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3 Reasons Your EPMO is Failing
By John Steinmetz

I am going to play psychic, and tell you in advance that the answers to the following three questions for your EPMO are “no.” Here goes:

  • Do you have specific goals for your EPMO that tie to the EPMO vision?
  • Do you have a target for each EPMO goal?

  • Have you implemented an approach to measure your progress toward each target?

How’d I do? If you are like most PM groups, your honest answer to these questions is no. At best, I guess your answer is, “sort of.”

Sort of is the same as no. You either can or you can’t. If you can’t, then how do you know if your EPMO is being successful? How do you show the executive team how valuable you are to the enterprise? How do you justify the continued existence of the EPMO?

If you can’t answer those three questions with a “yes,” then your EPMO is failing. You may be doing good things, but if you can’t prove it, then in the world of senior leadership, you are failing.

You don’t want to fail. You don’t have to fail. What you need is the ability to answer these three questions with a definite yes.

First, What Not to Do

First let’s start with how not to approach these three things: The leader of the EPMO should not do this alone and then tell the team the answers.

The entire EPMO needs to develop this together. That way the entire team has ownership of the goals, the targets, and how they will be measured. Without this involvement and ownership, the team really won’t care all that much if they hit the targets or not, as they didn’t have any say in what was developed.

Second, Here is What You Should Do

Facilitate a brainstorming session with the entire EPMO. Gather every idea of possible goals for the team that tie back to the vision (reference my March 22 post for how to develop the EPMO vision). Work with the team and all of the ideas generated to settle on just a few goals that make sense. Three to five goals are best. Too many and you will spend all of your time just trying to track them all, and you won’t be focused on just a few critical items for success.

My EPMO is a brand-new EPMO with a vision statement of: “The Enterprise Project Management Office (EPMO) strives to accomplish the goals of our customers by delivering projects and change through our unbiased, collaborative and innovative deeds.” Given this, we decided on these goals:

  • Number of projects requesting EPMO involvement
  • Number of projects requested that are not IT projects
  • Satisfied customers

What your team chooses will be different than what we chose. These three made sense for where our team is – your team will have different answers. The important things are that the team determines this together and that it ties directly back to your vision statement.

Once we decided that we would use these three goals, we then worked together to decide what our target would be for each goal and how we would track each goal. It is important to ensure that you can track things without too much administrative overhead, otherwise you won’t keep-up with measuring everything.

We determined the number of projects and the number of non-IT projects that would be a good goal for us. We set numbers that were higher than 2014, but not so high that we wouldn’t be able to hit them. We can easily track these two numbers using our project intake process.

The third measure of “satisfied customers” was a bit more difficult for us to determine. We first thought about a short survey sent at the end of a project to the project sponsor asking three questions about how satisfied they were. But we discarded that as we researched possibilities and found the Net Promoter Score SM.

Although there are pros and cons to using NPS ®, we decided that at the end of each project, I would send a simple email to the project sponsor and ask the one NPS question. That question is: How likely is it that you would recommend our service to a colleague? (on a 0 to 10 scale where 0 is “not all likely” and 10 is “extremely likely”).

Note that there is a specific way to count the responses to the NPS question. If NPS is new to you, there is a lot of information available on it. Google the term and you can learn all about it.

Summary

By having one facilitated session to brainstorm on goals, and then by taking some time from each of our weekly team meetings for a few weeks, we were able to determine our goals, set our targets, and determine how to measure our goals – and it only took us a bit over a month to do all of these things.

The great thing is that by doing this as a team, we all worked together and agreed together on all of this. As a result, the entire team has ownership of these goals, targets, and measures. The entire team is excited to see us hit and exceed our goals.

On top of all of that, we now have goals and targets that we can share with the executive team to show them how much of an impact we are having on the enterprise, and how extremely satisfied our customers are with our work.

We are not failing. We are succeeding. We can now show the executive team that we are successful and impactful to the entire enterprise.

You should be able to do the same. If you can’t get started on it now. If you can’t show leadership that your EPMO is successful and impactful, they may decide on their own that you aren’t. So you give them the positive answer. Give them the proof.

Then your EPMO won’t fail – your EPMO will be a success.

You will be irreplaceable.

John Steinmetz makes things better at the University of Kansas Medical Center (KUMC) – he does this by helping customers identify and implement solutions to their problems. John is the Director of the KUMC Enterprise Project Management Office. Prior to joining KUMC, John designed and led EPMO teams for multiple other organizations. With an extensive background in management consulting and IT, John has wide-ranging experience in working with executives to solve complex business issues. John’s focus is to find actionable solutions and successfully implement those solutions across the enterprise. This is accomplished by finding real, sensible, and practical answers that others could not see. Often this is in the midst of a highly political cross-functional environment, where agreement and alignment of the key stakeholders is critical to success. You can read more from John on his blog.

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