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Online Project and Work Management for the Future!

Wayne Gretzky was once asked if there was a secret to his success as a hockey player. He simply said: “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it’s been.”

This is why I love working at EPM Live, a project and work management software business that is successful because we are constantly innovating and building for the future!  Obviously, this is why EPM Live has been recognized as a Red Herring Top 100 North America Tech Company!   Technology industry executives, investors, and observers have regarded the Red Herring 100 lists as an invaluable instrument to discover and advocate the promising startups that will lead the next wave of disruption and innovation.

These days, there are a variety of ways to sell software.  While EPM Live does continue to meet the demands of those implementing “on-premise” solutions, Software as a Service (SaaS) has made a significant impact in the enterprise project and portfolio management world.  Organizations need transparency, collaboration and interaction across the globe and the SaaS project management market is providing it.

While “on-premise” and “SaaS” costs both increase over time, there are many reasons that the SaaS architecture offers lower total cost of ownership, and is more efficient for customers.  Some key benefits driving many of our customers to leverage our Software as a Service include, but are not limited to:

  • Leverage the benefits of our latest features and benefits without the worry of upgrade plans and strategies
  • Lower your Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) since SaaS project management software requires no software or hardware, no dedicated IT team and supports seamless upgrades and updates
  • Unsurpassed support for your mission critical project and work management application including unlimited support cases, system health check and services to support an accelerated deployment
  • Easily collaborate within your organization as well as with your partners, suppliers and customers
  • Focus on successfully managing your projects rather than worry about purchasing, installing and maintaining software or hardware
  • Securely collaborate across the value chain, with your partners, suppliers and customers and help drive adoption with a simple online user experience

Our product team is always striving for new and innovative ways to manage your portfolio of projects and work with new features and capabilities such as:

  • Comments to enhance collaboration

  • Resource Matching to let you easily select resources from the right department, with the right skill(s), in addition to their availability

  • TFS Integration with our Agile Planner to support your Application Development projects

  • New workspace templates for our Application Marketplace

    We have benefited from over ten years of deploying EPM / PPM solutions, and while we recognize that each organization is unique, we also take the best practices and embed them right into our marketplace templates.   There’s no need for customers to start from scratch!!

We also understand our services, such as implementation, consulting and training are not accessories to our product.  Our services are an integral part of EPM Live’s products, and contribute directly to the success of our customers deployments.  Our Build To Order (BTO) approach is a cost effective, innovative approach utilizing industry best practices to accelerLKeate configuration and leverage key system capabilities to design the solution that fits our customers need.  Along with the variety of training offerings EPM Live offers at our EPM Live University, our services organization has you set up for success!

Software + Service + Customer Effort = SUCCESS!!

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summary

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.

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.

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 Welcome's Collinson Insurance Group!

Collinson Insurance Group chooses EPM Live for their Enterprise Project Management solution! 

The Collinson Insurance Group is the insurance management division of The Collinson Group Ltd providing world class insurance solutions – with a global reach. With a track record of more than 25 years of innovation in Travel Insurance and a reputation for pioneering niche insurance marketing we bring a depth of product and marketing understanding to build, deliver and market retail insurance.

Collinson Insurance Group is centred around 4 primary divisions, which operate in the UK and internationally:

  • Retail
  • Underwriting 
  • Broking
  • Niche Insurance
Click here to learn more about Collinson Insurance Group

NASA Improves Project Visibility and Reduces Costs With EPM Live Enterprise Project Management Solution

As a center of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is responsible for space missions exploring Earth, the solar system and the universe beyond. The laboratory employs approximately 5,000 people and is running a large number of projects at any given time. JPL chose to deploy EPM Live  for their enterprise project management solution because of its ability to centralize all work and easily integrate with their current systems in place.

The organization was using Microsoft Project Professional within the laboratory to give project management teams access to project schedules. However to share the schedules, JPL’s Project Schedule Analysts (PSAs) needed to create portable document files (PDFs) and then place them in a file share directory for access by project team members.  This meant that the schedules viewed by team members were a static image of project status at any given point in time, and did not provide any ability to drill down into items or make changes. When engineers needed to make a change they had to coordinate with the PSAs, creating additional work for both roles.

JPL decided to deploy WorkEngine from EPM Live, an Enterprise Project Portfolio and Work Management solution that integrates Microsoft SharePoint Server and Microsoft Project Server to achieve improved schedule visibility, greater collaboration, and reduce costs.

Various projects are being migrated to the WorkEngine solution, including plans and schedules for major upcoming flight projects. With EPM Live’s WorkEngine solution, project schedule visibility has been transformed from a static view of the project at any given time into real-time access for all project teams to review and status.

By deploying a project management solution that is integrated with SharePoint Server, JPL is able to create project workspaces where teams can access schedules and other key project information in a single location. This has improved collaboration within the teams, as employees can work together on documents, calendars, tasks and other items, removing version control issues. Project teams have real-time access to data, which boosts productivity among employees.

As well as benefiting from improved collaboration and visibility, JPL anticipates significant cost reductions from moving to an enterprise project management solution. A PSA can create approximately 30 PDFs of schedules during an update cycle, including the top level schedule and a version for each Cost Account Manager. Using the web view will save PSAs up to half a day’s work each week. JPL will also create cost efficiencies through improved collaboration by integrating its projects.

To learn more about how we work with other government agencies, contact us.

EPM Live Welcome's New Customer S&C Electric Company!

S&C Electric Company chooses EPM Live for their Enterprise Project Management solution!

S&C Electric Company is a global provider of equipment and services for electric power systems. Founded in 1911, the Chicago-based company designs and manufactures switching and protection products for electric power transmission and distribution.

S&C’s products help deliver electric power efficiently and reliably. Some are used to switch circuits. Others minimize damage to equipment in the event of a fault or reduce the area of an outage by automatically rerouting power flow. And S&C’s sophisticated power-quality products can deliver uninterrupted power for an entire facility, for crucial process industries.

In addition, S&C offers a wide range of engineering, laboratory, and testing services for electric utilities and commercial, industrial, and institutional power systems.

Learn more about S&C Electric Company

Emergency Physicians Medical Group Selects EPM Live

Emergency Physicians Medical Group (EPMG) is a physician-owned, hospital-based, emergency medicine practice that creates highly-effective emergency departments in order to ensure every patient receives the most compassionate care and experiences the best possible outcome. A collaborative and patient-focused approach to building a strong emergency department is driven by their culture of care. EPMG’s goal is to create an environment that supports everyone in providing the finest care for the best patient outcome.

EPMG was formed in 1976 with the establishment of its emergency medicine program at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Over the years, EPMG has expanded into a complete system of healthcare services developed specifically to respond to patient and community needs. EPMG provides comprehensive administrative and management services to several healthcare organizations.

EPMG works with the best doctors to implement systems, fill positions, and create emergency departments that are highly capable, compassionate, and efficient. EPMG does this by working to fill temporary needs, improve quality controls, and build long-term partnerships with hospitals. Their mission is to improve emergency services though cutting-edge procedures, information, training, and best practices. The result is higher patient satisfaction and emergency departments that are better equipped to provide the best care possible.

Learn more about the Emergency Physicians Medical Group

 

 

Free EPM Live White Paper – PPM for the Enterprise, Whose System is it Anyway?

My co-worker recently released a white paper that takes an in-depth look at the many factors to consider when assessing your PPM (Enterprise Project Portfolio Management) needs across your organization. She brought up the point that more often than not financial constraints or time to market requirements outweigh the critical need to truly understand and evaluate the original need for this organizational change. The most common mistake made in PPM deployments is the inability to define all stakeholders, their challenges, their tools and processes, and most importantly their current state of organizational project management maturity.

An effective strategy for PPM implementation addresses all of the following areas:

– Who will be using the system?
– What are their current PPM challenges?
– What tools and processes are they using today?

Very similar to branding, knowing and understanding your target audience will undoubtedly result in higher user adaption, leading to overall acceptance and maximized ROI.

Here are 5 components that were covered in the white paper and definitely should be considered if you are looking to implement a PPM solution within your organization:

1. Overcome Common PPM Deployment Challenges:

  • One solution rarely fits the needs of all users
  • A PPM system rarely accommodates all other work that affects your project resources
  • PPM systems seldom represent a complete portfolio, making visibility into all investments impossible

Every user within your organization will have different needs. As you can see from the challenges mentioned above, it is critical to accommodate and meet the needs of all users within your project AND work management tool. As you begin discussions of building a solution for your organization, don’t forget to consider all users that will eventually play a role in acceptance and usability.

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

  • Who will be using the tool?
  • What challenges are the users facing with their current processes and toolsets?
  • What benefits are expected out of the tool for each of the user roles?
  • What capabilities are needed to ensure this application will meet the user’s needs?
  • Where does each user fall in organizational project management maturity?

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

3. Deployment Tips:

  • Define your audience
  • Qualify expertise of each individual user
  • Define the vision: What is PPM?
  • Understand the business and challenge any assumptions being made
  • Focus on pain points
  • Focus on strengths
  • Consider those not present
  • Review risks
4. PPM Branding:

It is absolutely critical that we sell the PPM brand to our organizations before we begin implementation. We all must brand ourselves, our skills and our business! A brand must bring consistent value to its audience. PPM is an essential brand for organizations to enforce that will ensure the right projects are being completed at the right time within the given budget. Let’s not forget the critical output of any project…increased value.

5. How EPM Live aligns to Address Today’s Challenges:

EPM Live is built with the user in mind. If management cannot get the end users to use the system, the system will not be a success. For this reason, EPM Live has been designed to take into account all the various users that will be using the tool. EPM Live understands that in order to have a truly successful PPM solution, you must accommodate all the work that affects your bottom line.  To do so, EPM Live has built a full PPM solution that brings all projects, all work, all products, all applications and all services together in one centralized location!  You have many options for all work management:  easily integrate with other LOB systems to bring all work together, retire legacy systems and migrate your business to EPM Live, or define your EPM Live system as an all work management system from the get go and leverage EPM Live’s free solution apps to get you up and running quickly. In many organizations it is common to track large IT projects within your PPM toolset.  Now, more than ever, it is critical to show all projects that are utilizing your organizations resources in the same tool.  You will always have large and small projects, seasoned and unseasoned Project Managers, and work coming in from every corner of your organization.  If you are putting in $2m into your organization every year, every piece of that investment should be included in your PPM toolset.  Remember, there are tools to accommodate every user so user maturity should no longer be the excuse here.  EPM Live has made it easy for every organization to gain control of their project and work portfolios.  

For a more in-depth understanding and explanation of the components laid out in this blog, read the full, free, white paper here!

For more information on how the EPM Live PPM solution can help you meet your PPM needs contact us at info@epmlive.com or click here for a free trial

Welcome GAVI Alliance to EPM Live's Valued Customer Portfolio

GAVI Alliance saves lives by providing children in developing countries with vaccinations they need to help prevent disease so they can grow up to lead productive lives.

Every child, no matter where he or she is born, has the right to the opportunity of a healthy life and vaccines are one of the best ways to assure it. Yet each year 1.7 million children die from a vaccine-preventable disease. The overwhelming majority of these deaths occur in developing countries. That’s one life every 20 seconds.

In January 2000, with global immunisation rates stagnating, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI) was launched to fund vaccines for children in the world’s 70 poorest countries. Its mission: to save children’s lives and protect people’s health by increasing access to immunisation in the world’s poorest countries.

By pulling the specialist skills of all the main players in immunization –  WHO, UNICEF, the World Bank, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, donor governments, developing countries, international development and finance organisations and the pharmaceutical industry – into one, decision-making body, GAVI has brought a single-minded focus to the urgent task of closing three critical gaps in the provision of vaccines.

Click here to learn more about GAVI Alliance.