National Scientific Non-Profit

Enterprise Program Management Office

Building a Program Management Office for a Non-Profit


A prominent nonprofit chemical information organization was struggling with the ability to execute on its strategic vision. The strategic vision was built on moving from an operations focused environment into an innovative new product development organization. The organization faced several challenges in making this transition. The corporate culture valued a work/life balance that resulted in many senior employees accustomed to supporting the limited products in production. Collaboration and communication among functional areas was limited. Projects were started but did not deliver the defined scope on time or within a set budget due to lack of visibility and accountability across the organization.  The organization recognized the value of Project Management and knew it was needed across the strategic programs, but was unsure of how to successfully implement a standard approach across the organization.


Navigator Management Partners used its proprietary Beacon methodology to deliver the right amount of project management for each project, regardless of its phase in execution. The initial goal was to provide a repeatable process that introduced measuring, reporting, and accountability to the organization. An inventory of all active projects was created and those that did not align to the strategic vision were closed. The organization recognized the value of having cross functional representation of project management across the strategic projects. As a result, Navigator was asked to manage multiple programs and projects while leveraging the Beacon methodology tools and templates to implement an Enterprise Program Management Office (ePMO). The ePMO roadmap was developed with four key phases, designed to first address the most critical needs of the organization.

In phase one, the ePMO focused on establishing governance and identifying key templates. To begin, an Executive Business Sponsor was identified for each of the strategic programs to drive accountability and remain aligned to the strategy. Steering Committees made up of cross functional executives were created to guide and redirect when projects needed. Recurring steering committee updates were scheduled to provide reporting of project progress and confirm direction at key stage gates. As projects began to evolve a change request process was implemented to drive understanding of costs and schedule impacts throughout the organization. For the first time in the organization’s history, project budgets were created with a bottom up approach. 

Cross functional project teams were assembled to develop a project plan that was representative of the work and resource needs. In developing the project teams a RACI chart was built to identify areas of collaboration and responsibility across the organization. Creating dedicated project teams allowed for a sense of urgency and teamwork to be fostered that drove project deliverables and timelines. 

Key templates were provided from the Navigator Beacon methodology to leverage sample documents and templates (e.g. business case, project charter, RACI charts, alignment charts, change requests, agendas, and minutes). This avoided spending valuable time and effort to create documents that did not work together. Having the Beacon methodology applied across the organization allowed for a rapid deployment of needed documents to support processes put in place. In addition, the methodology was used to develop key processes that supported the maturity of project management within the organization while providing the opportunity for it to grow.

The second phase of the ePMO roadmap focuses on providing an executive level dashboard, demand and capacity level planning and improving the business case development process. The third phase of the ePMO will focus on alignment with the core strategy and identifying areas where Subject Matter Expertise is needed. The fourth phase of the roadmap focuses on benefit realization with an emphasis on value.


Engaging Navigator to establish an ePMO allowed the organization to meet key delivery dates of new products into the marketplace. Using a balanced dose of project management on each of the various sized strategic projects allowed the organization to recognize the benefits of having the “right-sized” level of project management focus on each of the strategic projects. Recognizing the value of stage gating projects and validating the benefits before undertaking the costs allowed the organization to confirm benefits existed before spending resources. Successful strategic projects, from initiation to closure, require a team that is fully engaged, share a common vision, deliver clearly defined business results and serve as a template for collaboration throughout the organization. The ePMO's strategic project portfolio execution is transforming the operational culture from divisional silos to a high performing functional organization. Using the Navigator Beacon methodology allowed the client to benefit from a defined repeatable process that can be scaled to meet the needs of different sized projects. Developing proper communication channels early in the process allowed the organization to escalate and address cross functional issues in a timely manner. Risks were addressed in a proactive nature instead of the reactive approach which typically resulted in the creation of issues.

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