OUTSIDE THE BOX Forum:A Practical Project-based Model of the Enterprise

The Enterprise Project Management Model (EPMM)

At a very high level of abstraction the EPMM can be reduced to 5 simple questions by adapting the Graham-Englund Project Selection Model (Graham, Robert and Randall Englund, 1997. Creating an Environment for Successful Projects, San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass),  as shown in Figure 1.4  below and introduced in Effective Project Man 

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Figure 1.4: Adapting the Graham-Englund Selection Model to the EPMM

The Graham-Englund Selection Model is an intuitive model and derives directly from Figure 1.4. It gives a very simple introduction to the EPMM and relates to the EPMM as follows:

  • What projects should we do? This decision follows from the Market Opportunities. 
  • What projects can we do? This decision follows from the Enterprise Capacity.
  • What projects will we do? The Strategic Alignment Model defines these in terms of the Tactics identified in Figure 1.2. The decision on portfolio contents must include all portfolios because they are interdependent by virtue of their resource requirements and schedule availabilities.
  • Will the portfolios be balanced? Balance is in the eyes of the beholder. There are two points of balance in a portfolio.

The first is with respect to the business strategy and there are several models that might apply (See EPM6e Chapter 14: Project Portfolio Management Process.).

The second is with respect to resource capacity, especially the human resource inventory of skills and competencies. If every portfolio requires senior level project professionals, what do you do with the lower level project professionals. Alignment of supply and demand across all resource types is a critical component of the EPMM. As Strategy Managers balance staffing needs of their projects against available resources a common practice is to replace “A Team” players with “B Team” or even “C Team” players. EPM6e has a lot more to say on these compromises.

  • How are the portfolios performing? Projects are included in a Strategy Portfolio because they expect to deliver acceptable business value to the Strategy Portfolio. Each project’s performance is continuously assessed against that expectation. At regular intervals Strategy Portfolio reviews are conducted. Under performing projects may be revised or terminated and its resources assigned to a replacement project.

To achieve the Business Strategy and Strategic Plan of the enterprise requires a comprehensive process that I will call an Enterprise Project Management Model (EPMM). As defined below we will come to realize that it is an interlocking and interdependent collection of processes involving several different managers from C-level executives to department managers and several different support professionals.

There are two views of the EPMM that will help put projects into proper perspective. The project level process flow diagram is described in Figure 1.5 and the process flow diagram of the Strategy Portfolios. 

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Figure 1.5: EPMM – A  Portfolio-level EPMM Process Flow Diagram

The history and development of the EPMM begins in the early 1960s. I was a newly minted system engineer enjoying my first real job at Texas Instruments in Dallas, Texas. I was exposed to the annual planning process called TI/OST. That process has evolved over the years and is still monitored by the Harvard Business School (reference?). The learning opportunities it afforded me are reflected in much of my project management publications and the EPMM as well.

The EPMM takes the Strategic Alignment Model described in EPM6e and puts it in the context of the enterprise. Figures 1.5 gave a high-level view of the EPMM. This offers a fresh perspective on how projects, programs and portfolios arise and how they are in fact interdependent due to the fact that they draw from a finite and dependent set of resources. That elevates decision making to the highest levels of the enterprise.

The Vision, Mission and Objectives statements drive the specification of Strategies to be implemented over the strategic planning horizon through the submission and selection of Tactics aligned to those Strategies. Six phases trace the life span of a project, program or portfolio – from birth to maturation to death. Below is a snapshot of each phase.


The net to collect these ideas must caste a wide berth across the enterprise. This is both a top-down and a bottom-up effort. The top-down effort is guided by the resource, functional and LOB managers. The bottom-up effort is to support a process that encourages anyone in the enterprise to submit their ideas to their appropriate managers. At this point every idea is a good idea and the process used to gather these ideas must facilitate ideas coming from anywhere in the enterprise. The ideas that form this initial set are discussed and vetted by C-level and other senior level resource and operations managers through a collaborative model. All of the ideas are submitted using a one page document called a Project Overview Statement (POS). Comments and observation are added to each POS and then forwarded to the ANALYZE Phase.



The successful execution of this phase depends on input from the appropriate business analysts. Their analysis will collect more detailed intelligence on each of the ideas for the purpose of reducing the set to a much smaller set of feasible ideas. In the process of doing this analysis more detailed information on each feasible idea will be appended to each POS. These amplified documents are forwarded to the SELECT Phase. One of the critical activities in the ANALYZE Phase is the alignment of Feasible Ideas to Strategies. There are two processes for completing this activity.

PROJECT Scope Phases

The Project Scope Phases are repeated for each Strategy. The next three phases (SELECT, INITIATE and EXECUTE) bound project management as we know it. The interesting feature of the EPMM is the positioning of the choice of best fit project management life cycle (PMLC) within the INITIATE Phase. The process for making that best fit decision is portrayed in Figure 1.6 below.


The first step in the SELECT Phase is to prioritize the feasible ideas that came out of the ANALYZE Phase. There are several ways to do that depending on the needs. From that prioritized list choosing the Best Idea is a complex process. First of all, we are not just picking just one project. We will pick the best from among a short prioritized list that is aligned with a “bucket” that includes projects that are aligned with a Goal and one or more of its Strategies. At this level we are picking a portfolio that spans all of the buckets and are constrained by the applicable set of resources. A further complicating factor is that many of the resources are finite and more than one resource is needed for any feasible idea. In that sense, resources are not independent from one another and that complicates the choice of  Best Idea. So in effect what we have is a machine with lots of moving and dependent parts.


The INITIATE Phase begins with the preparation and sponsor’s approval of the project plan. The INITIATE Phase begins with a process to choose the best fit PMLC Model for each project in the Strategy Portfolio (Figure 1.6). These plans are then consolidated into a single portfolio and final decisions are made about the final portfolio and the resource availability dependent schedule. To accommodate as many of these projects as possible, adjustments to project schedules might be needed to accommodate resource availability.

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Figure 1-6: A Robust EPMM Process for Choosing the Best Fit PMLC


Producing the deliverables according to the requirements can be straightforward (traditional projects) or risky and very challenging from a management perspective (complex projects). In the final analysis, the sponsor has to decide if the expected business value can be realized. Maybe yes; maybe no. If yes, everyone is satisfied and the deliverables can be installed. If no, any number of further actions might be approved.


The deliverables are put in operational status according to one of several implementation strategies and the deliverables are monitored for compliance during a warranty period before full responsibility is transferred to a resource or operations manager. Actual business value delivered is tracked against expected business value.