Voices INSIDE THE PMO
24 PM NETWORK NOVEMBER 2016 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.
We live in an age of austerity. For enterprise project manage- ment offices (EPMOs), this can mean downsizing. Or an executive might take direct
responsibility for the EPMO function and integrate it
into another function, like the strategy department.
Either way, the EPMO’s effectiveness likely suffers.
How do you avoid this fate? EPMO directors
should adopt a proactive stance to both oppose
takeovers by predatory departments and achieve
efficiencies by absorbing compatible functions
across the organization. Obvious targets to amalgamate into an EPMO are distributed PMOs in
operations, IT, finance or sales. In some cases,
the outsourcing of all distributed PMO functions
can dramatically reduce costs. Subsequently, the
EPMO’s role would be to provide governance that
ensures the vendor provides the level of services
expected by various departments.
STRATEGIC POWER PLAY
An ambitious EPMO director might pursue another
gambit: turn the tables and pull in the organization’s
strategy department. The rationale behind the EPMO
controlling the strategy function is simple.
First, most large organizations are very good at
creating strategic plans with the help of external consultants. But they tend to suffer from poor execution.
Strategy departments in such organizations become
preoccupied with helping the management team to
execute facets of the corporate strategy, as opposed
to limiting their involvement to strategic plans.
Second, the strategy department habitually relies
on the EPMO to facilitate cross-functional meetings that support completion of the annual corporate planning process.
Third, portfolio management undertaken by the
EPMO is closely aligned with executive performance management run by the strategy function.
Successful portfolio management requires a constant validation of the corporate strategy: i.e., does
the inclusion of initiatives in the designated project
portfolio harm or assist corporate strategy? There
is no reason corporate strategy cannot be executed
by the EPMO on behalf of the management team.
Additionally, aligning initiatives with the balanced
scorecards of executives has a better chance of
success if it’s done by the EPMO.
But perhaps the greatest advantage is that this
arrangement bridges the gap between strategy and
execution. To be sure, some activities carried out
by the strategy department are incompatible with
an EPMO. Visionary thinking, business development and maintenance of the business plan are
areas that stand out. Other departments can take
on such activities; for example, sales could manage
The bottom line: When faced with the prospect
of retrenchment, EPMO directors must seize the
opportunity to bridge the gap between strategy
and execution. Don’t be subsumed—strengthen
the EPMO’s unique value. PM
The Good Fight
Don’t let the EPMO fall victim to budget cuts.
By Abid Mustafa