Why It Makes Sense to Have a Strategic Enterprise Office

Many organizations create a number of project management offices (PMO) in different departments. According to the findings of a global research study of over 750 organizations, this may not be a good idea. To be most successful, a PMO needs to have direct influence on the entire organization, not just one department. And it needs to be run as a business that is accountable to its customers and to the bottom-line.

Research proves that the very survival of a PMO is often dependent on its ability to service the entire organization, rather than an exclusive department. Furthermore, the project management office team must appear seamless and in sync with their messaging and approach across the entire organization.

Consider the PMO as a Service Agency

Successful project management offices are viewed very much as a Service Agency. That is, they are seen as providing valued services to the business and to the project managers rather than performing as information consolidators and distributors. They focus on providing added convenience for project team members rather than on focusing on enforcement of standards. They deliver services consistently with a high level of quality.

When a PMO is located within a department, it will tend to focus on departmental projects rather than on organization-wide projects. Why is this? Though a departmental PMO may have some influence on global projects, it often struggles to gain the buy-in from other departments, either because there is dispute or lack of agreement between entities over the best project management process or lack of agreement to existing tools and templates. Lack of agreement leads to wasted effort and frustration and usually gets in the way of successful project completion.

The challenge for most organizations is two-fold:

  1. How to best combine these offices so that the individual needs of each department are still being met as well as the combined needs of the organization?
  2. How to create the best organizational structure and identify the right individuals to manage this new Strategic Enterprise Office?

Combining Project Management Offices Into One Strategic Enterprise Office

There are a number of critical steps to ensure that departmental Project Management Offices are successfully combined into one Strategic Enterprise Office:

  1. Create an inventory of all projects managed and/or overseen by each Project Management Office.
  2. Create a project prioritization process to identify the relative importance of each project to overall organizational as well as departmental success. As well, identify the strategic importance of each project. If they are not somehow aligned with corporate strategy it is likely they will not survive the transition from project management office to strategic enterprise project office.
  3. Identify the resources required to manage and oversee the high priority projects. This will help in the creation of the structure for this new office. Current thinking, supported by the PMO research, “From Crisis To Control: A New Era In Strategic Project Management,” indicates that project management offices should oversee projects to ensure success as well monitoring and coaching them in the use of consistent processes, tools and templates but they should not be directly managing these offices.
  4. Create the structure for the Strategic Enterprise Office. This will include: who will manage the office, to whom they will report, how many resources will be included in the structure and what each of their roles and responsibilities will be.
  5. Develop competencies for each of the required roles for this new Strategic Enterprise Office. These competencies will represent the skills, knowledge and experience required to successfully meet the identified roles and responsibilities.
  6. Measure all of the project management office staff against the competencies in order to determine who will be the best candidates to fill the positions required for the Strategic Enterprise Office.
  7. Review the different project management processes, practices, tools and templates used by the various project management offices. This is a difficult task in so far as you are now trying to determine which of the best practices should remain in the new Strategic Enterprise Office. One benchmark will be to what extent each project management office was able to consistently demonstrate project success as a direct result of the project management practices they implemented.
  8. Manage the change from the current departmentally based project management offices into the Strategic Enterprise Office by using a strategic change management process, which engages all staff.


The goal of a Strategic Enterprise Office is to help the organization manage projects successfully in today’s complex, global marketplace. Managing projects across departments, locations and countries is best managed through a Strategic Enterprise Office, as it will hold the responsibility for ensuring consistency in the management of all elements of each of these projects. The successful management of these projects has a direct impact on the success of the organization, its customers and its resources.

Michael Stanleigh

Michael Stanleigh, CMC, CSP, CSM is the CEO of Business Improvement Architects. He works with leaders and their teams around the world to improve organizational performance by helping them to define their strategic direction, increase leadership performance, create cultures that drive innovation and improve project and quality management. Michael’s experience spans public and private sector organizations in over 20 different countries. He also delivers presentations to businesses and conferences throughout the world. In addition to his consulting practice and global speaking he has been featured and published in over 500 different magazines and industry publications.

For more information about this article you may contact Michael Stanleigh at mstanleigh@bia.ca