Verifiably True

EPMOs Aiming To Independently Assess Project Progress Can Encounter Unfamiliar Territory

 
Voices | INSIDE THE PMO

By Abid Mustafa

Enterprise project management offices (EPMOs) need to go beyond aggregating information if they wish to add real value to the executive reporting process. Traditionally—or stereotypically—EPMOs have collected project updates from project managers and folded them into reports prepared for the C-suite. But some offices are taking more proactive stances, challenging updates and independently verifying facts to ensure accuracy, and even critiquing project plans when necessary.

When such an EPMO is tasked with monitoring projects beyond the organization's regular terrain, tricky challenges can arise. Construction projects are a case in point. With nearly all economies now steadily expanding, more large organizations also are undertaking projects to build new gleaming headquarters and satellite offices. Unlike traditional corporate projects, real estate work is conducted at remote sites. This is problematic for EPMOs looking to assess project progress independently from company offices.

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One solution is for EPMO team members to conduct scheduled site inspections or, alternatively, to hire independent site inspectors to do so. But contractors can stage site conditions. Likewise, unannounced inspections can be of limited value. One might be able to spot potential problems, but contractors might become obstinate and refuse to share vital information. The EPMO staff can end up with an incomplete picture of the project's status and challenges.

INSPECT THE UNEXPECTED

This is where drones can prove their value. Equipped with a plethora of sensors, they can carry out announced as well as unannounced project site inspections. Drones can transmit regular photographs as well as thermal images, and also facilitate video conferences with site project managers. Real-time relaying of information can make drones indispensable for validating project updates and understanding how and why things might be going wrong. All of which can enable EPMO staff to fully verify information before presenting project updates to executives.

Leery of extra capital expenditures, some organizations might shy away from deploying drones in this manner. But it's worth noting that over the long run—beyond a particular project timeline—their business case can turn out to be extremely positive. For instance, during the construction phase, drones can help to secure the project site, reducing the need for security personnel. And when buildings are handed off to operations, drones can be too. They can undertake regular safety inspections and perform other facility management, enabling them to continue delivering value to the organization long after the EPMO looks to them for answers. PM

img Abid Mustafa has worked with project management offices for 11 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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