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Could centralising certain programme management specialised activities to a centre of excellence hub housed in Enterprise Programme Management Offices

(EPMOs) assist these offices to be more in control and effective?


The service delivery model of Enterprise Programme Management Offices (EPMOs) need be modified to make it more value delivery focused than merely playing a ratification role for projects. The times of enterprise programme management offices playing an administrative hub of projects are over! If programme management offices are going to represent business and sponsors by playing an effective leadership role, they need to be more hands on. Programme Managers should be like CEOs of the projects, and should play more hands on leadership to ensure that the projects deliver to their business rules expectations and in line with strategic objectives of the organisation. Sometimes in practice projects managers have too much control to things they dont have interest to manage and do well, project managers natural focus and energy is normally on the project product being delivered by the project, quite often these products are their expertise, and therefore it make sense that they would be naturally biased towards the products. Programme managers on the other hand should be more business focused and drive business value; however it is impossible for these programme managers to make effective business decisions if they are not close to the detail. When most people define Enterprise Programme Management Offices role it is normally a series of administrative functions around supporting projects with generic policies, PMO templates and tools, managing the approval of projects through business cases, cost implications of scope changes, consolidating projects reports and managing the integration issues and risks of the projects, as well sometimes getting involved in stakeholder management issues including managing the board meetings. These activities dont really give programme management offices the right level of understanding of the issues of the projects, not enough to make them effective as the centre of governance. What makes this worse is that where a project is a turnkey project and control over these specialised support functions becomes non-existent or out of reach as they are delegated or transferred to the suppliers through service level agreements. Yes, the suppliers should take full responsibility for the core deliverables and certain governance activities with EPMO as an oversight, but some specialised strategic activities should not be left to the supplier to run. My view is that the Enterprise Programme Management Offices should house a performance based Centre of Excellence capability to execute certain specialised project management support activities. This means that the Centre of Excellence would have to take responsibility, and be accountable for these activities through a formal service level agreement.

Leading practice dictates that these service level agreements incorporate end to end metrics to measure performance of the centre of excellence at the EPMO level, business process level as well as the EPMO job levels. The idea is get these EPMOs to do more than just governance and in fact get them involved in certain technical specialised activities required to ensure healthy governed projects. The following activities could become the Centre of Excellence services to be managed through this proposed model: Project Feasibility Studies. Business Case and Financial Models Costing of the Change Requests/Variation Orders. Business Case updates and benefits tracking. Risk Management. Project Strategic Performance Reporting and Root Cause Analysis. Project cost management reports reviews (i,e monitoring and evaluation). Project payments financial reconciliations. Project contract management.

In order to effective and performance driven, the centre of excellence would have to conduct performance governance reviews on its effectiveness to deliver within SLA requirements through governance forums, with business and projects represented in these performance feedback forums. It is vitally important that the Centre of Excellence key performance indicators be robust enough to integrate business, the EPMO and Projects ensuring that there is clear accountability and that performance issues are detected as when and where they happen in these processes on a more proactive basis, and the root causes resolved on a continuous basis. I recommend the following Service Based Governance Model for effective Enterprise programme Management Offices:

The benefits of this model could include: Better programme governance of projects. More time for project managers to focus on delivery at hand. More control on programme management functions as the EPMOs gain more control on input key data they require to strategically manage these projects. EMPO SLAs will ensure a less blaming game between business product owners, the projects and the EPMO offices. More Transparency on the effectiveness of Enterprise Programme Management Offices.

This article was written by Joshua Makena ( a South African Management Consultant) Contact Joshua on makena.joshua@gmail.com for further discussion