Targeting program management

Robbins-Gioia LLC this week announced a product and services offering designed to help organizations create an enterprise program management office (EPMO) that suits their needs.

An EPMO acts as a central point of contact and oversight for enterprise programs and projects in an organization.

"Program management has always been a core offering [for the company], but has never been 'productized' before," said Patricia Davis-Muffett, vice president of marketing at Robbins-Gioia. "This pulls together an offering to build an EPMO for our clients."

The company is offering three options for building an EPMO.

* The first is an assessment of an existing EPMO or of organizationwide practices.

* The second is implementing an EPMO in a small to mid-size organization (with about 750 employees or fewer) where a single EPMO can handle all initiatives.

* The third is creating a full EPMO organization for larger organizations to tie together the program management office infrastructure.

Prices start at $50,000 for the first option, $500,000 for the second and $750,000 for the third.

"For an EPMO to be successful, it has to be institutionalized," said Laura Nash, a vice president at Robbins-Gioia. For this to happen, "we find we have to mentor the staff to get them up to speed and get people used to doing things in a new and repeatable way."

More and more federal agencies are embracing the idea of an EPMO, Nash said. "The reason we're seeing this increase is that agencies are being held more accountable. They know they won't get additional funding for projects unless they demonstrate success," she said.

The Customs Service is one agency that has developed an EPMO to oversee its 10-year modernization program, she said.

Ideally, an agency should pilot the concept of a program management office if it doesn't already have a benchmark in place, Davis-Muffett said. "We want to make sure we don't build an infrastructure for an entire enterprise that hasn't been tested for that environment," she said.

Robbins-Gioia is well positioned in the market, said Anna Danilenko, a program manager at market intelligence and advisory firm IDC's consulting services program. "One of the competitive advantages is they are project management experts," she said.

Although the Robbins-Gioia announcement has an element of marketing and repackaging, the company's competitors are likely to follow suit with a similar offering, Danilenko said. "I think the company could be considered a market-maker."

The timing appears right. Government and commercial organizations are realizing the importance of program management, she said. The dot-com bust showed "investing without thinking" is a recipe for disaster, Danilenko said. In addition, organizations are facing a "complexity crisis and need to manage it." The Navy, for instance, hopes to decrease its 20,000 different applications into a more manageable number as it rolls out the Navy Marine Corps Intranet. "Project management expertise is an imperative," she said.

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