EPM Live Review
EPM Live is one of the world’s leading project portfolio management software programs. Focused primarily on work management solutions, this comprehensive software was created in 1999 by LMR Solutions, a rapidly growing enterprise project and work management firm. Business really began to boom in 2007, when EPM Live developed a close affiliation with Microsoft and began to integrate with SharePoint. Since that time, EPM Live has successfully integrated with almost every Microsoft program available, from Excel to MS Project, making it one of the most functional and versatile project management solutions of its kind.
EPM Live is heavily invested in customer support:
Our successful business strategy…has been to build strong long-term relationships with each of our clients by delivering excellence in products and services; on time, within budget, with the flexibility it takes to meet our client’s specific and unique needs. Our professionals are encouraged and empowered to go the “extra mile” to ensure customer satisfaction.
This software currently boasts over 5,000 customers worldwide. EPM Live is famous for its inherent flexibility and works well for a variety of different industries. Current users include large corporations (Jack in the Box, Toyota, and FedEx), scientific organizations (NASA), and medical providers (Providence Health Systems, among others). EPM Live is the recipient of numerous awards, and has won Microsoft’s “Partner of the Year” award for four years. It has also been distinguished by the Project Management Institute and Inc 5000.
Web-Based (SaaS) or On-Premise:
EPM Live offers both web-based and on-premise services.
This software is relatively expensive and charges monthly, per-user fees. There are three types of user license available. Full users have access to all of EPM Live’s many features, including scheduling and reporting, while team members are only able to access timesheets and collaborate on projects. Email licenses offer very limited access to the software, but they are free. All of the following subscription prices apply to the SaaS version of EPM Live and are based on a 36-month contract. For pricing information about the on-premise option, you must personally request a quote (click here if you’re interested).
- $6/user/month for full members
- $14/user/month for team members
- $21/user/month for full members
- $14/user/month for team members
- $28/user/month for full members
- $14/user/month for team members
- $38/user/month for full members
- $14/user/month for team members
- Minimum of 25 Users Required
Those of you with larger organizations may call 1-555-EPM-LIVE to see if you qualify for volume discount pricing. Subscriptions may be purchased online via major credit card, but if you need more than 25 licenses you have the option to use a purchase order. Your plan can be upgraded at any point in time. Be warned that EPM Live subscriptions are automatically renewed. This is a nice feature if you plan on using the software forever, but if you forget to manually cancel your plan you could end up paying for unwanted services.
Ease of Use:
While there is nothing particularly difficult about using this software, it may seem overwhelming at first due to the sheer number of available features and add-ons. This is an enterprise project management solution, and it works like one. Most users will wind up dividing their accounts into several different sections (called communities), all of which can have varying functions and differing capabilities. Because there is so much to learn, it does take a while to feel completely comfortable with this program. Fortunately, the learning curve is more a function of the software’s complexity than any inherent design flaw; it is really quite user-friendly once you’ve got a little experience under your belt. The following features make EPM Live especially easy to use:
- The Notifications Icon: If you like to stay on top of work without constantly checking your email, you can see system-wide and personal notifications directly from your EPM Live dashboard simply by clicking on a little icon. Notifications stay fresh for 14 days, and you will always be able to tell if you’ve received anything new.
- Status Updates: Every task, project, file, etc. entered into your EPM system within the last 48 hours is clearly marked “new.” This makes it simpler to stay on top of recent changes or additions to your work and keep apprised of important new information.
- Actions Button: I’m a big fan of the “Actions” button, a shortcut that allows you to quickly print, export, or analyze information, whether you are looking at projects, tasks, or anything else.
- Type Ahead: This function takes the hassle out of typing oft repeated words or names. You only have to type a few letters; if EPM Live has seen the word (or a similar word) before, it will offer you a list of possible suggestions. I know that typing out someone’s full name isn’t tremendously arduous, but type-ahead does eliminate some wasted movement and just feels more convenient.
- My Time Off Tab: This is one of the simplest ways I’ve ever seen to create and track vacation/time-off requests, allowing employees to input dates onto a central calendar.
Customer Service and Support:
EPM Live is famously customer-oriented. That said, in my experience the support staff spends more time serving their current customers than trying to lure in new ones. I had trouble getting information about the software in a timely manner, and from what I’ve read, other potential users have encountered the same problem. However, current users rave about the level of service they receive from EPM Live. Some of the most visible support methods this company offers include:
- The Standard Customer Success Package: All users, no matter how much they pay per month, are entitled to use the standard EPM Live online support community, which includes a variety of training courses and helpful articles. The standard support package allows users to submit support cases online, but does not provide access to phone support and users must pay extra for custom training or Q&A sessions.
- The Premier Success Package: For a fee, you can get everything in the standard package plus continuous, 24/7 support coverage via phone, as well as priority access to the support team (the questions and concerns of premier customers are addressed before those of standard package users). Premier package holders also have unlimited access to the EPM Live University, which offers a variety of live training courses. For more information about these training courses, click here.
- Deployment Packages: Getting used to a new software system can be difficult, especially when it is as complex as this one. EPM Live has provided several deployment package options to make initial use of their product less difficult.
- Training Videos: Click here for access to the EPM Live video tutorials. These videos are a great way to get a thorough introduction to the software, and several of them also drill down into some of the finer points. Most of the training videos available to the general public are recordings from past EPM Live University sessions. While you do lose some of the benefit of a live session by watching it months or years later, I appreciate the fact that people who have not paid for the right of live training courses can still make use of the information. These how-to videos are extremely helpful, and if you have the time, you could use them to learn almost everything there is to know about EPM Live. Be aware that the videos are quite long, averaging 45 minutes to an hour.
- Webinars: On the EPM website you will find a variety of live and on-demand webinars (including a few in Spanish) on just about every topic imaginable, from social collaboration to deployment of portfolio management systems within enterprise organizations. These webinars, unlike the basic video tutorials, cover extremely specific topics and are best left to people who already have a good working understanding of the software. For a complete list of webinars available, click here.
- Social Media Engagement: The EPM Live Facebook page is updated frequently. It’s not particularly useful for immediate questions and concerns, but it is a good place to keep up with general news or access press releases and relevant articles. EPM Live also maintains a basic presence on Google+. Again, you won’t find anything particularly helpful on this site, but it is a good place to go for basic data. The company’s Twitter feed is slightly more relevant, with more current updates and information, but EMP Live does not seem to address customer concerns/questions via the Twitter feed, which is disappointing.
For more information about EPM Live support services, email email@example.com or call 1.866.391.3700 or +44 (0) 845.888.0999 (European number). If you’re desperate, you can also live-chat with a representative on the website, but I don’t recommend doing so. I tried asking a question and I got an answer after waiting about six minutes. I promptly asked another question and then waited twenty minutes for an answer that never came. They eventually disconnected me from “lack of activity.” Not impressed.
Negative Reviews and Complaints:
There are very few, if any, red-flag complaints about this software. However, I and other users have encountered a few legitimate downsides to EPM Live:
- Prohibitive Cost: While perhaps not as expensive as some comparable programs, EPM Live does cost an awful lot. They really ding you with the per/user-per/month charges.
- No mobile applications: In this day and age, there is no good excuse for not providing mobile apps. If you’re on the go a lot, this software may not be the best fit.
- Lengthy Initial Setup: Because you can customize so many things about EPM Live, it can take a bit longer to implement than other project management solutions.
- No Google integration: This is a puzzling lack in a web-based software like EPM Live. So many business practices depend on Gmail, Google Drive, and Google Apps these days; it is inconvenient to have to work without full Google integration.
Positive Reviews and Testimonials:
In general, positive reviews far outweigh the negative. Some of the most beloved features include:
- Microsoft Integration: The ability to integrate EPM Live with other Microsoft programs is a real benefit, allowing you to turn an ordinarily simple software program into a complete-package project management solution. Furthermore, the heavy Microsoft influence on the design of this software make it very intuitive and familiar to people who use/have used other Microsoft products.
- Flexible, Custom Designs: EPM Live is relevant to businesses of any size in any industry. For the most part, this is due to the fact that one can virtually design one’s own version of this software from a vast array of available apps and feature add-ons.
- Accessible: This software can be adapted to fit almost any level of user ability, intelligence, and computer competence.
- Excellent Support/Training: People rave about the quality of EPM Live’s training courses and personalized coaching, and I can attest that the training material is well-made and helpful.
- High-End Reporting: There are so many reporting features available, enabling you to gather stats or compile graphs on just about anything.
The following are excerpts from real customer reviews:
When looking for our PPM solution we had three requirements… must integrate with SharePoint, we needed a quick deployment and needed to create more visibility for all stakeholders. EPM Live met all of these requirements and more. EPM Live is built on SharePoint, allowing us to use familiar functionality and reducing the time of training throughout our organization. Deploying their quick start option we received instant visibility across all projects and work to monitor projects on key dimensions and reduce risks while keeping stakeholders informed.
Organizations that have MS Office technology will find EPM Live easy to use without a long learning curve.
EPM Live provides the necessary platform to share work even when hundreds of miles apart. The customized platform is intuitive and user friendly.
I am incredibly happy with EPM Live. One of the hardest things about coordinating work especially across the internet and over long distances is ensuring all will be capable to participate. In my finance work this is imperative. With EPM Live, ensuring this becomes seamless.
One of the biggest concerns my company has is time management and collaboration on large projects. EPM were able to help us come up with applications to track our efficiency and share projects between various departments in multiple locations.
To read more reviews or examine a few actual business case studies, click here.
This software is nothing if not comprehensive, so I will only be able to barely scratch the surface of its enormous functionality here. However, the following are some of the most important and characteristic aspects of EPM Live:
- Communities: Because EPM Live is intended for enterprise use, accounts may be divided into multiple “communities,” representing either different departments (like HR or IT) or different roles (like project management). You can create communities from scratch, so to speak, or design them using one or more of the apps (bundled or single) found in the App Market. As your business or your business requirements grow, you can add new functions (via add-ons/apps) to your different communities.
- Portfolio Management: EPM live is essentially a project portfolio management software, and as such works hard to help businesses analyze existing work and choose which new projects will maximize profitability. With a variety of graphical or chart-based reporting tools, you can examine “what-if” scenarios by comparing proposed portfolios against your current budget and future financial targets. For those of you who like to plan for every possible outcome, this is a great feature.
- Scheduling: EPM Live offers multiple scheduling tools. If you are already using the scheduling tool in MS Project, you can publish that schedule directly to the EPM Live ProjectEngine for a two-way collaboration. You can also construct original schedules within EPM Live via the Project Planner, which allows you to look at workloads in list or Gantt chart form. Software designers can schedule tasks, stories, defects, bugs, etc. with the EPM Live Agile Planner.
- Cost Management: EPM Live provides a good number of reporting tools to manage costs, whether you need to create and track a budget, compare potential projects against financial targets, or see the financial impact of current endeavors. Financial reports can be filtered for many different variables and viewed in graph, Gantt chart, or heat map form. Additionally, if these built-in reporting tools are not enough, EPM Live integrates well with 3rd party financial planning and accounting tools.
- Resource Management: With the EPM Live Resource Planner app, you can keep a close eye on employee workload and availability. Comprehensive, large or small scales views of every employee’s work life let you closely follow project progress and see clearly which people are pulling their weight, over-extended, or under utilized. Like almost every other feature of EPM Live, there are great reporting tools available for resource management, including “what-if” analyses of workload and availability.
- Project Change Requests: With the EPM Live Project Changes app, you can initiate and manage project-related change requests. Nothing gets lost in the mix with this system, which even allows you to convert complex change requests into new projects.
- Service Requests: EPM Live has a great methodology for collecting, tracking, addressing, and reporting on service requests. Those of you with businesses that rely heavily on this sort of customer interaction may also want to try out the Service Management bundled app.
- Risk Management: This software provides a central location to manage project-related issues and risks, and comes with some of the best risk-management tools I’ve ever encountered. You can even set up alerts (individual or team) to automatically inform your staff about new risks or issues, risk status, and issue resolution. Risk reports may be customized to meet the specifications of you business.
- Time Tracking: The EPM Live time-tracking tool is a good way to keep track of employee attendance, and lets your staff enter regular work hours, overtime, project or non-project-related working hours, and billable or non-billable hours in one location. Employees can also easily update project or tasks status by filling in the % completion of their work. All of this information can be exported to external accounting programs such as Quickbooks.
Integrations and Add-Ons:
EPM Live is imminently adaptable, and add-ons are a crucial part of this software’s unique operations. Through the EPM App Market, you can download dozens of predefined apps to optimize your EPM Live account and make it more suitable for your business and your industry. Happily, most of the add-ons offered directly by EPM Live are completely free. There are bundled apps which deliver a complete feature package, such as the Software Development app (which provides unique reporting, project backlogs, and storage of test cases.) Single apps (the Timesheet app, for example) perform only one function and can be used in many different types of communities. There are apps for departmental needs (human resources or portfolio management) as well as for collaboration, administration, and deployment. To see a full list of EPM apps offered, click here.
3rd party integrations include:
- SharePoint Workspace
- Microsoft Project Pro 2010
- Microsoft PowerPivot
- K2 blackpearl
- 21 apps
- Project Publisher
- Nintex Forms 2010
- Nintex Workflow 2010
- HelpDesk OSP
- Excel Sync
A lot of thought has obviously been invested into the creation and development of EPM Live, and I find that admirable. It is unusual for one single software program to work on so many levels and speak to so many diverse industries. This is far more than just a simple project management solution. By continuing to generate hosts of (mostly) free apps and add-ons, EPM Live sets itself apart from the crowd, becoming more relevant as the years progress, not less. If I was running an enterprise-level business, this is the software I would choose, hands down.
EPM Live is expensive, unfortunately, and I imagine that it is far above the pay grade of most small businesses and start-ups. That is sad, because I think this software works well at any level. It is quick, smooth, and versatile, and with all the power of the mighty Microsoft empire behind it, EPM Live is a safe bet.
If you think you can afford it, I suggest giving EPM Live a serious trial. The benefits of using this software outweigh the few negative features (like the lack of mobile apps), and I have not encountered even one current user who regrets their choice. I don’t get excited about project management programs very often, but I think this one is pretty special.