Use SharePoint to Build Your Next Project Schedule

As many of you know, SharePoint 2010 allows you to build project task lists within your SharePoint sites.  That being said, the functionality can be somewhat limited if you are needing a more comprehensive tool to schedule your tasks.  If you are looking to manage a project in SharePoint and you need the flexibility of a scheduling tool but you also need it to be user friendly and easy to use, take a look at EPM Live’s schedule management capabilities.  EPM Live’s project planner has all the typical features of a scheduling tool including:

  • Summary tasks (indent and outdent)
  • Predecessors/Successors
  • Milestones
  • Gantt chart
  • Critical path
  • Baseline
  • Resource assignments

Notice I say “typical”.  There are also many features you simply won’t find anywhere else in regards to other SharePoint Project Management solutions.  These include:

  • A SharePoint-based resource pool that can be easily customized with critical resource data important to your organization
  • A “my work” rollup that users can access and view all of their work across all projects regardless of what site it resides in
  • Out of the box schedule, resource and cost reports stemming from your project schedule
  • Out of the box schedule dashboards and views

In addition to the above, there are many other advantages to building your schedules in SharePoint using EPM Live.  Take a look at the video below to take a quick tour!

 

 

Email your entire project team with a few clicks in Project Publisher

One of the greatest challenges a Project Manager has is keeping everyone informed and connected with the latest and greatest when things change… I said when things change because we all know that dates shift, resource availability fluctuates, scope creeps, and risks can manifest into issues.

Using the EPM Live Project Publisher, a Microsoft Project add-in, you can easily get everyone on your project team — literally: every resource on your project team — informed with the favorite business communication tool of this age: email.

Project Publisher works with all EPM Live product versions, so no matter whether you have a free project workspace, or an EPM/PPM system, you can use this trick!

We have a few assumptions to cover:

  • The first is that you have a Microsoft Project file setup – scheduled & linked, as you see fit.
  • The second is that you have the project resource loaded into the schedule and assigned to tasks. One way to check is to see whether or not you have people showing up on the Resource Usage view, with assignments on tasks.
  • The third is that you have already done the Project Team build on your EPM Live project workspace. Of course, for the communication to get delivered to the person, their correct email address has to be in the system.
  • The last is that you have done the Resource Mapping with your Project Team & the Microsoft Project schedule.

So, let’s get to this. Smile

Open Microsoft Project, click on the Publisher tab, and then click the Communicate option. Email team is right there:

Compose your message using your favorite desktop email application, and send it off. It should be that simple!

Share your project plan when you are good and ready!

Did you know that you can use the EPM Live Project Planner to create and refine a schedule, and then keep that data “under wraps” until you are ready to make it public?

For example, if you create a Project, then Edit Plan and choose the “Project Planner” — a tip here is to set as default so you don’t get prompted each time you go back in — you can “Save” your planned schedule as many times as you’d like until the plan looks exactly how you want it to look.

The data that is in the saved plan will not be pushed out to your workspace  — and therefore visible to others — until you Publish.

So, when you are good and ready, notify everyone on the team of their individual assignments, and, of course, the overall big picture of the project schedule.

The trick here is to Save your plan as many times as you’d like until you are ready to publicize it, and then Publish.

Happy scheduling!

Helping Teams Communicate More Effectively Using Comments

Every Project Manager and project team needs tools to communicate with and amongst the project team easily and efficiently.

The Comment thread acts like a simple discussion board to allow very quick, focused and accessible conversation on any particular Task, Issue, or document. Let’s explore the communication barriers that this Comment feature was designed to resolve.

Communication barriers with…

  • Email: the communication tool that was once revolutionary has become a burden in a lot of organizations. Conversation is restricted to the number of participants and the growing number of email communication makes finding information (that you know you have in there somewhere) a little more difficult.
  • Discussion threads: possibly focused, but not necessarily quick. These threads can become off-topic as they grow longer, and the conversation is not physically linked to a specific Task, Issue or Document on the Project.

Introducing: Comments!

Communication  is  more effective with…

  • Clarity/Focus – the Comment thread is literally attached to a specific Task, Issue, Document or other item. There is no mistaking what this comment thread is in reference to.
  • Quickness – the Comment box is a popup that you can type and post into with two clicks from the item drop-down menu.
  • Easy access for Commenters – viewing the Comments on an item is as easy as making a Comment. To accomodate the established business requirements for email alerts for everything, when you make a Comment, you are automatically added to the thread for notification of additional comments on the thread! So you can get back to an item’s Comment thread from a link in your Inbox if you’d like.
  • Accessibility to the entire project team – Anyone can view a Comment thread on an item that they can view. The Comment thread serves as a source of “documentation” on the item’s history.

Using Comments, you as the Project Manager can quickly communicate to your entire team an idea, request or update on any item in your project workspace. And for people who are new to your project, viewing the comments on newly assigned tasks, issues or documents will allow them to get up to speed on previous discussions, decisions and directions on Tasks, Issues and Documents on your project.

As a project team member, you can trust the Comment thread to be what you need to know about a re-assigned task, handed-across issue, or passed-down document, as well as a viable channel to reach out to your Project Manager and team with requests for help or input.

The beauty of the Comment thread is that it is collaborative information truly integrated as part of the project! We hope you agree that this design is much better than information hidden away in someone’s email box or data stored in an unrelated discussion post in another part of your worksapce that nobody knows about.

The Comment feature is available from the ribbon or the item drop-down menu in all EPM Live products!

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’”

EPM Live Rocked at PMI Global Congress 2011!

Time flew by this week at the PMI Global Congress, held at the Gaylord Texan Resort and Convention Center in Grapevine, Texas, where EPM Live participated as an exhibitor and attendees.  We were surrounded by the excitement, key learning, and a lot of visitors to our booth.  We saw EPM Live customers, EPM Live partners, and met plenty of new faces.

I definitely enjoyed meeting and hearing from customers & partners who stopped by to share their EPM Live experiences.  Conference attendees from PMI chapters, project managers and large organizations from all over the world told us how they are managing projects and work, while collaborating with their teams successfully using EPM Live tools.

One of the most exciting aspects of the conference was our launch of ProjectEngine!  ProjectEngine is an easy to use, online project management tool, that brings project teams together better than ever before.  ProjectEngine provides a central location for project teams to plan, collaborate and track their projects.   A perfect balance of scheduling options, project management best practices, collaboration tools and reporting provides a simple, yet powerful solution.    ProjectEngine is Microsoft SharePoint-based, and seamlessly integrates with other business productivity tools such as Microsoft Project, Outlook and Excel.

Monday evening, we went to the Taste of Texas reception, complete with mock gun draws, a stilt walking cowboy, and delicious Texan cuisine, along the indoor River Walk.

Towards the completion of the conference on Tuesday afternoon, EPM Live gave away some pretty nice parting gifts – a 42” flat screen TV and two Ferrari remote control cars!  With a large crowd gathered around, we drew the names…  Three happy winners walked away with prizes!  Check out the smiles on their faces!

Congratulations to our Winners!

 

EPM Live Launches ProjectEngine at PMI Global Congress

Next week, the EPM Live team will join project professionals from around the globe in Dallas, Texas at the PMI Global Congress. This event offers project managers the opportunity to network with project management peers and attend over 150 educational presentations. This will be yet another event to add to our Fall Launch World Tour which kicked off in the UK in early September. It has been an exciting launch as we have traveled the world and had the opportunity to connect with many of our customers while learning more about the major trends that are impacting the project management communities.

Next week, at the PMI Congress, we will be unveiling our new and improved EPM Live Product Lines. From simple SharePoint based Project & Work management, to strategic Project Portfolio Management, we offer an variety of applications that help customers manage their work in accordance with their most specific needs.

As PMI Global kicks off, we will be announcing our newest addition to our award-winning product line….ProjectEngine. Throughout our experience with customers, we have found that some customers want to work with more basic features without getting burdened with complex processes, workflow and functionality that exceeds their project management needs. ProjectEngine is a simple, online project management tool that makes working together on projects, easy! ProjectEngine provides a central location for project teams to plan, collaborate and track their projects. A perfect balance of scheduling options, project management best practices, collaboration tools and reporting provides a simple, yet powerful solution.
Key features include:

[unordered_list style=”tick”]

• Project Schedule Management – Project Engine offers you the power of choice!

Task Management

 

Online Planning

Microsoft Project Integration

• Collaboration – Share knowledge and better collaborate with your work teams to increase productivity and efficiency through various modes of communication. Connect to Microsoft Outlook and other business productivity applications to streamline conversations and drive efficiencies.

Create Project Discussion Boards

Share Comments on any Item in the System

Share Project Files for Easy Access and Version Control

Create Project Wikis

• Reporting – Leverage over 30 pre-configured reports and dashboards to gain insight into real-time project status. View project charts and graphs for visual presentation of project performance. Use familiar tools like Excel and Access to export data to create simple customized project reports.

Sign up now for 1 FREE project with unlimited users!

View ProjectEngine Video

I hope to see you there!!!!  Come visit us at booth #916!