skyscrappersCorporate PMO = EPMO

Corporate PMOs are also generally known as Enterprise PMOs or EPMOs. The term has been strengthened over time because it is understood that there are features common to all corporations, regardless of the nature of their products and services, which directly affect the challenges and attributions that the project office should assume.

An EPMO reports directly to one of the highest executives in the organization. Very often, there are other PMOs of lower rank, for example for the coordination of programs or a business unit; but none has the global reach of EPMO.

It has often been said that EPMOs are the most important instrument to ensure that the corporate strategy is truly executed in all areas of the organization. The EPMO would be, then, a catalyst, an engine oriented to promote the constant transformation in an environment whose natural inertia would lead, otherwise, to immobility.

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Responsibilities: start by deciding just initiatives

Every action has associated an opportunity cost. Even when it is clear what is being done, it is clear that many other possible actions are being discarded.

When, in addition, you work in a huge organization, the lack of alignment of the departments to the corporate strategy results in a very voluminous waste of energy.

For that reason, the EPMO approach is twofold:

  • make sure that the right initiatives are started (doing the right things)
  • make sure that they are managed properly (doing things right)

It is, therefore, a constant monitoring of the strategic alignment for all the work planned and underway.

Other responsibilities include, of course, traditional areas of the PMOs, such as training and counseling (of the other PMOs); value management, which is easy to lose sight of in highly complex environments; resource planning; Demand management or coordination among PMOs. 

You can discover more in the White Paper: Project-Based Management (PBM)

Benefits of an EPMO

The benefits of an EPMO are similar to that of a smaller PMO, but with strategic orientation. The big difference is that the EPMO has the necessary governance structures to navigate and master the bureaucratic complexity and processes that can often become the biggest enemy of change in a corporate organization (from 5,000 employees).

In any case, it is worth reviewing those benefits:

  • Increase in the number of projects delivered on time and in time
  • Better strategic alignment between projects and business objectives
  • Greater support for departmental projects, and with this, greater chances of success for the project, which can gather the required support at critical moments
  • Less overlap of work between department
  • Greater interdepartmental collaboration
  • Greater visibility of corporate initiatives
  • Higher ROI for the projects implemented, especially in non-financial terms
  • More efficient delivery of projects –and faster to put new products and services on the market
  • A better structured approach to the treatment of risks, including risk mitigation

Success factors of an EPMO

  • Organic location, immediately below the General Management
  • Change management according to good practices, so that the new EPMO is not perceived as a rival of the existing PMOs and projects managers
  • Complementation of the managerial function: support in the decision-making, without robbing autonomy or generating political problems
  • Autonomy with respect to functional areas, so that it does not depend on IT, Financial, Human Resources, etc.
  • All subordinated PMOs must report, either directly or indirectly, to the EPMO. Otherwise, pockets of information are created that do not flow
  • The competence profile should combine project management with the business vision: those who are part of the EPMO will advise managers in making critical decisions and train project managers to continue advancing as professionals
  • No EPMO can work reasonably well if a high degree of standardization is not achieved.


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city buildings surrounded by a road Projects are carried out within an organization whose culture, style and structure influence the way in which these projects are carried out. Project managers should be aware of this reality and adapt to the environmental factors of the organization where the project is developed.

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It’s worth beginning with a caveat: the environmental factors of a project should not be confused with considerations of the environmental impact of an organization's activities, which are especially important in the case of public works or industrial activities that could result in chemical waste or other forms of pollution. While these assessments are limited to certain areas of activity and are highly regulated in most developed countries, environmental factors always exist in each and every project: from a small-scale internal project to a macro-project of hundreds of millions of dollars in budget.

The notion of environmental factors in a project is much more general, referring to all circumstances surrounding the project during its execution. Thus, we can consider environmental factors as all the conditions that are beyond the direct control of the project team and that influence positively or negatively on the project. All these conditions must be considered in project management and vary significantly in type and nature depending on the organization.

As a reference, the main environmental factors that can affect project management can be classified into three categories; organizational, human resources and technological systems.

Environmental factors inherent in the organization

  • Shared vision, mission, values, beliefs and expectations of the organization

  • Culture, structure and organizational governance

  • Availability and geographical distribution of facilities, resources, infrastructure and materials

  • Industry or government standards that affect the organization

  • Internal standards, policies, methods and procedures

Human Resource environmental factors

  • Existing human resources, skills and knowledge

  • Personnel management, motivation systems and incentives

  • Perception of leadership, hierarchy and authoritative relationships

  • Organizational risk tolerance

  • Project stakeholders and organizational stakeholders

Technological environmental factors

  • Operational environments and company authorization systems

  • The formal and informal communication channels established in the organization

  • Available databases

  • Project management information systems

In addition, the environmental factors of a project can be classified as internal and external factors. While internal factors will be stable for each organization independent of the project, external factors are more susceptible to change and require superior analytical attention from the project manager. For example, the location of the project in a country where it has never been worked will expose itself to an unknown regulatory environment, generating many risks in terms of legal feasibility, the labor framework, etc.

It is essential that each organization knows which of the internal factors act as limiting conditions and which are the drivers of the projects. It is appropriate that this analysis be shared.

In project management, it is possible to influence those factors that are closer and more directly related to management, such as resources or project management information systems, but it will be more difficult to affect the more general cultural and environmental factors or external to the organization. For example, although it may seem that organizational culture is a flexible factor and can be easily shaped, it is necessary to always consider the inertia produced by resistance to change and how such culture is not an abstract idea, but is part of the daily practices of all members of the organization.

Changing environmental cultural factors that are more detrimental to effective project management can be a much longer and more expensive decision than to just support such management with new information systems. In turn, the adoption of new information systems can serve as a catalyst from which to modify the behavioral aspect of human factors, influencing the corporate culture from its base.

In all cases, the project manager must be aware of these factors and act accordingly, including the project risks to the detrimental environmental factors over which the project manager cannot exercise any control and communicating to all his team the importance of being alert about signals indicating the emergence of the risk or the change in environmental circumstances.

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