IT Predictions for 2012 – Are You Riding the Trend?

If it isn’t evident yet, it will be… 2012 is going to be one for the books. We didn’t just ring in a New Year, we rang in the new norms for conducting business. PMO’s now more than ever are expected to continually adjust and embrace the new revolutionary model. Gartner is predicting that PPM (Project Portfolio Management) leaders will be forced to respond by embracing a new emerging revolutionary model that requires constantly changing organizational structures, tools and processes.

Last month I listened to “Talking Technology” Gartner’s Monthly Newsletter Audio Magazine.  Host Scott Smith was interviewing Gartner’s Research Managing VP, Daryl Plummer, about his top IT predictions for 2012.  Plummer said he expects CIO’s to play a more strategic role in the business, by predicting what IT trends are coming and how to take advantage of them.

Keeping up with the trends seems simple enough but the ever evolving idea of “trends” has taken on a new twist in 2012.

Plummer went on to talk about the evolution of what I’m going to call the big 3… the cloud, social and mobile. All three of these components will come together in 2012 and this growth of information is expected to form a new business phenomenon.

Plummer defined mobile as the access mechanism, social as the behavioral style or interaction style, and the cloud as the means of delivery. The big three come together to create information, the analytical foundation that will drive your strategic business decisions.  All these components makeup today’s new business phenomenon.

Plummer also raised the issue of the idea of “Big Data”.  “Because of the new evolving norms of doing business through social, mobile and the cloud applications, information is coming at us fast and furious, in structured and unstructured forms. It’s more information coming at us then we have time to analyze,” said Plummer. Gartner predicts that by 2015 more than 85% of Fortune 500 companies will fail to effectively properly exploit big data for a competitive advantage.

So how are companies supposed to adapt?  Executives and Project Managers must embrace the new norm. You can’t fight it, you can’t stop it, you have to be the first to implement them right by choosing a flexible solution to aide in your strategic planning and to help create and monitor processes for selecting the right work for a profitable portfolio. You need to be able to bring all information into one central location so nothing falls through the cracks, and be able to adjust and reinvent your approach from Project Management to Marketing.

Like most of you, we at EPM Live strive to always be on top of the trends, but we have one thing that sets us apart from the rest…our products. EPM Live’s PortfolioEngine takes the pain out of Portfolio Planning. PortfolioEngine is a SharePoint-based, top-down Project Portfolio Management (PPM) Solution that empowers executives to make critical business decisions with confidence. Leveraging EPM Live’s award winning PortfolioEngine capabilities, this tool will put you one step ahead of the competition helping you achieve a competitive advantage by choosing the right projects to drive your business toward its strategic objectives.

Here’s a look at some of PortfolioEngine’s capabilities that will help Project Managers and Executives stay on top of the new business phenomenon.

  • Increased visibility into real-time project investment status, allowing the user to monitor progress in terms of actuals and forecasts on key dimensions such as cost, schedules, benefits and risks.

  • Leverage portfolio analytics tools to make better decisions when selecting projects and work for execution. Gain real-time insight into rich analytics such as color-coded heat maps and portfolio modeling capabilities.

  •  Create resource capacity plans to get a true picture of resource demand across all work. Estimate role-based resource hours to ensure the resource plan can be fulfilled given current resource workload and availability.

  • Design custom workflows to automate business processes across the enterprise. Project workflows may include document reviews, approvals, stage-gating and archiving, among others. Quickly create workflows to take care of routine processes on project sites, such as sending notifications or creating tasks.

Try PortfolioEngine’s FREE 30 day trial and get a feel for how choosing this solution will empower your business to make 2012 the most profitable year yet.

And remember, “You have to figure out how your company is going to deal with cloud, social, mobile and information. These four forces are affecting everything that you do and by understanding where you stand with these items will give you the foundation for evaluating your own future. Without that it will be a rough ride…with it you can actually open the door to new opportunities you may not have even realized exist,” Daryl Plummer, Gartner’s Research Managing VP.

How EPM Live Aligns With the Top 10 Project Management Trends of 2012

I recently stumbled upon an interesting article on PM Hut that identifies and describes the top 10 project management trends of 2012, as determined by ESI International senior executives and subject matter experts.  At EPM Live, we strive to keep our products and services ahead of the curve, and in alignment with industry best practices and standards.  It was with great delight, though without surprise, to see that EPM Live’s products are right in tune with many of the top 10 trends for this year.

As said by ESI International, “custom-made project approaches, innovative project tools and smarter resource management will be essential for driving the greatest business impact.”  Yes, we agree!

1.  Program management will gain momentum, but resources remain in short supply

With EPM Live tools, you can effectively plan resources from initial high-level role based planning down to detailed work item assignments, and ensure that the right resources are appointed.  When resource scarcity is an issue, plan and assign resources accurately to maximize their availability without over-allocating them to too much work.  Maximize resource allocation by ensuring the right resources are assigned to the right work at the right time.  Some of these tools include our Resource Planner and Analyzer, Resource availability reports, what-if-modeling for resource assignments, and more!  Click here to read more about resource management available with EPM Live.  To view PortfolioEngine Resource Management capabilities click here.

2.  Collaboration software solutions will become an essential business tool for project teams

“Collaboration is central to project management and having a site which allows project artifacts to be created, shared, and distributed within a repository that provides Web-based access and critical functions such as automatic distribution and notification, version control, and user authentication, greatly enhances productivity.”

EPM Live offers many ways for project teams to easily collaborate with one another and communicate efficiently.  The EPM Live solutions are built on SharePoint, so we’re able to start with all the well-known collaboration capabilities, and then add EPM Live’s collaborative tools.  Share knowledge and better collaborate with your work teams to increase productivity and efficiency through various modes of communication.  Some of these examples include comments threads on work items, workspaces for teams to focus on project-specific collaboration, easy statusing of work items, flexible alerts and notifications, and much more!  Click here to see many of the collaboration tools available from EPM Live.

3.  Learning transfer will become the new mantra, but with little structured application

4.  Agile blends with waterfall for a new “hybrid” approach

EPM Live offers pre-built templates that allow teams to manage projects using a variety of methodologies.  This includes Agile & Waterfall joined as a hybrid approach, as well as the same solutions independently.

We have a related blog on this topic.  Click here to read more about Waterfall plus Agile as hybrid planning with EPM Live.  To see some of the work template offered with EPM Live’s WorkEngine, click here.

5.  Smarter project investments will require a stronger marriage between project management and business process management (BPM)

“The more impact the project has on reducing internal costs, the higher it will be ranked. The “smart” money will be spent on driving costs out of the business.”

With EPM Live, organizations gain visibility across the portfolio, and can utilize tools to ensure the right projects are selected and managed, in accordance with important business-wide drivers and priority scoring.  Capture and determine the right mix and sequencing of proposed projects and ideas to best achieve the organization’s overall goals. View various reports to evaluate which projects bring the most value to the business.  Click here to read an EPM Live white paper about successful portfolio planning.

6.  Internal certifications in corporations and federal agencies will eclipse the PMP®

7.  More PMO heads will measure effectiveness on business results

“To judge business effectiveness, PMO heads need to determine if their work has had a positive, quantifiable effect on the business in terms of troubled project reduction, lower project manager attrition, and faster time to market. In 2012 the practice of measuring the outputs, not the inputs, of project management will gain traction.”

Reporting is essential to see not only how the business is doing with regards to their active portfolio of projects and work, but also to see how successfully they closed out completed projects, for metrics & future improvement.  EPM Live has many out of box reports available, and the capabilities to modify existing and build new custom reports.  Click here for more info about reporting & business intelligence from EPM Live.

8.  Good project managers will buck unemployment trends

9.  Client-centric project management will outpace the “triple constraint”

“The new definition of project success is that a project can exceed its time and cost estimates so long as the client determines that it is successful by whatever criteria they use. In today’s environment, project value is determined by the “recipient”—or client—not the “provider.””

EPM Live offers flexible & configurable project success criteria and business drivers.  This allows your organization to determine how you will grade your projects and requests, objectively scoring them in accordance with those business drivers.  This can also be done in terms of determining the final success of an active or closed project.  Take those same capabilities of the project selection scoring, and incorporate them as objectively scoring the success of the projects.   Click here for more about the portfolio management capabilities available from EPM Live.

10.  HR professionals will seek assessments to identify high-potential project managers

 

Note: All quotes are from the PM Hut article.  To view the full article posted by ESI International on the PM Hut site, click here.

 

2012 Resource Planning – Download a Free White Paper

Employees are the most valuable asset and the biggest expense for most organizations.  Any organization that fails to manage their resources to ensure sufficient capacity is available, and that they are being assigned and managed efficiently, risks losing control of its project and work costs and having its business activities seriously constrained.  The ability to deploy employees effectively against often conflicting projects and other work priorities enables organizations to optimize their return on human resource investments. In order to maximize both task throughput and company morale, resource and project managers need an efficient system to place the appropriate staff on the right teams at the right time.

Over the past year EPM Live has had the opportunity to work with thousands of users to improve their overall effectiveness of delivering projects within their organizations.  Given the current economy and status of many businesses today, there has been an overwhelming need to improve Resource Management planning and processes throughout 2011.  In the spirit of the New Year, here are a few tools to help you with your 2012 resource planning!

Download a Free Resource Management White Paper

Other Resources

EPM Live Wins TopTenREVIEWS Bronze Award for Scheduling Software

The schedule is one of the most critical components used for delivering a project. Project Managers have needs to manage schedules with different levels of rigor and complexity. Other project plan software limit Project Managers to one scheduling tool and method. WorkEngine offers a variety of scheduling methods and tools to meet the needs of every Project Manager.  EPM Live’s WorkEngine has always been known for its flexible scheduling tools that allow users to build schedules and tasks using a variety of methods including simple task lists, the online planner, the agile online planner, or Microsoft Project.  Regardless of user maturity or preferred methodology, EPM Live’s WorkEngine has the right tool for every user.  We are thrilled to announce that it is finally official, EPM Live has been named as one of the top scheduling software tools for 2012 by TopTenREVIEWS.

EPM Live’s WorkEngine’s scheduling application was chosen for the TopTenREVIEWS Bronze Award because of how effectively it streamlines communication and keeps projects on schedule and under budget.  TopTenREVIEWS evaluates products from multiple platforms providing customers the information they need to make smart purchasing decisions. TopTenREVIEWS only make recommendations for the best product in each category.  “With WorkEngine you can keep track of everyone on your team, their tasks, the budget and the schedule all in one program,” noted TopTenREVIEWS, “with a myriad of support options available from EPM Live, now you can focus on the project and not worry about the details falling through the cracks.”

To read the full review or check out the review video, click here.

Enhance Microsoft Project Server with EPM Live

I was recently asked by someone, why an organization would deploy EPM Live with Project Server.  By connecting EPM Live to the Project Server platform, organizations take advantage of all the features Microsoft Project Server offers and tie it together nicely with a flexible SharePoint solution that enables them to manage not only their entire project lifecycle but all of their other work as well.  EPM Live combined with Microsoft Project Server’s technology caters to all users, all work and all processes.

Organizations in the initial deployment of Project Server can maximize their return on investment and reduce cost and risk by leveraging our pre-configured SharePoint project templates, Project Server database, SSRS Reports, etc.  For those already using Project Server looking to enhance its capabilities without costly and risky customization,  EPM Live offers many enhancements that I’ve outlined below.

Pick and choose features that would benefit your organization the most, without disruption to your existing processes.  Project Managers continue to use Microsoft Project Professional and Microsoft Project Web App. Directly accessible from the Project Web App (PWA) interface.  Teams can share all work assignments, priorities, and critical dates with an effective and easy to use collaboration tool, to increase communication and productivity across their projects.  EPM Live with Project Server enables organizations to work better together and allows Microsoft Project Server to reach a broader audience and meet the needs of the entire project team.

Project Management

  • Leverage multiple scheduling methods to determine which method is right for your project.
  • For iterative planning, use the Agile Planner to schedule tasks, user stories, defects, etc.
  • Microsoft Project schedules and Project Web App schedules are published to a SharePoint task list in the Project Workspace so you can easily leverage SharePoint out of box features on your tasks
  • EPM Live’s App MarketPlace offers powerful, easy-to-use, predefined solution templates that optimize the dynamic features of EPM Live products and accelerate the implementation process.

Work Management

  • View, update and manage all individual work assignments from a single location with the EPM Live My Work web part. Roll up any work you are tracking in your SharePoint Project Workspaces to allow Team members to update status in one view.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Easily collaborate with the team using EPM Live Comments feature.  Post a comment on any item in the system to centralize discussions and communicate effectively.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Resource Management: 

  • Provide resource visibility on All Work such as Issues, Risks, Changes, Actions, in addition to Project Server assignments.  EPM Live’s Resource Planner allows resource managers to view resource workload across all work, view resource availability by time-phase, perform what-if analysis on resource assignment level workload and availability, and view resources by various attributes such as department, skill, and role.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Gain valuable insight into resource assignments by accessing EPM Live out-of-box resource reports. Printable Resource Management reports on all work such as Issues, Risks, Changes, Actions, in addition to Project Server assignments
  • Ability to build SharePoint Workflows on Resource Work and Assignments (including Project Server assignments)

Time Management:

  • Report Time on any work item such as Service Requests, Backlog Items, Changes, Issues, Risks, in addition to your Project Server assignments.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Report Time using the EPM Live Work Log feature.  Understand the full effort associated with the execution of any work item by quickly logging time within the same status interface that team members use for managing day to day activities.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Capture Time for Multiple Time Categories.  Create multiple time categories such as billable or non-billable to manage and account for time that aligns with a specific corporate work structure. Categorize time to extend reporting and report on what matters most to the business.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Portfolio Financial Management:

  • Standardize financial planning by leveraging pre-defined, configurable cost categories such as labor, hardware, software, overheads and contingency to easily plan your project budgets.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Leverage unique roll up components to aggregate all project cost data across your portfolio. Built-in cost dashboards provide key performance indicators to drive awareness of cost status.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • What-if Financial Modeling – Analyze your proposed portfolio against defined financial targets to determine alignment and overall financial impact. Compare defined budgets against proposed projects and make adjustments where needed.  Leverage color-coded heat maps to visualize impacts and make adjustments to reduce overages.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Resource Capacity Planning:

  • Using your Project Server resource pool, estimate role-based resource hours to ensure the resource plan can be fulfilled given current resource workload and availability. For the more sophisticated organizations, our powerful resource workflows allow project management to create resource requests.  Department managers can compare resource availability to identify resource shortages and surpluses and easily match available resources to resource requirements to ensure the right resources are assigned to the right work at the right time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Leverage intuitive color-coded heat maps to view over allocations and modify dates and sequencing to define the most optimal portfolio.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reporting:

  • Leverage over 20 pre-built SSRS Reporting templates.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Easily build dashboards with EPM Live Silverlight Chart Web Parts for graphical chart reporting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Take scheduled snap shots for trend reporting with pre-built trending reports, such as Burn Down and Burn Up reports.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Configuration:

  • Site hierarchy flexibility (Department – Portfolio – Program – Project – Sub Project Workspaces)
  • Publish multiple projects from Project Server into a single Project Workspace (Programs or Portfolios Workspaces)
  • All Data resides in SharePoint Content DB to enable you to easily leverage SharePoint out of box features (Project data, Assignments, Issues, Risks, Bugs, Changes, Actions, etc.)
  • Access to EPM Live web parts for rollups, time management, reporting, ect.

Cross Platform Support:

  • View Project Server data on both PC or MAC computers
  • View Project Server data in Non IE browsers
  • Safari 3.X or higher
  • Firefox 3.X or higher​

Related Webinars/Events:

Case Study – How to Get More Out of Your Project Server Deployment

Increase EPM & PPM User Adoption with EPM Live Training University

Hello EPM Live users!

My name is Mark Fish.  I joined EPM Live over a year ago as the Director of Training & Development and have enjoyed watching our company evolve at a rapid rate over the last year!  I would like to quickly introduce myself to you, and share the exciting accomplishments of our training department.   I have spent the last fifteen years delivering training and development services to organizations of all sizes, with a focus on delivering technical information in a way that is effective and easy to understand.   I have delivered Microsoft Project training and consulting services to more than 2,500 individuals – nationally (U.S.) and internationally (UK, Germany, & Hong Kong)!  I am passionate about helping our EPM Live customers get the most out of thier EPM Live solution, and am constantly finding new and creative methods to help you do so.

We at EPM Live are always striving to enhance our customer’s experience.  With our recent fall launch, we’ve released two new products, opened an office in the UK, and greatly enhanced our features set.  In addition to that, we have recently unveiled our new EPM Live University available to enhance our customer’s experience!!

Our ten plus years of working within the Enterprise Project Management industry, has provided us the experience to recognize that high-quality training enables our customers to effectively utilize our EPM Live products. The better you understand our product, the higher level of success with your organizations user adoption and overall satisfaction.

As such, we have recently launched our EPM Live Training University that provides flexible training options for end users, administrators, and developers.   We realize there isn’t a one size fits all approach for our customers, so we are now offering a variety of methods for you and your team to access training:

  • Online training guides providing current product information with easy to understand image based how-to instructions.  The new EPM Live online product guides support full text search and simple navigation.  In addition, our online product guides provide us direct communication with you with a commenting system that provides instant feedback.
  • Training how-to videos embedded right within the product itself!  Just click on the “Getting Started” pane on the right side of your screen and you will have access to a wealth of support and training information relevant to where you are in the system.
  • Online eLearning courses are designed to help you and your team, from anywhere in the world easily gain the knowledge needed to effectively and immediately use your EPM Live solution.  Our instructor lead eLearning courses are a series of 90-minute informational webinars designed to help you quickly learn specific areas of EPM Live through product demonstration and Q&A.  Since our eLearning courses are offered every week, you have the flexibility to learn at your own pace and schedule.  Visit our eLearning catalog for more information about our eLearning course offering.
  • Custom training courses designed to fit your business specific needs.  We can deliver custom classes web based, or on location at the your site with or without custom materials.  Your custom materials can be delivered online so you can leverage all the great features our online product guides support!
  • Product Boot Camps delivered in various locations (e.g. Carlsbad, San Francisco, and Washington DC).    The Boot Camp will give you an end-to-end understanding of the EPM Live products and is designed specifically for those individuals who need to know and understand how to configure and administer the EPM Live product lines. Boot Camps consist of hands-on workshops and interactive discussion sessions lead by a team of technical experts.

EPM Live is investing directly in your success and we are dedicated to bring you the best training service!   If you have any comments or concerns or would just like to reach out and introduce yourself, please don’t hesitate to contact me directly.

EPM Live's Project Collaboration – How We Use Our Tools Internally

Staying true to our EPM Live rock theme…. Bob Dylan’s third studio album titled, “The Times They Are a-Changin’” , says it in a nutshell.  With Facebook, Linked In, and the “Google age” providing information at your fingertips, communication in the project management world and the tools to do it are evolving at an alarming rate!  With the constant availability of technology, people want real time information at their fingertips at all times.  As such, Project and Product Managers are facing the challenge of having current data available to their team remotely and the flexibility to work in this dynamic environment.

At times, the rapid rate of change may feel a bit overwhelming for some.  However, I think the new ways for us to connect with our teams represent an opportunity for building our own mini-communities to help find and share information faster and more easily.  So, for this blog series, I thought I’d take some time to share some of my favorite collaborative features within EPM Live that we use internally.  These features help keep everyone in the loop and come up with the best ideas for reaching goals.

First, with our last release we included a new “Comments” feature.  This feature allows users to share comments on any item in the system.  We use this new feature here internally and it has allowed me to keep history and keep my discussions centralized on a particular work item.  For example, for a particular defect item within our backlog that I have questions about – I can simply add a comment/question.  The EPM Live system will email the comment to the user who is assigned to the item, and anyone else on the discussion string.  It’s a very useful feature!!

In addition, I’ll highlight the new My Work web part.  The recently enhanced My Work web part allows team members to update and manage all individual work assignments from a single location. Roll up any work across the enterprise for global visibility and increased efficiency. Team members can update status in one view to reduce cost and improve productivity, so project managers know what the status is on their projects work items.  Yes, we do use it here – and when someone asks me what they should be working on – I ask them to review their “My Work” items.  Yes, change is difficult here too, but we are moving in the right direction!  🙂

Lastly, Team Discussions that are included in project workspace templates let you share information and discuss project topics with your team for real-time project collaboration.  The unorganized email threads can drive a person batty (this person in particular)!!  Discussion boards can be connected right within your Outlook so you can quickly reply to messages within a familiar email application.  This allows you to keep track of discussions within your site, so the entire team can review and search the site to find information that is important to them.

To connect your Team Discussion to Outlook:

  1. Navigate to your Project Workspace Team Discussion.
  2. Within the List Ribbon, click on “Connect to Outlook”
  3. When you are prompted to confirm that you want to connect the discussion board to Outlook, click Yes.
    1. In Outlook, the discussion board is added to the folder list in a new folder called SharePoint Lists. After the discussion topics appear, you can read and respond to them.

* TIP   After you connect a discussion board to Outlook, you can send a sharing message to other team members that invites them to connect to the discussion board. Right-click the discussion board name in Outlook, and then click Share discussion board name on the shortcut menu. This creates an e-mail message that contains a link and a command to connect to the discussion board.

Over the last 10 years, the face of project and portfolio management tools has changed immensely enabling teams to work more quickly and efficiently than ever before.  Take it from Bob Dylan.…  “For the times they are a-changin’”

Project Management Software – A Brief History (Part 1)

So we at EPM Live thought many of our customers might be interested in how project management software came about; it’s a pretty interesting and remarkable story.  Most people don’t realize that project management software is actually 54 years old this year, and was one of the first software applications ever developed.  So let’s start at the beginning:

The project management industry owes its origins to one enlightened US company and four brilliant men.  The company was the Dupont Company and the key players were John Mauchly, J. Presper Eckert Jr., Jim Kelly, and Morgan Walker.  Mauchly and Eckert were the designers of the ENIAC, the first general purpose electronic digital computer.  The US Army contracted with Mauchly and Eckert for the development of ENIAC which was first used to calculate bomb and artillery trajectories.  Eckert did the hardware engineering, and Mauchly did the conceptual design.  The ENIAC was originally “programmed” with patch cords and switches; changing the program took days.  But ENIAC could solve trajectory problems that couldn’t be solved by other means. The picture below shows 4 panels (of 40) from the ENIAC which was located in a basement (more on the basement later) at the University of Pennsylvania.

Eventually the two men formed the Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation and in 1947 they received a contract form the National Bureau of Standards to build the first computer designed for business applications.  Their computer eventually became the UNIVAC I.  Very early in the history of their company, Mauchly assumed responsibility for programming, coding, and applications for the planned computer systems.  Mauchly pioneered fundamental computer concepts including the stored program, subroutines, and programming languages.  Mauchly’s interest lay in the “application” of computers, because he realized that no one would buy a computer without applications.

Mauchly and Eckert were brilliant scientists and engineers, but not so great at running the business.  They had continued financial issues and the company was purchased by Remington Rand and became the UNIVAC division.

DuPont purchased one of the first UNIVAC computers. DuPont management felt that ‘planning, estimating and scheduling’ seemed like a good use of the computer.  Morgan Walker of DuPont was given the job of discovering if a computer could be programmed to help.  Others had started studying the problem, including other researchers within DuPont but no one had achieved a commercially viable outcome.  In the period from late 1956 through April 1957, Walker, assisted by Jim Kelly from Remington Rand and others, had scoped a viable project.  Their challenge was to solve the time-cost conundrum.  Their goal was to demonstrate that in preference to flooding a project with labor to recover lost time, focusing effort on the ‘right’ (critical) tasks could reduce time without significantly increasing cost.

In May 1957, a meeting was held between Remington Rand’s UNIVAC division and DuPont to start a project to develop the Critical Path Method (CPM).   Note that CPM wasn’t first used to describe the operating system for the Apple II.  The project was jointly funded by both companies, but the key ingredients for success were the people brought to the project by UNIVAC.  The DuPont team was headed by Walker and the key players from UNIVAC were James E. Kelley and John Mauchly.  Kelley was the mathematician and computer expert nominated by Mauchly to ‘solve the problem’ for Walker.

The solution adopted by Kelley was borrowed from ‘linear programming’ and used what was called “I-J” notation to describe the relationship between activities.  His approach created a couple of significant challenges.  One was gathering the data needed to load the computer model.  Engineers were not used to describing work in terms of activities (tasks) with resource requirements and different costs depending on the resources.  It took Walker 3 months to assemble the first test data for Kelly’s algorithm!

Another problem was that unless you were a mathematician, “I-J” wasn’t something easily understood.  The team developed the ‘Activity-on-Arrow’ diagram to explain the mathematics to management.  Despite all of the problems, the team ran the first real CPM analysis for one of DuPont’s plant shutdowns in July 1957. The project schedule included 61 activities, 8 timing restraints and 16 dummies!  Here’s a portion of the CPM diagram for that first test:

Project management thus became the first commercial software program which ran on a computer using a “stored program”.

Work on the CPM application continued for the next few years and in March 1959 Kelley and Walker jointly presented CPM to the public at large at the Eastern Joint Computer Conference in a paper entitled ‘Critical Path Planning and Scheduling’.  Amazing though, CPM nearly died as a concept.  Although the system saved DuPont 25% on their plant shutdowns, they dropped the system shortly after a management change took place. And the Remington Rand UNIVAC division saw little future in the system and abandoned it!

CPM was ‘saved’ by Mauchly & Associates (formed by John Mauchly and Jim Kelley).  They commercialized the system, simplified the process to focus on schedule (rather than cost), organized training courses and developed an entire new way of ‘doing business’.  CPM was popular but expensive – solving scheduling problems could cost the price of a small car; however, the commercial ‘push’ from Mauchly & Associates moved CPM to the forefront of ‘scheduling systems’ (overtaking the PERT technique being developed by the US Navy) until the “Precedence” technique used by all scheduling systems today was developed in the 1970s.

In next month’s Part 2 blog: “EPMLive traces itself to these early pioneers”.

*** A bit of releated history:  “What’s the origin of the term software “bugs”?

There are several stories about where the term “bugs” came from, but many center on John Mauchly’s original ENIAC computer, located in a basement at the University of Pennsylvania.  Remember that the ENIAC was driven by vacuum tubes which took a long time to warm up, and “glowed”.  This was long before the advent of commercial air conditioning.  The ENIAC had to be started up before dawn and the operators opened the basement windows to keep temperatures down.  The ENIAC used “core” memory and many wires and switches had no insulation.  You can imagine the effect the moths who came in those windows had when they alighted on the circuits!  One of Mauchly’s first computer programmers Grace Hopper is given credit for first using the term “bug”, although some others dispute her as the author.  Whoever you believe there is a log book on display in the Smithsonian complete with moth attached:

 

 

So until next month, I hope you have enjoyed learning about the history of Project Management Software!  To see how far Project Management Tools have come, check out EPM Live!

How Waterfall and Agile Work Together at EPM Live

At EPM Live, we confront many of the same challenges our customers face in regards to managing all types of projects.  For example, we have a managed services division of the company that manages customer deployments using a traditional waterfall type of methodology.  This model supports defined stages and allows for thorough planning, logical design, implementation and deployment.

On the other front, we also have our product development department using an Agile approach to managing our product releases.  For those that are not familiar with Agile, we basically develop in short and frequent sprints or iterations by cutting down the “big picture” into puzzle size bits, and fitting them together when the time is right.  This allows our product team to focus on “the now” (what is currently happening) and take into account any feedback, shifts or changes that may occur and respond quickly.

Now, the challenge…  we were all working within our own WorkEngine product to manage these projects & products.  We needed to manage costs, time, resources and general work with varying schedule management needs.   Yes, we do “eat our own dog food”!  At the same time, we had customers looking for the same capabilities we were looking for internally!  There are many robust tools available to support the varying Agile software development methodologies.  However, they force customers to have separate platforms if you manage your projects with different methodologies.

Facing these challenges internally and listening to our customer feedback motivated us develop WorkEngine’s Agile Planner and Application Management templates to support using both waterfall and iterative planning within the same application.   We released our Agile Planner in June of 2010, and have continued to improve it with each release by taking feedback from our internal team, in addition to the valued input from our customers.  I won’t spill the beans on the new release, but we are continuously enhancing the product so that our customers can easily manage their projects using the tools that make the most sense to them!

On a side note, for more information about WorkEngine application development capabilities,  watch our webinar focused on TFS integration presented by one of our valuable partners OAG:  https://www3.gotomeeting.com/register/562337566

World Leader in Manufacturing Selects WorkEngine for PPM in New Product Development

Congratulations to Vectron International and EPM Live trusted partner PM Providers for implementing a successful WorkEngine PPM Solution for New Product Development!

“WorkEngine was a great choice for us.  We’ve been able to bring project teams together from across the globe and improve collaboration.  Our executives love the ease it has provided to roll up multiple projects at a glance, and the seamless data integration with our other business systems,” said Dave Chandler, Vectron Product Manager.

Vectron International is a world leader in the design and manufacture of Frequency Control, Sensor, and Hybrid Product solutions including crystals and crystal oscillators, frequency translators, clock and data recovery products, Crystal filters and other components used in telecommunications, data communications, frequency synthesizers, timing, navigation, military, aerospace and instrumentation systems.

Headquartered in Hudson, NH and with operating facilities and sales offices in North America, Europe and Asia, Vectron International is known for its technical capabilities in crystal oscillator and SAW filter design. The innovation and capability provided by the company reflects technologically sophisticated integrated solutions.

Vectron’s continued innovation curve is dependent on highly skilled engineering resources with specific domain expertise.  As a result, Vectron’s ability to develop and drive new products and custom applications to market is directly tied to the availability of these valuable and limited engineering skills.  In order to more effectively balance the need for new product development with customer-specific custom orders, Vectron needed a way to understand and model the entire project portfolio with specific focus on product development road-map projects to ensure that adequate resources continued to be focused on future product development.

In addition to developing and tracking the portfolio of projects in the pipeline, Vectron also needed a way to account for production support activities, resource allocations across the portfolio, and actual work accrued against projects across three business lines and four development sites in the US and Europe.  The development of good project scheduling techniques, product development process adherence, enhanced collaboration and communications, and time reporting were essential elements for driving improved performance, accountability, and resource capacity optimization.

Vectron knew they needed to deploy a Project Portfolio Management System (PPM) to address their business challenges but were concerned with introducing too much complexity for employees.  Vectron entrusted PM Providers, an EPM Live partner, to select the ‘right-fit’ PPM solution for their business.  PPM tool selection was a critical step to ensure system acceptance and data integrity.  After evaluating Microsoft Project Server, EPM Live’s WorkEngine, and PM Providers’ EPMLite solutions, Vectron selected WorkEngine as having the right mix of functionality and ease-of use for the organization.

With the WorkEngine Solution Vectron was able to rapidly develop business-centric views of their project portfolio with dynamic, real-time reporting including resource utilization and capacity analytics.  In addition, WorkEngine’s user-friendly timesheets and timesheet compliance reports allowed Vectron to quickly evaluate resource efforts across business units and projects and adjust allocations to meet shifting priorities.  Built on proven Microsoft SharePoint Technology, WorkEngine was clearly the right-fit solution for Vectron International.  Now Vectron is able to effectively monitor and control project resources and direct key staff efforts to strategic roadmap projects without compromising existing customer project support.