Regular checkups




To keep ahead of the constant changes in the healthcare sector, the world-renowned Mayo Clinic is relying on robust project practices led by its enterprise portfolio management office (EPMO).

Teresa Knudson, PMP, launched the EPMO after years of working with senior leaders to develop project management practices. Four years later, the prognosis is good. The EPMO has provided better oversight of the project portfolio, greater transparency over project progress, and a formal structure for portfolio and project management that ensures these processes align with the clinic's strategic goals, she says.

“In the past, everyone adapted project management to their own needs. Now we use A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) and internal and external best practices as a basis for our project management practice,” Ms. Knudson says. “This hybrid approach has allowed us to follow a common methodology, structure and processes in all areas of our organization.”

What was the EPMO's initial mission?

Our first goal was to gain a better awareness of the projects that were underway and ensure that they were properly aligned to our organizational objectives.

We had an initial listing of about 26 projects, but those were only the ones requiring US$5 million or more in capital investments. After interviewing managers across the organization, we discovered there were more than 400 projects ongoing. Some were listed twice, by different stakeholders; some were listed as active even though they were completed; and other projects had the same goals but were being delivered multiple ways by different teams.

It became obvious very quickly that we needed better oversight.

How did you increase oversight?

We broke the portfolio of 400 projects into eight enterprise portfolios that corresponded directly with Mayo Clinic's leadership structure. Doing that created instant transparency. With the new portfolio system, every project must align to one of the eight portfolios to indicate ownership and to ensure that we are investing our resources in the projects that provide the most value to our patients. This streamlines and reinforces both the ownership and approval processes, and avoids projects working around the system.

Has the organization's approach to project approval shifted?

In the past, there were various avenues for project approval and funding, with inconsistency in the decision-making. When we introduced standardized processes, the number of new projects seeking approval dropped from about 80 to about 40 in the first year as project sponsors realized the need for more information to support their business case. Leadership, in turn, had a better understanding of the projects being proposed, which helped the prioritization and decision-making. As a result, 16 of the 40 proposed projects were approved.

Now there's much more visibility and structure. Everyone completes the same four-page project charter document that includes core data about the project goals, value, alignment with strategic plans, objectives, risks, and required costs and resources.

For us, the best approach was to utilize a top-down implementation process that focused on the portfolio management needs of our senior leadership.

What advice would you offer other organizations about launching an EPMO?

As you begin, keep it simple. For us, the best approach was to utilize a top-down implementation process that focused on the portfolio management needs of our senior leadership. This provided immediate value to our senior leaders, who have since been able to reinforce its use across the organization.

The most important advice, however, is that you need to continually look for ways to provide the most value to your organization. This requires a good roadmap that is updated regularly, continual learning, and the ability to evolve and improve. PM




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