It was early 2000. The much-dreaded Y2K problem had just passed us without much trouble. In those days, I was working for an IT services company. Our company had just started an initiative to upgrade the Enterprise Project Management Methodology (EPMM) in accordance with the CMM L5 model.
At that time, our company was a certified CMM Level 3 company and we were already using our own homegrown project management methodology based on CMM L3 processes. Our goal was to improve L3 processes and build L4 and L5 processes.
It involved creating new guidelines as well as modifying existing guidelines on top of the CMM L3 based methodology. I developed guidelines and artifacts for Technology Change Management.
So, what exactly is an enterprise project management methodology (EPMM)?
What Is Enterprise Project Management?
Traditional project management methods focus on a single project with clearly defined objectives whereas enterprise project management (EPM) is an endeavor to collectively manage all the projects in an organization.
EPM looks at the organization as a whole and not as a sum of parts. It prioritizes and highlights strategic business objectives to choose only those projects that are aligned to the org’s objectives. It manages all the organizational projects together and implements project management strategies to improve effectiveness and efficiency at a large scale.
Projects are not done in isolation in an organization. They are generally organized under project portfolio management (PPM). EPM strategically aligns portfolio, program, and project management with the aim of creating synergies to drive value. It undertakes all of the following things:
- Implementation of an enterprise project management software to help project managers with managing their projects effectively, and to help senior management to track all the projects across the company by giving them a consolidated view.
- Establishing an enterprise project management office (EPMO) to centralize and coordinate project management effort.
- Choosing (or developing) an EPMM and implementing it across the company.
- Training project managers to effectively use the EPMM and the chosen project management tool.
- Creation of a central repository for storing and retrieving various project management guidelines and artifacts.
- Continuously improve the project management capabilities of the company.
Succinctly, EPM's purpose is to increase the effectiveness and quality of project management and ensure that projects deliver value to the company.
What Is An Enterprise Project Management Methodology?
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of ways to manage a project. The style of management changes from industry to industry and is different for each individual project manager. An EPMM streamlines and coalesces different styles for managing projects under a single umbrella.
An EPMM is a set of principles, procedures, guidelines, workflows, and techniques for managing projects throughout an organization. It also includes a collection of templates, checklists, forms, and other helpful artifacts that are used by the assigned enterprise project manager and project sponsor for managing their projects.
An EPMM coordinates, implements, and streamlines standard practices for all of the projects at the enterprise level. It standardizes all of the following project management elements:
- Risk identification, analysis, prioritization, response, and control
- Duration, cost, and resource estimating
- Regular project monitoring and controlling
- Periodic project reviews and evaluation
- Resource management
- Issue management and escalation mechanism
- Quality management and defect prevention
- Continuous improvement
- Records management
- Quantitative project management
Benefits Of Enterprise Project Management Methodologies
While 25% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in developed countries is spent on doing projects, there is usually no coherence in the way different projects are managed within an organization. This generally leads to duplication and waste of effort. The organizations often miss profitable opportunities due to inconsistent decision-making.
The 2018 Pulse of the Profession report by Project Management Institute (PMI) found that more than $1,000,000 goes to waste every 20 seconds. This figure is equivalent to roughly $2 trillion wasted every year. Organizations can control this waste by implementing an EPMM.
In addition to controlling waste, implementation of EPMM can lead to:
- Reduction of rework
- Production of high-quality deliverables
- Improvement in skill and productivity of human resources
- Improvement in predictability and reduction in project risks
- Improvement in project deliveries
- Overall reduction in project costs and improvement in organizational profitability
As per Villanova University, companies that convert to an EPM model increase their profits up to 20%. Senior managers within an organization need to strategically align projects amongst each other and instruct the project managers to follow the same methodology to avoid repetition of work, improve project success rates, and reduce project failure.
Implementing An Enterprise Project Management Methodology
Implementing a new method of project management will not only improve the efficiency of an organization but also help them to increase their capabilities. However, it is important to choose the right methodology.
There are thousands of published project management methodologies out there and there may be tens of thousands of unpublished and company specific methodologies. And, let’s not forget that project management is a developing field where new approaches are brought forward every day.
Finding a methodology that is the right fit for an organization is like searching for a needle in a haystack. Nonetheless, let us look at some of the popular methodologies.
Broadly speaking, project management methodologies are categorized under three heads:
1. Predictive Methodologies
These methodologies are useful when there is a high degree of certainty around the requirements and technology, and projects have low risk. Although the term predictive is quite popular, these methodologies are also referred to as plan-driven, serial, or waterfall.
Here are some of popular predictive methodologies:
PRINCE2 (PRojects IN Controlled Environments)
PRINCE2 was initially developed by the UK Government to execute IT projects. It is still suitable for large IT oriented endeavors. It is a project governance methodology and just like any predictive project management framework, it divides the whole project into multiple stages.
Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC)
SDLC generally refers to a group of traditional methodologies that follow a phased approach to develop a new software or re-engineer existing software. In this, a project is generally divided into five phases: requirements, design, development, testing, and implementation.
The tasks are completely linear and follow a structured approach and each phase sequentially begins after the previous phase is complete.
PRiSM (PRojects integrating Sustainable Methods)
PRiSM is a principles-oriented methodology that is based on the P5 standard of sustainability in project management. It is different from various traditional methodologies because it incorporates ideas for managing the complete lifecycle of an asset and not just the project.
It's life cycle has a five phase approach that includes pre-project planning, product/service adoption, and integration. The post-project phases incorporate benefits realization.
2. Agile Methodologies
An Agile methodology is useful when there is a low degree of certainty around the requirements or technology and projects have higher risk. The teams using these methodologies expect the requirements to change continuously throughout the project.
Hence, an incremental and iterative approach is used to provide feedback for better planning of the next part of the project. The plans are revised and incrementally updated as more information becomes available from review of deliveries.
Which organizations should use Agile project management?
- Projects that have small team size
- Requirement change is frequent
- Requirements cannot be fully defined upfront
- Teams are mature and self-organizing
Some of the popular Agile methodologies are:
Scrum development happens around short iterations, which are called sprints. Each sprint delivers an incremental working product that can be used by the end users. The time duration of a sprint is fixed and usually very short. The duration of a sprint is generally 2-4 weeks but it can extend beyond that also.
Scrumban is a hybrid approach. As the name suggests, it mixes Scrum and Kanban. In this, Scrum principles are used for project execution while individual tasks are pulled into the Sprint plan from Kanban boards.
Its main advantage is that it allows the project team members to continuously pull tasks from Kanban boards based on their capacity/capability. They do not have to decide work for each sprint at the start.
Extreme Programming (XP)
Extreme Programming is used in fast paced projects that have stringent deadlines. This approach uses short development cycles with releases at the end of each cycle.
This helps in quick turnaround and maximizing productivity. It incorporates a defined set of rules that all project team members have to follow. These rules are based on five values: simplicity, communication, feedback, respect, and courage.
Unlike other methodologies, Crystal does not focus on tools and processes. It was designed by IBM for improving project results by focusing energy on people and how they interact with each other.
Specifically, it looks at skill, competency, capability, and collaboration among team members. It is a lightweight methodology that can be customized easily.
It is somewhat similar to Scrum because the work is done in a defined time span, which includes feedback loops to take the project forward. It might not be suitable for virtual teams because it needs frequent communication and regular brainstorming.
3. Special Purpose Methodologies
Other than the full project lifecycle methodologies, there are methodologies that are useful for specific segments of a project e.g. scheduling and risk management. Some of the popular methodologies in this category are:
Critical Path Method (CPM)
CPM is not a whole-project methodology. Rather, it is a scheduling methodology that helps in developing and tracking an optimized project schedule. It works on the principle of Critical Path that can be defined as the longest path to complete the project in the shortest possible time.
It involves identifying the predecessor and successor of a project activity, and creating a network diagram to determine the critical path of the project. CPM has some serious drawbacks: it uses optimistic duration estimates, misuses floats, and assumes unlimited supply of resources.
Critical Chain Project Management (CCPM)
Just CPM, CCPM too is a scheduling methodology. CCPM uses CPM as an underlying methodology but it tries to remove the drawbacks of CPM. It avoids task buffers but uses three types of buffers to overcome CPM drawbacks: feeding buffers, project buffers, and resource buffers.
Kanban uses a series of boards to represent project workflow. Boards are visual elements that contain a predefined project backlog. The work is pulled from the backlog on a continuous basis by the team members based on their capacity and capability.
The work is shuffled through a series of columns on the board. Each column signifies a stage of the overall project process. Kanban is great for monitoring the progress of a project as it provides a visual overview of where each piece of work stands at a given point in time.
How To Choose An Enterprise Project Management Methodology For Your Organization
Enterprise project management focuses on the organization's core missions and strategic goals. Therefore, the choice of an EPMM starts with a detailed review of the company's current projects and organizational culture.
There isn't a single best method for project management that can deal with all problem scenarios; especially when we are looking at large companies. The choice of an EPMM will vary depending on the needs of each organization. What may work well in one industry may not be suitable in another.
Companies have to determine which methodology is most suitable for their work. They should focus on consistency and repeatability for project and process management.
Consider these questions while finalizing an EPMM:
- Which industry does your company belong to and what are the general best practices in your industry?
- What type of projects does your organization undertake?
- What kind of skills and competencies do your employees have and what kind of training will need to be provided before implementation of a new methodology?
- What kind of implementation budget and timeframe do you have?
- Does your organization generally take on complex projects?
- What is the size of your organization? Can a single EPMM be implemented throughout the organization?
- What is the usual frequency of changes in your projects? Can they be addressed by using traditional methodologies?
- What is the preference of senior management, the project manager, and other project stakeholders?
EPM refers to the process of managing multiple projects at a company-wide level. This requires standardizing project management processes across the company, which can be achieved by implementing EPMM.
A standardized EPMM can align the project's objectives with the company's vision. It can ensure that the company is optimally using its resources.
Implementing EPMM requires adaptability and willingness to change. It is a big transformation for the organization and senior management is vital cog for such a transformation. The end goal is reduced rework, greater participation, better monitoring, and higher collaboration.
Communication plays an important role in the success of implementation of EPMM as it brings everyone aboard, and aligns the efforts and goals.
Here is another article on a related topic that you might find useful–enterprise project management framework.
Are you using an EPMM or do you intend to implement one in your organization? What did you consider (or what are you considering) before choosing a methodology?
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