Disciplined EPMO – How to Establish an Outcome Driven EPMO 4/18 Q&A

Disciplined EPMO Blog Questions 4-26-17


On April 18, 2017, I presented a webinar entitled: Disciplined EPMO: How to Establish an Outcome Driven EPMO.  I unfortunately didn’t have enough time to answer the great questions that were received, please find the question and answers provided below.

Q: In this model, in your experience, does the EPMO rely on project managers to help fulfill its mission and if so – have you encountered resistance to the very idea of project managers in agile from some quarters?

A: Typically, an EPMO is staffed with more senior type roles. In many cases, it is a program manager type role. It can be filled by PM’s if the organization is accepting of their skill set and the experience needed to fulfill the role. EPMO’s don’t have to be large, you can typically get away with 2-3 people for a 200-250 project organization. If you don’t have an established EPMO the role could be assumed by PMO or any organization willing to fill the role.

You may see some resistance depending on the culture in place within an organization. Assess the value areas presented and determine if there are gaps that an EPMO or equivalent can fill.

Q: If you streamline the Project Approval process, aren’t you welcoming a flood of work to the delivery team that will likely great exceed their capacity to deliver?

A: Streamlining the approval process doesn’t mean putting aside due diligence, and not all projects can be fast tracked. Pick and choose the projects that can be well defined for fast tracking (they do exist) get them approved and moved through the process. This would reward those collaborative teams that work hard to nail down scope, cost and timing. This also helps those projects that not well defined to follow the full process.

Q: How do you throttle the work similar to moving the right amount from the Product Backlog to the Sprint Backlog.

A: Capacity, Schedules, and Demand all should to be factored into the thought process. It starts with the Product and Technical Roadmaps being stitched together and then understanding C/S/D and building a prioritized plan. Adjustment can be made at regular or emergency intervals as needed. The EPMO can play that key bridge role on ensuring that proper prioritization is agreed upon. That agreement will assist in what can or cannot be throttled and then placed in the backlog for grooming and ultimately delivery. This can also translate in to the Release plan that can provide tracking data to leadership.

Q: Question about defining a project and project size.  Is there a minimum size that constitutes a project? 

A: It’s tough to answer this question because it is really varies by organization. In my last organization, it was predicated on hours, anything over 120 hours was considered a project. Some orgs define a “project” as anything that has an assigned Project Manager. Some define it on financial sizing. The key is ensuring that there is some set of agreed upon criteria that defines what work flow a work entity should take – Project or Other.

Q: Regarding the rapid approval steering idea- how do you factor in capacity and WIP limits

A: There are numerous approaches to factoring capacity and WIP. I’ve worked in companies that before strategic planning is complete around the turn of each year you look at your carry over projects and determine remaining hours, budget, timing and factor that into your strategic plan.  This ensures that All WIP work is evaluated and scheduled Capacity should be factored throughout the planning and monitoring process, it needs to constantly be assessed and reassessed.

Q: Is it possible to get this PPT?

A: The link is provided in this blog

Q: Who are best people to work in EPMO team? Coming from pm background or IT and technical?

A: I believe that it is a combination of those skill sets and having some business savvy as well. For example, I have process, SQA, PM, Agile, Process Engineering and consulting skills. In the DA world it could be a Release, Portfolio, Product, Governance type roles. Remember PM’s can be technical

Q: Can you give a more tactical example of Outcome vs Output vs Benefit

A:  One of the projects our EPMO was measuring involved making dramatic changes to our voice and data systems to provide more information to the responding call center rep to improved Avg Call Handling Time (AHT). We had a set of voice components that translated to outputs, had to build some metrics around amount of AHT savings that could be realized and committed to, and we tracked the project over 6-9-12 months to see if be achieved those thresholds. At the end of the project we assessed our achievement to goal.

Q: Have we missed the business road map as part of the area of focus?

A: If you look at the DA 2.1 Map and look at the Portfolio and Product Management areas as it discusses a business roadmap. This roadmap combined with a technology roadmap should build the workable components of a plan. In many organizations, most of that type of planning is fed by a corporate based strategic plan. I covered that very briefly during the webinar and could have spent thirty or more minutes just talking about the strategic plan. I may follow up within the blog on Strategic Planning.

Q: What’s the equation for calculating value? It’s especially hard to arbitrate value across competing businesses.

A: This is one of those it depends on the organization questions, there are very formal Benefit/Outcome Management views to determining value. There is a well written paper by Gerald Bradley called “Benefits Realization Management” that provides a great overview. I’ve attached a copy of a great overview diagram for benefits value.

Benefit Value Model

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