Are You Ready for Enterprise Project Management?

By Neil Stolovitsky


Have you outgrown your existing project management practice and tools? Many high-growth organizations often find themselves in this situation where the incoming project pipeline quickly overwhelms their existing project management expertise and practice. With a growing portfolio, project information becomes increasingly scattered pushing the capacity of resources beyond their limits to effectively execute high quality results. Moreover, the project management leadership inherits the responsibility of project delivery without the appropriate tools and processes in place to deliver the desired results demanded from their stakeholders. Consequently, these organizations arrive at a fork in the road and are faced with the decision to either scaling back their project intake to align with their current capabilities or change their approach to adapt to their current enterprise needs by adopting an Enterprise Project Management (EPM) system for success.

For project-centric organizations looking to incorporate an EPM strategy in their practice, it is recommended to adopt a top down approach in which the organization as a whole is plugged into the improved ways of tracking, accessing and sharing project information. Enterprise Project Management takes a holistic approach to managing all projects within an organization with great consideration given to their impact on the people, processes and corporate objectives. The idea is to develop a project management environment where projects are not treated based on individual merit, but as a group of interrelated goals that are linked to a single group of people with finite availability and talent.

This article will help organizations identify the common characteristics in their project management practice that confirm their readiness for EPM and provide basic guidelines to successfully reach the maturity required to improve their project management practice.

Defining Enterprise Project Management

Not to be confused with Project Portfolio Management (PPM) which primarily focuses on a top down approach analyzing/tracking “groupings” of projects as a whole, Enterprise Project Management (EPM) take more of a bottom up approach focusing on a single project’s success within the context of all other competing projects and resources. Meaning, the focus on successful scheduling, planning, execution and delivery must carefully consider the success of all projects impacting an organization.

Although there are a number of definitions that detail the meaning of EPM, I believe the following definition provides the essence of what EPM should deliver to an organization:

“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.” (Source: Wikipedia)

At the core of EPM, project-centric organizations need to implement a holistic approach of managing projects within the context of all the activities that are being performed. That being said, a successful EPM strategy includes enterprise wide buy-in, inclusive processes and a far reaching EPM platform to deliver the 360 degree view across the organizations. The goal of Enterprise Project Management should be to transform your project management practice into a formalized process with a well defined governance framework along with best practices guidelines to effectively deliver multiple projects in a streamlined manner.

Implementing an EPM Strategy for Success

Implementing a successful EPM strategy is much like preparing an adolescent for adulthood. A “Pre- EPM” organization is in many ways like a teenager that may have the ability to deliver “adult-like” results as long as there are not too many obstacles thrown in their way. However, like many adolescents that do not have the “life experience” to manage highly stressful situations, the limited tools at their disposal will fail at a certain point. Hence, implementing a successful EMP strategy will require the education, the tools and adopted maturity by that organization to make the transition from successfully delivering in a basic project environment to a more complex environment that deals with unexpected changes and competing factors requiring a strategic approach to managing projects.

Implementing an EPM strategy demands careful planning and analysis of your organization’s current situation including a deep dive into what works and what hurts your projects and organization as a whole. Like any important project, successfully implementing EPM means building a blueprint that will detail short terms, mid-term, and long terms goals. For most, transitioning to an EPM system requires a lot of effort in nailing down the processes and prioritizing the best delivery of these processes that will impact the organization in the most effective manner. Organization’s need to ask themselves where does the biggest pain lie. Is it lack of visibility to make informed decisions? Are resources stretched to their limits? Perhaps the lack of access to information is causing issues? At any rate, prioritizing these challenges and laying it out in an achievable plan in phased manner will mitigate the shock of change and set your organization on the right path to EPM maturity.

To effectively implement an EPM strategy you may want to consider the following four steps:

  • Step 1 – EPM Definition – the purpose of defining EPM within your unique context and the roll out strategy of the different pieces of this approach is to ensure that the objectives of the implementation is in line with the overall process of all stakeholders.
  • Step 2 – Build a Plan – Once EPM is clearly defined, a detailed plan of the major tasks need to be detailed and documented. This step in the plan is the roadmap for getting the EPM strategy in place covering the people, process and technology responsible for its success.
  • Step 3 – Stakeholder Involvement – As part of the implementation, the organization needs to clearly define the roles and training necessary for all involved stakeholders, along with a communication plan to ensure that the EPM strategy is ready for roll out. At the same time, during this step the drivers of EPM can identify any missing gaps that can impede the adoption of EPM.
  • Step 4 – Implementation Requirements – In this final step the organization needs to develop a list of specific requirements and phases that the organization will agree upon. This purpose of this final step is to establish a realistic agreement among all parties so that the final expectations of the EPM strategy are defined and met.
    In the final analysis, if the implementation EPM strategy is carefully laid out and the appropriate parties are involved in its development from cradle to grave, the challenges to adopt an EPM strategy will ultimately be minimized.

Identifying “EPM Readiness”

Many organizations are too late in discovering they are ready for enterprise project management. Like many businesses, initially project management is a means to an end to either deliver what was sold to customers or to deliver the infrastructure to keep up with a growing business (as is the case with IT). In a typical reactive mode, those “running” the projects quickly realize that they cannot keep up with the pace and are faced with the reality that a change to their ad-hoc project management processes need to mature in order to deliver the quality results that both customers and internal stakeholders demand. At that point, many organizations will go into the marketplace and seek out project management technology to solve their issues. Although recognizing their growth and taking this first step toward a more mature practice, technology is only one piece of the EPM puzzle. The fact is the best EPM technology can fail without a well-defined EPM process and organizational buy-in to drive its success.

In order to take a more proactive approach to streamlining your project management practice, consider the following “EPM Readiness” checklist:

EPM Readiness Checklist

  • Does your organization have a growing portfolio of projects impacting the bottom line?Do not wait until your project pipeline becomes unmanageable. If you are in a high growth industry where projects are central to your success, you may want to incorporate an EPM strategy earlier (rather than later) when your projects are manageable making the transition much smoother.
  • Does your project pipeline exceed the abilities of your current resource pool?

    The moment your pipeline of projects are quickly approaching your capacity of resources and EPM strategy needs to be considered. People are the cornerstone to successful projects and preparing your EPM resource plan before it becomes an issue can avoid future losses in time and money.

  • Do you leverage any industry best practices (e.g. PMI)?

    Getting ready for EPM means you need to build a project management best practices approach to delivering projects. Formalizing your approach to project management builds the ideal culture for the success and adoption of EPM in the organization.

  • Do you have a formal process and/or governance framework in place?

    Establishing a formal process and/or governance framework builds the structure to support an EPM strategy. Furthermore, a framework should engage the whole organization so that the holistic philosophy of EPM is setup for success.

  • Are your existing tools and technology falling short?

    Probably the best indicator you need to look at EPM solutions is when your existing tools lag in delivering the information to effectively hit project timelines and manage your distribution of work among resources.

  • Do you have executive buy-in for change?

    With the introduction of any new EPM process or technology the change management question cannot be ignored. Including a change management component from the top down can mean the difference between successful organizational adoption and the failure of EPM.

Neil Stolovitsky is a senior solution specialist at Genius Inside. Genius Inside Genius Inside was founded in 1997 to address a need for project management software for the IBM Lotus Notes market. Genius Inside has also been offering its on demand solution since April 2008. With offices in Europe and North America, supported by a network of resellers worldwide, Genius Inside now has over 55,000 end users and over 600 customers worldwide. Genius Inside has been a recognized IBM Partner since its founding and has received numerous certifications.

Genius Inside not only provides powerful project management software but also an expertise in project management best practices.

Dedicated to Delivering the Best On-Demand and Lotus Notes Project Management Software Genius Inside’s mission is to make project managers’ lives easier by improving project selection, planning, staffing, execution and tracking with our easy-to-use and powerful project management solutions.

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