Online Project Management Success – Critical Success Factors for your Next Project

Every organization has their own criteria for determining the success or failure of the project, the project manager, and the project team.  There really can’t be that many variations, but since the level of project oversight varies from company to company, so does the level to which different criteria matters to the powers that be within an organization.  And we certainly can’t forget about the project customer – they definitely have a say in whether or not a project is considered a success.  Logically, a project could come in on time and on budget but if the customer is unhappy for some reason, then the project could easily be designated a failure.

So what are the key determiners of success or failure for a project?  Across different industries, different organizations, different customers, different PM methodologies, and different PM infrastructures within various organizations there will always be variations of what constitutes a successful project from an unsuccessful one, but the bottom line – as far as I’m concerned – is that there are three key determiners of whether or not a project is deemed a success at the end of the engagement.  These three determiners are: on time delivery, on budget delivery, and customer satisfaction.  Let’s look at each of these in more detail and discuss ways to help ensure project success through proper management of each.

On time delivery

Some project managers set the project schedule in stone at the beginning of the project and fail to use it as a living, breathing tool for the project.  Those individuals have failed on the project before it even started.  Project managers who hope to succeed must choose a good project management scheduling tool.  They must then use that tool to revise the schedule weekly, engage the team and customer for real progress updates on tasks, and use this revised weekly schedule – along with a detailed status report – to drive project status discussions every week with the project team and the project customer.

Using an online project management tool such as EPM Live gives you the scheduling tools needed for on time project delivery. EPM Live provides a variety of schedule management tools.  Users can choose which scheduling tool is best for them based on maturity of the user and complexity of the project.  EPM Live’s Online Project Planner allows project managers to create simple project schedules online allowing users to choose various viewing capabilities to see a simple task list or a detailed Gantt chart for comprehensive schedule management. Project managers can easily update the schedule and send progress reports to team members straight from the Project Planner. This method also allows project team members to update their project statuses/deadlines from their Outlook task list, increasing project efficiency by allowing them to work from one centralized location.  EPM Live also has a built in seamless integration with Microsoft Project so that project managers who are trained scheduling engine users can create there schedules in Microsoft Project and then publish them to EPM Live for project visibility and statusing.   

Figure 1 – EPM Live Online Project Planner 








On budget delivery

You may not be able to deliver on budget every time, but you can help to ensure you’re very close by reviewing, analyzing and revising the project budget weekly using project actuals from the previous week.  The project manager that does this will ensure that his project budget is likely never more than 10% off the budget target.  A budget that is 10% over is much easier to correct than one that is 50% over.  Using EPM Live’s Cost Management capabilities allows PM’s to have true visibility with project cost summaries and leverage pre-configured cost reports and dashboards to watch it closely so you can catch it and correct it before it’s too late.

Figure 2 – EPM Live Dashboards 








Customer satisfaction 

The satisfaction of your customer at the end of the project is the most important aspect of all.  You may be over budget or slightly behind schedule, and even then the project could be deemed a success due to change items, extended scope, etc.   On the other hand, an unhappy customer will never lead to success.  There are a series of things that you can do along the way to greatly increase your chances of ending with a happy customer.  These include:

  • Practice efficient and effective communication throughout the engagement and make sure the project customer is always well informed of project status and any issues that are affecting the project. EPM Live has over 30 pre-configured Reports with charts and graphs for visual presentation of project performance to help keep stakeholders informed
  • Engage customer-side subject matter experts (SMEs) and end users during the planning and requirements gathering/finalization phase to ensure that the solution you rollout in the end is going to truly meet the client’s needs
  • Provide elevated support during preparation for user acceptance testing (UAT).  Most clients don’t know what to expect and in return aren’t prepared very well and end up having a disastrous UAT experience leaving them frustrated and less than satisfied.  Think ahead and plan for the obstacles before they become roadblocks

Figure 3 – EPM Live Report Dashboards









The bottom line is you can succeed at any two of these key determiners and still be considered a failure.  You can bring the project home successfully, in your opinion, and be very proud of your team’s efforts in meeting the timeline and the budget, and still end up with a customer who is less than satisfied for various reasons including system usability for the end user if there were any glitches in the requirements along the way. Sticking with project management best practices throughout the project engagement, and leveraging a PPM system such as EPM Live will help keep your customer well informed the entire way, and closely monitoring your project budget and assigned tasks. EPM Live will make you a Rockstar in the eyes of your client and is a sure bet to end the engagement successfully.

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  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!

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.

Waterfall plus Agile Application – Predictive & Adaptive Planning for the Best of Both Worlds!

I recently read a great blog post that I could strongly relate to.  In his blog post “Predictive AND Adaptive Planning”, Chris describes the benefits of approaching project management in a hybrid approach.  Projects are almost never completely waterfall (predictive), or completely agile (waterfall) and can succeed and benefit from both.  Chris references the success of projects such as the Lewis and Clark expedition referenced as a “startup”, Apollo missions to the moon, and simply building a table in your garage to help visualize the adaptive and predictive elements within each “project”.  In each case, the project is successfully completed and delivered using a range of approaches and/or methodologies.

At EPM Live we cater to all users, all work and all processes.  We don’t believe there is a one size fits all approach to managing projects and work effectively.   Some EPM and PPM tools are rigid and require organizations to adjust their processes to align with the tool.  Because our background includes over ten years of consulting with organizations to successfully deploy Enterprise Project and Portfolio Management solutions, our product has been built to easily adapt to the way you work.

For example, when you create a project workspace, you have the option to select from a variety of pre-built Project Management templates accessed from our App Marketplace.  Our Apps are built with leading industry and business best practices embedded in the configuration to enable rapid adoption and standardization of all types of work.  As we gain insight from our service team, partners and customers, we continually enhance and build new templates for our customers to benefit from.

Some of our most recent additions include our new PM plus Agile Select template.  Essentially, this template is our “hybrid” approach to support using waterfall (predictive) and agile (adaptive) methodologies within one template.

  • Collaborate with team members with requests, team discussions issues and risks.
  • Manage schedules with our online planner, or Microsoft Project along for your predictive needs
  • Plan iterations and manage your backlog using our Agile Planner for more adaptive and iterative planning.

It is the best of both worlds!  Reality is it doesn’t have to be agile vs. waterfall.   It’s about managing and delivering successful projects in the most effective, efficient method that works for you!

If you’d like to read Chris’s full article:

Other Related Links

Blog – 5 Benefits of Agile

Blog – How Waterfall and Agile Work Together at EPM Live

Blog – Burn Down Charts – Not Just for Software Development Anymore….

Blog – WorkEngine #Agile Management – Expanding Iterative Planning Outside of Software Development

Improve Project Awareness with a Better Project Communication Plan

Poor communication is the demise of many relationships, projects and even jobs. A breakdown in communication leaves everyone frustrated and in the dark. Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw once said, “The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” When people are left to assume something, that’s when they’re more likely to collect and report the wrong data, inefficiently prioritize tasks, or over allocate resources. Creating a good project communication plan is key.  The communication plan guides effective and efficient dialog with project teams and stakeholders by outlining how communications will occur during the life cycle of the project.

Good project communications will also make sure the correct information is being communicated to the right people. Time is wasted preparing information for the wrong crowd. Typically executives and stakeholders don’t care about detailed project information but are interested in updates regarding project milestones, high-level budget information and overall project health.

Good communication plans generally include:

  • Project communication objectives – Who, what, when, how and why
  • How many resources are involved in the project? Where are they located?
  • Defined project roles and responsibilities
  • Who will be in the communication loop – What types of information will the different individuals receive?
  • Communication format – Create a consistent template to keep project updates complete and to the point
  • Communication methods – Email, printed packets, meetings etc.
  • Is there an electronic project information repository?
  • Is the communication plan aligned with project size and complexity?

Building a communication plan will be easy if you have the right tools. Savvy organizations will leverage project management tools that streamline and keep pertinent project information organized for improved success. Good project software allows all project information to be centralized for quick access to view status updates via dashboards or reports. It improves communication amongst team members with productivity features such as comment streams and project community workspaces as well as allowing project managers to keep their thumb on the pulse of the project by accessing real-time information for better project planning and communicating.  

The Answers Are Now at Your Fingertips with EPM Live’s Walk Me Integration

One of my favorite new features in the EPM Live 4.3.3 release is the Walk Me integration. Walk Me is an application that allows for interactive on-screen tutorials. This helps users to quickly and easily complete even the most complex tasks.  

EPM Live has taken the Walk Me tool and customized it with our own set of walk throughs that cover basic tasks in the EPM Live application. This assists users in getting to know EPM Live. We’ve even taken it a step further and integrated Walk Me with our support desk and support community!   Now you can easily search for help in both systems without having to leave the EPM Live tool.

With a simple configuration to your EPM Live site, the Walk Me icon will show up on the bottom of the screen. Click on the search box and choose from the list of Walk Me’s that are setup to help you navigate that specific page. Click on your desired topic to launch it and follow the steps.

You may also search for items within our support community by simply typing in a search term. You’ll not only see the walk throughs that match your search criteria, but you’ll also see results from our support community.

Watch the video below for a quick demo of the integration!


Avoid These Common Project Management Mistakes

It’s our job as project managers to create project plans that cover all aspects of the project lifecycle. However there are many common errors and pitfalls even the most experienced project managers run into. In this tough economy resources are limited and budgets are tight, project managers need to become savvy in their approach to managing projects and make sure they are using the right project management tools and processes to get the job done.

Here are some common project management mistakes you’ll want to avoid.

  • Time Wasting – Avoid asking resources for manual updates, holding meetings to ask for updates or babysitting resources, this is a huge waste of time. Project managers should have global visibility into all resource tasks and statuses in a centralized platform. Quickly access project information on-demand keeping stakeholders and team members informed on the project status.
  • You Call That a Project Plan? – Many PM’s think a Gantt chart is a project management plan and don’t go through the necessary steps of planning the entire project lifecycle.  The Gantt chart is a snap shot illustration of the project schedule, the work break down structure and its dependencies. It provides no resource management, cost management, workflows and governance plans or visibility.
  • What Happened to My Resource? – Resources are limited so good communication around resource allocation is vital to a successful project. If you don’t get real resource commitments and move forward with a project, you’re setting yourself and the resource up to fail. PM’s need to remember that resources have project work and operational work with deadlines attached to both. Good resource management involves an open picture into resources availability, skillsets, and workload.
  • Not-so Know It All – Have you ever run into a project issue that could have been avoided? We all have. Project plans aren’t perfect and you’re not either. Remember that. Project managers need to remember to reevaluate the effectiveness of the project plan, the schedule, costs and scope and make changes for improvement in any struggling area.
  • The Blame Game – Blaming unrealistic schedules, being over budget or a lack of resources on management instead of realizing they are the project manager’s responsibility. This is just bad form and a good way to make frenemies in the office. Make sure to leverage the right tools that provide clear visibility into project schedules, resource management and costs. Having a clear insight into the project will allow you to completely avoid this mistake all together.  
  • Bad Metrics – Not measuring project actuals against the project plan is being a blind project manager. Don’t keep yourself in the dark to any issues or risk or even positive milestones. Leverage a project management tool that allows you to create custom dashboards to quickly view project metrics and address any issues.

Author Lee Child once said, “Hope for the best, plan for the worst.” As project managers we need to create complete project plans keeping in mind project plans are not perfect. By proactively managing all aspects of the project and taking time to reevaluate processes you are planning for the worst. By not recognizing any potential risk and taking action your project is sure to fail. 

Basic Workflow Configuration Points Using EPM Live's Ideation App

With EPM Live’s newest native bundled app – the Ideation App – your business has a head start to being able to capture, evaluate and promote individual creativity from idea to concept to project, thus netting a benefit for your company. The Ideation App provides the basic ideation framework that any organization needs to either implement a process for the first time or automate an existing process.

This blog is meant to highlight the technical design and configuration points in this bundled app, which has transferrable concepts to other EPM Live apps. Specifically, I’ll focus in on the workflow templates that come with the bundled app so that you can get a handle on how you might modify this particular bundled app, as well as other list apps with workflow templates that EPM Live provides.

Ideation Process Overview

First, let’s take a quick look at the overall process that the EPM Live native-bundled Ideation App follows: 

Understanding at least the high-level process is a key to successful automation using workflow. We use three workflows in this bundled app to automate the copying of list data and count votes that users submit.

Now, let’s look at the technical pieces which make the Ideation App a great starting point, regardless of process maturity:

  1. Idea list app
    • Fields, views and two workflows
  2. Concept list app
    • Fields, views, and one workflow
  3. A field added to the Resource Pool
  4. Assumption of Project list app

Since I am using our Ideation app as the example for covering workflow configuration points, it’s important to be aware of all the pieces included in the app design. This is true of any list or bundled app which you want to modify.

Okay – the overview is covered. Let’s talk tech.

1 – the Idea list app

The out of box (OOB) data entry form in the Idea list app is extremely simple yet highly configurable. If you’ve already taken the administrative training courses for list app configuration, you will know how to modify the fields and views provided, and I’m not covering those concepts here.

For fun, let’s see what data is captured in the Idea list:

Idea list new form

Title, Category, Detailed Description and Followers are initially available. These four are a great base on which to build! Of course, you can add new fields, or hide existing fields, but keep in mind that modifying the field configuration may also require the Idea to Concept workflow to be adjusted, since we are copying list data programatically.

In this particular bundled app, you need to associate two workflow templates that came with the app to the list in order to get the process flowing.  You can use these basic steps with any EPM Live app that contains workflow templates.

To associate a workflow template to the list, go to the List tab, and then List Settings, Workflow Settings.  Select the Add a workflow link. 

Add a Workflow to a list app

(In a real life implementation of this bundled app, you would add two workflows to this list from the templates provided, which are Idea to Concept and Vote on Idea. For the purposes of this blog I am only demonstrating one of the workflows being added.)

Here’s a screenshot of the Idea to Concept workflow template being associated to the list:

Associating a workflow template to a list app

You can see that the workflow publisher designed it so that this workflow can only be run when an item is changed (not on create). If you wanted to change the allowable run options, you need to modify the workflow template via SharePoint Designer (SPD) and then publish it out to the site. That is true for any workflow template that comes with an app: you can always modify the allowable run options in the template and re-publish it to suit your design requirements.

Getting back to associating the workflow template, once I click OK, the workflow template is associated to my list with the name I gave it:

You can also see there are a few new options on this workflow settings page, which you can use to administer and monitor the workflows on the list going forward. If you are not familiar with the workflow settings page, take a minute to navigate to and explore it in one of your list apps.

I mentioned earlier that you will need SharePoint Designer (SPD) to modify the workflow template. Here’s a quick shot of the Idea to Concept workflow design from SPD. Step 1 is where the number of votes threshold is configured and set to the value 3 (highlighted below). If you want a greater or lesser number of votes on an idea before it is automatically promoted to a concept, update the value in the first If statement.

Idea to Concept workflow design

You can also see that the design of this workflow is very straightforward. The logic goes like this: once the Idea is modified (which it will be when a user votes), the count of votes goes up. When the field containing the vote number reaches the threshold set in the workflow, the data is copied to the concept list, and a flag is set on the Idea item so that it doesn’t keep getting copied over even if the vote count continues to increase.

If you wanted to change fields that get copied over from Idea to Concept, you would do that in SharePoint Designer as well.

Another key technical piece to making the process work is the Idea list app workflow Vote on Idea. That’s where the voting magic happens. Basically, the Vote on Idea workflow checks the field that was added to the Resource Pool (which has the allocated number of votes a user has) and if they have at least 1 vote, it runs through adding the Vote to the Idea item and subtracting it from the user’s available votes.

Assuming you already associated the workflow template to your list, you can easily add a Vote button to the ribbon for users to leverage. I’m not going to cover adding a button to the ribbon in this post, but will post on it in the future.

Please note: we included email notifications to the Idea creator in each workflow. So, each time a user gives a vote to the idea, the creator knows about it. Each time an Idea gets promoted to a Concept, the creator gets notified. If you don’t want email notifications from the workflow going out, you need to remove the action line for “then Email CurrentItem:CreatedBy” in each of the workflow templates and publish the change to your site app.

As a best practice, remove any previous versions from your list app using the Workflow Settings page shown above after making changes. A version will be created each time the workflow is changed and published to the site app.


2 – the Concept list app

The Concept list app contains the same basic technical pieces as the Idea list, so I won’t bore you with repetition. The main thing to know about making configuration changes to this list is that the out of box fields are already included in the Concept to Project workflow, which copies list data to the Project list.

Take a look at the details of the “Create new list item” workflow action that we have configured for Concept to Project

Concept to Project OOB mapping

Any changes to the list app fields would need to be reflected in the workflow action. Also, you could send the data to a totally different list than “Project Center” (Projects). Simply draw out a map of the data fields from the Concepts list app to the list app of your choice, and then edit the workflow in SPD so that it pushes the fields to the correct list (and fields) for your design requirements.


3 – the  Field added to the Resource Pool

The field added into the Resource Pool configuration contains a parameter that specifies the user’s available number of votes (the field is called IdeaVotes and is a number type data field). The number of available votes is automatically reduced by the Vote on Idea workflow in the Idea list app.

Modifications to this piece of functionality could include stripping it out entirely (by removing the workflow action via SPD), or increasing/decreasing the number of votes each user has by updating the IdeaVotes value in the Resource Pool.  To update the value, edit the resource and change the number stored in the IdeaVotes column.


4 – the Assumption of Project list app

The Ideation App will put Concepts that are promoted to projects into your existing portfolio in the Project list app by default, but all that is configured inside the workflow.  I mentioned briefly in covering technical piece #2 that you can adjust the workflow in the Concepts list to go to any list app – it’s simply a matter of planning the data mapping so that you are capturing what you want and sending it to where it needs to be to meet your business needs.

So really, the Ideation bundled app design doesn’t require the Project list app – it just assumes it for out of box functionality. With a few quick modifications in the Concept to Project workflow, you can easily use any list app of your choice. 😎


That’s it for the basics of using EPM Live’s workflow templates that come with apps. The concepts mentioned around modifying workflow templates for Ideation are transferrable across EPM Live list apps and bundled apps, so I hope you find them helpful.

Whether your company is starting off in Ideation process, just checking out the apps EPM Live offers, or taking your site app to the next level, we’re glad you’re choosing EPM Live to empower your business for success!

Create Powerful PPM Metrics – EPM Live Can Help!

Every project an organization initiates needs to prove its value in order to be considered a good investment.  Often employees and organizational departments are evaluated in the same manor. As a project manager the task of showing executives and stakeholders metrics that are useful and meaningful can often be a daunting one. Metrics from the project management office (PMO) should demonstrate more than just a measurement of project milestones they should provide senior management with a gauge of the actual effectiveness of the PMO operation and serve as a tool for better stakeholder communications.

Good metrics are used to prove the value of current projects, past projects and future projects. They prove PMO value and inform executives with meaningful accurate information. However there are some concerns when it comes to presenting metrics. Even though they can be well intended they can fall short to reflect any worthwhile connection with the overall objectives of the enterprise or shareholder values, the presenter could choose metrics that are easy to obtain rather than be accurate or relect purposeful data often resulting in meaningless information to business leaders. And sometimes the selected metrics don’t identify or clarify issues that are driving current performance.

So next time you go to pull metrics to present to business leaders keep these 6 key steps in mind for powerful analysis of PMO metrics:  

1. Know your audience. You’ve heard that saying many times before and in this case it’s an important note. Define who you’re concerned parties for the initiative are so you are able to successfully demonstrate the purpose and objective values. 

2. What is the senior management buy-in? For metrics to be effective and useful, they must have a senior management buy-in. It’s important that the presenter ensure that top-level executives have some investment in the metric. Make it short, sweet and to the point. And make sure your goals are factored into the presentation so you are able to make your case for funding and proper resources to ensure the initiative is carried through to its optimal conclusion. Paint the picture for them; articulate the anticipated outcomes in management language, not “IT-talk”. Plus once you land one senior manager you will probably be met with less resistance up and down the management chain.

3. Properly assign sufficient resources to collect, analyze and react to metrics. They are of no value if no one has the time or inclination to collect them.

4. Show sufficient training and education is available for resources involved. Many times everyone assumes that training and education are of second nature and a built-in part of the initiative which can result in a lack of ownership of the project and inhibit optimal results.

5. Ensure there is a set of organizational standards for approach to PMO measures and metrics. If there is no overall methodology consistency different individuals could choose whatever approach portrays the most favorable results for them. This ensures that all measures are looked at and talked about in a similar language.

6. Keep metric definitions simple and open to external comparisons. Organizations that hit the highest project achievement levels and have the highest leadership support behind their various metrics and initiatives are those that are able to present simple metrics and include external comparisons. External comparisons allow the presenter to show some level of objectivity in their metrics.

One last note is to keep in mind if your not accurately tracking your metrics then all of the above will that much more difficult to achieve and present to your business leaders and your first order of business should be to petition for a Enterprise Project Portfolio Management tool that will harbor all the metrics you need with added reporting features to increase value to your presentations and over all quality to your projects. Leveraging a quality PPM tool gives you a competitive advantage with your project planning, execution, resource management, time management, cost management and reporting. EPM Live offers a Free Trial of our Project Software, click here for more information.

EPM Live Ensures PMs Never Lose to Scope Creep Again

Scope creep is the dreadful culprit of lost profits, disheartened resources, missed deadlines, and frustrated clients and stakeholders. When clients ask for one more tiny feature, and then another slight change, and then an extra hour here and there, as every experienced PM knows, it all adds up. The onset of little changes and delays sneakily drains resources, hours, and costs and before you know it, your project is in sad shape.  Poor scope management is the downfall of many project managers and can result in the loss of their credibility and even their job.  

However, this problem is completely preventable with the right tools and methods of communication. Never let scope creep ruin your project ever again! Here are a few ways to avoid the problem once and forever.

1-      Have a scope management plan from the beginning. Show your client or project owner what a change order form is, when and why you would use it, and what it looks like so they know what to expect if you need one.

  • Post the change order form in your documents library on WorkEngine or leverage WorkEngine’s out-of-box change request module to track your changes.  The fields can be customized to map to your current form if applicable. 

2-      Explain to the client or project owner that change control is the best way to make THEM successful. Having a paper trail of changes, reasoning, and resulting impacts provides the detailed information they need to explain any delays or changes to their management and external audiences. It also makes sure that everyone is on the same page as far as what is in scope or out of scope so there are no resulting misunderstandings.

3-      Talk to your project team about the importance of providing updates and alerting you if there is a problem or if a task is taking longer than expected.

  • Team members can update tasks in their view on WorkEngine and write a note to the PM about issues, concerns, time, risk, or scope. The PM will then be alerted of the change and can make decisions about next steps.

4-      Get in the habit of submitting a change order form for every request that results in a modification of scope, budget, resources, risk, or time. The form is not just for changes to costs or time. It’s all part of good PM documentation and clear communication.

5-      Submit a change order form and discuss any scope modification BEFORE you actually perform that change.

6-      Meet with your client or project owner on a weekly or more frequent basis. In this meeting, go over change orders in person and make sure to get an actual signature or written agreement before proceeding with additional work.

  • Again, keep track of change orders in the documents library in WorkEngine or use the out-of-box change request module.

7-      Update the project plan with each change and add a notes column to record details about why it was needed, the overall impact, and when it was approved. Create baselines and each scope change that affects the schedule should result with a new baseline to track the overall impact.

  1. Using EPM Live’s Project Publisher, changes made on the WorkEngine project site, can be easily merged back into the Microsoft Project file.

Using these steps will ensure that scope is well-managed and never creeps up on you again. To learn more about the ability to manage tasks, changes, alerts, and integration with Microsoft Project, review the information on EPM Live about WorkEngine, and Project Publisher