You may be wondering what is the desired relationship between an organization’s senior leadership team (SLT) and its enterprise portfolio management office (EPMO)? The attributes of such a relationship should include open and timely communications, consistent decision criteria and clarity of business objectives, roles, and decisions.

Open and Timely Communications

Open and timely communication is key to the success of any relationship, including the relationship between an organization’s senior leadership team and its EPMO. Confidence and trust are only cultivated through openness and honesty. An effective enterprise portfolio management office will be prepared to resolve conflicts in a timely manner, efficiently relay critical information to relevant parties, make sure information was received and understood and provide the tools to increase understanding when necessary. From training programs to budget concerns, being honest and keeping communications as timely as possible is the best way to ensure a successful relationship between these two critical teams.

Consistent Decision Criteria

In order to ensure a consistent framework for decisions, which in turn fosters a healthy relationship between an organization’s senior leaders and its EPMO, it is essential to first develop a strong set of criteria and metrics. It’s equally important to apply those decision criteria consistently. Ideally, the decision criteria is established after determining the organization’s mission-critical goals and objectives and weighing each one by its value to the company. After choosing a set of criteria based on the most vital goals and objectives, it will then be possible to align each of these criteria to the potential benefits it represents for a given program during the decision-making process. The final step is developing a set of metrics to support these criteria during the life cycle of the project / program / portfolio.

Clarity and Transparency

Clarity and transparency are two different, but similar, concepts that each have their place in the relationship between a firm’s senior leadership team and its enterprise portfolio management office. The EPMO must be clear about its practices, and senior leadership must be clear about the company’s goals, objectives and leadership roles. Transparency in the decision-making process is also essential to achieving the kind of trust and confidence that is necessary for all successful professional relationships. With transparency, members of the senior leadership team are able to make their inputs, outcomes and processes completely visible to the necessary stakeholders. This is needed to foster the kind of open communications all organizations should be striving for.

Clarity, on the other hand, is about reducing confusion and complexity by making information completely clear and digestible to the other party. This does not necessarily imply complete transparency, though. An EPMO might be very clear about its inputs and outcomes, for instance, without making all of its processes transparent to the senior leadership team. Depending on the situation, one might be more appropriate than the other, but without either, facts are replaced by speculation and assumptions creating a foundation for miscommunication and finger pointing neither of which fosters a successful relationship between your senior leadership team and your enterprise project management office.

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of the enterprise portfolio management office’s relationship to its senior leadership team. With consistent decision criteria, open and timely communications and clarity of business objectives, roles and decisions, however, it’s much easier to ensure a productive and effective relationship that contributes to the company’s success. This is worth investing time, money and effort into as the return is disproportionately high given the result that is an organization moving in the same direction.

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