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Sync Outlook and SharePoint With EPM Live for Effortless Project and Work Collaboration

SharePoint is the largest collaboration platform on the market today. With over 36 million users world wide, it no wonder most organizations choose SharePoint as their business application of choice. Savvy business leaders are leveraging project and work management companies such as EPM Live to help them extend the capabilities of SharePoint in to a complete end-to-end business intelligence and project management tool. And even taking their deployments one step further into social project management. 

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, allow organizations to streamline work, deliver services and increase overall productivity across the organization. Collaborative environments provide resources the ability to combine effort and expertise to produce greater business results allowing them to work better, faster and smarter.

Two of the most effective, widely adopted, easy-to-use collaboration tools on the market today include Outlook and SharePoint.  EPM Live combines these two powerful products Outlook Publisher, an Outlook add-in that allows seamless synchronization with Outlook and SharePoint.  EPM Live customers can leverage Outlook to extend the collaboration tools available to maximize productivity.  Teams can convert Outlook emails into work items directly in SharePoint .  Outlook Publisher enables teams to reduce effort and improve communication.  Outlook Publisher includes the following functionality:

  • Full integration with Outlook ribbon controls – Outlook Publisher allows you to create list items directly in Outlook.  As a new item is created from the Outlook ribbon controls, a new item in SharePoint is created
  • Email threading and monitoring – Tracking information such as ID, date and time are automatically produced for item identification as items are created in Outlook.  All updates to the defined list item are appended and tracked to account for all collaboration and communication throughout the work item’s life cycle
  • Flexible configuration tools- Outlook Publisher comes with easy to use configuration tools to allow for flexible field configuration and list mapping

Outlook Publisher can be used for any work item in SharePoint including but not limited to help desk tickets, work requests, task lists, action items, risks, issues, IT requests, maintenance requests, bug lists, etc.  EPM Live will continue to drive innovation by finding new and better ways for teams to work better together.

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
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  • 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:  http://anagilestory.com/2011/11/17/predictive-and-adaptive-planning-2/

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

EPM Live Transforms PPM Cloud: EPM Live's Answer to Integrated IT Portfolio Analysis

In today’s day and age, we have a plethora of smart software at our fingertips designed to streamline organizational components, align strategic goals and create automated processes. 

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE GARTNER REPORT

With that said industry experts are raising the issue of the lack of a single data-sharing platform that would allow business managers and executives to unify disparate financial, project, and operational data to collaborate effectively ado achieve the highest ROI. Specifically IT organizations are confronted with this challenge; is Integrated IT Portfolio analysis (IIPA) is the answer?

There are many benefits to implementing IIPA, it’s designed to help facilitate automated processes for one or many functional silos. IIPA gives department managers the tools to provide accurate information to stakeholders and executives so they can understand the current state of each department, allowing executives to make better strategic decisions and plan for increased business growth.

The capabilities of IIPA are desirable for businesses who view their IT function as a critical strategic component of the business.  IT can enable or cripple the ability to deliver projects and services to market and generate revenue.

IIPA is also for organizations that build products as the IT department serves as its core and requires regular technical changes to underlying components. IIPA can help these types of companies maintain and integrate the respective IT portfolio views required to fully understand and analyze the IT function before changes are made to it, reducing time, cost and risk.

Additionally, if you characterize your business as mainly operational, and IT is not typically viewed as strategic to your business’ success, IIPA will help you identify opportunities to modernize the IT function and reduce underlying IT overhead costs. Cost optimization is one universal benefit of practicing IIPA, but the additional use of IIPA to analyze IT change from a strategic perspective is a more powerful and compelling capability. 

In our newsletter featuring Gartner research, EPM Live presents our answer to IIPA with our latest product release, EPM Live 4.3 – a PPM Work Management Platform. Instead of your typical single solution software, EPM Live has created a platform that supports multiple business verticals with cutting-edge build-to-order technology that extends Project Portfolio Management to all areas of the enterprise regardless of work focus.  EPM Live brings all work together for true IIPA including project, products, applications and services. 

EPM Live’s App Marketplace, allows organizations to add on additional line of business (LOB) applications with a simple click of a button without the need for another platform investments. This allows organizations to build on their PPM solutions at their own pace to bring truly integrated work solutions to every team in the business including Sales, Operations, Application Teams, Product Development Teams, Service Teams and PMOs.   

EPM Live apps come in many forms:

  • Single Apps-  Add a specific feature to your PPM and work management environment such as timesheets
  • Bundled Apps- Add multiple features/apps such as service requests that include a service request planner and service request task list
  • Site Apps- Add full solution apps (LOB apps) that include all the tools, disciplines and methodology you need to manage a specific type of work for a specific area of business including Sales, Operations, Application Teams, Product Development Teams, Service Teams and PMOs
  • Add On Apps- Add 3rd party apps from trusted EPM Live partners to add even more functionality to your EPM Live environment such as Newsgator, Yammer, HelpDesk OSP, SharePlus, Microsoft Project Professional, etc.

Watch the video to see how the App Marketplace can help you extend PPM across your organization. 

To get more information on EPM Live’s award winning technology:

EPM Live Prevents Service Management Loss In The Cloud

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

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

Is Service Management needed in Cloud Computing?

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

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

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

SLAs in the Cloud

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

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

SOA offers Endless Possibilities

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

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

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

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

Get the SharePoint Advantage by Operating EPM Live Solutions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Key Benefits of a cloud application include:

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

· Faster deployment speed

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

· Simpler, more frequent upgrades

· Better user adoption

 

Key costs on SaaS Applications:

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

 

What are the risks?:

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

 

The Cloud Business Value:

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

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

Meet the Increasing Demand Placed on Your Service Teams – Service Management for SharePoint

Organizations often overcomplicate their initiatives by introducing tools that offer more capabilities and command more change than what organizations today are prepared to support.  The EPM Live’s “Service Management App” is a lightweight flexible template complete with pre-built lists to help your service organization effectively monitor, manage, control and execute on service requests.  Our mission is to help organizations at any level meet the increasing demand placed on service teams.

The EPM Live Service Management App will support your service team’s capability to ensure maximum employee productivity and achieve higher levels of customer satisfaction.  This template includes capabilities to help your service organization effectively monitor, manage, control and execute on all service requests.

By managing your Service Requests with your EPM Live solution, you can incorporate the platform’s features including process management, time management, resource management and cost management.  Easily convert Service Requests to Projects for those items that evolve into a larger project.  Help your teams to work effectively and efficiently to provide all technology delivery services.

 

 

Service Management App” Highlights

  • Incident Management

 

  • Work Log – Quickly log time within a simple status interface

  • Collaborate on Service Requests using EPM Live Comments Feature

EPM Live has many templates to choose from to meet every work management need!  To learn more contact us!

PMBOK Template for SharePoint – Following the PMBOK has Never Been Easier!

The PMBOK is an internationally recognized standard providing fundamentals of project management that apply to a wide range of projects. The processes that are defined in the PMBOK are outlined in the PMI Framework. If you are a PMP then you know how difficult it can be to ensure your projects are properly aligned with the framework. For this reason, EPM Live is offering a PMBOK SharePoint Project Management template. This template gives project managers the tool needed to meet PMBOK compliance for all projects. Use the easy to use check list to view all inputs, outputs, tools and techniques for all process groups and knowledge areas. Following the PMBOK has never been easier!

 

 

 

 

PMBOK Highlights:

  • Project Scheduling & Task Management – leverage multiple scheduling tools to meet every scheduling need

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Issue, Change, & Risk Management – easily convert items (ex. convert a change request to a task or issue)

 

 

 

 

  • PMBOK Checklist & Compliance Dashboard- leverage out of the box dashboards to monitor compliance

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Integration with Microsoft Project – in addition to online scheduling tools, you can also connect with Microsoft Project

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Visual Reports with Dashboards – leverage out of the box reports for simple project reporting

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Easily practice the PMBOK methodology as you manage your projects with EPM Live’s out of box PMBOK template!

Publish Your SharePoint Project and Work Tasks to Outlook with EPM Live

One of the biggest challenges with an Enterprise Project Portfolio Management (PPM) solution is getting all users to actually use the tool.   The data that comes out of the PPM tool is only as good as the information going in.  That being said, a critical success factor for implementing a PPM tool is high user adoption.  So how do you ensure that all users use the tool, and even better, WANT to use it?   You provide the tools needed to ensure users can work in the format most familiar to them.

EPM Live has been implementing PPM systems since 1999.  Because our solutions are built with usability in mind, removing adoption barriers is a requirement that has been the basis for many new features over the years.   Email applications are one of the most commonly used systems in organizations today which means that users are familiar with their email toolset.  In addition to many other integrations EPM Live offers to help users collaborate more effectively, EPM Live offers an Outlook integration that synchronizes all EPM Live work items with your Outlook task list.

With EPM Live, work is always consolidated in one central location (“My Work”) within Microsoft SharePoint.  EPM Live’s Outlook Publisher allows Microsoft Outlook users to easily connect to projects, tasks issues and other work items in EPM Live to collaborate in the way most familiar to them.

Easily Synchronize All Work Assigned to You In Any Outlook Task Folder

Features:

  • Synch with EPM Live: Outlook synchronizes with your “My Work” view from EPM Live automatically and in real time
  • Set automatic synchronization schedules with EPM Live sites or manually synchronize “My Work” from EPM Live at any time
  • Easily automatically connect to EPM Live when creating new Outlook task folders
  • “My Work” items are automatically removed from your Outlook task folders when any related EPM Live connections are removed for easy self clean-up
  • Changes to your “My Work” items are stored and automatically synchronized later if network connectivity is unavailable at the time you save the task, issue, risk, change, backlog, or custom work item for offline support needs
  • Easily manage all tasks in your Outlook task folders.  Switch views via the ribbon to only see your EPM Live “My Work” items, your Outlook native tasks, or both types of tasks in one consolidated view
  • Make changes to your work items directly in Outlook and changes are automatically synched back to EPM Live

Publish changes from local My Work items back to EPM Live

The EPM Live Outlook Publisher works with both Microsoft Outlook 2007 and 2010. We offer both 32- and 64-bit versions for Outlook 2010.  Sign up for EPM Live today!

EPM Live "PM Lite" Template for Simple Online Project Management

An enterprise project management system typically isn’t tailored to meet the needs of ALL users.  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, they have different areas of focus, and most of all, they are at different maturity levels within the PM maturity.  In fact, most likely you have non-PMs running projects somewhere across your organization.  A PPM system must allow you to define your enterprise needs and then customize the tool to meet the needs of individual teams, project managers, or departments.  If each user understands that the tool will meet their needs and resolve their pain points, everyone wins.  Executives get to see what they need across the enterprise and individual teams can work the way they work to make the tool effective.  Usability equals success in an enterprise system, and the data outputs are only as good as the information going into the tool.

With this in mind EPM Live offers our “PM Lite” PM Lite Project Workspace template suits those project managers looking for a simple project management tool with easy collaboration and scheduling tools.

Project teams improve collaboration and keep projects on track with the power to choose to use either the EPM Live Online Planner or Microsoft Project to manage your schedule.  Your team can log issues as they arise, chat in team discussions, and share documents.   Built-in reports let you see relevant project dashboards and artifacts.  EPM Live is always striving to meet the needs of ALL users and ALL process across ALL work!

Watch a few videos to learn more about how to use our Online Project Planner:

Project Planner Overview

Project Planner Deep Dive

PM Lite” Highlights:

  • Project scheduling using the EPM Live Online Planner or Microsoft Project.

  • Issues & Document Management

  •  Visual Reports & Dashboards

  • Notifications & Alerts to improve collaboration for your team