A New Command Center: Enterprise Project Management

February 1, 2024
10 min read

With a more coordinated view on all projects, organizations can better meet strategic goals

Imagine a scenario where a city embarks on a large and complex infrastructure project: a new international airport capable of meeting its growing air travel needs. The multiple stakeholder coordination involved is intense, and includes government agencies, construction companies and construction crews, architects, engineers, designers, environmental consultants, and of course – multiple airlines. Now imagine what can happen if everyone isn’t on the same page. Overlapped deadlines, misallocated resources, and inconsistent processes will eventually cause chaos that spreads out across the board and impacts everyone involved. That’s where enterprise project management comes into play.

Enterprise project management (EPM) turns mayhem into method, particularly for large projects like those taken on in industries like construction and manufacturing. It centralizes project data and resources so that organizations can streamline communications and enhance collaboration. EPM also fosters alignment with strategic goals to ensure project consistency, and helps organizations adapt to changes.

What is enterprise project management?

It’s fair to say that many – if not all – companies struggle with keeping projects organized and on schedule. Although lots of project management tools have emerged over the past decade to help with productivity, the practice of enterprise project management gives companies an even greater competitive advantage by providing a systematic and integrated approach to managing multiple projects within a single organization.

EPM involves the centralized coordination of resources, budgets, and timelines to ensure alignment with strategic objectives, enhance collaboration, and optimize overall project performance. EPM allows companies to allocate resources and focus efforts on initiatives that directly contribute to their overall goals.

Antonio Nieto-Rodriguez sees this as being critical. “As projects drive more and more of the value that organizations create, everyone needs to have a common understanding of projects and project management,” he explained., Nieto-Rodriguez is a past global chair of the Project Management Institute and author of the Harvard Business Review Project Management Handbook: How to Launch, Lead, and Sponsor Successful Projects.

Historically, project management has been approached at a departmental or individual project basis, without the holistic view that organizations need. As businesses grow in scale and diversify their project portfolios, there is a greater need for a more comprehensive and integrated approach.

With the rise of enterprise-wide software solutions, companies have seen an opportunity to streamline project management processes and improve collaboration. That’s given birth to what is now known as enterprise project management.

Over time, EPM solutions have evolved to provide a unified platform for planning, executing, and monitoring projects across organizations. Top enterprise project managers engage in risk analysis, project estimation, project reviews, project management coaching, escalated issue management, time tracking, and more.

The 7 components of enterprise project management

Seven primary components comprise the EPM model. Each plays a vital role in steering projects toward success. According to the Project Management Institute, the seven components that define EPM are:

1. Risk analysis: EPM enables organizations to proactively assess and manage risks, ensuring smoother project execution and safeguarding against unforeseen challenges.

2. Structured estimating: EPM facilitates precise project estimation by leveraging historical data, expert insights, and sophisticated algorithms.

3. Project reviews: EPM incorporates systematic project review processes, fostering transparency and accountability.

4. Project management coaching: To elevate project management capabilities across the organization, EPM emphasizes coaching and mentorship.

5. Escalated issue management: In the course of project execution, issues may arise that require swift resolution. EPM ensures that critical problems are addressed promptly.

6. Time accounting: EPM incorporates time tracking tools that enable teams to monitor and allocate time. This component enhances productivity, informs future planning, and ensures that projects stay on course.

7. Information system: At the heart of EPM is a robust information system, often facilitated through specialized project management software. This centralized platform serves as a command center for project managers.

Enterprise project management benefits

Enterprise project management offers a number of benefits that can impact an organization's ability to execute projects successfully.

According to findings in The State of the PMO 2022 from PM Solutions, organizations that used a project management office (PMO) performed better than those that did not, and in particular, enterprise PMOs (EPMO) were singled out for bringing the greatest benefits to their organizations. EPMOs also performed better on many measures, including cost savings, projects aligning with business objectives, and time to market.

Whereas traditional project management typically focuses on individual projects, emphasizing specific methodologies and tools, the enterprise project management model takes a more comprehensive approach that centrally coordinates and manages multiple projects across an organization.

Let’s take a closer look at the benefits that EPM provides:

Taking charge of resource allocation

Through project estimation and resource allocation features, EPM ensures that teams have the right people, skills, and tools at their disposal. This benefit not only enhances project efficiency, but also prevents resource bottlenecks.

Providing additional support mechanisms for teams

Project management coaching ensures that teams receive guidance and mentorship, fostering skill development and confidence. This support not only enhances individual and collective capabilities, but also promotes a collaborative culture.

Positive impacts on project success

One of the fundamental benefits of EPM is its positive impact on project success rates. EPM addresses potential challenges proactively. This results in a higher likelihood of projects being completed on time, within budget, and meeting stakeholders' expectations.

A catalyst for elevating project management standards

EPM ensures consistency and efficiency in project management practices. This not only enhances the quality of individual projects, but also contributes to an organizational culture where EPM best practices are shared, refined, and consistently applied.

Implementing enterprise project management: best practices

The right implementation gives organizations the ability to act quickly to stop losses or capitalize on potential opportunities as they arise. However, successful implementation requires careful planning, strategic alignment, and adherence to EPM best practices.

One commonly used framework for EPM implementation is the Project Management Institute's Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK), which provides a structured guide for initiating, planning, executing, monitoring, and closing projects.

Key best practices for EPM implementation include:

1. Strategic alignment: Ensuring that EPM aligns with the organization's goals and objectives through an assessment of the business needs, creating a roadmap for implementation, and securing executive buy-in.

2. Robust change management: Effective change management strategies, including communication plans, training programs, and stakeholder engagement are crucial to manage resistance and facilitate a smooth transition to EPM.

3. Customization to organizational needs: Organizations should tailor EPM processes and tools to suit the needs and structures of their organizations. This customization ensures that the EPM system aligns with existing workflows and maximizes user adoption.

4. Continuous training and education: Providing ongoing training and education to users at all levels empowers teams to leverage the full capabilities of the EPM system, contributing to improved project outcomes.

5. Regular performance evaluation and improvement: Organizations should establish a culture of continuous improvement by regularly evaluating the performance of their EPM processes. This includes collecting feedback from users, conducting project reviews, and using key performance indicators to identify areas for improvement.

By combining these best practices with a well-defined framework, organizations can navigate the complexities of EPM implementation and realize the full potential of centralized project management.

How enterprise project management software can facilitate effective EPM

Adopting an enterprise project management framework can be helpful for organizations in a variety of industries, and especially those running multiple, cross-functional projects. According to Mark Upson, founder of NextPath Advisors and former president of Changepoint, a company that provided purpose-built solutions to visualize and manage enterprise portfolios, using the right EPM tools contributes to project visibility. In a paper on the subject, Upson explains: “The dream of any enterprise-level project management office (PMO) is to align strategy (doing the right projects) and execution (doing projects right) to effectively manage that pesky inevitable: Change. But without the right solution, it’s impossible to get the real-time insight needed to adjust course—especially if done manually.”

Just as projects don’t automatically succeed because they’re project-managed, companies need the right enterprise project management software based on their project types ,needs, and to address potential project risk.

Three features to look for in EPM software include:

1) Resource management: To effectively manage projects, teams must have access to software that matches resources to projects based on availability, skills, and requirements. This is especially relevant in industries like manufacturing and construction, where that management includes physical and digital assets along with people.

2) Managing tasks and approvals: Project management tools like Quickbase give organizations a simple way to manage tasks, develop efficient workflows, and automate reviews and approvals processes.

3) Tracking budgets and costs: To drive budget control, teams must have access to a project management tool that includes expense tracking, along with financial reviews and approvals.

Optimizing success with an enterprise project management office

An enterprise project management office (EPMO) is a centralized unit within an organization that determines the portfolio of projects and establishes strategic goal alignment across various departments. Acting as a hub, the EPMO plays a pivotal role in aligning projects with the organization's overall business objectives.

In a 2019 study looking at the responsibilities for effective EPMOs, researchers found that strategic management was the single most important responsibility, followed by portfolio management, business government, and benefits and value management.

An EPMO plays a crucial role in enhancing the success of EPM by providing oversight and standardized practices. Let's consider a hypothetical example to illustrate how an EPMO can contribute to the success of EPM.

Imagine a large multinational corporation undertaking a strategic initiative to streamline its product development processes across multiple business units. The organization faces challenges, such as inconsistent project management methodologies or a lack of visibility into resource allocation. Recognizing the need for a holistic approach, the organization establishes an EPMO to govern its enterprise-wide project management efforts. The EPMO, in this scenario, begins by conducting a comprehensive assessment of the existing project management landscape. It identifies inefficiencies, gaps in communication, and areas where projects are not aligned. Leveraging its oversight, the EPMO introduces standardized project management practices, implements an integrated EPM software solution, and establishes a clear governance structure.

Through these measures, the EPMO ensures that project managers adhere to consistent methodologies and use a centralized platform for project tracking. The EPMO also facilitates regular project reviews, providing insights to leadership on project progress and potential risks.

How EPM can be used for long term project management success

Organizations with complex project portfolios spanning multiple departments or business units stand to benefit the most from enterprise project management software. Implementing EPM allows companies to centralize project management efforts, standardize processes, and optimize resource allocation, which leads to greater visibility and improved collaboration.

To implement EPM, organizations should expect to conduct thorough assessments of their existing project management practices and, in some cases, establish a centralized EPMO to oversee their project portfolios.

Ideally, EPM software should offer features such as real-time project tracking, resource management, risk analysis, and integration capabilities. Additionally, user-friendly interfaces, scalability, and the ability to tailor software to the organization's unique requirements are all crucial considerations for successful implementation and long-term success.

Learn more about Quickbase's advanced project management capabilities.