Project Management Institute

Mutually beneficial



It can be a struggle for enterprise project management offices (EPMOs) to stand out. For one thing, the EPMO is very similar to other PMOs in the organization: The staff has the same project management credentials as the staff in the finance PMO or the technology PMO. Some EPMOs aim to differentiate and improve the office by pushing staff to acquire more certifications, but that's not the only way to make a mark. Forging partnerships with external organizations is a great way for EPMOs to bolster their project management credibility.

There are three types of indispensable partners for EPMOs: knowledge partners, academic partners and industry partners. Each type can benefit the EPMO.


A knowledge partner such as PMI, Association for Project Management or Global Alliance for Project Performance Standards can prove invaluable to EPMOs.

But this relationship must go beyond the formal mechanisms of engagement, such as professional certifications or education. The relationship must explore deeper levels of engagement so that the EPMO, the company and the knowledge partner all benefit. The knowledge partner can assist in developing techniques that are the best fit for the EPMO's practices.

For instance, as technology continues to evolve, project management techniques quickly become outdated and new practices are required. If your EPMO comprises remote teams and employees who travel frequently, a knowledge partner like a tech company could offer advice on tools to help keep the team connected.


Building a relationship with a leading university can benefit the EPMO by keeping the office on top of the latest trends in project management. University research programs in particular are well-equipped to provide such guidance on a regular basis, while the EPMO offers a real-life environment for students to study.

Say your company is consistently failing to deliver projects, even though it has well-defined portfolio and project management capabilities. You can bring in postgraduate students to problem-solve. With access to the EPMO's data, the students could evaluate the issue and offer possible solutions.

Everybody wins in this scenario: The company can resolve a big problem at a low cost, the students complete research work, and the university could leverage its relationship with the company to possibly attract brighter talent and industry funding.


There is nothing better than pairing up likeminded companies to share best practices related to project management. This type of partnership offers a sounding board or mentorship kind of relationship. For example, the EPMO might provide overall management of a complex transformation program, while the industry partner could deliver the specific business solution.

PMI's Global Executive Council is a great example of a forum to meet other companies interested in deeper forms of engagement, such as exchange visits, to explore mutually beneficial topics.

Once the partners are on board, spread the word. The EPMO can publicize its newfound partnerships through press releases, internal communication and informal exchanges with fellow employees. This will give the EPMO greater visibility among peers. PM


Abid Mustafa has worked with project management offices for eight years. His book In the Age of Turbulence: How to Make Executive PMOs Successful is available in paperback and on Kindle.

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