Free EPM Live White Paper – PPM for the Enterprise, Whose System is it Anyway?

My co-worker recently released a white paper that takes an in-depth look at the many factors to consider when assessing your PPM (Enterprise Project Portfolio Management) needs across your organization. She brought up the point that more often than not financial constraints or time to market requirements outweigh the critical need to truly understand and evaluate the original need for this organizational change. The most common mistake made in PPM deployments is the inability to define all stakeholders, their challenges, their tools and processes, and most importantly their current state of organizational project management maturity.

An effective strategy for PPM implementation addresses all of the following areas:

– Who will be using the system?
– What are their current PPM challenges?
– What tools and processes are they using today?

Very similar to branding, knowing and understanding your target audience will undoubtedly result in higher user adaption, leading to overall acceptance and maximized ROI.

Here are 5 components that were covered in the white paper and definitely should be considered if you are looking to implement a PPM solution within your organization:

1. Overcome Common PPM Deployment Challenges:

  • One solution rarely fits the needs of all users
  • A PPM system rarely accommodates all other work that affects your project resources
  • PPM systems seldom represent a complete portfolio, making visibility into all investments impossible

Every user within your organization will have different needs. As you can see from the challenges mentioned above, it is critical to accommodate and meet the needs of all users within your project AND work management tool. As you begin discussions of building a solution for your organization, don’t forget to consider all users that will eventually play a role in acceptance and usability.

2. In order to make a deployment successful you must know and understand your audience:

  • Who will be using the tool?
  • What challenges are the users facing with their current processes and toolsets?
  • What benefits are expected out of the tool for each of the user roles?
  • What capabilities are needed to ensure this application will meet the user’s needs?
  • Where does each user fall in organizational project management maturity?

As you can imagine, there are many more questions that can be asked to help you define a detailed business-specific design that is right for your organization. Other areas that must be considered in design include integration, demand management, workflow and governance and general collaboration needs. As questions are answered and more questions are generated, make sure you are considering every user and every maturity level. The level in which you capture data can vary, but ensuring that the system is built to make it easy to capture data COMPLETELY, across all projects and work, is critical for visibility and accuracy.

3. Deployment Tips:

  • Define your audience
  • Qualify expertise of each individual user
  • Define the vision: What is PPM?
  • Understand the business and challenge any assumptions being made
  • Focus on pain points
  • Focus on strengths
  • Consider those not present
  • Review risks
4. PPM Branding:

It is absolutely critical that we sell the PPM brand to our organizations before we begin implementation. We all must brand ourselves, our skills and our business! A brand must bring consistent value to its audience. PPM is an essential brand for organizations to enforce that will ensure the right projects are being completed at the right time within the given budget. Let’s not forget the critical output of any project…increased value.

5. How EPM Live aligns to Address Today’s Challenges:

EPM Live is built with the user in mind. If management cannot get the end users to use the system, the system will not be a success. For this reason, EPM Live has been designed to take into account all the various users that will be using the tool. EPM Live understands that in order to have a truly successful PPM solution, you must accommodate all the work that affects your bottom line.  To do so, EPM Live has built a full PPM solution that brings all projects, all work, all products, all applications and all services together in one centralized location!  You have many options for all work management:  easily integrate with other LOB systems to bring all work together, retire legacy systems and migrate your business to EPM Live, or define your EPM Live system as an all work management system from the get go and leverage EPM Live’s free solution apps to get you up and running quickly. In many organizations it is common to track large IT projects within your PPM toolset.  Now, more than ever, it is critical to show all projects that are utilizing your organizations resources in the same tool.  You will always have large and small projects, seasoned and unseasoned Project Managers, and work coming in from every corner of your organization.  If you are putting in $2m into your organization every year, every piece of that investment should be included in your PPM toolset.  Remember, there are tools to accommodate every user so user maturity should no longer be the excuse here.  EPM Live has made it easy for every organization to gain control of their project and work portfolios.  

For a more in-depth understanding and explanation of the components laid out in this blog, read the full, free, white paper here!

For more information on how the EPM Live PPM solution can help you meet your PPM needs contact us at or click here for a free trial

EPM Live Launches New Training University!

I am very excited to announce the launch of the EPM Live Training University! This online Learning Management System is truly unique in the way that is connects EPM Live customers to a virtual classroom where users can access all End User and Site Collection Admin (SCA) training for EPM Live Products.

EPM Live was recently highlighted by for its customer centricity vision. “With thousands of customers, we need to provide as many resources as possible to maintain user success.  EPM Live University was the next step in the process proceeded by our forums, live chat, videos, knowledgebase and tutorials.”

The EPM Live University, online Learning Management System provides users with seamless interactions between registering for instructor-led training webinar, on-demand video viewing, and reading written tutorials, without having to take extra steps through third party websites. Flexible and convenient, the EPM Live University is set to pave the way for standardizing PPM training systems and websites.

As the EPM Live Project, Portfolio and Work Management Solution continues to push the boundaries of traditional Project Management, we will continue to improve and drive the industry standard for customer  support to help them succeed with their work and project tasks.

To learn more, contact us at for more information!

Use EPM Live Wikis for Team Communication

Many of you will work in distributed teams where you have project team members located in a number of offices. This can be a real challenge for communication. Even a large team based in one city may not all share the same office space. How do you share knowledge with people who are not based locally, without expensive travel or taking time away from the day job to host knowledge sharing sessions? A wiki is one way to help tackle the communication challenge for distributed teams.  Read on to see how project management software can leverage wikis to improve project collaboration. 

‘Wiki’ comes from the Hawaiian word meaning ‘quick’. It also stands for ‘What I Know Is’. Essentially, it is a collection of linked web pages about a topic or series of topics. In project terms, you could have a wiki for a project, or your Project Management Office could set up an enterprise wiki at the portfolio level. Project team members can access the wiki, create new pages for new information or update existing pages with new information.

If that sounds complicated, it’s really not at all. If you can type a document in a word processing package, you can use a wiki. There is no complicated coding required and you can create, update and search pages straight from your web browser.

Wikis in practice

Let me give you an example of how this works. One project manager we know has created a project wiki. Her project is to implement a new IT system for around 2,000 staff, and the wiki is kind of like a Frequently Asked Questions database. Each time someone asks a question, a wiki entry is created, so that in the future other people with the same question can search the wiki and find the answer themselves – the idea is to take the burden off the project team and share information.

This project manager has also created a number of sections for the project team – technical information, data about server models and IP address ranges and so on. This is updated when the project team has new data, or when things change. As a result, they aren’t looking back through emails to find the latest situation, which is risky as they could pull up something that is out of date. The wiki gives everyone the same version of the project status.

Through their wiki, they have also created a great knowledge repository to hand over the operational team once the new IT system is live. Keywords on the wiki pages link to other pages, so the wiki has become like a little website in its own right. People can navigate around the wiki, clicking on topics to get more information, and this will be a great benefit to the IT help desk team when they have to take customer queries when the project goes live.

Working around the world

Wikis have another advantage for distributed teams. They are not synchronous communication. By that we mean that you don’t have to have people there at the same time, like you would on a conference call. Someone in the Sydney office can update the wiki and when the London team come into work later that day they have instant access to the latest changes.

Your project wiki becomes the first place to look for all the relevant project data, wherever you are in the world. Users can upload images, documents, other project artifacts or even videos so that their colleagues always have the latest information to hand.

Wikis allow you to search knowledge

Wikis typically have great search functionality, so you don’t have to worry too much about setting up a good information architecture to begin with. Pretty much the only rule is not to duplicate pages, so if you are going to give multiple people in the project team access to create new pages, ask them to check to see if something on the topic exists already before setting up a new page.

Of course, if you can add a bit of structure to your wiki, your project team will thank you for it later. Try to group relevant topics together, such as status updates and meeting minutes, and use hyperlinks on the pages to ensure it is easy for people to navigate between wiki entries.

A good way to do this is to add simple links to each relevant entry saying something like ‘back to all videos’, ‘go to main meetings page’ or similar.

Some wikis, like the functionality that comes with EPM Live Project Wiki’s, allow you to subscribe to updates through an RSS feed so that you can keep up with all the new entries, and click through to topics that interest you.







You’ll never miss any project updates again!

EPM Live Selected to Speak on Project Management Innovation at UCSD

It was an evening of Innovation and Inspiration for the MBA students at UCSD Rady School of Management as they gathered with the top INC 5000 companies in San Diego Tuesday evening.

The reception kicked off with a speech from Robert Sullivan, Dean of Rady School of Management. His excitement about the program and the future of these thriving minds was infectious. Dean Sullivan spoke about The Rady School of Management and their passion to provide an education for individuals seeking growth and professional success. Some of the statistics that were provided were astonishing.  Many of the Fortune 500 companies had 0% job growth in 2011 while many of the small businesses, inlcuding EPM Live, are topping the fastest growing companies charts while also being recognized as the innovators of today.  In San Diego alone, there are an average of 80 start-ups per quarter.  There are 6,000 tech companies making up over 4 billion in payroll.  Top sectors include tourism, military and technology. 

The Rady MBA program is unlike any other business school with its unique culture of innovation, it attracts individuals who are looking to challenge business status quo.  The students come from diverse professional backgrounds who share in the excitement of discovery and innovation. They recognize the growth of any industry, emerging and established, is led by those building bridges between business and science and technology.

EPM Live was amongst the few handpicked organizations asked to represent the most innovative companies in San Diego. Our story of innovation began as Project Management consulting firm who discovered the gaps in the existing PPM software market after completing over 500 PPM implementations.  With a strong customer-centric vision and a long history of experience, EPM Live analyzed the common challenges of our customers and began to develop what would soon become one of the industry’s leading Enterprise Project, Portfolio and Work Management solutions. Today we are a global leader and continue to push the boundaries of traditional project management with our cutting edge solutions. Specializing in bringing together All Users, All Work and All Process in one central location, EPM Live truly provides a project management solution for everyone in your organization.

“Thank you so much for participating in our annual Innovation and Inspiration event.  We have heard nothing but positive feedback from our students about the evening.  It was exciting to have a spotlight put on EPM Live. Certainly your story of success is inspiring to our MBAs who hope to be a part of a dynamic company like yours some day!” said Amy Nastase,  MBA Career Connections Assistant, UCSD Rady School of Management.

I think Bill Gates said it best, “As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.” The Rady MBA students were excited, ambitious and ready to dive into their next chapters of professional growth, wanting to empower business leaders and peers alike.

Learn more about EPM Live Project Management editions, read our blog and attend one of our FREE webinars!

Initiating a Project – 3 Common Mistakes that PMs Make Before a Project Even Gets Started – EPM Live Can Help!

Skipping important steps during the initiation phase can cause detrimental problems during the intermediate and final phases of a project. EPM Live provides true end-to-end solutions and tools for managing the project from the initial idea to the approval and final delivery. For example, the planning tools, project discussions, collaboration features, and document management capabilities in EPM Live provide the perfect platform for the initiation activities essential to project success.

Following are three common mistakes made by project managers during initiation.

  1. Neglecting to share the Project Charter Document with the entire project team.Giving all resources insight into the purpose and goals of the project gets everyone on the same page and improves the project’s likelihood to stay within scope and on budget. 

    A Project Charter Document outlines the project goals and objectives, sets the stage for what the project is intended to accomplish, and identifies what success will look like at the end. Keeping this document close at hand, posting it in a central location, and referring to it frequently during meetings will keep the project on track and remind the team about the priorities and the ultimate end goal. 

    How EPM Live helps with the Project Charter?

    I post the Project Charter in EPM Live and refer to it on the Project Home Page and in Discussions to ensure it is always available and visible to everyone involved.  EPM Live offers version control and check in and check out features to ensure continuity.

  2. Ignoring the need for a well-documented Communication Management Plan. You can never assume that everyone knows their role or how to best communicate with stakeholders. To avoid duplication of work, frustrated team members, stepping on toes, or poor communication due to misunderstandings about who’s doing what, it’s important to document, share, and perform communications planning up front before the project kicks off.

    A Communication Management Plan outlines information about meeting cadence, communication channels, contact information for all internal and external stakeholders and resources, and an escalation plan when issues arise. It’s important to make sure that the team reviews it and all stakeholders have signed off on it.

    How EPM Live helps with my Communications Planning?

    I also post the Communication Management Plan in EPM Live so it is stored in a central location and easily accessible to everyone.  I use the Project Home Page to post information about upcoming meetings, roles, and contact information. Finally, I love how easy it is to set up meetings and create contacts with details about their contact information and role right from within EPM Live!

  3. Skipping the formal Kick-Off Meeting. When rushing to begin a new project especially when timelines are tight, it can be tempting to save precious time and skip the kick-off meeting. Kick-off meetings set expectations, ensure everyone involved is on the same page from the get go, and lays the foundation for a well-executed project.  Some PMs may mistakenly opt to send a simple kick-off email instead, or worse swiftly dive into tasks and deliverables. You can never assume that everyone reads their email or knows where to go to get the latest information.

    How EPM Live helps with my Kick-off Meetings?

    In my kick-off meetings, I refer to the Project Charter and Communication Management Plan which I have posted in Documents on my EPM Live site. I also post the Kick-off Document so the team can review it before the meeting and refer to it throughout the project. I can set up the meeting directly from the Project Home Page, and make an announcement about it as well. I also explain during the meeting how the EPM Live project site works.

Ultimately, communicating with key resources early on ensures that the project plan will be something that everyone can stick to and that ongoing communication will be appropriate and effective throughout the project lifecycle. EPM Live is a powerful tool that helps PMs be effective and communicate during the ever-so-important initiation phase.

A perfect balance of scheduling options, project management best practices, collaboration tools and reporting provides a simple, yet powerful solution. EPM Live is available online and on-premise, and seamlessly integrates with other business productivity tools such as Microsoft Project, Outlook, and Excel.


6th Annual Birthday Bash for EPM Live CEO

At any given moment at EPM Live you can hear not only the pitter patter of fingers feverishly typing keyboards but you hear the waves of laughter filling our hallways and meeting rooms. The bond amongst EPM Live employees and management alike creates an environment for thriving minds to bounce ideas off each other and create new innovative ways to continuously push the boundaries of traditional Project Management. Everybody knows that when you work hard, you play hard and EPM Live is no exception!

This past weekend EPM Live employees gathered for the annual birthday celebration of our beloved CEO, Joe Larscheid. Joe is truly one of a kind and we all look forward to counting down the days to this celebration!








Just like our award winning software, EPM Live employees were “Ready to Rock!” as we gathered at Joe’s house ready to board our limo bus to downtown San Diego for a memorable night out on the town! 








No EPM Live event would be complete without dressing up like our favorite Rockstars, cue the picture of our Senior Product Developer, Senior Escalation Engineer, and CEO….  Gotta love it!   








It was an evening I know I will never forget and the opportunity to let loose with my colleagues outside of the workplace has brought a heightened comradery today around the EPM Live office. 

A note from Joe: 

“EPM Live appreciates that our team is  a set of true “Rock Stars” that set our company apart from the rest!  Our number one asset is our employees – they are the backbone behind the quality of products and services we are so proud of today!

To demonstrate their incredible loyalty and appreciation, each year the employees of EPM Live celebrate my birthday with a killer party encompassing all things rock star – with the main event including a limo bus ride down to an exclusive club in downtown San Diego.  This has been an annual event for over 6 years now allowing our team to bond away from the office.  I truly appreciate and thank the team for another great birthday and look forward to many more!!”

Well we thank you Joe and rest assure we’re all looking forward to more shenanigans next year! At EPM Live we believe that together we can achieve more and we appreciate the opportunity to enjoy an evening of fun with the whole team! Remember…what happens on the bus, stays on the bus 😉  Till next year! Happy Birthday Joe, thanks for truly being the BEST CEO any employee could ask for!

No Excuses. Use Proper Project Management for Marketing Campaigns Too! EPM Live Makes It Easy.

At EPM Live we like to think outside of the box when it comes to the ability Enterprise Project Management. Who needs multiple systems when you can configure the right software to be an all in one work management solution for your entire organization. Project Management solutions are not only for large-scale technical, construction, and manufacturing projects, they’re also a necessity for marketing campaigns, big and small.  Essentially all projects have the same basic management needs; optimization of time, cost and resource alignment. You may have heard the excuse with regards to the management of a marketing campaign; “It’s only a small project, it’s not worth the time and effort of putting together a project plan. We can just use a spreadsheet”. However, this approach carries great risks.  The ability to complete a marketing campaign on schedule, within budget, and with fair resource allocation, necessitates careful project planning.

Successful marketing campaign execution requires:

  • Estimating team work efforts accurately and recognizing dependencies
  • Managing scope change through analysis, options, opportunity costs/trade-offs, and formal communications with the stakeholders
  • Anticipating risks and devising contingency plans to manage them
  • Meeting project financial targets
  • Reporting project status accurately, transparently, and in a timely manner
  • Creating open channels of communication and ongoing collaboration
  • Administering basic project tasks such as project setup and status reports

EPM Live Enterprise Project Management solutions ensure that work is delivered within the established timeframe and to a high standard. EPM Live Project Software makes it easy to setup and execute effective project management for any project- yes, even the small marketing campaigns. EPM Live provides easy-to-use planning tools, document management, collaboration tools, reporting, and other PPM essentials that are created in minutes and immediately available for sharing amongst team members and stakeholders.

It’s actually pretty simple to get started.  We set up all of our marketing projects including events, campaigns, email and internet marketing, etc. within EPM Live and modified the data points (on our own without the need for a technical guru) to reflect the data we needed to see. 












After they were all entered, we created our cost categories and began to enter estimated cost for all projects.  We were able to establish resource plans as well as cost plans for the various costs associated to each campaign.  Although I’ve whited out our cost values, you can get an idea of the various cost categories you can create by looking at the graphic below.  On top of that, we were able to create our own cost types (budget, forecast and actuals) to be able to track against moving forward. 













Next step, detailed project schedules!  We created our schedules in Microsoft Project and published them to EPM Live using the EPM Live Project Publisher.  What a cinch!  Now we have our projects, cost plans and schedules on in one centralized location!  For our less complex schedules we used EPM Live’s online planner.  Once we had all of our project data entered we then leveraged EPM Live’s Outlook Publisher to publish our EPM Live tasks to Outlook so that we could work directly from there.  Now we have the choice to go to the “my work” view within EPM Live as seen below…… 











or simply navigate to our Outlook task list and access and status our tasks directly from there. 














So as you can see, managing marketing campaigns in a Project Management Tool has never been easier! 

EPM Live offers three editions of our Project Management solution to meet the needs of every organization. Easily deployed online or on-premise, EPM Live will give your team the tools they need to create efficiencies and empower resources to work smart and get more work done.

With EPM Live there are no more excuses to not use proper project management techniques for your organization’s marketing campaign. Get started today with a Free Trial!

EPM Live Recognized as the "Best of Project Management"

EPM Live is honored to be recognized as the “Best of Project Management” by Our unique Microsoft SharePoint-based Enterprise Project, Portfolio and Work Management Solutions push the boundaries of traditional Project and Portfolio Management. We have been dedicated to creating cutting-edge PPM applications and being recognized as a leader in the Project Management industry is a true honor!

FindTheBest is an unbiased, data-driven comparison engine. They organize and present data in a consumer-friendly format so that consumers can make quick and informed decisions based on what’s important to them. FindTheBest gathers ratings from the most respected experts in each category. They then assign a normalized score (not every critic has a 1-100 system) to each expert’s review and present users with ONE overall rating—The Smart Rating.

FindTheBest found that EPM Live’s project software offers “more” functionality for users, “drastically more” collaboration features, “far more” resource management features and excellent technical support, noting 6 different technical support channels which is 82% more than other project management providers.

EPM Live functionality includes Collaboration, Document Management, Issue Tracking, Project Portfolio Management, Resource Management, Scheduling and Web Applications. “The more functionalities that your project management software offers, the more aspects of the project you are capable of managing” noted FindTheBest.

EPM Live’s Online Project Management makes collaboration easier for multiple project team members to work together toward completing the project at hand. Team members can access Dashboards, Email Integration, Forums, Issue Tracking, Messaging or instant messaging, MS Project Integration, RSS Feed, Team Calendars/Timelines and Wiki.








EPM Live recognizes that employees are the most valuable asset and the biggest expense for most organizations. The ability to deploy employees effectively against often conflicting projects and other work priorities enables organizations to optimize their return on human resource investments. EPM Live’s Resource Management includes Check in/Check out, Costs, Email Addresses, Groups, Import Resources, Materials/Supplies, Resource, Resource Details, Skill Sets and Time Sheets noted FindTheBest.








Technical Support, we’re here to help! We provide many facets for users to access technical support; Blog, FAQs, Forum, General Support, Online Video Demo, Phone Customer Service and our recently released Community Support page! FindTheBest said EPM Live offers, “a total of 6 different technical support channels, which is 82.1% more than the average for all Project Management. More support channels means that you have more options for receiving help from EPM Live using and understanding your project management software.







 EPM Live software is flexible and relevant to meet the needs of every business. We offer FREE trials of each of our project solution editions and believe in the right to choose the best deployment option to fit your organization. EPM Live Project, Portfolio and Work Solutions can be leveraged on-premise, hosted or SaaS.

“We continue to receive confirmation of our vision to evolve the traditional, powerful capabilities of Project and Portfolio Management and extend the same value-driven concepts to all work areas within an organization,” said Joe Larschied, EPM Live CEO, “we are honored to be recognized by FindTheBest for being the Best!”

PMBOK Template for SharePoint – Following the PMBOK has Never Been Easier!

The PMBOK is an internationally recognized standard providing fundamentals of project management that apply to a wide range of projects. The processes that are defined in the PMBOK are outlined in the PMI Framework. If you are a PMP then you know how difficult it can be to ensure your projects are properly aligned with the framework. For this reason, EPM Live is offering a PMBOK SharePoint Project Management template. This template gives project managers the tool needed to meet PMBOK compliance for all projects. Use the easy to use check list to view all inputs, outputs, tools and techniques for all process groups and knowledge areas. Following the PMBOK has never been easier!





PMBOK Highlights:

  • Project Scheduling & Task Management – leverage multiple scheduling tools to meet every scheduling need







  • Issue, Change, & Risk Management – easily convert items (ex. convert a change request to a task or issue)





  • PMBOK Checklist & Compliance Dashboard- leverage out of the box dashboards to monitor compliance







  • Integration with Microsoft Project – in addition to online scheduling tools, you can also connect with Microsoft Project







  • Visual Reports with Dashboards – leverage out of the box reports for simple project reporting









Easily practice the PMBOK methodology as you manage your projects with EPM Live’s out of box PMBOK template!

PPM for the Enterprise Part 2 – The Importance of Understanding Maturity

In order to make a deployment successful you must know and understand your audience: 

  • Who will be using the tool?
  • What challenges are the users facing with their current processes and toolsets?
  • What benefits are expected out of the tool for each of the user roles?
  • What capabilities are needed to ensure this application will meet the user’s needs?
  • Where does each user fall in organizational project management maturity? 

Introducing a new system that is designed to take an organization from level one maturity to level five maturity in the first phase is destined to fail and will only introduce risks.  Organizational readiness is a critical factor in implementing a PPM system that will essentially make or break your deployment success.  Let’s take a look at all the areas where maturity can be measured.


There is more to PPM design then just defining the various roles in your organization.  You must also understand the functions that each role plays in the business as well as what tools and processes are being leveraged to execute them.  There are many maturity models available to help you determine where your organization and users reside in project management maturity.  I tend to prefer the maturity model published by Gartner for PPM Maturity. 

Maturity can be measured by the tools and processes currently in place as well as the disciplines supported by them.  Again, the faster you move up in maturity, the more risks you will introduce.  When implementing a new system it is always a good idea to start with a transfer of the current processes.  For example, if a user is managing their resources through a list of projects found in an excel worksheet; transfer that same process into the new toolset.  If the user expresses that the same process is also one of their core challenges, make adjustments to that process where needed but start at the same level of process maturity within the PPM application.  As users become familiar with the toolset, it will be appropriate to mature their processes as well as adopt new functionality within the PPM system.  User readiness is crucial.  Enforcing your users to utilize a tool that leverages disciplines and processes that are unfamiliar will only result in user frustration, low user adaption and overall rejection of a critical investment.  Don’t expect to implement a PPM system that will leverage the same functionality for every user; instead, implement a flexible and scalable system that will accommodate all users and allow them to improve their productivity through gradual maturity progression. 

It is wise to not only determine current organizational readiness and maturity but also define a roadmap to ensure your organization has a plan for improving overall maturity to gain better control and management of all project and operational investments.


Similar to users, there are multiple levels of maturity found in system capabilities.  As you define the processes that are currently in place for your users, the capability maturity will also be revealed.  Let’s take a look at some of the common PPM capabilities that will be defined in your PPM system. 

Portfolio Management

Portfolio management includes both the discipline of identifying and selecting the RIGHT projects for your portfolio as well as the ability to effectively manage your portfolio of projects once they have entered the execution phase. Although portfolio selection is critical, many organizations begin with project execution or the managing of project schedules long before they consider the benefits of portfolio selection.  Identifying the right projects for your business may include processes such as determining business objective alignment, identifying risk probability, resource and cost planning, and project portfolio scenario modeling.  For the execution level user, portfolio management may simply be portfolio visibility across all projects and work.  Visibility into project status, resources and costs generates awareness and will help prevent unforeseen risk to maintain a healthy portfolio.  Questions that will help determine portfolio management maturity may include:

  • Will this tool help you manage potential projects?
  • What kind of information is required to accept or approve a project?
  • What is the process for moving projects from proposal to execution?
  • What project and work data must be seen across your portfolio to ensure a healthy portfolio?

Project Management

Projects and work will be the core of your PPM system.  Project management maturity is a critical factor in determining what tools should be implemented and to what level of functionality.  Don’t be surprised if you end up spending the bulk of your design session answering the following question:  How do you define a project?  Most organizations function at a low maturity level.  Maturity can be measured by the processes already in place within your PMO or across your projects.  For example, are processes clearly defined or are they ad hoc?  Do users use the same tool consistently or is everyone on their own when determining what tool works best for them?  It is important here to understand what type of projects and work will be handled in the PPM system and how that work will be defined.  Will you manage that work at the task level, the milestone level, or will projects be entered and tracked at the project level?  Imagine your filling out a document or project charter regarding your upcoming work.  What questions need to be answered and what data needs to be defined?  Once you have clearly identified the information that must be captured for all your projects, define what processes will take place to execute on them.  How will you manage changes, issues and risks?   The level of project detail and the depth of your processes will help determine maturity and corresponding functionality that should be introduced to the business within the PPM platform. 

Schedule Management

In the last discipline area of project management you determined whether or not your projects will be detailed to the task level or will be managed at the project level only.  If you determined that they will be managed at the task level, schedule management is the next necessary topic for design.  This area is critical because we all work differently.  Many PPM tools give you one scheduling option.  This could be a point of failure for many organizations.  Which user maturity level will the scheduling tool accommodate?   For those that fall above or below that particular maturity level, what tool will they use?  User adoption is the only answer for a successful PPM system.  Every user must have the tools necessary to manage their work at their level of comfort.  If I’m a Marketing Director who needs to maintain a simple list of campaigns, there is no question that I will need a different scheduling tool than a Construction Manager who needs to manage the build of a new hospital to code. 

Resource Management

Resource management can mean many things.  Let’s take a look at the various ways resource management can be applied to your PPM tool.  There is much more to this discipline than simply assigning work to a resource.  We’ll take it from the bottom up.  A task or work is put into the system and a resource is assigned.  The resource goes into the system, views his/her work, executes on the work and marks it as 100% complete.  Some organizations stop here in the practice of resource management, but there are many more levels to reveal.  How do you know which resource is available to work on the task?  How do you know if they have the right skill set?  Let’s now work from the top town.  A project has been defined and you need to build a resource plan against it.  You don’t know who is available or who has the proper expertise but you do know what role you need.  You schedule 5 developers over the next 3 months to work on this project.  Now you want to see which developers meet the requirements of your project. 

Cost Management

Let’s move on to cost management.  The following questions should be considered when determining cost management needs for your PPM system.  At what level do you plan your project budget: project or task?  This again will help you determine where the budget data will be entered into the tool.  What types of costs must be tracked?  For example do you only want to track the costs associated with resources, or also other project costs such as purchases, expenses, materials, subcontractors, overhead, etc.?  If the answer to this question is expenses, you may want to design an expense form used to track expenses and apply against your project’s financials.  If your organization isn’t prepared to exercise cost management at the task or work level, don’t.  Start where you are now and then mature your processes as you adapt to the tool.  A system that houses partial data can lead to poor decision making.  How will you know what decisions are necessary when you don’t have the visibility to see where you currently are with your costs? 

Tracking and Controlling

Tracking and controlling is important because it not only defines the data to be tracked but the process for how it will be tracked within the system.  For example, do you want team members to supply detailed progress information about their assignments?  If so, you may want to allow team members the ability to go into their tasks and enter percent complete so that the updates can automate back into your schedule to save time and improve efficiency. 

Are you looking to include timesheets in your PPM system or are you looking to integrate your current timesheet system?  If you do want to include timesheets in the system you will want to make sure that it has been configured to include the proper categories needed to reflect your business needs.  If you were reporting actual hours worked on a weekly basis against projects, would you complete your time entry daily or do it at the end of the week?  This response is also needed to help define your timesheet configuration. 

What work do you want to track?  Is there a requirement to identify and track changes in scope or other issues when project status changes?  If the answer is yes, you may want to define attributes needed for a change request list/log so project owners can easily adapt to those changes and adjust their costs, schedules and resources accordingly.  Do you have a requirement to track project issues and risks? Is there a requirement to track other work items that need to be considered when managing your projects and resources such as service requests, action items, etc.?  Again, data capture must take place for ALL work if it affects your costs, resources and/or schedule. 

Reporting and Business Intelligence

Now that we have addressed the main content needed for project and work definition and management, let’s take a look at some of the outputs that may be considered in your PPM system design.  Some questions to consider are:

  • Do you have reports that you use today that are used for analysis or decision making?
  • Do you currently have a requirement to generate weekly/monthly status report? 
  • Do you have any standard reports required for your projects?
  • What type of information would be useful when viewing project status? 

All of these questions will help you determine what reports and dashboards are necessary to ensure you are getting the outputs required to maximize ROI and optimize value of your PPM and work management system. 

As you can imagine, there are many more questions that can be asked to help you define a detailed business-specific design that is right for your organization.  Other areas that must be considered in design include integration, demand management, workflow and governance and general collaboration needs.  As questions are answered and more questions are generated, make sure you are considering every user and every maturity level.  The level in which you capture data can vary, but ensuring that the system is built to make it easy to capture data COMPLETELY, across all projects and work, is critical for visibility and accuracy.

Keep an eye open next week for PPM for the Enterprise Part 3, “PPM Deployment Tips”.