Are you ready to implement an Enterprise Project Management (EPM) or a Project Portfolio Management (PPM) solution?

To EPM or Not to EPM -

Michael Davis, PMP, ITIL v3, GWCPM - Links OpPap (Opinion Paper) / Blog)
Topic: Enterprise Project Management (EPM) / Project Portfolio Management (PPM)
Author: Michael C. Davis, PMP (, ITIL v3, GWCPM
November 17th, 2016

If you say you are ready to implement an EPM / PPM solution, let us define ready.  Ready can mean a lot of different things.  It could mean you or someone from your company heard the buzz words of EPM or PPM and thought it would be a cool thing to do.  It could also mean you have corporate / management support, understand the real benefits of enterprise project management or project portfolio management and what it takes to implement.  You may even be somewhere in the middle.

Before I get started, let’s make sure we are all on the same page when we talk about EPM or PPM.  I snagged both definitions of EPM and PPM from the trusty Wikipedia site.

Enterprise Project Management (EPM) – Source: Wikipedia, in broad terms, is the field of organizational development that supports organizations in managing integrally and adapting themselves to the changes of a transformation. Enterprise Project Management is a way of thinking, communicating and working, supported by an information system, that organizes enterprise’s resources in a direct relationship to the leadership’s vision and the mission, strategy, goals and objectives that move the organization forward. Simply put, EPM provides a 360 degree view of the organization’s collective efforts.

Project Portfolio Management (PPM) – Source: Wikipedia, is the centralized management of the processes, methods, and technologies used by project managers and project management offices (PMOs) to analyze and collectively manage current or proposed projects based on numerous key characteristics. The objectives of PPM are to determine the optimal resource mix for delivery and to schedule activities to best achieve an organization’s operational and financial goals, while honoring constraints imposed by customers, strategic objectives, or external real-world factors.

Now, on to the show…

Too many times a great sales person puts on an incredible show of bells and whistles of the latest ‘solution’ to real business problems dealing with high project workloads and resource management.  The problem is that for the most part, once the smoke clears from the fountains and sparklers, most people walk out saying ‘we have to have that’.  What they may have missed, or even it may have be omitted from the demonstration, is the amount of work that must occur by your IT department, resources, project managers, resource managers and executives to make ALL those pretty blinky lights blink and dashboards dash.  This is why I ask if you are ‘ready’.  To have a usable EPM or PPM solution you must put stuff in to get stuff out and that stuff must be good stuff.  Otherwise garbage in, garbage out.  That good stuff mentioned includes but not limited to:

  • Executives activating projects using a pipeline with appropriate budgeting data and customer completion expectations.
  • Resource managers properly balancing their resources and assigning to projects.
  • Project managers loading and maintaining project schedules with resources and baselines
  • Resources entering / tracking their time against the projects (if time tracking is required).

There are a bunch of back end things to consider as well. Who will gather the requirements of the solution that you want to implement.  In many cases I have seen consulting companies do this for businesses however this may become a never ending dependency (YAY FOR THE CONSULTING COMPANY).  Who will administer the solution (User management, infrastructure hardware and software, adding / changing the solution based on new or changing requirements).  Don’t freak out though, you just need to pick your starting point.  Start with identifying the business problems you are trying to solve?  Here are some typical business problems many businesses face when considering an EPM or PPM solution:

  • We need to be able to make accurate data driven decisions related to our projects.
  • We don’t have a good way of knowing if a project is truly on budget and / or on schedule.
  • We don’t have a good centralized way of knowing the health of an individual project the portfolio of projects.
  • We don’t have a good way to be able to prioritize projects.
  • We don’t have a good way to know a project is about to be in trouble until it’s too late.
  • We don’t know if our resources are over or under allocated.
  • We don’t know which resources are available for projects.
  • We don’t have an easy way to report on projects or the resources assigned to them.

I could go on and on based on my experience with several solution rollouts with different companies.  Just like when selecting a car to buy, it’s always best to know what kind of car you really need before a car sales person talks you into what they want you to buy.  So with that being said, MAKE SURE to define your business problems FIRST before you say you are ready for an EPM or PPM solution.  You also need to know what stuff you expect to get out of a solution before trying to determine what to make it look like…. BLINKY LIGHTS!  Don’t let yourself get caught up in all the ‘COOL STUFF’ a solution can do, because not all of it could be what you TRUELY need.

There are a lot of companies and solutions out there, so make sure to shop around with your business problem list and any requirements that you may have already gathered.

I am available to help with making that first step before you really make it. I’m kind of like a crawl instructor with graduation being that first step.  Please feel free to contact me using my contact form on

Thank  you for taking the time to read this OpPap from (Michael C. Davis, PMP ITIL v3, GWCPM)

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