EPM Live SharePoint-based PPM and Enterprise Work Management Just Got Better!

As a forward thinking company, EPM Live continues to enhance our SharePoint-based PPM and Enterprise Work Management solutions with cutting-edge features.

If you’re not familiar with EPM Live, take the time to get acquainted with us, we’ve been waiting for you! You’ll find we’re the yin to your yang, we put the pep in your step, and we take employees and make them project management superstars in their workplace.

EPM Live is the leading enterprise work management and PPM platform based on Microsoft™ SharePoint. It extends cost-saving disciplines such as delivering products successfully, optimizing resource utilization, and selecting the right work to all areas of the business.

With a little hard work and dedication to creating the best tool on the market, we’re excited to share this updated solution overview and demo video. Learn about our exciting company changes and take a tour of our hottest new features!


2013 has been an exciting year so far, I can’t wait to share more updates from future releases! Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn for all our latest company updates.

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Morehouse School of Medicine Improves Project Efficiency with EPM Live PPM Solution

A PPM implementation can be a daunting task but with the right solution and consultants your process should be streamlined to success.

EPM Live valued Partner and widely respected project and portfolio implementation consultancy firm, Cobblestone Consulting, successfully completed an implementation of the EPM Live PPM and Work Management solution with Morehouse School of Medicine. With their new PPM system, Morehouse School of Medicine was able to improve project efficiency by creating better visibility into strategic initiatives and resource management.

Taking into consideration Morehouse School of Medicine’s PMO requirements for collaboration, Cobblestone Consulting implemented a two-phased solution:  1) Framework which allows their leadership to optimize their portfolio against financial, strategic and risk evaluation criteria 2) Deployment of a higher education project portfolio management solution that will:

  • Align planning strategy
  • Sort and prioritize human and capital resources
  • Manage projects that deliver VALUE
  • PMO Design and Development
  • IT Governance Model and Training
  • Training & Workshops

“The goal was to achieve business value with their initial SharePoint investment and methodical strategic planning to minimize risk and maximize potential benefits,” said Laurie Bacopoulos, Cobblestone Founder and CEO.  

The Morehouse School of Medicine, Information Technology division knew they needed to deploy a Project Portfolio Management System (PPM) to address their business challenges but were concerned with introducing too much complexity for their personnel.  The organization entrusted Cobblestone Consulting Inc. as their strategic advisor, to select the ‘right-fit’ PPM solution for their organization.  PPM tool selection was a critical step to ensure system acceptance and data integrity.   EPM Live’s PPM tool has the right mix of functionality and ease-of use for the organization.  

With the EPM Live PPM solution, the Information Technology organization was able to rapidly develop business-centric dashboard views of their project portfolio with dynamic, real-time reporting, including resource utilization and capacity analytics.  In addition, PPM’s user-friendly timesheets and timesheet compliance reports will allow them to quickly evaluate resource efforts across business units and projects and adjust allocations to meet shifting priorities.   Ultimately, MSM will be able to effectively monitor and control project resources and direct key staff efforts to strategic roadmap projects without compromising existing customer project support.

Read the full case study here!

EPM Live 4.4: Innovative PPM and Work Management Software for Everyone!

We’ve been busy and are very happy to announce the release of EPM Live 4.4. EPM Live 4.4 allows users to expand enterprise project and work management through new integration paths and enhanced cutting-edge features.

EPM Live 4.4 unveils the innovative Quick Connect, a platform built for cloud integrations. Quick Connect dramatically reduces the efforts required to integrate with either on-premise applications or third-party solutions as well as external cloud services. The Quick Connect platform also offers users the ability to easily integrate business systems with EPM Live. Leverage the out-of-box integration with any system that uses SQL server as its database engine.

In this release, EPM Live introduces the ability to combine EPM Live’s powerful online Enterprise Project and Work Management software with the world class CRM capabilities of Salesforce.com. EPM Live’s Salesforce App allows sales personnel to view all of their critical information from within Salesforce.com.  It provides sales teams the ability to communicate with service teams via the cloud to bring global portfolio and project visibility, task management, and issue management to fruition.  With critical project data shared between the software systems, organizations can remove the gap often found between sales and service delivery organizations, and more systematically assure customer success.

Key EPM Live 4.4 features include:

  • Ideation App – capture ideas and turn them into real business value. The Ideation app allows employees to funnel ideas through a workflow from idea to conception to project, program or product. 
  • Optimizer – a new tool that allows you to objectively select any work items based on budget, resource load and constraints. Also leverage the force in/out feature to ensure execution on the right projects for the highest ROI.
  • Project Drill-down Dashboard Reports – easily drill down to detailed project status reports to streamline reporting for real-time insight. View project charts and graphs for visual presentation of project performance.
  • New Chart controls – Leverage the new dynamic html charting controls for better visibility and insight. 
  • Timesheets 2.0 – provides improved interface, custom views, the ability to make comments on Timesheet items, a stopwatch feature and the ability to enter multiple Timesheet lines against a work item.

Read the full release notes here!

Gain a Competitive Advantage: 5 Benefits of Project Portfolio Management (PPM)

Business leaders are struggling more than ever to gain visibility into their portfolio investments. Visibility is just the beginning. Without a clear understanding of how the business is performing overall based on the metrics provided, leaders are unable to make key business decisions that could result in greater business value. We have all heard the expression “do more with less.” This expression has become a required discipline in the Project Portfolio Management (PPM) market. Economic conditions have greatly intensified the need to ensure that every initiative is performing to expectations, is bringing optimal value, and tightly aligns with business strategy to ensure competitive advantage.

So how do you know if implementing a PPM system is right for you? Here are some of the benefits realized from PPM systems and the impacts they could potentially have on your organization:

Benefit #1:  Increase project delivery success. Unsuccessful project delivery leads to project failure. Project failure can be caused by many factors such as cost overruns, schedule delays, poorly defined requirements, mismanaged resources, lack of strategy alignment, unresolved issues, or technical limitations.  PPM allows organizations to ensure these factors are minimized within project delivery.

In recent years, various research firms have surveyed organizations and showed that successful PPM tools enable organizations to execute on approximately 30% more projects and reduce project failure rates by up to 60%. PPM tools provide organizations with the functionality they need to more accurately plan their projects based on resource capacity, score projects to ensure strategic alignment, better estimate project costs, and increase the success of project execution resulting in overall increased value to the business.

Benefit # 2:  Reduce overspending.   Even successful projects can reflect overspending.  Overspending can be caused by numerous factors such as poor project estimating, inaccurate scheduling, improper resource allocation, and no visibility into project data. Forrester reported that organizations can expect a decrease overspending by 10% on average, sometimes more if utilizing a PPM toolset. PPM tools provide the estimation tools needed to ensure that projects are estimated more accurately and the right resources are put on the right work at the right time.

Benefit #3:  Faster project turn times. There are many reasons why PPM can reduce project turn times by an average of 10%. Governance, workflow, and standardization tend to reflect repeatable processes that are proven. These defined processes that have been aligned with PPM technology allow team members to keep the work flowing and will typically increase productivity because it takes the mind work out of the question “what do I do next?” As we all know, strategically aligned projects should always result in business value.  With shorter time to market, this value can be realized sooner and in many cases can give businesses a head start on their competition.

Benefit #4:  Reduce “no value” projects. Project portfolios should reflect a group of high value projects and or work that align with strategic objectives and produce individual business results. In many organizations, some projects may be defined as duplicated efforts when compared to other initiatives within the same portfolio. PPM is critical for project selection. PPM tools allow you to track the overall value of each project, its estimated benefits, ROI, and other key decision factors. Based on scoring and ranking of key performance indicators, projects can then be selected or cancelled. As projects are cancelled, other projects may be affected and as projects are introduced, other projects that have already been selected may be compromised. Business leaders need PPM to ensure they are making the right decisions for the most profitable portfolio.

Benefit #5: Streamline data and increase collaboration. Many businesses today still rely on manual tools for project planning and reporting. Many are still using excel worksheets.  These tools are typically located on a client’s computer and are not intended for enterprise use. Data that is transferred and updated through email or other means is not considered to be real-time information and can become out of date quickly leading to project conflicts and inconsistencies. Project transparency is critical for proper decision making and improved project performance. With PPM, users can access real-time data, giving them the insight they need to get work done. Team members no longer have to rely on hallway conversations or meetings to give project status. Reduction of resource time can also be significant when leveraging an enterprise PPM system. Centralized data leads to insight and effective real-time collaboration leads to increased productivity. Managers can potentially decrease their administrative tasks by 25% with an effective PPM tool in place.


Essential Steps to Building a Profitable Portfolio Process

Now that we are well into the New Year, many organizations are realizing the importance of a critical step in the Project and Portfolio Management discipline – Portfolio Planning. For the average business, Portfolio Planning may be a process well beyond their organizational maturity; however, it is a major component that should not be overlooked, in order to increase the probability of reaching your business objectives. The structure in which you execute this discipline may indeed vary depending on maturity, but the basic steps can be followed regardless of the complexity of the processes behind them.

Before we dive into the essential steps to Portfolio Management, there is one question that must be understood; why define a portfolio? Organizations will always have projects, they will always have limited resources and they will always need to meet business objectives in order to remain a successful business. If you are not implementing the RIGHT projects and work to meet strategic objectives, the value you are bringing to the business may be much smaller than its potential. In today’s competitive marketplace, businesses must bring maximum value to survive.

Once again, Project Portfolio Management is about identifying and selecting the RIGHT work to achieve business objectives and maximize business value. Effectively identifying, planning, sequencing and managing the right work initiatives can be cumbersome and formally required heavy analytics tools. In today’s innovative world, technology is getting smarter, making simple project portfolio managementa reality. The key is to combine what can be a complex discipline, project portfolio management, with an intuitive end user interface that makes portfolio planning simple.


You can see from the image above that the PPM process is a continuous cycle in which demand is captured and selected based on key metrics and analytics, then planned, executed and managed.  As new demand comes in, the process starts all over again. 

In the Portfolio Management cycle, the following general questions will be asked for every item in your portfolio:

  • Does this project or work initiative align with the organization’s strategic objectives/goals? 
  • Based on defined key performance indicators and probable risks, does this project or work initiative meet the requirements for portfolio inclusion?
  • Does it still meet the requirements for portfolio inclusion when compared to other competing portfolio items also in consideration?

Let’s talk about the process for the process. Many organizations do not have a Portfolio Management process. In order to create a process where no process exists, the right steps must be taken. 

  1. Define a portfolio management organization structure.
  2. Define a Portfolio Management Plan
  3. Define Key Evaluation Metrics

Once you have a process down for defining, selecting and executing your portfolio, you are ready for the essential steps to Portfolio Management. There are many published standards and white papers for achieving Portfolio Management within your organization. For the purposes of this article, we will be defining the 10 most essential steps based on our implementation experience over the last 12 years. More mature organizations may introduce additional steps into the process.

    1. Identify Portfolio Items
    2. Define Portfolio Items
    3. Evaluate Portfolio Items
    4. Select Your Portfolio
    5. Reassess Portfolio
    6. Approve Portfolio
    7. Transition to Project or Work Initiative
    8. Communicate. Track and Report
    9. Accommodate and Adjust for Changes
    10. Begin at Step 1
For more information on this discipline check out our latest webinar, “Building a Portfolio Management Process From The Ground Up,” or read this white paper, “10 Essential Steps to Portfolio Management.” 

Gartner's 2013 PPM Predictions – View Report Here

2013 is well under way but organizations are still struggling with their Project Portfolio and Work Management processes.  The business world is forever changing and for organizations to thrive they must be able to adopt or even better, be an early adopter of the noted trends and predictions. Gartner Inc. predicts in 2013 that PPM leaders must embrace constant innovation and change.   We believe our PPM solutions align with Gartner’s predictions through online project management software that is flexible for the entire organization and robust enough for the most experienced user.


Download Gartner’s full 2013 PPM Predicts Report here


Here are Gartner’s top 2013 predictions for the Project Portfolio Management industry:

1. Through 2016, the accepted norm will be 20% project failure as organizations are forced to take on increased risk to achieve desired returns.

We find that successful program and project reviews focus on strategies to make project delivery successful.  Even for projects doing well, forecasting future issues is critical and overall risk mitigation must be an ongoing practice.  Leverage the right tools to track all issues and risks and introduce portfolio what-if modeling to determine the result of ongoing project changes.

2. By 2015, 60% of the Fortune 1000 will establish an EPMO to improve the value created by investments in projects and programs.

Enterprise processes and standards are critical in enabling repeatable successes.  Best practice implementation will mitigate common challenges and in return prevent rework.  We provide tools that align with your current processes and helps you build a roadmap to adopt more functionality and discipline at the right pace to ensure user adoption and prevents the introduction of additional risks.  To learn more about process adoption and common EPM deployment challenges, join us for our upcoming webinar PPM for the Enterprise – Overcoming Deployment Challenges

3.  By 2015, 40% of Global 1000 organizations will use gamification as the primary mechanism to transform business operations.  

The project management industry has changed significantly over the last few years. We are seeing that Project Management tools are aligning more to the users, giving them tools that adapt to their working styles.  Social project management (click here to view a presentation on social project management) has come into play to help users become more productive by giving them the flexibility to get the work done in their own way. This approach fosters relationships, builds knowledge share, and identifies team experts in various areas that may not have been discovered before.   It’s an innovative world and we must modify our technology as our culture changes to appeal to our stakeholders.  Work CAN be fun. 

Learn more about EPM Live and why over 5,000 customers trust us with their PPM Work Management Needs. Try a free trial today!


PIH Health Implements EPM Live as their SharePoint PPM Tool

EPM Live recently sat down with Phil Fuchs, Administrative PMO Director at PIH Health to discuss the great value and impact that the EPM Live Project, Portfolio and Work Management solution provided their organization.

Watch the video below to see how PIH improved Portfolio Visibility, Team Collaboration and Resource Management with the EPM Live Platform ultimately enabling them to run 10% more projects a year!

Click here to read PIH’s solution highlight!

Overcoming Enterprise PPM Deployment Challenges

Project Portfolio Management (PPM) is the key element to give your business a competitive edge in today’s market. PPM allows business executives to streamline, manage and govern critical business initiatives. Project and portfolio management software has evolved now offering greater functionality and enhanced capabilities, enticing many organizations to re-evaluate their business processes and look for one centralized solution to connect all the disparate silos within the organization.

There are many factors to consider when assessing your PPM needs across your organization.  It occurs more often than not that financial constraints or time to market requirements outweigh the critical need in the project and portfolio management software selection process.   Once a system is approved, don’t get bogged down with the “we need it now mentality” and rush the process.  Avoid losing sight of the reason why a tool was needed in the first place. 

Last week we gave a webinar presentation on overcoming PPM deployment challenges. To view this on-demand webinar video click the icon below.

EPM Live has been involved in hundreds of PPM deployments over the years and we definitely see a trend in the types of challenges organizations are faced with.  Here are the top three common challenges we see organizations face when implementing a PPM tool:

#1 – One Size Does Not Fit All

One solution rarely fits the needs of all users, yet, an enterprise system is just that, a tool to be shared and used by the entire organization.  The problem is that most teams in an organization work differently.  They have different processes, they follow different leaders, and they have different areas of focus which results in different work.  A PPM system must allow you to define your enterprise needs and then customize the tool to meet the needs of individual teams or departments.  Usability equals success in an enterprise system; the data outputs are only as good as the information going into the tool. 

# 2 – Work is Everywhere

A PPM system rarely accommodates all other work that affects project resources. For example, where in my PPM system can I find my service request ticket that is affecting my ability to complete my project tasks on time? There are several components of PPM that are essential and the most important one is resource management.  Your PPM system must have the ability to manage and capture all work associated with all resources so that you can properly manage your organization’s most valuable assets… your resources. 

#3 – Incomplete Data, No Visibility

PPM systems seldom represent a complete picture, making visibility into all investments almost impossible. Projects are everywhere, not just in your PMO or IT departments. You buy into project management because it proves to be valuable.  It is worth investing dollars to hire project managers to manage the large projects; it’s almost like buying insurance.  You need to protect your original investment of saying “yes” let’s execute on it!  But an organization’s portfolio will never be complete without including all the small projects that keep the business running. 

Projects are everywhere and so are the resources running those initiatives.  A true PPM system must be able to accommodate all projects large and small, which means project management maturity will vary. A PPM system, in order to accomplish a complete portfolio, must provide tools for both complex schedule management as well as lightweight schedule management so anyone at any maturity level could create the project schedule.  It is not realistic to believe that every project in your organization will be run by a true seasoned and experienced project manager.  It is essential to consider all aspects of your work portfolio, accommodate all projects and offer a tool for every user in your organization.  

To learn more about the PPM Maturity Model in this blog post, “Implementing Enterprise PPM for a Multi-maturity organization.” See how Jack in the Box was able to improve PPM maturity leveraging EPM Live in this video testimonial.

Improve Resource Management Maturity in 2013 – An EPM Live Analysis

When it comes to resource management, many organizations struggle to understand their resource planning maturity level and try to run before they learn to walk. EPM Live’s flexible resource management capabilities can lead you down the path to success, but like most processes, resource management requires a series of stepping stones; it’s a learning curve. Typically organizations’ resource management skills fall into one of three stages. The beginner stage is the basics, defining high level project roles and staffing them. The intermediate stage consists of assigning the right resources to projects based on capacity and skill set. Lastly, in the advanced level of resource management, organizations are able to move focus from individuals to teams, aiming to improve project velocity and project quality.

According to Gartner Inc. 54% of all organizations still need to learn the basics of resource management. To most organizations resource management is an emerging discipline; they have some defined project-oriented roles and processes, but need to work towards an overall strategic plan. Once the organization is successfully staffing resources to prioritized projects, resource managers can begin to evaluate taking the next steps to further their resource planning skills.

With some foundational steps defined, resource managers are ready to move up to the next level. The intermediate stage of resource management consists of matching the right resources with the right projects. This approach pays greater attention to the individual resources, their capabilities, skills and domain expertise — with the goal of proactively managing balance between the demand and supply.

Taking Resource Management to the Next Level

Here are a few key processes for improving resource management:

  • Analyze your successful experience with basic resource capacity planning. Create a compelling value proposition justifying the move to a more disciplined level of resource management.
  • Know your resources’ capacity and skill sets. Resource capacity planning should move from projects vs. resources to focusing on matching projects with individual skill level.
  • Standardize project management for a clear understanding of demand for project resources. Proactively understand resource supply and demand. Use a forward thinking mentality and know that project plans change often pulling resources to unplanned tasks and work, throwing-off future planning.
  • Leverage a PPM tool for better planning of resource workload to ensure proper placement, expertise and efficiency.
  • Create a meaningful implementation game plan. Most initiatives involving IT neglect to address human concern. For most employees the move to strategic resource management is a major change. Create meaningful documentation about the new resource plan and its benefits.

Take Resource Management from Good to Great with the EPM Live Platform

EPM Live’s PPM and Work Management Platform provides organizations all the tools they need to successfully manage and allocate resources. Leverage resource capacity planning tools to help you estimate role-based resource hours to ensure the resource plan can be fulfilled. Create resource requirements and compare resource availability to identify both resource shortages and surplus. Define resource plans for proposed projects and work and analyze the plans against current resource capacity. Leverage intuitive color-coded heat maps to view over allocations. Easily modify dates and sequencing to define the most optimal portfolio. Use EPM Live’s Resource Analyzer to view resource workload across all work. View resource availability by time-phase; perform what-if analysis on resource workload and availability by leveraging drag and drop functionality, and group resources by attributes such as department, skill and role.

Check out this free webinar recording to learn more about EPM Live’s resource management capabilities, “Lower Costs and Increase ROI with Strategic Resource Planning.”

EPM Live 2013 PPM Challenge and Opportunity Webcast Series – Challenge #4 – Improving PPM Maturity

The final challenge in EPM Live’s PPM webinar series is improving PPM maturity within the organization.  

Challenge:  In the last 3 webcasts of the 2013 PPM Challenge and Opportunity Series we have discussed three of the common challenges that organizations will most likely face in the New Year.  Every new year brings an additional set of challenges but one thing is for certain, there will always be room for improvement.  So as we enter the New Year, EPM Live would like to propose a New Year’s challenge for PPM organizations everywhere, put a plan together to improve your organizational maturity for 2013 so you can get a true picture of what’s possible.

Opportunity:  Join EPM Live as we walk you through the PPM Maturity Model.  The efficiency of an organization’s PMO can be best judged in terms of resource utilization, level of optimization and basic cost control. As an organization moves up the scale in the PPM Maturity Model, it transitions to a more effective PMO and thereby a higher project success ratio.  Topics include:

  • PPM Maturity Model
  • Understanding Maturity
  • Critical Steps to Improving Maturity
  • The Tools Needed to Support Maturity