How to set up an ePMO?

Mohammed

I’m starting to set up an Enterprise PMO so that we can properly coordinate projects across stakeholders and bring everything together.

What are the key things that I need to get right?

Any particular gotchas to watch out for?

I want to make sure we control delivery and standardise reporting.




I suggest you start by taking on the mindset that you are there with the ePMO to support, coordinate and enable rather than control and dictate. This is essential for success.

Even if you secretly want to control everything, behaving like that will be counterproductive and won’t get you want you want – it will just build resistance in other people. You need to make the ePMO something that directly benefits them.

Of course, there’s an even better reason than that, which is that control isn’t what it is popularly thought to be. True control is nothing to do with reports, standards and processes – they are all weak proxies for true control.

If you stop to think about it, true control is about having the earliest possible visibility of problems so you get the most chance to do something about them.

It is about being able to act and respond instantly so that risks don’t even need to be logged before they dealt with and actions are taken before anyone has had the time to register an “issue”.

True control is about having the earliest possible visibility of problems so you get the most chance to do something

All of this is best done within teams, every day, in the place where the work actually happens – not in the ePMO because that would introduce delay, extra communication overhead and long meetings and discussions whilst teams explain their problems to you.

So what do you in the ePMO? Twiddle your thumbs?

No, far from it.

You need teams to provide you with regular updates on their progress against agreed outcomes using standardised measures (not standardised method – avoid that at all costs!). You need to know a few key things about each project and team – its overall milestones and progress, its dependencies on other groups, its key challenges and support needed.

It is essential that you coordinate at the team-level, not with individuals

This is enough for you to build a useful high-level picture of the business which will let you focus on the key handful of challenges that you can make a difference to. It is also cheap and fast to do.

It is essential that you coordinate at the team-level, not with individuals.

Any plans, Gantt charts, spreadsheets or other outputs that name and plan individual people or tasks are a huge smell that you are doing it wrong. It will quickly become unmanageable and will become an unbearable overhead to you and the teams you are working with. Broad strokes and understanding the few key important levers should be your North Star.

A few other things to bear in mind:


Flexibility and Ability to Respond are far more important than Planning.

By far the best strategy with Dependencies is to eliminate them.

Never, ever, ever standardise the method or process that teams use to do their work. Their productivity depends on having this freedom to adapt to suit their circumstances.

Best of luck with it, done well it can make a huge positive difference.


Posted in Coordination.

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