A high-performing enterprise PMO (ePMO) is the connective tissue that helps organisations bridge the gap from its strategic vision to execution. So why are organisations still getting it wrong? Andrew Divitaris shares how organisations can set up an effective, well-run ePMO to boost efficiency and project delivery capability.

Status report: ePMOs in Australia

Research conducted by the AIPM and KPMG in The state of project management in Australia 2022 showed the trend towards using an ePMO to coordinate projects and programs has continued to grow. Conversely, confidence in their value has been variable, with a recent fall in the percentage of people who rated their ePMO as effective in supporting project planning and delivery.


“In our work with ASX-listed entities and government organisations, we often see the ePMO as an under-resourced and misunderstood support function that can struggle to gain traction with executive stakeholders and demonstrate its business value.”

Key benefits of an ePMO

There are three main benefits of an effective ePMO:

  1. ePMOs link your enterprise strategy with the projects needed to deliver the strategy and the optimal allocation of resources. By taking a structured approach to planning and prioritising initiatives, ePMOs can facilitate trade-off conversations with the executive, helping to make decisions that ensure the portfolio of projects is operating within its financial, resource, and capacity constraints. That is, are our project roadmaps and plans achievable, or are we trying to do too much based on the available money, people resources and our capacity to land and absorb the change?
  2. ePMOs provide standardised project delivery methodologies, reporting, and governance models. ePMOs reduce project delivery risk by adopting standards and repeatable processes that increase the consistency in project delivery. This also helps to aggregate project information at the enterprise level.

    Without the support and services provided by an ePMO, we see organisations committing to do too many things, not being able to foresee potential bottlenecks in resource capacity or capability and under-delivering on their annual business plans and customer outcomes.

  3. ePMOs can contribute to project success. The improved alignment and executive involvement can enhance the performance of project, program, and portfolio management, delivering better project outcomes.


What ePMO challenges do we see?

There are many obstacles to establishing and embedding an effective ePMO. If the ePMO is to build trust with its stakeholders and receive the support it needs from the executive, it must overcome challenges and demonstrate the value generated by its services and role.

Too many rules: The most common theme we hear is that ePMOs are too rules and compliance-driven and not supportive of fast project delivery.

“Our ePMO is too governance-heavy, only cares about status reporting and just generally slows us down.” (IT Program Manager, Telecommunications)

Too inflexible: Almost as frequent is the claim that ePMOs only support management, only cares about reporting, and do not cater adequately to the different types of projects an organisation performs.

“There is no flexibility by the ePMO with our project funding requests – we are not a one size fits all organisation.” (Project Sponsor, Financial Services)

No demonstrated value: We often hear that there is no demonstrable or quantifiable value attached to the services provided by the ePMO.

“I can’t see the justification for keeping an ePMO when that money could be spent on project delivery.” (Retail Executive)

How to make your ePMO more effective

In our experience, there are five keys to success when implementing a new ePMO or re-structuring an underperforming one.

  1. Decide on the right role and scope. There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach. Determining what type of ePMO (reporting, operational, strategic) is the first step in articulating its purpose and value and getting stakeholder buy-in.
  2. Be clear about what services it offers. Avoid bureaucracy but be clear that some services are non-negotiable. Integrated planning and road mapping, project reporting, supporting portfolio and program governance, and knowledge management are foundational elements.
  3. End-to-end management. The function must enhance enterprise- wide visibility of project performance. Understanding where time and resources are being spent is the first step to ensuring they are on track.
  4. Start fast and mature with experience. Start with a ‘lite’ model of core enterprise- wide PMO services. Additional services can be added over time. Such examples are quality assurance and benefits management, which are dependent on standardised project delivery frameworks and standards being established.
  5. Reuse, don’t reinvent. Use standard industry phases for project frameworks and readily available documentation, looking at external and internal sources. An organisation often has ‘pockets of excellence,’ so leverage these areas and knowledge.

Would your organisation benefit from an ePMO?

Effective PMOs act as the critical link and alignment mechanism between business needs and drivers and the successful execution of your portfolio, program, and project plans. They clarify program and enterprise-wide risks, resource constraints, and potential bottlenecks and report on the progress of your critical projects and programs. If you need help setting up or improving your ePMO, consider seeking the assistance of a specialist consultant.

This article is taken from the Autumn 2023 edition of Paradigm Shift