Project Management Tools- 5 Steps to Resource Management

Implementing project management tools in a resource constrained environment is essential for PPM success.  So how do you ensure successful resource management within your SharePoint project management environment?  Simple, have a plan, and leverage best practices.  Following the resource management life cycle below will give you the head start you need to gain control over your resources!

Employees are the most valuable asset and the biggest expense for most organizations. Any organization that fails to manage their resources to ensure that 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.

Let’s take a look at the full resource management life cycle. As you can see in the graphic below, this is a top down approach to managing your resources. To truly accomplish full resource management within your organization, all areas must be considered and accommodated. That being said, it is always wise to consider organizational maturity as it relates to resource management. This ensures you are adopting the right amount of discipline and functionality at the right pace to ensure you are not introducing unnecessary risks.

It is very common for users within your organization to be at different levels of maturity. One of the most important aspects of implementing and executing a new tool or discipline is that you understand your audience, their needs and their current processes in place today, to ensure that new technologies introduced will be easily adapted.

Resource Management Life Cycle

 

Step 1 – Resource Capacity Planning

Capacity planning helps to ensure that resource capacity meets current and future business requirements in a cost-effective manner. In the Capacity planning stage you will need to identify all the roles needed for the given project or work effort at hand. For example, which organizations or departments will be involved in your project? This will help you establish the structure for your project, potentially establish how your tasks will be organized, and even identify security constraints. What disciplines and skill sets are required to complete your project? Without the proper skill sets and expertise particular tasks may require more training, longer term times, possibly even result in rework. Effective resource management relies on the fact that these factors have all been considered prior to selecting your resources. Once you have determined your generic roles, you will need to determine the quantity of each role needed as well as the timeframe. As this information is obtained, you will then be ready to analyze your plan, make adjustments and prepare for actual named assignments. 

Resource Capacity Planning

Step 2 – Resource Allocation

Now it’s time to assign your project team. Before we do, we must look at all the factors involved in this process. Who is available and when are they available? What competencies or expertise do the resources possess? Have they worked on a similar project in the past and if so how well did they perform? Are they interested in working on the defined project and finally how much will it cost to obtain the resources for the project? In addition to the environmental factors a roles and responsibilities document should be completed prior to assigning resources. An organization chart will also aid in this process when determining the resource assignments and when viewing the preliminary project schedule to see when each resource is needed and for how long. In many cases, the project team members are known in advance. In other instances, you may need to be prepared to enter a negotiation process with functional managers or maybe even other project managers, should the resource be currently working on other projects. In this case, project priorities and benefits may be weighed to determine which project has the greater need for the requested resource. In many cases, if project teams are already over allocated, there may be a need to consider acquiring resources from a 3rd party vendor or consulting firm. You may also consider whether or not having a virtual team will be adequate for your resource management needs. After resources are assigned and confirmed, you will need to be prepared to manage all future changes that could potentially come into play to ensure your plan is flexible and scalable to handle unexpected shifts in resource demand and allocation.

Resource Allocation

 Step 3 – Resource Work Management

Resource Work Management is an ongoing process in the resource management life cycle that begins with allocation and ends at the completion of the final project or work deliverable. This stage in the life cycle is typically managed by the project manager. This process includes managing all assignments, tracking team member performance, providing project feedback and status, resolving issues and risks, and coordinating changes to enhance project performance. All of these tools necessary for project execution and management are also essential to your resources. As with any work or project deliverable, time, resources and costs must all be considered together in order to effectively and successfully deliver a project.

 Resource Work Management

Step 4 – Resource Collaboration

Resource collaboration is a key practice in the way organizations work today. Working together to deliver project and work deliverables that otherwise may not be reached by working alone, allows organizations to streamline work, deliver services and increase overall productivity across the organization. Resource collaboration is a critical stage in resource management. If your resources aren’t communicating and they aren’t working towards a shared understanding of goals, carefully putting together a resource plan pre-execution will be less productive. Resources must communicate in order to keep projects and work on track. When defining the tools to implement for resource management, ease of use and flexibility are essential to ensure high user adaption and effective collaboration.

 Resource Collaboration

Step 5 – Resource Task Management

The last level of the resource management life cycle focuses on those accountable for individual work items. We all have project work or various work items that we must complete and most likely that work is combined with our own personal to do list as well. In order to be the most productive, resources need a tool that will handle all of their work tasks and any personal tasks they may have in one location. In EPM Live you can do just that. Gather your work, update your work and monitor all related work and dependencies in one system.

Resource Task Management

 

Free white paper: The Resource Management Life Cycle

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Importance of Project Portfolio Management Noted as Top 10 Project Management Trends in 2014

Project Management trend predictions for 2014 continue to roll in and one notable prediction is the emphasis on Project Portfolio Management (PPM). ESI International recently released an article on their Top 10 Project Management Trends for 2014, and they predict PPM will take center stage due to the new Project Management Institute’s (PMI)® new Portfolio Management Professional (PfMP)SM credential.

In addition to the importance of the new credential, they believe PPM will be increasingly significant because many organizations are still tight on spending despite large cash reserves and that there are far more projects than people to work on them. Portfolio management will play an increasingly important role in helping to select the most strategic projects with the highest return on investment (ROI). This is a key shift in recent years as more enterprises grow beyond simple project management tools, spreadsheets and home-grown systems to top-down systems that enable executives in IT, New Product Development, Process Excellence, and PMOs (project management offices) to improve portfolio-level visibility and insight. The end result is improved business decision making and agility that includes a holistic approach to cost optimization across the entire organization.

Other notable trends included the expansion of Agile methodology and shifts in education and leadership for Project Managers.

EPM Live provides many project portfolio management features that allow organizations to find the right balance of “keep the lights on” activities and strategic opportunities to bring the most value to your organization. EPM Live also offers cutting-edge features like Social Project Management and Collaboration as well as a complete App Marketplace. Learn more about EPM Live and how we can help revolutionize your business.

EPM Live Recognized in Top 5 Project Portfolio Management (PPM) Apps by GetApp.com

Selecting the right project and work management tool is critical to on-going success of an organization. Spreadsheets and homegrown systems lack the framework, tools and reporting capabilities project software systems provide. This is why many organizations are looking to leverage a project and work management system today.

EPM Live is the leading project, portfolio and work management platform that revolutionizes the way organizations manage projects and work. EPM Live was recently chosen by GetApp.com as one of their Top 5 Project Portfolio Management (PPM)systems in the cloud.

According to GetApp.com, “Top project portfolio management systems combine tools for social collaboration and project management, making it possible for teams to align and function as cohesive units. By analyzing projects individually using customizable algorithms, these cloud-based platforms have become especially useful for organizations that deal with financial management, risk management, resource management, and any other group that deals with overarching project goals and milestones on a regular basis.”

The EPM Live platform provides both strong project management capabilities combined with social collaboration tools allowing users to better collaborate and work more productively on assigned projects and work. EPM Live was the first to introduce a build-to-order platform in the PPM market; which has allowed organizations to easily extend PPM and social collaboration to all areas of the business regardless of work focus. With EPM Live, small to large organizations can apply cost saving disciplines such as delivering projects successfully, optimizing resource utilization, and selecting the right work to all business teams including new product development, IT, services, operations, sales and project management. 

Learn more about EPM Live today or click here to get started with a free trial

Employees Pick: Favorite EPM Live Project and Work Management Features and Apps

To kick off the New Year, I wanted to share some of our favorite features and apps from the EPM Live Project and Work Management platform.  If you’re not using them, you are missing out!

1. Fool proof, easy to use Designer Forms! These custom forms allows users to easily define tabs, required fields, rules, and custom HTML and/or JavaScript for simple form creation allowing users the flexibility and customization that is often restricted with out of box forms.  This form is as easy as dragging and dropping. Easily customize and define the information that matters to you with EPM Live Designer Forms. Click here to learn more

2. Easily Create Reports and Dashboards – It’s your information, do what you want with it! This advancement in business intelligence allows user to easily create or modify reports and dashboards on the fly making data accessible to the users when they need it.  Users can easily create reports that are critical to their business without the need for development, giving users data at their fingertips for better decision making and decreased time to action. 

3. Resource Analyzer Features – The Resource Analyzer upper grid can now be turned into a full HTML chart that shows resource capacity vs. the total work selected.  In addition, a new “show details” button allows users to drill into resource heat map rows to see which projects or portfolio items are causing resourcing issues. The feature streamlines resource capacity information for better resource assigning.

4. Salesforce App – EPM Live’s Salesforce App allows executive and sales personnel to view all of their critical information from within Salesforce.com.  It provides sales teams the ability to communicate with project teams via the cloud to bring global portfolio and project visibility, work management, and issue management to fruition.  Project teams will be able to provide sales, marketing, customer success and executives with the information they need to close new business, increase customer satisfaction and fuel expansion within their pipeline.  In this process, all users will remain in their system of preference, working the way that makes them the most productive. With critical project data shared between the software systems, organizations can remove the gap often found between sales and service delivery organizations, and more systematically assure customer success. Click here to learn more.

5. Outlook Publisher App – Easily manage your EPM Live “To Do” list by publishing your My Work items in Outlook. The Outlook Publisher for Microsoft Outlook allows you to collaborate with your teams by linking Microsoft Outlook to any Microsoft SharePoint workspace. Quickly convert emails into service requests, backlogs, project issues, risks, changes or even project requests. Using Outlook Publisher is fast and simple! Manually create items from within your Outlook toolbar, or have them automatically generated from all emails in a defined folder. Click here to learn more.

These features are just five of a much larger pool of applications and work management features provided by the EPM Live platform. Learn more about EPM Live and get started with a free trial today!

Project Portfolio Management: Metrics to Consider for Continued PPM Success

Correctly managing project and work within the enterprise is a difficult task for any organization. Strategically planning for continued success in a recovering market is also difficult but critical. By leveraging project portfolio management tools, organizations are better able to ensure the right investments are being made.

Every day EPM Live works with customers to ensure these decisions are as simple as possible.  Here are a few metrics to consider when determining which projects and work bring the most value to your business:

  • Will the project/work bring additional revenue to the business?
  • Will the project/work bring quality improvement to the business?
  • Will the project/work help the business expand into new markets?
  • Will the project/work generate cost reductions?
  • Will the project/work expand current customer base?
  • Will the project/work reduce risks to the business?
  • Will the project/work reduce time to market or cycle times?
  • Are resources with the right skillset available to implement the project/work?
  • Will the project/work increase customer satisfaction?
  • Will the project/work increase employee satisfaction?
  • Will the project/work increase ROI (return on investment)?
  • Will the project/work represent a change in NPV (net present value)?
  • Will the project/work increase IRR (internal rate of return)?

There are no right or wrong metrics in determining which projects and work bring the most value to your organization but there is no reason to reinvent the wheel completely.  Leverage best practices and internal governance already in place to make this complex task more feasible.  Leverage a Portfolio Management/Decision Tool (such as EPM Live project software) that supports your current processes and that is flexible enough to customize to fit your needs!

 

Leverage Online Project Management for Flexible Scheduling Tools

With EPM Live’s online project management solution, users are able to choose the best tool for their online schedule management requirements.

When creating a project workspace, you will want to choose whether you are going to use the EPM Live Project Planner or Microsoft Project  – which you may already have installed – to manage your project schedule and plan. As a third option, you can also simply use “Tasks” to track the work you need to do in a flat list, which I’ll cover more in a follow-up post.

Most commonly, experienced project managers are creating a hierarchical schedule, or need complex dependencies or assignment-hours detail. If that is you, you will want to choose one way or the other to manage your project plan in the long-term within the project management products which EPM Live has made available.

There are several points for comparison in this decision process, but here are a few key things to consider:

EPM Live’s Project Planner

  • Completely online – no software installation necessary
  • Create a hierarchical tasks list with assignments, set baselines, track actuals
  • Supports custom views unique to each user within the Planner

Microsoft Project 

  • Must install both Microsoft Project and the EPM Live Project Publisher add-in
  • Create a hierarchical tasks list with assignments, set baselines, track actuals
  • Supports custom views stored locally within your Project

A final tip on making your selection easy: just set the Default Planner option to your choice the first time you edit the project inside the workspace.  The default setting will apply to either the Project Planner or Microsoft Project.

Supercharge Business Results with Online Project Management

Many business leaders struggle to gain visibility into their portfolio investments. Visibility is just the beginning; without a clear understanding of how the business is performing executives are unable to make key business decisions that could result in greater business value. Savvy business leaders leverage online project management to empower their workforce. SaaS (software as a service) project management provides organizations with the business management tools executives want and the project management tools resources need all in one centralized location.

So how do you know if implementing a SaaS PPM system is right for you? Join us in this on-demand webinar presentation as we take a look at some of the benefits realized from online project management systems and the impacts they may have on your organization.  The following topics will be covered:

  •     PPM Overview
  •     SaaS Benefits
  •     SaaS Financial Considerations
  •     On Premise Overview
  •     What to Expect from EPM Live

 

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Extend Microsoft Project into a Complete SharePoint Project and Work Management Application

Microsoft Project is a powerful application that many organizations have adopted and deployed to centralize and manage their project schedules. It has a robust back-end that allows the storing of enterprise resources, field attributes, field calculations, and more. Although Microsoft Project is a powerful solution, most organizations find that where there are projects, there is also other work that affects the same resources.  So how do Project users extend their project platform to include all other work that needs to be managed within the organization while also expanding the use to a broader audience allowing them to maximize their return on investment?  Leverage what you already own (SharePoint and Microsoft Project) and integrate with EPM Live’s project software for complete SharePoint project and work management. This integration allows organizations to take advantage of all the features Microsoft Project has to offer for schedule management, and tie it together nicely with a flexible SharePoint Project Management 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’s technology caters to all users, all work and all processes making any Project deployment the most flexible and robust system available today.  In addition to task management for all work, you can also leverage many other project disciplines such as time management (timesheets), resource management, cost management, collaboration and business intelligence and expand those disciplines to all other areas of the business as well.  After all, the value of project management has been proven, why not extend that value to all work within your organization for maximized efficiency and productivity.  

See how easy it is to combine EPM Live and Microsoft Project in this on-demand Tech Tuesday webinar.

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EPM Live was designed to leverage the powerful capabilities of Microsoft Project such as schedule management and extend the same value-driven concepts to all areas of the business whether it’s traditional projects or the other work that surrounds them, all within one centralized platform.  Microsoft Project users can maximize their return on investment and reduce cost and risk with minimal disruption to their existing processes by leveraging pre-configured SharePoint project management templates that best suit any project and work management need.  Project Managers continue to use Microsoft Project without any new training or change to their process. Directly accessible from EPM Live, 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’s project software enables organizations to work better together and allows Microsoft Project to reach a broader audience and meet the needs of the entire project team.    

In addition, different types of departments may manage their projects with varying methodologies using EPM Live’s pre-built applications.  Organizations accelerate their Microsoft Project deployments and augment Project’s enterprise project types, allowing them to scale to enterprise wide deployments. For example, Software Development Department may use SCRUM methodology whereas the Program Office Department may opt for PMBOK.

EPM Live allows teams to truly understand and manage all the work around a project. By connecting Project with EPM Live, organizations have the ability to manage the entire lifecycle of the project in one centralized location. Each EPM Live deployment comes complete with pre-built applications and a rich set of features and capabilities to help teams effectively monitor, manage, control and execute on all critical business items such as projects, issues, changes, and everyday work actions that impact their projects bottom line. Team members can easily view and update all their activities across projects within one view. Functional managers finally have the visibility to what their resources are working on including all activities, not just the assignments within the Microsoft Project schedule.   Teams can simply work better together with Microsoft Project and EPM Live.

For more information on EPM Live’s features, please click here.  

The Importance of Understanding User Maturity When Implementing New Project Software

When analyzing the decision to implement a new project software to improve enterprise PPM (Project and Portfolio Management) system, user maturity levels should be a serious consideration of the new project software.

In order to make a deployment successful you must know and understand your audience:

– Who will be using the project software?

– What challenges are the users facing with their current processes and toolsets?

– What benefits are expected out of the project software for each of the user roles?

– What capabilities are needed to ensure this application will meet the user’s needs?

– Where does each user fall in organizational project management maturity?

Organizational readiness is a critical factor in implementing a new project software system and will essentially make or break your deployment success. Let’s take a look at all the areas where maturity can be measured.

For more information, download this Free white paper

 Project, Portfolio Management (PPM) for the Enterprise – Whose System is it Anyway?

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Users

There is more to project software design then just defining the various roles in your organization. You must also understand the functions that each role plays in the business as well as what tools and processes are being leveraged to execute them. There are many maturity models available to help you determine where your organization and users reside in project management maturity. I tend to prefer the maturity model published by Gartner for PPM Maturity.

Maturity can be measured by the tools and processes currently in place as well as the disciplines supported by them. Again, the faster you move up in maturity, the more risks you will introduce. When implementing a new project software system it is always a good idea to start with a transfer of the current processes. For example, if a user is managing their resources through a list of projects found in an excel worksheet; transfer that same process into the new toolset. If the user expresses that the same process is also one of their core challenges, make adjustments to that process where needed but start at the same level of process maturity within the PPM application. As users become familiar with the toolset, it will be appropriate to mature their processes as well as adopt new functionality within the project software system. User readiness is crucial. Forcing your users to utilize a tool that leverages unfamiliar disciplines and processes will only result in user frustration, low user adaption and overall rejection of a critical investment. Don’t expect to implement a project software system that will leverage the same functionality for every user; instead, implement a flexible and scalable system that will accommodate all users and allow them to improve their productivity through gradual maturity progression.

It is wise to not only determine current organizational readiness and maturity but also define a roadmap to ensure your organization has a plan for improving overall maturity to gain better control and management of all project and operational investments.

 

Capabilities

Similar to users, there are multiple levels of maturity found in system capabilities. As you define the processes that are currently in place for your users, the capability maturity will also be revealed. Let’s take a look at some of the common PPM capabilities that will be defined in your project software system.

 

Portfolio Management

Portfolio management includes both the discipline of identifying and selecting the RIGHT projects for your portfolio as well as the ability to effectively manage your portfolio of projects once they have entered the execution phase. Although portfolio selection is critical, many organizations begin with project execution or the managing of project schedules long before they consider the benefits of portfolio selection. Identifying the right projects for your business may include processes such as determining business objective alignment, identifying risk probability, resource and cost planning, and project portfolio scenario modeling. For the execution level user, portfolio management may simply be portfolio visibility across all projects and work. Visibility into project status, resources and costs generates awareness and will help prevent unforeseen risk to maintain a healthy portfolio. Questions that will help determine portfolio management maturity may include:

– Will this project software help you manage potential projects?

– What kind of information is required to accept or approve a project?

– What is the process for moving projects from proposal to execution?

– What project and work data must be seen across your portfolio to ensure a healthy portfolio?

 

Project Management

Projects and work will be the core of your project software system. Project management maturity is a critical factor in determining what tools should be implemented and to what level of functionality. Don’t be surprised if you end up spending the bulk of your design session answering the following question: How do you define a project? Most organizations function at a low maturity level. Maturity can be measured by the processes already in place within your PMO or across your projects. For example, are processes clearly defined or are they ad hoc? Do users use the same tool consistently or is everyone on their own when determining what tool works best for them? It is important here to understand what type of projects and work will be handled in the PPM system and how that work will be defined. Will you manage that work at the task level, the milestone level, or will projects be entered and tracked at the project level? Imagine filling out a document or project charter regarding your upcoming work. What questions need to be answered and what data needs to be defined? Once you have clearly identified the information that must be captured for all your projects, define what processes will take place to execute on them. How will you manage changes, issues and risks? The level of project detail and the depth of your processes will help determine maturity and corresponding functionality that should be introduced to the business within the project software platform.

 

Schedule Management

In the last discipline area of project management you determined whether or not your projects will be detailed to the task level or will be managed at the project level only. If you determined that they will be managed at the task level, schedule management is the next necessary topic for design. This area is critical because we all work differently. Many PPM tools give you one scheduling option. This could be a point of failure for many organizations. Which user maturity level will the scheduling tool accommodate? For those that fall above or below that particular maturity level, what tool will they use? User adoption is the only answer for a successful PPM system. Every user must have the tools necessary to manage their work at their level of comfort. If I’m a Marketing Director who needs to maintain a simple list of campaigns, there is no question that I will need a different scheduling tool than a Construction Manager who needs to manage the build of a new hospital to code.

 

Resource Management

Resource management can mean many things. Let’s take a look at the various ways resource management can be applied to your project software tool. There is much more to this discipline than simply assigning work to a resource. We’ll take it from the bottom up. A task or work is put into the system and a resource is assigned. The resource goes into the system, views his/her work, executes on the work and marks it as 100% complete. Some organizations stop here in the practice of resource management, but there are many more levels to reveal. How do you know which resource is available to work on the task? How do you know if they have the right skill set? Let’s now work from the top town. A project has been defined and you need to build a resource plan against it. You don’t know who is available or who has the proper expertise but you do know what role you need. You schedule 5 developers over the next 3 months to work on this project. Now you want to see which developers meet the requirements of your project. The PPM tool must be able to accommodate your method of resource management, whether the bottom up or top down approach, or both.

 

Cost Management

Let’s move on to cost management. The following questions should be considered when determining cost management needs for your project software system. At what level do you plan your project budget: project or task? This again will help you determine where the budget data will be entered into the tool. What types of costs must be tracked? For example, do you only want to track the costs associated with resources, or also other project costs such as purchases, expenses, materials, subcontractors, overhead, etc.? If the answer to this question is expenses, you may want to design an expense form used to track expenses and apply against your project’s financials. If your organization isn’t prepared to exercise cost management at the task or work level, don’t. Start where you are now and then mature your processes as you adapt to the tool. A system that houses partial data can lead to poor decision making. How will you know what decisions are necessary when you don’t have the visibility to see where you currently are with your costs?

 

Tracking and Controlling

Tracking and controlling is important because it not only defines the data to be tracked but the process for how it will be tracked within the system. For example, do you want team members to supply detailed progress information about their assignments? If so, you may want to allow team members the ability to go into their tasks and enter percent complete. Then, the updates can automate back into your schedule to save time and improve efficiency.

Are you looking to include timesheets in your project software system or are you looking to integrate your current timesheet system? If you do want to include timesheets in the system you will want to make sure that it has been configured to include the proper categories needed to reflect your business needs. If you were reporting actual hours worked on a weekly basis against projects, would you complete your time entry daily or do it at the end of the week? This response is also needed to help define your timesheet configuration.

What work do you want to track? Is there a requirement to identify and track changes in scope or other issues when project status changes? If the answer is yes, you may want to define attributes needed for a change request list/log so project owners can easily adapt to those changes and adjust their costs, schedules and resources accordingly. Do you have a requirement to track project issues and risks? Is there a requirement to track other work items that need to be considered when managing your projects and resources such as service requests, action items, etc.? Again, data capture must take place for ALL work that affects your costs, resources and/or schedule.

 

Reporting and Business Intelligence

Now that we have addressed the main content needed for project and work definition and management, let’s take a look at some of the outputs that may be considered in your project software system design. Some questions to consider are:

– Do you have reports that you use today that are used for analysis or decision making?

– Do you currently have a requirement to generate a weekly/monthly status report?

– Do you have any standard reports required for your projects?

– What type of information would be useful when viewing project status?

The answers to these questions will help you determine what reports and dashboards are necessary to ensure you are getting the outputs required to maximize ROI and optimize value of your PPM and work management system.

As you can imagine, there are many more questions that can be asked to help you define a detailed business-specific design that is right for your organization. Other areas that must be considered in design include integration, demand management, workflow and governance and general collaboration needs. As questions are answered and more questions are generated, make sure you are considering every user and every maturity level. The level in which you capture data can vary, but ensuring that the system is built to make it easy to capture data COMPLETELY, across all projects and work, is critical for visibility and accuracy.