Project and Work Transparency – How Much Do You Know?

Work management is a new standard in the project management discipline. The ability to manage project tasks alone is no longer enough. In order to get a true picture of project performance, all work that affects a project portfolio must be considered.

Organizations must learn to capitalize on all business initiatives and acquire the skills or resources to better manage projects, employees and all other work. The importance of understanding and developing Project, Portfolio, and Work Management (PPM) best practices and processes is at an all-time high. Organizations must adopt PPM practices to fully understand the data requirements needed to help them respond to project performance and changes in a timely manner. Who are the stakeholders? What information is critical to their decision making? What KPIs are necessary to gauge success and prevent unforeseen issues? What form, format, and distribution best fit your audiences’ needs? How do I create global visibility? 

Click the webinar icon below to view this on-demand presentation, where Product Manager, Matthew Willey presents how using EPM Live can help your organization define effective metrics to help assess your portfolio investments and track performance. Discover the right way to implement these outputs and ensure structured delivery.

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SaaS vs. On Premise PPM – A Comparative Analysis and Free Webinar

The recent economic recession has re-ignited the Software as a Service (Saas) vs. On-premise solution debate as organizations are under pressure to switch to cost-effective solutions. With Cloud Computing gaining a lot of media attention in the recent times, many organizations are now contemplating the Go/ No-Go decision to switch to a SaaS model from an on-premise model. The decision becomes all the more important when the application in question is a Project Portfolio Management (PPM) system as PPM systems involve significant investment and time.  We here at EPM Live offer both PPM deployment options so the question remains….which one is right for you?  Before we get into the details, if you are interested in learning more about SaaS PPM and whether or not it’s right for you, please join us for our upcoming webinar on PPM SaaS and we will guide you through the right questions to get your answer.  EPM Live provides an award-winning project software portfolio to meet any and all PPM needs.

Let’s get to the details.  The on-premise approach is a time-tested philosophy with proven success across many verticals. It dates back to the origin of computers and therefore, it’s often known as the traditional or legacy software approach. In contrast, the SaaS model came into existence much later. The two delivery models are remarkably different from each other and understandably, each has its own pros
and cons.

There is no One size fits all approach in software so it’s illogical to assume that the SaaS model is perfect for all kinds of requirements. Whether to take the plunge to a SaaS solution or whether to continue with an on-premise solution depends on a large number of factors.
This article provides a high-level comparative analysis of SaaS vs. On-premise solutions and provides a list of advantages and disadvantages of each model in order to aid organizations to take an educated decision to choose the best model for their needs.

Advantages of SaaS Model

1)  Lower entry cost – SaaS is a no-frills model therefore it offers a much lower entry cost as compared to an on-premise solution. In fact, in many cases, SaaS solutions are a fraction of the cost required to procure, deploy and manage an on-premise solution. You pay for what you use and for nothing else.  In many cases we are also finding that even if you do choose an on-on premise model, SaaS is sometimes utilized to proof out the concept before moving in-house.

2)  Lower  TCO SaaS solutions are reasonably free of maintenance. There are fewer deployment hassles (if any) and no hefty maintenance costs. SaaS reduces both Capital Expenditure (Capex) as well as Operational Expenditure (Opex) thereby boosting the overall savings to an organization.

3)  Faster Time to Market – SaaS solutions leverage a ready-made platform which has already been provisioned, implemented and tested by your solution provider. Therefore, you can get started with developing your application on top of the provider’s platform and get your product out to market quickly. SaaS further simplifies provisioning and reduces deployment complexities. A faster time to market implies quicker ROI.

4)  Flexible Pricing – Most SaaS vendors offer flexible subscription pricing models which do not burn your pockets. As your enterprise grows, the SaaS solution can be scaled up accordingly and just in case your enterprise shrinks, the SaaS solution can be scaled down accordingly. And the best part is that you are never stuck with oversized infrastructure and unused resources. SaaS offers a dynamic approach to managing computing infrastructure and resources.

5)  Lower Risk – Your SaaS vendor takes care of infrastructural risks and ensures high-availability for your organization’s needs. Implementations are faster and involve fewer risks as they are handled by professional experts.

6)  Very Secure – SaaS solutions are extremely secure. Security is one of the top concerns for any SaaS solution provider and they have a reliable and secure infrastructure in place for varied customer needs. For an on-premise solution to match the security of a SaaS
solution, it requires a major investment.

Disadvantages of SaaS Model

1)  Internet Dependency – It’s fair to say that internet is the lifeline of SaaS solutions. No connection, no application – as simple as that. Further, if you have a patch internet connection, it can result in spotty application performance. Further, the internet comes with a Pandora’s Box of vulnerabilities and security issues.

2)  Relinquishment of Control – Many organizations do not feel comfortable with the idea of relinquishing control to a third-party vendor. Trust is a crucial part of SaaS approach and it’s not the easiest thing to build in this world. Another vendor hosting your invaluable data and precious applications? It’s a mental block and a big one.

Advantages of On-Premise Model 

1)  Total Control – Contrary to a SaaS model, an on-premise solution offers you total control over your application.  All your sensitive data is stored internally and there’s no need of exposing it to a third-party vendor.

2)  Higher Sense of Ownership – Since you purchase the infrastructure and resources for an on-premise solution, it offers a higher sense of ownership as compared to a SaaS solution.

Disadvantages of On-Premise Model 

1)  Costly Affair – On-premise solutions have higher entry costs as well as higher operational costs than their SaaS counterparts. You own the infrastructure but then you pay a hefty sum for it as well.

2)  Maintenance Hassles – You own it, so you maintain it – as simple as that. It’s your responsibility to maintain, upgrade and scale the solution as and when required and it’s definitely not the easiest job in the world to do so.

Conclusion 

The decision whether to go the SaaS route or to stick with the time-tested on-premise solution is not an easy one. Further, it largely depends on an organization’s needs. However, for organizations looking to overcome the entry barrier and achieving a lower
TCO, it’s definitely worth trying out the SaaS approach.

Increase PPM Results by Implementing a Business-Driven Approach

Selecting the right PPM 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.

As a business executive, you are constantly challenged with managing and reporting on business initiatives. If you are not leveraging a project management software system, I would suspect you’re extremely busy chasing down status updates, compiling reports, and drumming up management support and organizational adoption.

With constant moving parts and remote teams executives need to analyze current processes and see if they can identify with the PPM excellence check list below.

  • Your project portfolio is completely aligned with corporate strategy.
  • You track portfolio level benefits using financial metrics validated by your CFO.
  • You routinely measure your contribution to the organization’s key performance indicators.
  • Your governance process supports periodic reviews to re-balance the portfolio.
  • Your PPM software is well adopted by project managers.

If the above PPM excellence check list doesn’t reflect your PMO/PPM reality, join us for this upcoming insightful webcast to learn how to create a top-down framework to establish portfolio management objectives, measure progress against those objectives and respond to the inevitable shifts in budget, priority and strategy. You may even come away convinced that a business-driven approach to PPM makes sense for your organization!

Supercharge PPM Results with a Business-Driven Approach

Thursday, September 19th

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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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Resource Management Using SharePoint Project Management

Leveraging the right project management tools is imperative to successfully completing projects. One of the most difficult segments of a project is managing resources. Employees are the most valuable asset and the biggest expense for most organizations. The ability to deploy employees effectively against conflicting projects and other work priorities enables organizations to maximize their return on resource investments. Understand which projects and types of work are consuming your most valuable resources and effectively realign your staffing plan based on changing priorities and budgets.

EPM Live SharePoint project management offers the following capabilities to successfully manage resources.

Assign Resources to Any Project or Work Item: Assign resources to all work and send automated notifications to alert resources of their assignments. Resources can status their work items from one location for increased productivity and enhanced usability.

View Resource Plans Across All Work: By combining resource workload on both project and non-project work in a single dynamic view, resource managers have a true picture of resource capacity. WorkEngine’s Resource Planner allows resource managers to view resource workload across all work, view resource availability by time-phase, perform what-if analysis on resource workload and availability, and view resources by various attributes such as department, skill, and role.

Flexible Resource Management Tools: Leverage Microsoft Project or WorkEngine’s online project planner to easily populate resource plans. Leverage built-in resource management tools to view current workload prior to making resource decisions on new assignments.

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

Resource Requirements and Matching: Create resource requirements and compare resource availability to identify resource shortages and surpluses. Easily match available resources to resource requirements to ensure the right resources are assigned to the right work at the right time.

What-if Resource Modeling: Define resource plans for proposed projects and work and analyze the plans against current resource capacity. Leverage intuitive color-coded heat maps to view over allocations and modify dates and sequencing to define the most optimal portfolio.

Resource Analyzer: Leverage PortfolioEngine’s resource analyzer to view resource workload across all work, view resource availability by time-phase, perform what-if analysis on resource workload and availability, and group resources by attributes such as department, skill and role.

Resource Reporting and Dashboards: Gain valuable insight into resource assignments by accessing PortfolioEngine’s out-of-box resource reports. Leverage workload and availability reports to analyze resource data and performance. Create customized views and dashboards for business-specific resource reporting needs.

Resource Negotiations: The EPM Live Resource Negotiations feature brings sophisticated insight to any business by allowing project managers and resource (department) managers to collaboratively manage resource assignments via a data-driven negotiation process. 

Learn more about resource management using SharePoint project management in this on-demand webinar. 

Effective Resource Management using SharePoint

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Extend SharePoint Value with Robust Project and Work Management

SharePoint is the most common collaboration tool on the market today. However, most organizations typically underutilize its full capabilities by only leveraging it for content management. Now businesses are looking to extend efforts aimed towards a deeper and broader usage of the SharePoint platform driving more value through total work management. Click on the icon below to view our latest webinar recording on Accelerating SharePoint Value with Total Work Management.

As your core enterprise content management system, SharePoint is the central portal for all enterprise work and collaboration for all internal and external users. The key to extending value is to leverage integration with systems that provide extended capabilities using the SharePoint platform as its foundation.

Drive more value through adopting a simple PPM and work management technology, such as EPM Live, which provide organizations with pre-built applications to better manage work throughout the enterprise making resources more efficient.

Project software adds value to SharePoint by further expanding the platform into:

  • Secure Repository – A central and secure place to store information and access when required
  • Basic Collaboration Platform – Team site creation for basic collaboration
  • Expanded Business Processes:
    • Leveraging forms and/or leveraging 3rd party applications with workflow capabilities
    • Leverage best practice templates, standardizing SharePoint tools and utilizing pre-built solutions specific to your business needs.
    • Maximize the use of SharePoint by offering business tools for all work (Projects, Products, Services, etc.) across your organization

Why Implement SaaS PPM?

The recent economic recession has really reignited the SaaS debate as organizations are typically under a lot more pressure to switch to more cost-effective ways of getting work done. SaaS by definition is software-owned, delivered and managed remotely by one or more providers and is provided to customers through internet technologies. As you are probably aware cloud computing is gaining a lot of media attention, many organizations are now contemplating making the mainstream switch from on-premise Project Portfolio Management (PPM) to a SaaS model.

SaaS was originally designed to aid small organizations in implementing technology that would give them the ability to easily configure, customize and scale PPM services within their organizations. Now it has become a more intriguing option for large organizations as well and in many cases is preferred.

As always, there is no “one size fits all” approach in software, so it’s illogical to assume that the SaaS model is perfect for everyone. Whether you decide to leverage a SaaS or on-premise PPM model depends on a large number of factors.  Many PPM vendors do not invest in offering both a SaaS and on-premise solution to their customers, EPM Live believes in meeting the needs of every user regardless of size, budget or maturity. EPM Live gives customers the power to choose the deployment option that works best for them.

 

SaaS PPM Benefits: 

Benefit #1: Faster time to market. SaaS solutions leverage a ready-made platform which has already been provisioned, implemented and tested by your solution provider. That means that organizations are able to get started quickly and even prove out the PPM concept early without the need for a large investment up front and in many cases without the need for executive buy in. SaaS also simplifies provisioning and reduces deployment complexities. In most cases moving the financial aspect from capital expenditure to operational expenditure also speeds up the approval process. A faster time-to-market implies quicker return on investment (ROI).

Benefit #2: Low entry cost. SaaS is a no-frills model; therefore, it offers a much lower entry cost as compared to an on-premise solution. In fact, in many cases, SaaS solutions are a fraction of the cost required to procure, deploy and manage as an on-premise solution. You pay for what you use and for nothing else. Costs are reduced simply by eliminating the need to meet hefty infrastructure requirements as well as purchasing software licenses. Most SaaS solutions have an out-of-box configuration that is ready to use also giving organizations the time to evaluate the system prior to spending additional money on customizations and services. In addition, cost can be reduced overtime due to lower upgrade costs for SaaS models.

Benefit #3: Scalable foundation. Most SaaS vendors offer flexible subscription pricing models based on user roles and functionality. As your enterprise grows, the SaaS solution can be scaled up accordingly and just in case your enterprise shrinks (hopefully not, but it happens), the SaaS solution can be scaled down accordingly. The best part is that you are never stuck with oversized infrastructure and unused resources.

SaaS offers a dynamic approach to managing computing infrastructure and resources. Organizations with low maturity can also benefit from SaaS, as the organization’s maturity level increases, additional features can be leveraged. 

Benefit #4: Lower risks. Your SaaS vendor will take care of infrastructural risks and will ensure high-availability for your organization’s needs. Implementations are faster and involve fewer risks simply because they are handled by third party experts. Because most SaaS solutions have an out-of-box implementation, you can ensure that PPM best practices have already been considered in the functionality design. In addition, since SaaS solutions are structured by user, you can add and decrease licenses as you go versus purchasing software up front, eliminating the risk of excessive license purchases.

Benefit #5: Increased security. SaaS solutions are extremely secure. Security is one of the top concerns for any SaaS solution provider and they have a reliable and secure infrastructure in place for varied customer needs. For an on-premise solution to match the security of a SaaS solution, it requires a major investment.  In addition, most SaaS vendors offer automated backup services to ensure your data is always safe.

Benefit #6:  Reduced resource requirements. Because the operational requirements of supporting and maintaining both the infrastructure and software are offloaded to the service provider, the IT department can now focus on other critical tasks. Resource workload is not affected and the team managing the system and its structure are both trained and qualified to take over all system maintenance and support.

Benefit #7: Support as a service. Software as a service is just that, a service. Along with access to the software, you are typically entitled to some form of support within the price of the monthly fee. If users are easily supported, you can expect adoption to increase.  As with any solution model there are always disadvantages to consider. With SaaS models, internet stability is required for tool usage and performance.

Resistance to change or fear of the unknown (leveraging new up and coming applications) may also play a role in SaaS adoption. Internal security requirements may prevent SaaS usage and/or complex design requirements may force organizations to choose an on-premise solution. Make sure your organization is considering all the pros and cons when making a deployment decision.

 

SaaS Financial considerations:

In order to accurately estimate the costs associated with SaaS PPM, you have to ensure you have considered all of the following:

1. Subscription cost—How many licenses will you need for executives, team members, etc.?

2. Set up cost—SaaS PPM allows end-user customization in order to align the system with your specific business needs; however, it is typically usable right “out of the box”. If your organization has complex business processes that need to be automated, you may want to consider set up configuration support service costs.

3. Implementation services (training per role)—Some PPM SaaS solutions (including EPM Live) offer multiple training programs for end users, managers and admins. These training programs come in various formats including online courses, how to videos, forums, user guides and instructor led courses. Many of these services are offered at no cost to the user and others are put in place to ensure your organization is getting the proper training you need for maximized user adoption.

4. Consulting services—Consulting services are optional for SaaS. If your organization is looking for best practice guidance or maturity assessments for example, you may want to bring in the experts.

5. Technical services—Some technical services are included in SaaS licensing; however, additional services are always available to clients. For example, email and phone technical support may be provided while one-on-one support and ticket priority may come with an additional fee. Follow on training and technical support for future configuration or development would also be considered when determining technical service fees.

To learn more about SaaS PPM check out our latest webinar, “How Do You Know if SaaS PPM is Right for Your Organization?”.

Essential Steps to Building a Profitable Portfolio Process

Now that we are well into the New Year, many organizations are realizing the importance of a critical step in the Project and Portfolio Management discipline – Portfolio Planning. For the average business, Portfolio Planning may be a process well beyond their organizational maturity; however, it is a major component that should not be overlooked, in order to increase the probability of reaching your business objectives. The structure in which you execute this discipline may indeed vary depending on maturity, but the basic steps can be followed regardless of the complexity of the processes behind them.

Before we dive into the essential steps to Portfolio Management, there is one question that must be understood; why define a portfolio? Organizations will always have projects, they will always have limited resources and they will always need to meet business objectives in order to remain a successful business. If you are not implementing the RIGHT projects and work to meet strategic objectives, the value you are bringing to the business may be much smaller than its potential. In today’s competitive marketplace, businesses must bring maximum value to survive.

Once again, Project Portfolio Management is about identifying and selecting the RIGHT work to achieve business objectives and maximize business value. Effectively identifying, planning, sequencing and managing the right work initiatives can be cumbersome and formally required heavy analytics tools. In today’s innovative world, technology is getting smarter, making simple project portfolio managementa reality. The key is to combine what can be a complex discipline, project portfolio management, with an intuitive end user interface that makes portfolio planning simple.

 

You can see from the image above that the PPM process is a continuous cycle in which demand is captured and selected based on key metrics and analytics, then planned, executed and managed.  As new demand comes in, the process starts all over again. 

In the Portfolio Management cycle, the following general questions will be asked for every item in your portfolio:

  • Does this project or work initiative align with the organization’s strategic objectives/goals? 
  • Based on defined key performance indicators and probable risks, does this project or work initiative meet the requirements for portfolio inclusion?
  • Does it still meet the requirements for portfolio inclusion when compared to other competing portfolio items also in consideration?

Let’s talk about the process for the process. Many organizations do not have a Portfolio Management process. In order to create a process where no process exists, the right steps must be taken. 

  1. Define a portfolio management organization structure.
  2. Define a Portfolio Management Plan
  3. Define Key Evaluation Metrics

Once you have a process down for defining, selecting and executing your portfolio, you are ready for the essential steps to Portfolio Management. There are many published standards and white papers for achieving Portfolio Management within your organization. For the purposes of this article, we will be defining the 10 most essential steps based on our implementation experience over the last 12 years. More mature organizations may introduce additional steps into the process.

    1. Identify Portfolio Items
    2. Define Portfolio Items
    3. Evaluate Portfolio Items
    4. Select Your Portfolio
    5. Reassess Portfolio
    6. Approve Portfolio
    7. Transition to Project or Work Initiative
    8. Communicate. Track and Report
    9. Accommodate and Adjust for Changes
    10. Begin at Step 1
For more information on this discipline check out our latest webinar, “Building a Portfolio Management Process From The Ground Up,” or read this white paper, “10 Essential Steps to Portfolio Management.” 

Overcoming Enterprise PPM Deployment Challenges

Project Portfolio Management (PPM) is the key element to give your business a competitive edge in today’s market. PPM allows business executives to streamline, manage and govern critical business initiatives. Project and portfolio management software has evolved now offering greater functionality and enhanced capabilities, enticing many organizations to re-evaluate their business processes and look for one centralized solution to connect all the disparate silos within the organization.

There are many factors to consider when assessing your PPM needs across your organization.  It occurs more often than not that financial constraints or time to market requirements outweigh the critical need in the project and portfolio management software selection process.   Once a system is approved, don’t get bogged down with the “we need it now mentality” and rush the process.  Avoid losing sight of the reason why a tool was needed in the first place. 

Last week we gave a webinar presentation on overcoming PPM deployment challenges. To view this on-demand webinar video click the icon below.

EPM Live has been involved in hundreds of PPM deployments over the years and we definitely see a trend in the types of challenges organizations are faced with.  Here are the top three common challenges we see organizations face when implementing a PPM tool:

#1 – One Size Does Not Fit All

One solution rarely fits the needs of all users, yet, an enterprise system is just that, a tool to be shared and used by the entire organization.  The problem is that most teams in an organization work differently.  They have different processes, they follow different leaders, and they have different areas of focus which results in different work.  A PPM system must allow you to define your enterprise needs and then customize the tool to meet the needs of individual teams or departments.  Usability equals success in an enterprise system; the data outputs are only as good as the information going into the tool. 

# 2 – Work is Everywhere

A PPM system rarely accommodates all other work that affects project resources. For example, where in my PPM system can I find my service request ticket that is affecting my ability to complete my project tasks on time? There are several components of PPM that are essential and the most important one is resource management.  Your PPM system must have the ability to manage and capture all work associated with all resources so that you can properly manage your organization’s most valuable assets… your resources. 

#3 – Incomplete Data, No Visibility

PPM systems seldom represent a complete picture, making visibility into all investments almost impossible. Projects are everywhere, not just in your PMO or IT departments. You buy into project management because it proves to be valuable.  It is worth investing dollars to hire project managers to manage the large projects; it’s almost like buying insurance.  You need to protect your original investment of saying “yes” let’s execute on it!  But an organization’s portfolio will never be complete without including all the small projects that keep the business running. 

Projects are everywhere and so are the resources running those initiatives.  A true PPM system must be able to accommodate all projects large and small, which means project management maturity will vary. A PPM system, in order to accomplish a complete portfolio, must provide tools for both complex schedule management as well as lightweight schedule management so anyone at any maturity level could create the project schedule.  It is not realistic to believe that every project in your organization will be run by a true seasoned and experienced project manager.  It is essential to consider all aspects of your work portfolio, accommodate all projects and offer a tool for every user in your organization.  

To learn more about the PPM Maturity Model in this blog post, “Implementing Enterprise PPM for a Multi-maturity organization.” See how Jack in the Box was able to improve PPM maturity leveraging EPM Live in this video testimonial.

Effective Project Software Capabilities for Maximum Resource Utilization

Successful projects involve many variables but I would argue that resources are the most important. Resources are an organizations most valuable asset and usually the largest expense. The ability to effectively plan and allocate limited resources against your entire project and work demands requires project software that provides insight and capabilities for the entire resource management life cycle. Organizations should look for project management tools that provide visibility, analysis and execution capabilities.

Resource Management capabilities to look for in project software:

Resource Capacity Planning – The process of determining the amount of resources available for projects with in the portfolio. Use tools to estimate role-based resource hours to ensure the resource plan can be fulfilled given current resource workload and availability.

Resource AllocationThe process of scheduling resources to projects based on their availability and project time.  Look for tools that help you easily assign resources to any work item and that allow resources to easily provide status updates from one centralized system.

Resource Work Management - Work management is a new standard in the project management discipline. The ability to manage project tasks alone is no longer enough. In order to get a true picture of project performance, all work that affects a project portfolio must be considered. The need to maintain disparate systems to manage various types of work such as applications, products, projects and services, is no longer required. Work management brings all projects and all work together for true reporting and maximum efficiency.

Resource Collaboration – The world is going social and businesses are following suit.  Water cooler conversations are obsolete these days because social information is readily available and easily shared with a quick click of the mouse. Social Project Management is a new discipline emerging amongst organizations; it’s a non-traditional way of organizing and executing projects leveraging social networking techniques to quickly move information to distributed or virtual teams. Look for tools that encourage communication through comment streams or use project wikis and discussion boards.

Learn more about Social Project Management in this blog article or on-demand webinar.

Resource Task Management – It sounds simple but many times task data is stored in disparate systems not providing a true scope of the resources project work. Make sure your tool centralizes this data and allows for simple list creation so resources can easily share and collaborate on them.

Learn more about the Resource Management Life Cycle in this free webinar, “The Resource Management Life Cycle – Effective Planning for Maximum Utilization.”