Erase the Electronic Divide

EPMOs Are Ideally Positioned To Help Organizations Become Digital—And Sell Digital

By Abid Mustafa

The digital revolution is forcing organizations to digitize or risk extinction. They face two simultaneous and daunting challenges: become digital and sell digital. The former is about changing ways of working, while the latter is about offering new products and services to end users. Enterprise-wide project management offices (EPMOs) are uniquely placed to spearhead both aspects of the digital transformation journey.

Here's why. The term “digital” means different things to different departments. For instance, marketing is concerned with monetizing digital technologies, engineering equates digital with the cloud and operations views digital as paperless instructions. Bringing a common understanding to the corporate audience requires an enormous communication and education effort. Because it develops relationships with multiple departments, the EPMO is adept at helping to forge a common vision.

Becoming digital entails changes to facets including processes, tools, customer experience, key performance indicators, talent management and data interpretation. Leading centralized cross-functional transformation programs is right in EPMOs’ sweet spot.

Additionally, selling digital necessitates changes to the product and services portfolio, which can work only if the organization possesses the capabilities to deliver and support the new offerings. All too often, companies fall into the trap of moving to sell digital products without undertaking the necessary internal transformation to support such a strategic move.

For these reasons, selling digital and becoming digital should be executed as a single program. Again, the EPMO possesses the right credentials to lead the execution of both facets of the program, provided active C-level sponsorship underpins such endeavors.

Even if an organization gets the digital portfolio right, and it builds the right digital platforms to deliver and support such products and services, a lackluster customer experience undermines benefits. It's easy to see how siloed departments can produce a fragmented experience for the customer. For example, a customer buys a smartphone online and it arrives on time. But she is unable to make a phone call, and when she contacts the company, the call center agent is unable to recognize her as a customer.



Bringing a common understanding to the corporate audience requires an enormous communication and education effort.

Allowing individual departments to design their customer experience is a recipe for a dreadful overall experience. EPMOs are experts at coordinating and integrating customer requirements among different departments. Their stakeholder management skills are second to none. All this ideally positions EPMOs to manage delivery of the end-to-end customer experience.

Companies have no choice but to transition into the new digital world. EPMOs must strive to put themselves at the center of this transformation. PM

img Abid Mustafa has worked with project management offices for 10 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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