Why EPM Live? Project Portfolio Management for Everyone!

One of the biggest and most important questions we get at EPM Live is “Why EPM Live?”  

EPM Live’s roots began in 1999 as consultants for Project Portfolio and Work Management solutions and implementations. We quickly become a Microsoft Gold certified Partner and Microsoft’s go to Technical Advisor. To date we have been a part of implementations in over 35 countries. We also have a global Partner Community of over 125 Partners in over 30 countries.

So Why EPM Live? Our solution is designed with usability in mind, EPM Live creates efficiencies and empowers resources to work smart and receive the highest ROI.

  • All Work , All Processes, One Platform – EPM Live is designed to manage all work in the truest sense. Organizations can now manage their projects, their products and their services as well as all other work in one platform without the need for integration. EPM Live software is built with industry best practices and supports all PPM methodologies. Learn More
  • Flexible Platform to meet  All Users, All Maturity Levels – EPM Live specializes in providing functionality aligned with user maturity, while leaving a high ceiling for growth and scalability. Individual silos can all use the same centralized system to manage varying projects and tasks. For instance, Marketing teams can leverage the simple scheduling tools to run marketing campaigns while product teams may use more mature agile tools to plan their iterations and releases and IT PMOs may need full blown scheduling engines to build out their plans. Regardless of the maturity, the tools are offered in EPM Live. Learn More.
  • EPM Live App Marketplace – Prebuilt Apps & Templates – The EPM Live App Marketplace for diverse organizational verticals is the 1st Work Management Platform leveraging build-to-order technology that extends Project Portfolio Management (PPM) to all areas of the enterprise regardless of work focus.  With EPM Live’s App Marketplace, organizations can build on their PPM solutions at their own pace to bring truly integrated work solutions to every team in the business including Sales, Operations, Application Teams, Product Development Teams, Service Teams and PMOs. Learn More.
  • We Support You – PPM systems are typically not simple and many times resistance follows due to forced processes, change and fear of the unfamiliar. EPM Live’s SharePoint base already contributes to less resistance and faster user adoption; however, we offer users many support formats to ensure users have what they need to continue to increase productivity with EPM Live. EPM Live has the following support tools offered to every user: Live chat, user forums, access to knowledge base (KB), online training, EPM Live University, how to videos, FAQs, technical blogs, phone support and email support. Learn More
  • The Power to Choose – While many PPM systems specialize in either online or on-premise solutions, EPM Live understands that there is no one size fits all solution or deployment option. EPM Live offers all deployment methods to support the requirements of all of our customers. EPM Live offers online, hosted and on-premise options as well as a dedicated environment offering. With EPM Live you are never locked into a deployment method, get started online and easily move in-house, deployment options will never be a limitation. Learn More

Want to learn more about EPM Live, try a FREE trial today or Request a Demo!

Not sold quite yet…

EPM Live PPM Briefing Series: We’re not Mature Enough for PPM! – Part 1

The EPM Live PPM Briefing Series with Harvey Levine continues with debunking the “Project Portfolio Management (PPM) maturity myth.” 

“We’re not big enough for PPM!” If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard this I’d still be very poor indeed. Yet, it irks me to hear this because it represents a disturbing misunderstanding of what PPM is and does. And how about, “We’re not mature enough for PPM?” Ditto! If your firm has perhaps a half-dozen projects, and has to deal with selecting and prioritizing among multiple requests for investments and resources, you will surely benefit from PPM. And, to use an overworked cliché, it’s really not rocket science.

This is not an issue of maturity. It is simply a question of “why are you doing projects?” Is completing your projects your terminal goal? Or are the projects a means to larger goals – goals that represent key success factors for the business as a whole?

Now surely you’ve seen this before: “The  five  phases  of  project  management  are  as  follows:  initiating,  planning,  executing,  controlling  and  closing.” Really? Is that all there is? Well, the answer can be yes if projects are your terminal goal. The statement is true if your entire horizon is just to take a project from start to completion. And for many of us, that’s what the job is. And, also for most of us, this narrow vision of projects is short-sighted, as it does not do anything to assure that our projects deliver the maximum benefits from our limited resources.

Today’s management thinking has expanded beyond that. It would have us consider how the project got into the mix in the first place, and what benefits it produced for the firm. So our lifecycle has expanded to deal with this new reality. The Project Portfolio Life Span extends well beyond the project lifecycle, to include Identification of Needs and Opportunities, & the Evaluation and Selection of projects, on the front end, and the Realization of Benefits at the other. So the five phases of Project Portfolio Management are:

  • Identification of needs and opportunities
  • Selection of the best combinations of projects
  • Planning and execution of projects
  • Product launch (acceptance & use of deliverables)
  • Realization of benefits

This is not an issue of level of maturity. It’s an issue of making projects count.

Let’s examine for a moment why this expansion of scope is so important. Look at your group of currently active projects. Have you ever wondered how some of these became projects? How were they chosen? Why were they chosen? What benefits are they delivering to the firm? Are some of these questionable projects siphoning off critical resources from other more important work? What strategic initiatives do they support?

And even if the projects pass this test, there are still other considerations.

  • Are some of these projects in distress?
  • Are they sliding out past the time where their deliverables will no longer be needed or as valuable?
  • Are they building up cost overruns that will make it impossible for the project to come anywhere close to the target financial performance?
  • Are they running into technical problems that will compromise meeting product standards and performance targets?

And these projects go on – continuing to drain valuable and limited resources? And why? Because there are no practices in place to evaluate these projects for their ability to produce the intended benefits. And there are no policies in place to delay, modify, or terminate projects in stress.

Do your systems and practices address these conditions? There is a simple, structured way to deal with these issues. It’s called Project Portfolio Management (PPM). And, even if your company and project load is small, if you’ve had to deal with these issues, then PPM is for you. You are more than ready for PPM.

Harvey A. Levine, with 50 years of service to the project management industry, is a pioneer in the field of Project Portfolio Management (PPM). Mr. Levine is the author of three books, and over 275 articles, whitepapers and videos on Project Management. His 2002 book, “Practical Project Management: Tips, Tactics, and Tools”, is still available from John Wiley & Sons. Mr. Levine’s 2005 book, “Project Portfolio Management, A Practical Guide to Selecting Projects, Managing Portfolios, and Maximizing Benefits”, Jossey-Bass, is a Wiley best-seller. Mr. Levine is past president and chair of the Project Management Institute (PMI®) and a PMI Fellow. For more information on Harvey please visithttp://theprojectknowledgegroup.sharepoint.com. 

Kames Capital Implements EPM Live PPM To Improve Productivity and Maximize Efficiency

EPM Live recently sat down with our valued client Kames Capital to discuss their EPM Live implementation and the benefits they are now receiving leveraging our powerful PPM and Work Management platform.

Based in Edinburgh and London, Kames Capital manages £50 billion of assets (as at 31 March 2012) and benefits from the financial backing from being an integral part of the AEGON NV group, one of the largest financial services groups in the world with around 31,500 staff worldwide. Kames Capital manages fixed income, equity, property and multi-asset investments for individual and institutional investors in the UK, Europe and Asia. With a rich history, Kames Capital goes back a long way – to 1831. In fact, in the subsequent 180 years, Kames Capital’s goals have remained steadfast and simple – to be global in their perspective and deliver consistent success for their investors.

Prior to implementing EPM Live, Kames Capital resource managers met monthly to review all incoming resource requirements and align supply with demand. This process was handled through an Excel spreadsheet that covered three main areas: 

  • Project Detail – a universal look into all projects, the resources assigned and the resources still required to execute the project successfully
  • Staff Detail– resource details including resource names, projects assigned, skill set, hours committed and available hours
  • Programme Summary– programme information including description, programme type, and overall supply and demand for each programme

Kames Capital turned to EPM Live to assist them with implementing an automated process to improve their manual resource management efforts that currently were resulting in a total time of 1 day per month per project manager.

Leveraging EPM Live’s powerful Resource Management capabilities, Kames Capital was able to create global visibility into all resources to make better resource management decisions for a more optimized portfolio and allocation. They were able to implement a standardized process which eliminated previous manual processes and rework. With EPM Live, our customers receive real-time and accurate reporting; this allowed Kames Capital stakeholders to reduce risks, time, overages and labor costs.

By levering EPM Live’s SaaS solution, Kames Capital now has shortened deployment cycles, expedited ROI realization and no costly infrastructure.

EPM Live proved to be a powerful tool for Kames Capital as they now have a successful automated resource management processes creating efficiency and maximum resource allocation across the organization. 

EPM Live Transforms the Future of PPM Work Management- Introducing EPM Live 4.3

EPM Live is proud to unveil the future of PPM Work Management…….EPM Live 4.3  You have patiently waited and the time is now, the future is here!  We have all heard the term “Work Management” in the space for quite some time but once you dig into it a bit further, most vendors who have promised Work Management to organizations can only come through with new task types that are labeled after various types of work found in organizations today.  The truth is Work Management is much more than a task type, it’s work that affects your bottom line and in turn assumes resources, costs and time.  For that reason, EPM Live is the true Work Management platform that brings all this work together into one system.   This work is just as valuable as project tasks and requires the same disciplines to manage it.  Click here for the latest news on the 4.3 release!

EPM Live transforms the way organizations manage this work by applying key disciplines based on the area of work focus.   For example, if you have Service Management Requests, you will most likely have a process that surrounds them.  Assignments, reports, SLAs, work logs, workflows, and customer collaboration functionality must be introduced.  EPM Live brings the entire infrastructure of how Service Management Requests are handled within your EPM Live environment.  It’s not a task type, it’s a new line of business.  A new line of business that can be built, without coding, by your own resources, right on top of your PPM solution.  Now, image that power at your own fingertips including all the work found in most organizations today; the time for change is now.

EPM Live 4.3 is nothing short of a revolutionary movement.  This release is a game changer for the PPM Work Management industry for many reasons:

  • EPM Live officially transforms the way organizations manage projects and work by bringing all work efforts together on one platform without the need for integration. Imagine having one system for applications, services, projects and other work so your resources can focus on getting the work done and not tracking the work in multiple line of business (LOB) systems.
  • EPM Live is the first build to order PPM Work Management platform that allows organizations to build their own customized Work Management solution by adding and adopting functionality as they need it without the need for coding or additional consulting fees. Imagine the various needs you may have had to date to add various types of work to your PPM system such as service requests, timesheets, bug lists, etc.  Now you can, and with one click of a button!  Add it as you need it!
  • EPM Live is the first to bring the power of complete, integrated Work Management Apps to your Project, Portfolio and Work Management solutions.  EPM Live’s App Marketplace brings competitive advantage to all organizations by allowing them to efficiently and cost effectively bring PPM disciplines to every aspect of their business.  Build it as you need it and enjoy it for FREE, just because you are an EPM Live customer.  Imagine downloading functionality that may typically come with a price tag of 200 additional dollars per user and have it automatically integrate into your current PPM Work Management platform within seconds.  Sounds pretty amazing to me!
  • In addition to the above, EPM Live has many more new enhancements and features that make our daily workload easier to manage.  From new scheduling tools, to enhanced user community tools, to additional reporting options, to many more feature improvements, EPM Live is a powerful platform you will not want to go without any longer.  Try it Now for Free!

Contact us now and find out why industry analysts everywhere are raving about EPM Live and it’s vision to change PPM Work Management forever!


EPM Live's Project Portfolio Management Software Receives Recognition from Projectmanagementbestsoftware.com!

Well it looks like we’ve done it again, EPM Live receives another stellar project portfolio management software product review! Project Management Best Software recently released their product review for EPM Live highlighting the powerful components that make up our project software. 

“EPM Live has a very complete offering, it can support the casual PM requirements of small companies or independent consultants (thru ProjectEngine at no cost) and it can grow and support the Enterprise Project Management requirements of mid-size and large organizations (thru either WorkEngine or PortfolioEngine).” – Project Management Best Software

Here at EPM Live we strive to make the best project management solution to make a Rockstar out of you and this review helps to solidify our efforts! EPM Live was also recently named a “Challenger” in Gartner’s 2012 Magic Quadrant for Cloud-Based Project and Portfolio Management Systems. As the only “Challenger” highlighted by Gartner we were noted for our great strength in exploding onto the SaaS market. 

Project Management Best Software creates unbiased product reviews for online project management organizations.

This review comes on the horizon of  EPM Live’s latest release – EPM Live 4.3. We are very excited about the new features and functionality and EPM Live App Store. Stay tuned for more information! 

EPM Live Resource Management in SharePoint

Proper Resource Management is vital to the success of any project. The ability to deploy employees effectively against often conflicting projects and other work priorities enables organizations to optimize their return on human resource investments. In order to maximize both task throughput and company morale, resource and project managers need an efficient system to place the appropriate staff on the right teams at the right time.


Microsoft SharePoint is a widely used collaborative platform that is commonly deployed for content management and general collaboration. EPM Live’s adds additional value to your existing investment in SharePoint by providing enterprise resource management tools and capabilities right in a SharePoint environment.

EPM Live can help organizations accomplish every stage in the resource management life cycle so that maximum allocation can be reached without introducing risks. The five stages of the resource management life cycle are:

• Resource Capacity
• Resource Allocation
• Resource Work Management
• Resource Collaboration and
• Resource Task Management

Capacity Planning helps to ensure that resource capacity meets current and future business requirements in a cost-effective manner.  In the Capacity planning stage you will need to identify all the roles needed for the given project or work effort at hand.  For example, which organizations or departments will be involved in your project?  This will help you establish the structure for your project and potentially how your tasks will be organized and even identify security constraints.  What disciplines and skill sets are required to complete your project?  Without the proper skill sets and expertise, particular tasks may require more training, longer term times, possibly even result in rework.   Effective resource management relies on the fact that these factors have all been considered prior to selecting your resources. Once you have determined your generic roles, you will need to determine the quantity of each role needed as well as the timeframe.  As this information is obtained, you will then be ready to analyze your plan, make adjustments and prepare for actual named assignments.  Let’s take a look at how you can accomplish Resource capacity in SharePoint.

1)  Build a resource plan directly in EPM Live:







2)  Use a resource modeler to perform what-if analysis, finalize portfolio selection and apply the right sequencing.







3) Leverage resource capacity reports built to analyze your current resource needs and all potential risks associated.









To see how you can leverage EPM Live to manage the remaining four stages of resource management, download our “Resource Management in SharePoint” on-demand webinar by clicking on the link below.

View Resource Management in SharePoint- On-Demand Webinar

EPM Live Takes a Look at the 2012 Olympics – The Ultimate Project?

Just like many of you, I’ve been trying to keep up with the 2012 Olympics. I love watching all the best athletes in the world compete for the gold. The Olympics is a massive production with endless details ranging from Olympic hosting bidding wars to volunteers to designing and constructing the award podiums. Through all the excitement and controversies I can’t help but think about Project and Portfolio Management (PPM). Is the Olympic production the ultimate project?

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is the paramount authority for the Olympic movement. The IOC governs all parties in the Olympic family including the National Olympic Committees (NOCs), the International Sports Federations (IFs), the athletes, the Organizing Committees for the Olympic Games (OCOGs),  the top partners, broadcast partners and United Nations agencies. Just from this point of view there are 7 different planning committees responsible for governing different projects and tasks that have to work together and be able to share information, resources and report on financials.

Here’s a few of the 2012 Olympic project items the Olympic Committees had to manage:

Project Start dates:

July 2003 Countries began submitting bids to host the 2012 Summer Olympics.

July 2005 final selection made.

2005 – 2012 venue planning and construction.

July 2012 games begin. 

Project Execution Dates:

July 25th – Aug. 12th


The 2012 Summer Olympic Games is using a mixture of new venues, existing and historic facilities, and temporary buildings designed only for the Olympics equaling a total of 43 venues spread throughout the UK.


£9.3 billion of public sector funding ($11.5 billion).


240,000 applications received in 2010, and an estimated total of around eight million volunteer hours will be clocked during the 18 days of the Olympics.


Roughly 10,000 officers will be used and supported by 13,500 members of the British Armed Forces, Royal Naval and Royal Air Force.


8 million tickets available for purchase.

Total Medals:

A total of 4,700 medals have been produced.

Countries participating:

204 Countries represented at the games.

Olympic Athletes:  

Around 10,500 athletes will participate in the 2012 Summer Olympics.

Sports involved:

36 Olympic Sports

Each of the above categories needs Project Portfolio Management (PPM). A strategic plan must be in place to manage all the resources, costs, issues and risks, plus time and reporting. Without proper PPM could the Olympics be doomed? I think so!

Project Portfolio Management (PPM) is a set of business practices that bring projects together into tight integration with other business operations synchronizing strategies, resources and executive oversight. PPM provides the structure and processes for project portfolio governance. Without a suitable PPM system any project of this magnitude would be impossible. EPM Live provides one of the most robust solutions on the market today; it makes PPM easy even for an Olympic committee. In 2010 EPM Live donated project software to The Special Olympics World Winter Games Committee. EPM Live helped them improve their project management by allowing each venue to manage their tasks independently and had the ability to report their project status to one enterprise site. 

As the games begin to wind down for spectators a huge project is just beginning for another Olympic sub-committee, the closing ceremony. Can you imagine the detail and planning that will have gone into the closing ceremony? I can’t wait to see it in all its glory but what will be most impressive to me is the evidence of all the hard work and project planning. 





Create Powerful PPM Metrics – EPM Live Can Help!

Every project an organization initiates needs to prove its value in order to be considered a good investment.  Often employees and organizational departments are evaluated in the same manor. As a project manager the task of showing executives and stakeholders metrics that are useful and meaningful can often be a daunting one. Metrics from the project management office (PMO) should demonstrate more than just a measurement of project milestones they should provide senior management with a gauge of the actual effectiveness of the PMO operation and serve as a tool for better stakeholder communications.

Good metrics are used to prove the value of current projects, past projects and future projects. They prove PMO value and inform executives with meaningful accurate information. However there are some concerns when it comes to presenting metrics. Even though they can be well intended they can fall short to reflect any worthwhile connection with the overall objectives of the enterprise or shareholder values, the presenter could choose metrics that are easy to obtain rather than be accurate or relect purposeful data often resulting in meaningless information to business leaders. And sometimes the selected metrics don’t identify or clarify issues that are driving current performance.

So next time you go to pull metrics to present to business leaders keep these 6 key steps in mind for powerful analysis of PMO metrics:  

1. Know your audience. You’ve heard that saying many times before and in this case it’s an important note. Define who you’re concerned parties for the initiative are so you are able to successfully demonstrate the purpose and objective values. 

2. What is the senior management buy-in? For metrics to be effective and useful, they must have a senior management buy-in. It’s important that the presenter ensure that top-level executives have some investment in the metric. Make it short, sweet and to the point. And make sure your goals are factored into the presentation so you are able to make your case for funding and proper resources to ensure the initiative is carried through to its optimal conclusion. Paint the picture for them; articulate the anticipated outcomes in management language, not “IT-talk”. Plus once you land one senior manager you will probably be met with less resistance up and down the management chain.

3. Properly assign sufficient resources to collect, analyze and react to metrics. They are of no value if no one has the time or inclination to collect them.

4. Show sufficient training and education is available for resources involved. Many times everyone assumes that training and education are of second nature and a built-in part of the initiative which can result in a lack of ownership of the project and inhibit optimal results.

5. Ensure there is a set of organizational standards for approach to PMO measures and metrics. If there is no overall methodology consistency different individuals could choose whatever approach portrays the most favorable results for them. This ensures that all measures are looked at and talked about in a similar language.

6. Keep metric definitions simple and open to external comparisons. Organizations that hit the highest project achievement levels and have the highest leadership support behind their various metrics and initiatives are those that are able to present simple metrics and include external comparisons. External comparisons allow the presenter to show some level of objectivity in their metrics.

One last note is to keep in mind if your not accurately tracking your metrics then all of the above will that much more difficult to achieve and present to your business leaders and your first order of business should be to petition for a Enterprise Project Portfolio Management tool that will harbor all the metrics you need with added reporting features to increase value to your presentations and over all quality to your projects. Leveraging a quality PPM tool gives you a competitive advantage with your project planning, execution, resource management, time management, cost management and reporting. EPM Live offers a Free Trial of our Project Software, click here for more information.

10 Reasons Projects Fail – Achieve Success with EPM Live PPM

EPM Live has been conducting a series of blog posts about Project Portfolio Management (PPM) and through its analysis it brings up points about project constraints and issues that can lead to project failure.  There are no risk-free projects, period, but there are key indicators and best practices to give you the advantage of avoiding a failure.

A project’s planning and strategy is only as good as its execution – you goof up at any stage and it can lead to catastrophic effects. Old school practitioners often argue that success and failure are relative terms when it comes to project execution. What classifies a project as a mediocre success in one company might be treated as a marginal failure in another. The barometer to measure a project’s success is simple – it should satisfy the business requirements of primary stakeholders on time and within the allocated budget.

I believe that the following 10 reasons are the most common causes of project failures in the software industry.

1. Ambiguous Requirements

Ambiguous and unclear requirements are a prefect recipe for disaster for any project. Even worse, the longer it takes to get the ambiguity resolved, the costlier it gets. Ideally, such concerns should be addressed during the project planning stage as any spillovers to subsequent stages can be fatal to the overall success of the project.

2. Poor Stakeholder Involvement

A project’s success is the collective responsibility of all stakeholders. If any of the primary stakeholders shy away from their responsibilities, it can put the project’s future in jeopardy. Stakeholders’ influence on a project is undeniable. If stakeholders only get involved during the latter stages of a project, it can lead to significant delays and additional costs to cater to their change requests.

3. Unrealistic Expectations

While it’s important for stakeholders to collaborate for a project’s success, a “please all” approach which sets unrealistic expectations will only lead to problems. Project Managers are often under severe pressure from clients and senior management to get projects delivered as quickly as possible. Compromising quality to cut down on time doesn’t work and is bound to backfire at some stage or the other.

4. Poor Management

A team is only as good as its manager and vice-versa. If a project is poorly managed, corrective action should be taken or else the project is destined to be a failure. Tasks should be properly delegated and monitored; any delays should be escalated to all stakeholders as soon as possible. Managers should have a contingency plan in place if things don’t quiet go as per the original plan.

5. Poor Staffing

You can’t fit a round peg in a square hole. Resources with inappropriate skills may increase a project’s headcount but they serve as liabilities rather than assets for a project. The 2+2=4 rule doesn’t always work in project management; it can often be 2+2=3 or even 2+2=1.5.

6. Poor Teamwork

Even if you have rock star programmers and best in the class project managers, a project’s fate is uncertain if the individuals fail to deliver as a team. Friction and differences of understanding between team members hamper the overall morale of any project.

7. Forever Changing Requirements

There’s often no end to a customer’s wishlist of features. However, not all the features for a project are equally critical. It is very important that all features for a project be clearly identified as must have, should have, could have and won’t have. The project’s requirements must be frozen during the planning stage and any deviations should follow a standard change request management procedure.

8. Poor Leadership

A Manager should lead by example. If the leadership is poor, it affects the morale of the team. Being a Project Manager isn’t the easiest job in the world, but then that’s why many project managers are well respected and well paid.

9. Cultural & Ethical Misalignment

In today’s age of globalization, having cross-cultural and geographically diverse teams collaborate on a project is more of a norm, rather than an exception. While cultural and ethical challenges can be difficult to tackle, the team must work on the single objective of making the project successful. A time zone, geographical, cultural and ethical differences don’t matter – what matters is the project!

10. Inadequate Communication

It’s often said that no communication is far worse than miscommunication and software projects are no exception to this rule. Communication is the lifeline of any software project – be it between customers and other stakeholders, manager and developers, developers and testers, or the team as a whole. Crisp and clear communication is an absolute must.

A failed project does no good to anyone. With meticulous planning and methodical execution, a company can minimize the risks involved in a project and ensure that it will succeed. One last common factor in project failure is scattered processes and a lack of centralized information and collaboration. Solely working from excel and email have proven to be timely and costly with project planning and execution. Provide your organization and project teams the tools they need to be successful. Selecting the right project software not only gives you a competitive advantage in today’s market but it gives you all the tools and best practices to keep your thumb on the pulse of all aspects of the project. Recently recognized by Gartner Inc.in the 2012 Magic Quadrant, EPM Live offers one of the most robust Enterprise Project, Portfolio and Work Management systems on the market, try your Free Trial today!

EPM Live PPM Briefing Series #4: Establishing the PPM Selection Criteria

In today’s post of EPM Live’s PPM Briefing Series, Harvey Levine speaks more to the selection process of project portfolio management and how to avoid project failure. 

The ranking and selection of projects necessitates the creation of a set of evaluation criteria. Without this, the process can easily become subjective, rather than objective, and the entire foundation of PPM falls apart. The entire idea is to promote a logical and orderly basis for selection, removing the personal biases that often permeate the process. All too often, a project gets into the system and is approved based on a chance meeting of a couple of people at the water cooler. One of them has an idea. The other, a management-level person, thinks it’s a great idea, and, boom, it‘s a project. No proposal. No business case. Takes resources away from more important projects. Guaranteed failure. This is what we are trying to avoid with PPM and it works.

The selection criteria represent a measurable expression of the goals of the portfolio. The criteria should be organized along the lines of the PPM triple constraint, with divisions for strategic alignment, benefits (value/risk), and resource impact. The best expression of criteria would provide a descriptive narrative for each criterion item, a range of values (with a description of each) and a weight factor defining the relative importance of each criterion.

In practice, the proposed projects are first scored on a pass/fail basis. That is; a pass rating allows the project to be put in a hopper of qualified projects, which would later be ranked or prioritized using the criteria and weight factors. A pass rating signifies that the proposed project meets the minimum requirements for supporting and balancing the strategic, benefits, and resource demand elements of the criteria.

In the ongoing process of PPM, the criteria are updated in conjunction with the periodic update of the strategic and tactical plans, and are published to those involved in the project proposal and selection process.

Just what is it that gets evaluated against the selection criteria? In most situations, the project sponsor should prepare a business case. To allow a rational evaluation, the business case should address each of the criteria areas. This motivates the sponsor to ask some hard questions – questions that are often pushed aside until commitments are already made and money is down the drain.

As originally conceived, the evaluation process starts with the review of a proposed project against the published criteria. In practice, I found that a significant portion of proposed projects were so “off-the-wall” as to be quickly get tossed in the “fail” bucket. What a waste this is! Who knows how many hours were put into a non-qualified project proposal, especially if a full business case was prepared? Now, here’s where the published criteria earns its keep.

I recommend a “pre-proposal” phase. The project sponsor, working with the published criteria, performs a self-appraisal of the proposal against the criteria. This is done using early-stage, rough data, prior to investing in a full-blown business case. If the sponsor is being objective and honest, the proposal can be scrapped if it is way out of line with the criteria, or tweaked to be more in line with the alignment and benefits expected. If the preliminary proposal is passed on to the review team, it can be evaluated and either denied or approved for the purpose of investing in building the full business case.

Here is a graphic view of how the process works:

  • Project Screening & Ranking – Step 1

When a sponsor proposes a project it gets reviewed against increasingly expanding criteria. If the proposed project is to be considered it is initially checked against published strategies and available (critical) resources. If the proposal “qualifies” a business case is prepared for the next level of review.



  • Project Screening & Ranking – Step 2

The business case defines all aspects of the project. It demonstrates how it supports strategic and tactical initiatives. It calculates expected ROI. It modifies ROI based risks. It expresses the “value” of the project. It outlines impacts on resources. 



  • Project Screening & Ranking – Step 3
  1. The PPM administrator in the Project Management Office (PMO) applies ranking criteria to establish priorities along all proposed projects. 
  2. Based on the priorities and the available skills and resources, top-down trial allocations are made. Preferred, high-value projects are allocated available resources until the capacity limits are reached.
By mandating structured data models, for the business case and the value calculations, all of the data can be entered into the PPM software system in a consistent manner. The robust PPM system provides clear pictures of resource impacts and supports real-time, what-if analysis.
Harvey A. Levine, with 50 years of service to the project management industry, is a pioneer in the field of Project Portfolio Management (PPM). Mr. Levine is the author of three books, and over 275 articles, whitepapers and videos on Project Management. His 2002 book, “Practical Project Management: Tips, Tactics, and Tools”, is still available from John Wiley & Sons. Mr. Levine’s 2005 book, “Project Portfolio Management, A Practical Guide to Selecting Projects, Managing Portfolios, and Maximizing Benefits”, Jossey-Bass, is a Wiley best-seller. Mr. Levine is past president and chair of the Project Management Institute (PMI®) and a PMI Fellow. For more information on Harvey please visit http://theprojectknowledgegroup.sharepoint.com.