How to find the best EPMO Manager

The EPMO plays a critical role in an organisation and the demand for their skills is growing by the day. So how do you spot a great EPMO manager? We have put together a quick guide to help you find the best EPMO Manager by showing you the different types of EPMO managers, applying the EPMO manager competency framework and highlighting the most in-demand skills necessary for a successful EPMO manager.

The EPMO: A Critical Piece to Business Success

It is becoming more apparent than ever that PMOs play a critical role in business success through its optimization of processes, consistency in practices and strategic alignment. High-performing PMOs are even more valuable with a PMI report suggesting they are able to add three times more value to organisations than low-performing PMOs. EPMOs specifically are on the rise with Gartner predicting that 50% of large organisations will have EPMO hubs by 2021.

PMI report suggests that there are three main factors that differentiate normal PMOs from high-performing PMOs: their ability to create efficiencies that drive organizational change, employ project and portfolio management practices strategically, and critically,  focus on talent management and improving the role of project management within the organisation. A high-performing EPMO starts from high quality EPMO team members.

EPMO Manager Competency Framework

An EPMO manager is tasked with managing and running an EPMO that oversees all kinds of responsibilities from strategic alignment of projects and portfolio activities, establishing and maintaining enterprise  governance structures, and performing portfolio management activities. 

How to find the best EPMO Manager

To properly factor in this range of responsibilities, PMI propose a EPMO manager competency framework that  is divided into four competency area:

  1. Project Management competencies
  2. Functional competencies
  3. Core competencies
  4. Personal competencies

Project Management Competencies

PMBOK identifies 10 core project management knowledge areas – project integration management, scope management, time management, cost management, quality management, resource management, communication management, risk management, procurement management and stakeholder management. 

It is important for an EPMO manager, who is meant to inform the overall enterprise-wide project and portfolio related activities, to be knowledgeable in all these key areas. This not only enables them to communicate effectively with on the ground project managers, but also translate all this data to the C-Suite and inform strategic decision making processes.

Functional Competencies

These competencies are tightly linked to the specific industry or the line of business of the organisation. To drive the strategic objective of a large multinational telecommunication organisation would require an EPMO manager with knowledge and expertise within that specific field. With this contextual experience, an EPMO manager can identify key opportunities and implement strategies on par or better than industry standards.

Core Competencies

These competencies are closely linked to leadership qualities. Though these are highly dependent yet again on the nature and context of the organisation, there are certain base competencies to look out for in your future EPMO manager that include:

  • Effective communication skills
  • Problem solving and decision-making skills
  • Strategic focus
  • Committed to developing self and others
  • Innovation-centric approach

Personal Competencies

Great leaders don’t just have great leadership skills. It is often leaders with a positive mindset and behavior that are able to stay motivated and achieve success. Based on these ideas, Faridoon (2014) developed four main behavior competency factors:

  • Positive energy/attitude
  • Their willingness to drive happiness
  • Social engagement
  • Enthusiasm for others

EPMO managers are constantly working with people across the entire organisation and engendering a sense of integrity, trust, and trustworthiness is critical to giving the EPMO activities more credibility and support.

What are the most in-demand EPMO Manager skills?

Though PMO managers and EPMO managers may have certain overlaps in skills, these are the most in-demand skills for EPMO managers specifically.

Stakeholder Engagement and Management

As the strategic hub of the organisation, the EPMO is constantly engaging and collaborating with a wide range of stakeholders. Being able to properly identify key stakeholders, determine their needs, communicate the right expectations and mitigate any ongoing issues in the most effective way is a critical task of an EPMO manager.

Portfolio Analysis Skills

Having an accurate understanding of the condition of the organisation’s portfolio(s) is critical for the EPMO to be agile and successful. Though PPM software tools  like pmo365’s portfolio analysis tool have advanced greatly to the point of having complex calculations like Monte Carlo simulations and predictive analysis tools readily available at the tips of your fingers, just having the data is meaningless if you cannot derive value from it. Great EPMO managers will be able to convert these high quality insights and analysis into value-adding actions and projects that help achieve the organisation’s strategic objectives.

Business Management and Processes Knowledge

Tasked with spearheading not just project process change but also business process change, EPMO managers would benefit from being able to understand the ins-and-outs of an organisation. This helps them identify the most dire processes that need improvement and allows them to achieve genuine results that take into consideration the broader organisational context. Having an understanding of general business processes and management practices allow EPMO managers to also implement new emerging practices effectively into their own unique contexts.

Project Management Skills

Even with a more strategic and high level focus, EPMOs still handle a lot of general PMO tasks such as maintaining project governance structures, optimizing resource and scheduling management, streamlining reporting tasks and improving overall enterprise wide project-related practices. Successful EPMO managers know what it takes to be a good project manager and how to give them the right environments to flourish.

Leadership and Communication Skills

Being a successful EPMO manager is more than just numbers and analytics. Some argue that soft skills are equally and sometimes even more important than technical skills alone. One of the most critical tasks of an EPMO manager is getting buy-in from all members of the organisations – from senior management all the way down to the every day project managers. If EPMO managers do not exude the leadership and integrity needed to take ownership of enterprise-wide initiatives, teams are less likely to fully support and invest in the EPMOs activities.

Coordinating initiative across the entire enterprise means endless communication. But many underestimate what it means to be an effective communicator. An effective communicator is able to relay information clearly, concisely and effectively to the necessary parties. They make sure to not only talk but to properly listen. Make sure you get an EPMO manager who knows what it means to be an effective communicator.

Start building up your EPMO dream team with pmo365

Our team is all about building the most successful EPMOs out there. If you are just getting started on your EPMO journey, make sure to check out our roadmap to setting up an effective EPMO. If you are a veteran EPMO leader looking for way to take your team to the next level, make sure to chat directly with our PPM experts and find out how pmo365 can elevate your PPM activities

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