the right strengths
to specific situations. That’s only possible if the
EPMO is fluent in the intricacies of the corporate
The beginning of the first quarter is the right time for the enterprise project management office (EPMO) to formulate a strategy for the year ahead. This shouldn’t be confused
with implementation of the corporate strategy—that
should be done as a matter of routine. The EPMO
requires its own strategy for navigating the hustle
and bustle of corporate life. This is contingent on the
The corporate context defines the EPMO’s standing in the company. In other words, the EPMO’s
reputation hinges on its ability to get things done
compared to other departments. At its core, strategy
is about applying one’s strengths against opponents’
weaknesses. Therefore, to succeed, the EPMO must
assess its capabilities relative to other departments.
The table below shows what that might look like.
CAPABILITY EPMO OTHER DEPARTMENTS
Portfolio management strong weak
management methodology very strong average
Project delivery weak strong
collaboration strong weak