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Pepijn Wyffels image

Pepijn Wyffels, Head of Otago’s Enterprise Project Management Office. The EPMO has been recognised for its stellar performance, helping the University maximise benefits from our building, IT and transformation projects.

Our highly ranked Enterprise Project Management Office has been recognised yet again, as a national finalist at the Project Management Office (PMO) of the Year award.

The three other finalists for the first PMO of the Year award since the COVID pandemic began in 2020 are:

  • Christchurch City Council
  • Foodstuffs South Island
  • New Zealand Defence Force Defence Estate and Infrastructure

Because the past few years have posed significant challenges, the awards aim to celebrate PMOs that have not only conquered these challenges but also accomplished extraordinary feats in project delivery, says the Project Management Institute New Zealand (PMINZ).

For the PMO of the Year, the award aims to recognise a PMO that has successfully managed the maturity of its employer’s projects, programmes (related projects grouped to maximise their benefits) and portfolios (all the projects an organisation’s decision-makers have prioritised to be considered, planned, or implemented).

The award will be presented at the 2024 NZ Project Management Conference awards dinner on 22 February.

Not the first time

Our Enterprise Project Management Office (EPMO) has also been independently recognised for making our University among the best of its kind worldwide at choosing building, IT and transformation projects that will benefit us the most, then managing those projects so they produce the expected benefits.

Our EPMO, set up in 2018, achieved that in only 3.5 years, with only 20 per cent of globally benchmarked organisations reaching that level in six to eight years, said the independent report by Crystal Consulting in 2022.

Rigorous portfolio evaluation methods – used to recommend how decision-makers should prioritise potential and actual projects – were among the most sophisticated, yet value-providing, the assessor had ever seen, the report said.

Our EPMO was assessed against a leading international model of best practice – Axelos’ P3M3 (Portfolio, Programme, Project Management Maturity Model) – and when benchmarked against similar education and academic organisations globally, scored significantly higher in all 21 elements.

When compared to the New Zealand state sector, it scored significantly higher in 20 of the 21 elements.

Otago's EPMO has a lot to teach other organisations about being value-driven, the report said. Support from the top level of an organisation is a “clear contributor to the success of any project management office”, while individual managers and practitioners across the University have a “high level” of capability and competency.

The independent assessment also included projects delivered by Property and Campus Development, Information Technology Services, and Continuous Improvement.


Chief Operating Officer Stephen Willis says the present and past staff in our EPMO have helped us “make the best use of our limited resources in a transparent way, so people know why projects can proceed, why they must wait or why they cannot currently be considered in the foreseeable future.”

“It also ensures we take consistent, robust and detailed approaches to analysing each potential project and the benefits it should produce, then measuring those benefits.”

“I’m incredibly grateful for the way its efforts are helping to achieve our University’s goals,” he says.

The EPMO is part of the Operations Group, which has three top priorities:

Enable – the University to achieve its vision and mission.

Engage – with our students, each other, and our customers externally.

Experience – of our students, our customers, and externally to be outstanding.

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