EPM Live PPM Briefing Series #3: What Processes Comprise PPM?

For our third installment of the EPM Live PPM Briefing Series, Harvey Levine looks at the process of ranking and selection of projects. 

In the initial blog in this PPM (Project Portfolio Management) series, we noted that PPM has two primary phases. The first part focuses on the prioritization and selection of projects for the portfolio. The second part deals with managing the projects within the portfolio. These two components require different practices. However, while separate in nature, the two phases impact upon each other, so they must be integrated. In this segment, we focus on the components of the first phase.

Selecting Projects for the Pipeline

This phase deals with proposed projects and provides a structured process to:

  • Guide the preparation of project proposals (business case) so that they can be evaluated
  • Evaluate project value and benefits
  • Appraise the risks that might modify these benefits
  • Align candidate projects with enterprise strategies
  • Determine the most favorable utilization of resources
  • Rank projects according to a set of selection criteria
  • Select projects for the portfolio(s)

If we look at the front-end of the Project Portfolio Life Span we see that the focus of the first phase is on screening and ranking projects. This recognizes the most common issue facing project and strategic planners. That is; how do you whittle down the mass of proposed projects, in a logical and rational manner, and arrive at a portfolio that delivers the best possible benefits to the firm? 

In order to perform the ranking and selection of projects, it will also be necessary to:

  • Execute a strategic plan and subsequent tactical planning guidelines
  • Maintain an inventory of available resources
  • Establish budget buckets for the portfolios
  • Decide on an optimum or acceptable size of the project pipeline
  • Establish a set of weighted scoring criteria
  • Set some boundaries or guidance for acceptable risk

In the execution of this screening and ranking process, we’ll continue to keep in mind the need to apply the PPM triple constraint, considering the strategic, value, and resource elements of each project and their impact on the portfolio as a whole. This is accomplished by developing a comprehensive set of selection criteria – which is the subject of the next segment.

As a preview of the entire process (both phases) as an integrated, flowing system, we offer the author’s model of a comprehensive PPM process, including a pre-qualification feature that aims to reduce the overflow of bad ideas and projects into the portfolio hopper.

 

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Harvey A. Levine, with 50 years of service to the project management industry, is a pioneer in the field of Project Portfolio Management (PPM). Mr. Levine is the author of three books, and over 275 articles, whitepapers and videos on Project Management. His 2002 book, “Practical Project Management: Tips, Tactics, and Tools”, is still available from John Wiley & Sons. Mr. Levine’s 2005 book, “Project Portfolio Management, A Practical Guide to Selecting Projects, Managing Portfolios, and Maximizing Benefits”, Jossey-Bass, is a Wiley best-seller. Mr. Levine is past president and chair of the Project Management Institute (PMI®) and a PMI Fellow. For more information on Harvey please visit http://theprojectknowledgegroup.sharepoint.com.  

EPM Live Prevents Service Management Loss In The Cloud

With the release of Gartner Inc.’s 2012 Magic Quadrant for Cloud-based Project and Portfolio Management Services, a bigger spotlight has been placed on SaaS applications. Here at EPM Live we see the SaaS trend in our customers. Not only is the IT industry changing and heading into the cloud but many organizations are moving all business processes to a SaaS platform. Organizations are quickly realizing that adopting the cloud computing model may be inevitable for some and represents a classic case of the earlier, the better. However, many critics have underlined concerns over the future of service management in a cloud computing environment.

Does the cloud theory of everything-as-a-service compromise on service management? Does the cloud model adhere to service management SLAs like the traditional on-premise solution model? Let’s find out.

Is Service Management needed in Cloud Computing?

Of course, it’s needed. Cloud or no cloud, service management is a key requirement to ensuring quality of service. While the cloud model may offer higher reliability and flexibility than the on-premise approach, it is not 100% safe from incidents.

Therefore, it is crucial to have service management processes in a cloud environment. The principles of Incident Management, Problem Management and Change Management are just as important in a cloud environment as in an on-premise solution.

None of the ITIL best practices get eliminated by moving to a cloud-based model. The organization still needs a service desk and it still requires service level measurement and reporting.

SLAs in the Cloud

Since the infrastructure and computing resources are offered by third-party vendors, the Cloud model is a great proponent of implementing SLA (Service Level Agreements) for effective service management.

It is important to understand the business requirements for performance, availability, scalability and cost in order to provide the cloud infrastructure for an organization. The Cloud model calls for a strong paradigm shift from component level reliability to service level reliability.

SOA offers Endless Possibilities

The Cloud Computing philosophy is built largely on SOA (Service Oriented Architecture) which offers endless possibilities to software development organizations. SOA allows organizations to build a strong focus on high availability and optimal performance by benchmarking the user experience.

SOA is bound to increase the dependencies in an organization; therefore it calls for stronger service management. The SOA model simply shifts some of the service management responsibilities from the organization to the cloud provider. It also calls for a strong centralized policy management service which makes it easy to monitor the health of the cloud and solutions running on top of it.

Service Management is all about monitoring the health of your IT infrastructure. It does not matter if the health check is being done on an on-premise infrastructure or one that’s hosted in the cloud. All that matters is that the health check is crucial and can’t be overlooked by any organization.

Service Management is after all, the silver lining in the Cloud!

Gartner Positions EPM Live in SaaS PPM 2012 Magic Quadrant

Gartner Inc., a global leading information technology research and advisory company recently released their much anticipated 2012 Magic Quadrant for Cloud-based Project and Portfolio Management Services outlining the best online PPM solutions on the market today. In the report, which places EPM Live as the only challenger in the Cloud-based Project and Portfolio Management Services space, they explain the direction of the market and offer up reasons why an organization would want to make the switch to a SaaS provider.

EPM Live’s SaaS-based PPM software is able to support both types of Gartner defined customers, project execution level and project portfolio level.  EPM Live also specializes in supporting all departments and verticals such as IT, Project Portfolio Management, New Product Development, Application Lifecycle Management, Professional Services Automation, etc.  EPM Live’s numerous integrations allow organizations to bring all work into one centralized location for overall visibility and insight. 

According to Gartner, vendors recognized as “challengers” in this Magic Quadrant, “resemble Leaders in many ways, such as product depth and breadth — combined with enough experienced product development, sales and marketing personnel to effectively reach and meet the needs of the market.” Gartner goes on to say that the same characteristics that apply for Leaders can be applied to Challengers. “Challengers, however, appear as such mainly because they may have recently embraced PPM SaaS as their main business model, or that model and general practice, although the focal point going forward, has not eclipsed their other business models, which may include a history in on-premises and/or hosted PPM software implementations.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Supporting the challenger diagnosis, EPM Live CEO Joe Larscheid states “Although SaaS has taken the market by storm and will continue to be the front runner in modern PPM deployments, EPM Live will continue to hold its position as the leading Microsoft SharePoint-based PPM on-premise software on the market as well, allowing us to support both markets and giving our customers the flexibility and deployment options they need to make them successful.  We believe the fact that we are recognized for both SaaS and On-Premise software is a true affirmation of our vision and intent to meet the needs of a rapidly growing and changing market.” 

Gartner explains in the report, “Cloud, a style of computing in which scalable IT-enabled capabilities are delivered as a service to external customers using Internet technologies, enables rapid deployment of solutions anytime and anywhere. SaaS is software-owned, delivered and managed remotely by one or more providers. It enables rapid delivery of PPM solutions that balance standardization and configurability. To balance the need for standardization and configurability, these service providers tend to provide their offerings as cloud-native (designed initially for the cloud) or cloud-optimized (whereby the underlying software has been refactored or redesigned for cloud use). These lighter-weight offerings provide the core functionality desired by mainstream PPM leaders, and have evolved as cloud-based PPM services. These services have rapid time to value, and minimize financial commitment and risk. Strong demand for these solutions will persist for at least another year.”

 There are many reasons why an organization would want to move their business to a SaaS solution, I analyzed many of them in my previous article, “The Long Term Value of SaaS PPM Applications – An EPM Live Analysis,” and below you find a few of those previous mentioned as well as those supported by Gartner in the latest report. 

  1. Time to market- A PPM solution is needed now (less than 30 days) for process automation, reporting and standardization. 
  2. Minimal customization needed- At the current time of implementation, heavy customization is not required and in depth integrations are not necessary to receive ROI out of the toolset. 
  3. On premise functionality is not required now or in the future.
  4. Security- The security levels that can be met by an online application meets the security needs of the organization. 
  5. Limited funding- Most SaaS software can be obtained for much less than an on-premise model.  Cost models for SaaS are typically based on monthly payments and require less upfront fees, no internal infrastructure costs and less resources.
  6. Low organizational maturity- The organizational maturity level may be low which means that comprehensive and complex functionality could overwhelm your users.  SaaS will allow you to adopt the functionality you are ready for immediately and grow as your organization matures. 
  7. Limited users- SaaS is a great option for small organizations that need 50 licenses or less.  With EPM Live, the license model is such that large organizations can take advantage of the SaaS offering as well and still reap the benefits.
  8. Low cost, low risk POC (proof of concept)- Many organizations don’t have a lot of funding upfront and are hesitant to dump their funds into a POC that will consume their budgets.  SaaS is a perfect option that allows you to get up and running now online with little or no upfront costs.  

EPM Live’s online PPM solution aligns directly with many of the proposed SaaS qualification points. EPM Live understands there are many levels of users across an organization and those users have different work, different processes and different PPM maturity alignment. We have successfully completed implementations for large organizations which increased user adoptability within the business. EPM Live allows organizations the ability to define and enforce Enterprise requirements while allowing individual teams the ability to customize their solution to work the way they work, ultimately increasing ownership and adoption of PPM technology. EPM Live is flexible, easily configurable and gets your organization the best price value. EPM Live specializes in bringing all work into one centralized platform so there is less of a need to use segregated tools within the enterprise. EPM Live offers a free 30-day trial of our online Project Portfolio Management solution, so get started today! 

EPM Live PPM Briefing Series #2: The PPM Triple Constraint

In this edition of EPM Live’s Project Portfolio Management (PPM) Briefing Series, Harvey Levine looks at the benefits of properly executed PPM. 

Project Portfolio Management PPM is the management of the project portfolio so as to maximize the contribution of projects to the overall welfare and success of the enterprise. This is the main point that I made in the opening blog on this PPM Series. If I had to reduce this statement to a single word it would be “benefits.” We invest in PPM so as to increase the likelihood that our projects deliver the maximum benefits to the firm.

The Triple Constraint

Students of Project Management are taught to focus on the PM “triple constraint.” These are: Schedule, Cost, and Scope. This is sort of the golden rule of PM. We are taught to balance the management of projects so as to best meet the combined objectives of time, cost and deliverables. In Project Portfolio Management (PPM) there is also a triple constraint, but it is entirely different. It is this difference that helps to separate PPM from PM as having two aligned but different sets of focus.

Maximizing Benefits

Our portfolios stand on a three-legged stool. We attempt to maximize the benefits within a portfolio by selecting projects that balance three constraining factors:

  • Strategic Alignment
  • Value-Benefits
  • Resource Capacity & Demand 
This is the PPM Triple Constraint. Projects are chosen because their combined scores represent a contribution to portfolio optimization.

It was the shift in focus, to this new triple constraint, that first attacted me to the then emerging concepts for PPM. It presented a new framework to be more structured in our way of choosing projects. It gave us a roadmap for filtering out the “bad” projects that always seem to find their way into the workload – projects that deplete limited financial and human resources and do not fit in with where the firm wants to go.

It should be a no-brainer – that projects should support strategic objectives, that they should provide value, and that they should efficiently and effectively utilize resources. But the fact is that many, many projects find their way into the mix that do not score high in these key areas.

In PPM, the Strategic Planning function is fully integrated into the mechanisms for evaluating and selecting proposed projects. Projects must support the Tactical Objectives defined in the Strategic Plan.

Of course, project value is always considered. At least I hope that the project business case presents a good picture of the project return on investment and other value metrics. However, the Achilles Heel of project return computations is the tendency to overlook risk when developing these numbers. This is a fatal flaw that is allowed to exist in many business case models, where potential risk is at least downplayed, if not altogether ignored.

An iron-clad rule must be that “Benefits are based on potential VALUE as  modified by RISK.” 

Certainly, the big investment lesson of the past decade is that the downside  CAN happen. The dynamics of risk have changed and it is essential to  increase sensitivity to uncertainty. All ROI-type calculations must consider  risk.

 And, finally, consideration of resource demand is vital to building an  efficient portfolio. Specific attention must be directed to critical and  strategic resources – those resources that are either in limited supply or  represent the special skills upon which the firm depends to build the  business and deliver its products and services.

Let the PPM triple constraint be the foundation of your PPM process, and  guide your way to building a portfolio of projects that deliver the maximum  benefits to the firm.

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Harvey A. Levine, with 50 years of service to the project management industry, is a pioneer in the field of Project Portfolio Management (PPM). Mr. Levine is the author of three books, and over 275 articles, whitepapers and videos on Project Management. His 2002 book, “Practical Project Management: Tips, Tactics, and Tools”, is still available from John Wiley & Sons. Mr. Levine’s 2005 book, “Project Portfolio Management, A Practical Guide to Selecting Projects, Managing Portfolios, and Maximizing Benefits”, Jossey-Bass, is a Wiley best-seller. Mr. Levine is past president and chair of the Project Management Institute (PMI®) and a PMI Fellow. For more information on Harvey please visit http://theprojectknowledgegroup.sharepoint.com.

EPM Live PPM Briefing Series Special Edition: A New Way of Thinking – Toss Out Old Maxims

In this special edition of EPM Live’s Project Portfolio Management (PPM) Briefing Series, Harvey Levine analyzes a leading oil company’s decision to indefinitely suspend a $1.5 billion project. 

I hate to miss an opportunity for a little sermon (whoops! I mean discussion) about how Project Portfolio Management (PPM) delivers great results. Are you ready to toss out some of the old maxims that you’ve grown up with?

One of the benefits of the blog technology is to enable the quick development of a story that would be of immediate value to the readership. I often come across a headline telling of an incident that has a strong connection to the lessons to be learned about PPM. Here is one that popped up the other afternoon.

“BP suspends costly Alaska oil project”

What’s behind the headline?

Well, it seems that five years ago BP proposed a $1.5 billion project that was to be producing oil, some 40,000 barrels a day, by 2011. Now, after a delayed start, and 18 months of work, a planned company review disclosed significant cost overruns and technical difficulties (according to the Reuters report). The company review concluded that the project should not go forward as planned.

“The project, as it’s designed right now, doesn’t meet BP’s standards” said a company spokeswoman. It was noted that the standards had changed after the Deepwater Horizon incident in 2010. “BP has many opportunities in its global portfolio and projects must compete for resources,” the company said, adding that it was working with regulators to discuss potential ways to move the project forward.

Wow! Think of the money that must have been spent thus far. Think of the promises and bets that were made on this plan for production from the 100 million barrels of recoverable oil. Think of all the commitments that were made, of resources, of contracts, of benefits that will not be delivered.

Why is this important? Where is the lesson? There are at least three that I can think of. And all three challenge the conventional thinking about projects.

  1. Sunk costs don’t matter. Here’s something that we deal with almost every day, even in the normal routines of daily living. We make some kind of investment – it could be time or money – with some type of expected result. Then, half way through, it looks like the expected results won’t happen. Maybe the conditions changed. Maybe the costs were underestimated. Maybe the technology doesn’t work. Maybe the dog ate your blueprints. Doesn’t matter. The thing is that whatever you expected from the investment will not produce the expected results. Everything points to abandoning the effort. But what about all the money/time you’ve put into it? You can’t just walk away. Or can you? The thing about sunk costs (money you have already spent) is that it is, indeed, sunk. The only thing that matters is how much it is going to take, going forward, to produce the result you need (if that result is even still possible). Forget about the cost/benefits computations in the project proposal. The only thing that counts is the cost/benefits computation going forward from today.
  2. It’s okay to terminate, delay, or revamp a project. Oh! That’s blasphemy! Don’t you remember what they taught us? A successful project is one that delivers the expected scope and benefits, on schedule, and within budget. It doesn’t say anything about uncompleted projects. Changes to a project? Not on my watch! As a result of this thinking, too many bad projects continue to eat up funds and people until either the funds dry up or the project is no longer pertinent to the needs of the firm. The answer to both of these old axioms (sunk costs and project termination) can be addressed by the simple lyrics of a popular song: “You have to know when to hold em, and know when to fold em”. In PPM, we develop a prioritized list of qualified projects. Assuming that there are more projects that can be supported, we will have a waiting list of projects looking for funding and resources. If the expected benefits of a selected project are no longer supported, then consideration should be given to those in the stand-by category.
  3. Scheduled in-progress audits. Here, again, the conventional wisdom is way off the mark. We will normally hold an “end-of-project” review. Theoretically, this makes a lot of sense. But, in practice, it’s a waste. By the time the typical project is over, what is recorded is data relative to why the project failed to meet its targets. Maybe even why the project died. Why did we call these reviews a “post-mortem?” Furthermore, most of the key people involved in the project started moving on to other work about three-quarters of the way through the project. So the real important data is often irretrievable. The time to conduct a project review is periodically during the execution of the project. Conduct the project audit early enough to identify and fix things that need attention while there is still time. Or, if indicated, terminate, delay or change the project so that resource and cost losses are held to a minimum.

So kudos to BP for doing things right. This is the fundamental basis of PPM. That is; a project, even after approval, must be periodically tested for conformity to the substance of the original business case. If there are significant changes (in this case considerable increased costs to meet revised standards) then the business case has to be re-visited and the project value reconsidered. From what I can see from the limited information in the news release, this “project failure” is a victory for those who have adopted the new way of thinking about projects. It is a validation of the teachings that the PPM pioneers brought down from the mountain.

  • Don’t be concerned with sunk costs.
  • It’s okay to terminate (or delay/change) a project.
  • Hold your project reviews during the project, not after.

It appears that the people at BP are not yet ready to throw out everything that they put into this project. But rather they will be looking at whether they can salvage some of the investment and still achieve reasonable (even if changed) benefits. Meanwhile, the resources can be diverted to other productive ventures, limiting losses and shifting to other projects with a better opportunity to deliver benefits to the firm.

This kind of thinking is at the core of PPM. Your methods, and the tools that you use to sustain these methods, should support this.

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Harvey A. Levine, with 50 years of service to the project management industry, is a pioneer in the field of Project Portfolio Management (PPM). Mr. Levine is the author of three books, and over 275 articles, whitepapers and videos on Project Management. His 2002 book, “Practical Project Management: Tips, Tactics, and Tools”, is still available from John Wiley & Sons. Mr. Levine’s 2005 book, “Project Portfolio Management, A Practical Guide to Selecting Projects, Managing Portfolios, and Maximizing Benefits”, Jossey-Bass, is a Wiley best-seller. Mr. Levine is past president and chair of the Project Management Institute (PMI®) and a PMI Fellow. For more information on Harvey please visit http://theprojectknowledgegroup.sharepoint.com.

EPM Live PPM Briefing Series #1: What is Project Portfolio Management (PPM)?

In this series of blog posts by EPM Live contributor Harvey A. Levine, we will explore PPM for an in-depth understanding of what it is at its core and the benefits of proper execution.

Project Portfolio Management is a set of business practices that brings the world of projects into tight integration with other business operations. PPM brings projects into harmony with the strategies, resources, and executive oversight of the enterprise. PPM provides the structure and processes for project portfolio governance.

I could leave it right there – and you’ll scratch your head and ask “what’s he mean?” Or you can drop everything and pick up my 500 page book for a complete dissertation. How about a compromise – a slightly expanded explanation for now, with additional segments to follow?

It’s been about a decade since PPM emerged on the project scene and, thankfully, the business world is rapidly embracing this immensely valuable management concept. Still, many project and business managers grapple with understanding where Project Management (PM) and PPM differ, and why these are two distinct (although closely aligned) business practices.

A critical mistake is to think that PPM is essentially the management of multiple projects, or Enterprise Project Management. This is fundamentally wrong. PPM is the management of the project portfolio so as to maximize the contribution of projects to the overall welfare and success of the enterprise. This means that:

  • Projects must be aligned with the firm’s strategy and goals.
  • Projects must be consistent with the firm’s values and culture.
  • Projects must contribute (directly or indirectly) to a positive cash flow for the enterprise.
  • Projects must effectively utilize the firm’s resources – both people and other.
    • Projects must not only provide for current contributions to the firm’s health but must help to position the firm for future success.

This cannot be accomplished solely within the projects domain. PPM, to be fully effective, requires the participation of several core components of the firm. Furthermore, it requires the integration of several “systems” within the organization. In a series of weekly blogs, we’ll look at each of these, from both an organizational point of view and a systems point of view. We’ll intersperse these topics with other valuable tips regarding both project and portfolio management.

The Project Portfolio Life Span

Perhaps the strongest way to delineate the differences between Project Management and Project Portfolio Management is to look at the true life span of projects within the PPM environment. We usually consider the life span of a project to be from authorization to delivery. In some models, we start earlier – with a proposal.

With PPM, this life span is expanded, on both ends. The Project Portfolio Life Span (PPLS) consists of the following phased components:

  1. Identification of needs and opportunities
  2. Selection of best combinations of projects (the portfolios)
  3. Planning and execution of the projects (project management)
  4. Product launch (acceptance and use of deliverables)
  5. Realization of benefits

Looking at this model, you can see that the purview of the project office is concentrated on item 3. The expansion of the life span and scope to include all five items requires the involvement and leadership of the executive side of the organization and the development of a portfolio governance culture, processes and tools.

First three steps of the PPLS

 

Furthermore, the measurement of success does not stop with project delivery. The project was designed to deliver certain defined benefits. The true measure of success must extend to the evaluation of whether these benefits were, in fact, obtained.

We can subdivide PPM into two primary phases. The first part focuses on the prioritization and selection of projects for the portfolio. The second part deals with managing the project portfolio. These two components require different practices. However, while separate in nature, the two phases impact upon each other, so they must be integrated.

The concepts are simple, pragmatic and powerful. Understanding and executing these concepts will go a long way toward helping your firm to achieve a desired future state.

Why Should You Care about PPM?

Knowing what PPM is may be worthwhile. But what really is important is to recognize why PPM is so essential to business success. Actually, I just said why. In Project Management (PM) we aim for project success. In PPM, we aim for business success. Well, aren’t they one and the same, you might ask? Not in the slightest. A popular way of explaining the difference is that PM is doing projects right, while PPM is doing the right projects. I like that – as a cute way of differentiating the two. But is goes way deeper than that. Frankly, project success does not necessarily translate to business success. Project success is measured in specific, project-centric ways. Bringing the project in on schedule and within budget. Delivering full scope and performance.  Maintaining a high level of quality. Satisfying the project stakeholders. These are some of the project metrics.

But how do we know that the project deliverables are really what the business needs? What if a particular project drained critical resources that could have been contributing to more “valuable” projects? Do we know if the project deliverables are in alignment with the firm’s tactical plans? Could we have had a better return on investment with a different project? In the traditional project environment, do we ask how the project helps the firm to reach a desired future state? Do we compare the expected benefits among prospective projects? What kind of discipline do we maintain to discourage weak projects and focus on the stronger ones? What kind of metrics do we employ to do this?

If you’re thinking that there are weaknesses in how your organization chooses projects, and wish there was a better way, we have the answer for sure. Project Portfolio Management provides the structure and processes for evaluating, selecting, and managing projects so that they contribute to the objectives and success of the firm. Simple, pragmatic tools are readily available to support these practices.

Please join me in this journey of discovery as we post weekly segments of this PPM Briefing Series. And look for occasional special tips and tricks to help use this newly gained knowledge in easy and pragmatic ways. We’ll also be posting some white papers to expand on the blogs and present special insights. I promise to make it pleasant and useful reading.

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Harvey A. Levine, with 50 years of service to the project management industry, is a pioneer in the field of Project Portfolio Management (PPM). Mr. Levine is the author of three books, and over 275 articles, whitepapers and videos on Project Management. His 2002 book, “Practical Project Management: Tips, Tactics, and Tools”, is still available from John Wiley & Sons. Mr. Levine’s 2005 book, “Project Portfolio Management, A Practical Guide to Selecting Projects, Managing Portfolios, and Maximizing Benefits”, Jossey-Bass, is a Wiley best-seller. Mr. Levine is past president and chair of the Project Management Institute (PMI®) and a PMI Fellow. For more information on Harvey please visit http://theprojectknowledgegroup.sharepoint.com. 

 

NASA Improves Project Visibility and Reduces Costs With EPM Live Enterprise Project Management Solution

As a center of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is responsible for space missions exploring Earth, the solar system and the universe beyond. The laboratory employs approximately 5,000 people and is running a large number of projects at any given time. JPL chose to deploy EPM Live  for their enterprise project management solution because of its ability to centralize all work and easily integrate with their current systems in place.

The organization was using Microsoft Project Professional within the laboratory to give project management teams access to project schedules. However to share the schedules, JPL’s Project Schedule Analysts (PSAs) needed to create portable document files (PDFs) and then place them in a file share directory for access by project team members.  This meant that the schedules viewed by team members were a static image of project status at any given point in time, and did not provide any ability to drill down into items or make changes. When engineers needed to make a change they had to coordinate with the PSAs, creating additional work for both roles.

JPL decided to deploy WorkEngine from EPM Live, an Enterprise Project Portfolio and Work Management solution that integrates Microsoft SharePoint Server and Microsoft Project Server to achieve improved schedule visibility, greater collaboration, and reduce costs.

Various projects are being migrated to the WorkEngine solution, including plans and schedules for major upcoming flight projects. With EPM Live’s WorkEngine solution, project schedule visibility has been transformed from a static view of the project at any given time into real-time access for all project teams to review and status.

By deploying a project management solution that is integrated with SharePoint Server, JPL is able to create project workspaces where teams can access schedules and other key project information in a single location. This has improved collaboration within the teams, as employees can work together on documents, calendars, tasks and other items, removing version control issues. Project teams have real-time access to data, which boosts productivity among employees.

As well as benefiting from improved collaboration and visibility, JPL anticipates significant cost reductions from moving to an enterprise project management solution. A PSA can create approximately 30 PDFs of schedules during an update cycle, including the top level schedule and a version for each Cost Account Manager. Using the web view will save PSAs up to half a day’s work each week. JPL will also create cost efficiencies through improved collaboration by integrating its projects.

To learn more about how we work with other government agencies, contact us.

Get the SharePoint Advantage by Operating EPM Live Solutions

Running an enterprise successfully requires establishing a fixed set of processes and methods within your organization. In order to manage, supervise and examine varied projects, both internally and externally, many organizations are expanding upon their current SharePoint deployment.  SharePoint is no longer strictly an IT tool, more and more organizations are expanding the capabilities of their SharePoint solution into a fully functioning Project Portfolio Management solution. Leveraging EPM Live’s SharePoint-based Enterprise Project Portfolio and Work Management Software not only helps protect current investments already in place but it gives businesses unprecedented boost in productivity, resource allocation, cost management and overall project portfolio visibility. EPM Live project software is already helping over 5,000 companies simplify and become more effective at delivering projects successfully while selecting the right work for the most profitable portfolio. 

Smart Project Management is the key function towards successfully meeting project deadlines and within budget. EPM Live gives every organization the tools they need from simple online project management to strategic, top-down portfolio planning.  Because EPM Live project software is flexible and intuitive, PPM maturity is no longer an issue with user adoption.

Many organizations today face a variety of work including application creation and maintenance, new product development, project deadlines and service requests.  EPM Live’s WorkEngine solution helps organizations create increased productivity by improving resource visibility, execution and collaboration across all work-types. WorkEngine helps in organizing all types of work and managing schedules, resources, costs, time and other functions which are critical for the business. WorkEngine demonstrates key value additions to an enterprise and provides tools and processes to maximize the resource utilization. Leverage EPM Live WorkEngine’s app marketplace for powerful, easy-to-use, predefined templates that are built with leading industry and business best practices to enable rapid adoption and standardization of all types of work.  

EPM Live’s PortfolioEngine solution provides you with an outstanding tool to simplify project portfolio planning and make informed critical business decisions to choose the right projects to drive the business toward its strategic objectives. PortfolioEngine allows you to manage resource capacity planning, portfolio sequencing and financial target modeling to know which projects will deliver the highest ROI. Intuitive end user interface and pre-built reports and dashboards provide increased visibility into project status for all team members and stakeholders.

EPM Live PPM solutions are all Microsoft SharePoint-based and seamlessly integrate with other business productivity tools such as Microsoft Project, Outlook and Excel. A perfect balance of scheduling options, project and portfolio management best practices, collaboration tools and out-of-box reporting and dashboards provides a simple, yet powerful tool.

EPM Live software is flexible and relevant to meet the needs of every business. Free trials are available for each of EPM Live project solution edition. EPM Live believes in the right to choose the best deployment option to fit your organization, on-premise, hosted or SaaS. Watch an on-demand demo and overview of EPM Live or flip through a slide deck for more information on how EPM Live can change the way you work. If you have to work, work smart!

The Long Term Value of SaaS PPM Applications – An EPM Live Analysis

By now everyone has heard of  “the cloud” or “SaaS” (Software as a Service).  Its on-demand, flexible and can save you time and money. But information on the long term benefits of moving your business to the cloud has been less available still casting a cloud of doubt for many organizations. EPM Live understands the confusion surrounding cloud apps and in this article I will take a in-depth look at the benefits, the risks, costs and ROI for cloud applications.

Cloud applications continue to gain popularity in enterprise applications but there are still many questions surrounding the cloud, what are the benefits and what is the ROI for organizations who are leveraging them? I recently read a paper from Forrester on the ROI of cloud Apps. Forrester’s recent budgets survey showed that 51% of firms plan to increase spending on software-as-a-service, while only 9% plan to decrease spend.

Companies are attracted to fast deployment speeds, low upfront costs, and ongoing flexibility to scale up or down as needs change. Many SaaS solutions also offer a more user friendly UI than their on-premise competitors due to their more recent introduction or the providers’ ability to rapidly update the UI through automatic, seamless upgrades.

How do you know if leveraging cloud applications is the right move for your company? In the Forrester article they offered up their Total Economic Impact™ (TEI) model, four key questions to help companies determine the ROI of cloud applications.  

 1. Benefits – How will your company benefit from cloud applications?

2. Costs – How will your company pay, both in hard costs and resources, for cloud applications?

3. Risks – How do uncertainties change the total impact of cloud applications on your business?

4. Flexibility – How does this investment create future options for your organization?

Key Benefits of a cloud application include:

(In a recent survey, Forrester found that 26% of cloud subscribers plan to increase the number of cloud vendors they work with over the next year.)

· Faster deployment speed

· Reduced support needs (SaaS providers typically include a help desk in the subscription reducing or eliminating IT support)

· Simpler, more frequent upgrades

· Better user adoption

 

Key costs on SaaS Applications:

The primary cost associated with cloud applications is the ongoing rental fee for using the application, often per user per month or usage-based. Cloud applications require more focus on contracting, SLAs, and performance management. That being said, there is a significant reduction of other costs such as internal infrastructure and hardware requirements.  Many cloud applications don’t offer full suite solutions meaning firms often face a fragmented, multiple application landscape as they move more and more technology to the cloud. This multivendor environment means additional costs for areas like integration, provisioning, end user support, upgrade management, testing, and workflow.  EPM Live does offer a full suite of solutions including PPM, application lifecycle management, new product development, professional services automation, etc.  Overall, the cost of EPM Live’s SaaS solution is significantly less than an on-premise deployment. 

 

What are the risks?:

No new trend is ever without risk. Here are two key risks to consider; Vendor viability as the market shakes out, and Vendor lock-in. Vendor viability risks are increased as this early market moves at such a fast pace. Users can become “hooked” on user-friendly cloud applications. Business users may strongly resist switching from an application they like. Also, most vendor switches will require data migration and implementation costs to move to a new solution.  Businesses will always be faced with ongoing decisions such as upgrading, adopting new trends, and investing in the latest and greatest technology.  As mentioned before, every decision can result in a risk; however, to maintain competitive advantage and scale with the times, businesses will find that the benefits far outway the risks. 

 

The Cloud Business Value:

Forrester released a quantitative assessment of the economic implications of cloud applications. They evaluated the key drivers of benefits, costs, and risks for an organization moving from on-premise to the cloud. Forrester found that the Total Economic Impact Analysis for CRM cloud applications are 20% ROI payback between 12 and 24 months, for ERP applications a 6% ROI payback in more than 2 years, and for business productivity applications Forrester found a 27% ROI payback between 12 to 24 months.

In this early market of SaaS applications and with the highest ROI of the three business sectors analyzed in Forrester’s research it’s no wonder many companies are leveraging business productivity applications. At EPM Live we believe in the power and flexibility of the cloud and unlike many vendors on the market today our online solution is a full suite application for the entire organization. Besides our core Project Portfolio and Work Management solutions, EPM Live is also leveraged by many organizations for New Product Development and Professional Services. Our apps allow organizations to bring all work and all departments onto one centralized platform increasing productivity, viability and user adoption. To learn more about SaaS PPM and how EPM Live’s online solution can help your business join us for our free upcoming webinar, SaaS PPM – How Do You Know When It’s Right For You? or read one of previous articles, a comparative analysis on SaaS vs. On-Premise

EPM Live’s Project Portfolio Management Software Praised by Analysts

Here at EPM Live we work hard to ensure that our software is the best, that our prices are the most reasonable and that our customers are the happiest. We work hard so our customers can be successful! Check out our most recent software review! Independent analysts from GetApp.com recently reviewed EPM Live’s Project Portfolio Management Software and praised EPM Live for our core competencies.

The analysts have identified three core competencies that make EPM Live stand out in the industry:

  1. EPM Live’s project management software is suitable for small through enterprise-sized businesses thanks to the availability of three editions that cater to each organizational size and factor in their varying complexities: ProjectEngine, WorkEngine and PortfolioEngine.
  2. EPM Live is unique in its capacity to accommodate organizations that do not follow or understand true project management methodology as the software itself provides the structure, methodology and best practices, whilst allowing strict PMI (Project Management Institute) adherence for regulatory compliance for larger organizations and government service.
  3. EPM Live is releasing an App Marketplace where EPM Live offers customers the ability to download additional solution templates, work features, integration solutions, partner add ins, customizations and connectors.

The EPM Live PPM Solution is a perfect balance of scheduling options, project management best practices, collaboration tools and reporting and provides a simple, yet powerful solution. EPM Live is available online and is Microsoft SharePoint-based, and seamlessly integrates with other business productivity tools such as Microsoft Project, Outlook and Excel.

Read the full review here!