For a senior project manager who is standing up a project management capability at a growing digital agency or an ambitious founder looking to scale their practices, enterprise project management software can be your best friend when it comes to running complex projects and managing cross-functional teams.
Enterprise project management tools are more robust versions of the PM tools you know and love, allowing users to track their team’s progress, share documents, send notifications, assign tasks, and do much more!
I’ll cover some of the use cases, key features, and benefits that enterprise project managers can expect when it comes to enterprise project management tools and provide a list of the best tools on the market.
What Is An Enterprise Project Management Tool?
Enterprise project management tools aggregate information across multiple teams to present a unified view of the project landscape at your organization.
When you’re a small company, you can rely on word of mouth or a simple task tracker to keep apprised of what everyone is working on. As your organization scales, you eventually reach an inflection point where you no longer know through osmosis what others are doing. This is where enterprise project management software comes in handy.
Enterprise project management software is designed to be used by large, enterprise organizations for projects that are more complex. These projects also often run over long periods of time, have bigger budgets, and involve more project team members and stakeholders.
Learn more about the different tools that enterprises use here.
Enterprise Project Management Tool Use Cases
How do you know if an enterprise project is suitable for your company?
An enterprise project management tool is best suited for large, complex projects. Suppose your project doesn’t require different teams to communicate and collaborate in one place. In that case, it might be better to use project management software that’s tailored toward singular project managers or small companies with straightforward tasks.
If you have a company-wide task to track, however, an enterprise project management tool is an ideal project management solution. Examples of these types of tasks include client projects, such as website launches, software development projects, or digital marketing campaigns, or internal transformation efforts, like organizational changes following a merger or acquisition.
If your organization does not need an EPM tool now but has plans to grow, it might still be worth setting up so you have time to iterate on your preferred EPM solution before it is truly needed.
You’ll also want to make sure the tool you select works with your existing enterprise project management framework.
What Are Enterprise Project Management Tools Used For?
Enterprise project management tools share many use cases with other types of project management software but at a much larger scale. Here are some specific use cases that require an enterprise solution.
Tracking Project Progress In Multiple Areas
Some projects include stakeholders at various levels of an organization spanning project managers to executives to front-line employees. For example, a software migration effort requires development work, project management coordination, and internal communications at the executive level.
Using specific types of EPM tools such as a project tracking software is especially important in larger companies where team members are based worldwide or in different office locations.
Scaling To Large Projects
The ability to scale is one of the most important abilities an enterprise project management tool can afford to an organization. As an agency acquires new clients, project management becomes increasingly important to manage a growing portfolio.
No matter how large the team, effective and efficient collaboration is critical. Project managers and other team members should be able to communicate in real-time.
Enterprise project management tools allow you to share documents within and across teams. Project managers can also send out tasks or notifications through the enterprise project management tool rather than individually to each team member.
Furthermore, enterprise collaboration tools enable cross-functional collaboration. So if you have an enterprise project management system in place for your company, you can use it across departments. This is ideal for a project, such as a website launch, that includes representatives from multiple groups (engineering, marketing, product management, etc.)
Reporting features allow you to see project data from different angles, which can be especially useful for project managers who need to present a project’s progress to a curious client.
Additionally, enterprise project management tools reduce the need for project managers to chase down updates from team members, as long as statuses, timesheets, and due dates are kept up to date within the tool. A win-win for everyone involved!
Budgeting features allow you to plan project costs and see upcoming project expenses. This helps project managers ensure that they stay within budget while keeping project goals on track.
Enterprise project management software lets you seamlessly use software-generated dashboards to keep clients apprised when costs may be tight and/or scope has a tendency to creep.
Depending on the project, enterprise project management tools can be customized. For example, you may need additional security features if your project requires that files are secure when they’re uploaded or downloaded from a server.
You can also customize project management tools by changing project statuses and labels. If you have a project that involves several departments, it’s important to know where each project stands in the process so that team members prioritize their work appropriately.
Standard Features Of Enterprise Project Management Tools
Most enterprise project management tools come with standard project management tools, plus a few neat extras. Here’s a detailed rundown of typical EPM tool features.
Most enterprise project management tools have features that allow you to communicate with other team members either in-app or through third-party integrations.
In-app communication methods might include @mentions or direct messaging to notify team members of upcoming tasks. Forums or discussion boards facilitate interdepartmental communications. Slack is a typical third-party integration that lets you expand on in-app discussions across various project topics.
A project management app is another useful feature that facilitates remote collaboration.
Tracking And Managing Features
- Robust budgeting and forecasting: This is great for project managers who are working with multiple budgets and want to see how each project affects the department and/or enterprise budget.
- Data visualization: This makes project managers aware of a project’s progress without having to read through a bunch of project data. Enterprise project management software lets you visualize progress across a portfolio of multiple projects.
- Advanced key performance indicator monitoring: Key performance indicators (KPIs) are usually a project manager’s first priority, so real-time monitoring is crucial. Most enterprise project management software lets you connect team- or project-specific KPIs to company KPIs to assess the impact of individual projects on company performance.
- Financial consolidation and closing capabilities: These are helpful when project managers are looking to get an enterprise-wide view of where funds are going.
- Supply chain effectiveness reports: This tool is helpful for project managers who need to know how well the supply chain is working across their project portfolio.
- Human capital management reports: Project managers use this feature to see how well their team members are working together and sharing information. It can also help identify where team members may be under- or overallocated.
- Time tracking: Utilizing time tracking software features is important for project managers who need to know how individual project deadlines may be affected if there are more or fewer team members supporting the portfolio.
- Reports: Reporting capabilities are crucial for project managers, department heads, and senior executives to understand project performance across the organization, without necessarily having to dive into the details of an individual project.
Strategic planning at the corporate level gives project managers a high-level overview of project goals and objectives and how a specific project contributes to business objectives. Project managers can see project information from different angles and easily make decisions about what projects and specific steps should happen next.
Enterprise project management software is also a great way to set operational guidelines that govern company projects, regardless of scale. This is helpful when project managers have to work with project teams in different departments or if the project involves outside vendors—everyone can stay on the same page.
Benefits Of Enterprise Project Management Tools
The most significant benefit of using enterprise project management software is that you’ll better understand project progress, which saves time by reducing errors due to miscommunication or lack of organization, helping the team meet the project deadline.
Enterprise project management tools also:
- Improve productivity by reducing the time that other team members spend on “work about work”, thereby increasing the time spent on the work they were hired to perform
- Reduce time spent collecting information from disparate sources to share with executives—the EPM tool synthesizes this information for you
- Improve prioritization by bringing visibility to time spent on various projects
- Instill best practices for project management across the organization, helping to train the next generation of project managers.
Best Enterprise Project Management Tools
If you’re in the market for an enterprise project management tool for your organization, here’s a list of the best options, along with a brief review to give you an idea of each tool’s strengths.
Read our full analysis, including criteria and a comparison chart, here.
How Do Enterprise Project Management Tools Differ From Other Project Management Software?
Enterprise project management software is different from other project management software because it’s designed for bigger, more complicated projects that involve a lot of people and resources, and which often require coordination among several departments in the organization.
When Should An Enterprise Project Management Tool Be Used Over Other Project Management Software?
You should use an enterprise project management tool to manage projects involving a large budget, multiple departments, or many people. Enterprise project management software is designed for these types of projects, often containing more features than standard project management tools.
The need to manage a portfolio of projects across departments is another sign that you need enterprise portfolio project management tools. In these cases, where project teams are working on several different kinds of projects at once, or the project involves multiple companies with separate departmental budgets and deadlines, enterprise project management software is critical.
In What Ways Are Enterprise Project Management Tools And Other Forms Of Project Management Software Similar?
Enterprise project management software originated from standard project management tools. Therefore, even the newest enterprise project management tools are reminiscent of their previous, simpler versions. Here are some of the features that have carried over.
Team collaboration: Sharing documents, assigning tasks, and sending notifications to team members are standard features across project management software.
Reporting: The ability to report how much progress has been made toward a project can help project managers see how well their teams are working. Reporting is crucial for managing projects of any type.
Time tracking: Tracking time spent on projects will allow project managers to better estimate when a project may end and if they’ll need more resources to finish it, and accurate time tracking data means accurate project budgets.
Gantt chart: These are project timelines that project managers can create and share with their teams. They allow project managers to visualize project tasks in chronological order, which is important for identifying dependencies between tasks. Gantt charts also help project managers set appropriate deadlines for team members and see potential delays and bottlenecks.
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Convinced You Need Enterprise Project Management Software Yet?
If your organization is starting to get too big for its britches (in a good way!), it may be time to consider investing in enterprise project management software to streamline and standardize project workflows. Why not try it today?
Learn more about enterprise project management here (or download our PDF guide), and for more information on enterprise project management software (such as cost!) and related software, subscribe to The Digital Project Manager newsletter.