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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!!

The Resource Management Life Cycle- Effective Planning for Maximum Utilization

Employees are the most valuable asset and the biggest expense for most organizations. Any organization that fails to manage their resources to ensure that sufficient capacity is available, and that they are being assigned and managed efficiently, risks losing control of its project and work costs and having its business activities seriously constrained. The ability to deploy employees effectively against often conflicting projects and other work priorities enables organizations to optimize their return on human resource investments. In order to maximize both task throughput and company morale, resource and project managers need an efficient system to place the appropriate staff on the right teams at the right time.

Before we get into all the various levels of resource management, let’s touch on the basics.  What is resource management?  Wikipedia defines resource management as “the efficient and effective deployment of an organization’s resources when they are needed.”

The term “resources” does not always refer to human resources, but all resources that need to be considered when scheduling a project activity.  For the purpose of this blog I’m going to be referring to the management process for human resources and the five levels within it. 

Unlike some project management processes, in order to complete the resource management life cycle, all resources must play a role. Each part of the life cycle could be owned by a different stakeholder and will vary from organization to organization. 

  • Executive Management will play a key role in identifying and selecting the RIGHT work and projects for the organization to execute. In many cases, Executive Management will only be involved in resource management from a reporting and analytics standpoint. For example, which projects and work to include in the business portfolio based on resource management metrics and data?

  • The PMO will be in charge of inputting resource data into the resource management tool. The PMO will play a key role in the first two steps in the resource management life cycle including planning resource roles and identifying which resources will fill them. 

  • The Project Manager will be involved primarily with execution rather than the planning stage of resource management. Once the resources are assigned, the project manager will be accountable for resource performance.

  • The Project Team’s role is to collaborate with each other to foster a positive team environment. Shared knowledge and expertise will be a critical factor in delivering work successfully.

  • The team member’s main role will be to get the work done!

 

Let’s take a look at the full resource management life cycle. As you can see in the graphic, this is a top down approach to managing your resources. To truly accomplish full resource management within your organization, all areas must be considered and accommodated. That being said, it is always wise to consider organizational maturity as it relates to resource management to ensure you are adopting the right amount of discipline and functionality at the right pace to ensure you are not introducing unnecessary risks.

By the way, it is very common for users within your organization to be at different levels of maturity. One of the most important aspects of implementing and executing a new tool or discipline is that you understand your audience and their needs as well as their current processes in place to ensure that new technologies introduced will be easily adapted.

Resource Capacity Planning

 

Capacity planning helps to ensure that resource capacity meets current and future business requirements in a cost-effective manner. In the Capacity planning stage you will need to identify all the roles needed for the given project or work effort at hand. For example, which organizations or departments will be involved in your project? This will help you establish the structure for your project, potentially establish how your tasks will be organized, and even identify security constraints. 

What disciplines and skill sets are required to complete your project? Without the proper skill sets and expertise particular tasks may require more training, longer term times, possibly even result in rework. Effective resource management relies on the fact that these factors have all been considered prior to selecting your resources. Once you have determined your generic roles, you will need to determine the quantity of each role needed as well as the timeframe. 

As this information is obtained, you will then be ready to analyze your plan, make adjustments and prepare for actual named assignments.

 

Resource Allocation

Now it’s time to assign your team. Before we do, we must look at all the factors involved in this process. Who is available and when? What competencies or expertise do the resources possess? Have they worked on a similar project in the past and if so how well did they perform? Are they interested in working on the defined project and finally how much will it cost to obtain the resources for the project? 

In addition to the environmental factors, a roles and responsibilities document should be completed prior to assigning resources. An organization chart will also aid in this process when determining the resource assignments and when viewing the preliminary project schedule to see when each resource is needed and for how long. In many cases, the project team members are known in advance. In other instances, you may need to be prepared to enter a negotiation process with functional managers or maybe even other project managers, should the resource be currently working on other projects. In this case, project priorities and benefits may be weighed to determine which project has the greater need for the requested resource. 

In many cases, if project teams are already over allocated, there may be a need to consider acquiring resources from a 3rd party vendor or consulting firm. You may also consider whether or not having a virtual team will be adequate for your resource management needs. After resources are assigned and confirmed, you will need to be prepared to manage all future changes that could potentially come into play to ensure your plan is flexible and scalable to handle unexpected shifts in resource demand and allocation.

Resource Work Management

 

Resource Work Management is an ongoing process in the resource management life cycle that begins with allocation and ends at the completion of the final project or work deliverable. This stage in the life cycle is typically managed by the project manager. This process includes managing all assignments, tracking team member performance, providing project feedback and status, resolving issues and risks, and coordinating changes to enhance project performance. 

All of these tools necessary for project execution and management are also essential to your resources. As with any work or project deliverable, time, resources and costs must all be considered together in order to effectively and successfully deliver a project.

Resource Collaboration

 

Resource collaboration is a key practice in the way we work today.  Working together on work deliverables allows us to streamline our work, deliver services, and increase overall productivity across the organization. It’s simple math really, more experienced resources working together equals less time. Resource collaboration is a critical stage in resource management.

If your resources aren’t communicating and they aren’t working towards a shared understanding of goals, carefully putting together a resource plan pre-execution will be less productive. Resources must communicate in order to keep projects and work on track. When defining the tools to implement for resource management, ease of use and flexibility are essential to ensure high user adaption and effective collaboration.

 

Resource Task Management

  

The last level of the resource management life cycle focuses on those accountable for individual work items. We all have project work or various work items that we must complete and most likely that work is combined with our own personal to do list as well. In order to be the most productive, resources need a tool that will handle all of their work tasks and any personal tasks they may have in one location. Resources must be able to gather their work, update their work, and monitor all related work and dependencies in one system.

 

 

Project Management Tools- 5 Steps to Resource Management

Implementing project management tools in a resource constrained environment is essential for PPM success.  So how do you ensure successful resource management within your SharePoint project management environment?  Simple, have a plan, and leverage best practices.  Following the resource management life cycle below will give you the head start you need to gain control over your resources!

Employees are the most valuable asset and the biggest expense for most organizations. Any organization that fails to manage their resources to ensure that sufficient capacity is available, and that they are being assigned and managed efficiently, risks losing control of its project and work costs and having its business activities seriously constrained. The ability to deploy employees effectively against often conflicting projects and other work priorities enables organizations to optimize their return on human resource investments. In order to maximize both task throughput and company morale, resource and project managers need an efficient system to place the appropriate staff on the right teams at the right time.

Let’s take a look at the full resource management life cycle. As you can see in the graphic below, this is a top down approach to managing your resources. To truly accomplish full resource management within your organization, all areas must be considered and accommodated. That being said, it is always wise to consider organizational maturity as it relates to resource management. This ensures you are adopting the right amount of discipline and functionality at the right pace to ensure you are not introducing unnecessary risks.

It is very common for users within your organization to be at different levels of maturity. One of the most important aspects of implementing and executing a new tool or discipline is that you understand your audience, their needs and their current processes in place today, to ensure that new technologies introduced will be easily adapted.

Resource Management Life Cycle

 

Step 1 – Resource Capacity Planning

Capacity planning helps to ensure that resource capacity meets current and future business requirements in a cost-effective manner. In the Capacity planning stage you will need to identify all the roles needed for the given project or work effort at hand. For example, which organizations or departments will be involved in your project? This will help you establish the structure for your project, potentially establish how your tasks will be organized, and even identify security constraints. What disciplines and skill sets are required to complete your project? Without the proper skill sets and expertise particular tasks may require more training, longer term times, possibly even result in rework. Effective resource management relies on the fact that these factors have all been considered prior to selecting your resources. Once you have determined your generic roles, you will need to determine the quantity of each role needed as well as the timeframe. As this information is obtained, you will then be ready to analyze your plan, make adjustments and prepare for actual named assignments. 

Resource Capacity Planning

Step 2 – Resource Allocation

Now it’s time to assign your project team. Before we do, we must look at all the factors involved in this process. Who is available and when are they available? What competencies or expertise do the resources possess? Have they worked on a similar project in the past and if so how well did they perform? Are they interested in working on the defined project and finally how much will it cost to obtain the resources for the project? In addition to the environmental factors a roles and responsibilities document should be completed prior to assigning resources. An organization chart will also aid in this process when determining the resource assignments and when viewing the preliminary project schedule to see when each resource is needed and for how long. In many cases, the project team members are known in advance. In other instances, you may need to be prepared to enter a negotiation process with functional managers or maybe even other project managers, should the resource be currently working on other projects. In this case, project priorities and benefits may be weighed to determine which project has the greater need for the requested resource. In many cases, if project teams are already over allocated, there may be a need to consider acquiring resources from a 3rd party vendor or consulting firm. You may also consider whether or not having a virtual team will be adequate for your resource management needs. After resources are assigned and confirmed, you will need to be prepared to manage all future changes that could potentially come into play to ensure your plan is flexible and scalable to handle unexpected shifts in resource demand and allocation.

Resource Allocation

 Step 3 – Resource Work Management

Resource Work Management is an ongoing process in the resource management life cycle that begins with allocation and ends at the completion of the final project or work deliverable. This stage in the life cycle is typically managed by the project manager. This process includes managing all assignments, tracking team member performance, providing project feedback and status, resolving issues and risks, and coordinating changes to enhance project performance. All of these tools necessary for project execution and management are also essential to your resources. As with any work or project deliverable, time, resources and costs must all be considered together in order to effectively and successfully deliver a project.

 Resource Work Management

Step 4 – Resource Collaboration

Resource 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, allows organizations to streamline work, deliver services and increase overall productivity across the organization. Resource collaboration is a critical stage in resource management. If your resources aren’t communicating and they aren’t working towards a shared understanding of goals, carefully putting together a resource plan pre-execution will be less productive. Resources must communicate in order to keep projects and work on track. When defining the tools to implement for resource management, ease of use and flexibility are essential to ensure high user adaption and effective collaboration.

 Resource Collaboration

Step 5 – Resource Task Management

The last level of the resource management life cycle focuses on those accountable for individual work items. We all have project work or various work items that we must complete and most likely that work is combined with our own personal to do list as well. In order to be the most productive, resources need a tool that will handle all of their work tasks and any personal tasks they may have in one location. In EPM Live you can do just that. Gather your work, update your work and monitor all related work and dependencies in one system.

Resource Task Management

 

Free white paper: The Resource Management Life Cycle

 Download White Paper button

 

 

Gartner's 2013 PPM Predictions – View Report Here

2013 is well under way but organizations are still struggling with their Project Portfolio and Work Management processes.  The business world is forever changing and for organizations to thrive they must be able to adopt or even better, be an early adopter of the noted trends and predictions. Gartner Inc. predicts in 2013 that PPM leaders must embrace constant innovation and change.   We believe our PPM solutions align with Gartner’s predictions through online project management software that is flexible for the entire organization and robust enough for the most experienced user.

 

Download Gartner’s full 2013 PPM Predicts Report here

 

Here are Gartner’s top 2013 predictions for the Project Portfolio Management industry:

1. Through 2016, the accepted norm will be 20% project failure as organizations are forced to take on increased risk to achieve desired returns.

We find that successful program and project reviews focus on strategies to make project delivery successful.  Even for projects doing well, forecasting future issues is critical and overall risk mitigation must be an ongoing practice.  Leverage the right tools to track all issues and risks and introduce portfolio what-if modeling to determine the result of ongoing project changes.

2. By 2015, 60% of the Fortune 1000 will establish an EPMO to improve the value created by investments in projects and programs.

Enterprise processes and standards are critical in enabling repeatable successes.  Best practice implementation will mitigate common challenges and in return prevent rework.  We provide tools that align with your current processes and helps you build a roadmap to adopt more functionality and discipline at the right pace to ensure user adoption and prevents the introduction of additional risks.  To learn more about process adoption and common EPM deployment challenges, join us for our upcoming webinar PPM for the Enterprise – Overcoming Deployment Challenges

3.  By 2015, 40% of Global 1000 organizations will use gamification as the primary mechanism to transform business operations.  

The project management industry has changed significantly over the last few years. We are seeing that Project Management tools are aligning more to the users, giving them tools that adapt to their working styles.  Social project management (click here to view a presentation on social project management) has come into play to help users become more productive by giving them the flexibility to get the work done in their own way. This approach fosters relationships, builds knowledge share, and identifies team experts in various areas that may not have been discovered before.   It’s an innovative world and we must modify our technology as our culture changes to appeal to our stakeholders.  Work CAN be fun. 

Learn more about EPM Live and why over 5,000 customers trust us with their PPM Work Management Needs. Try a free trial today!

 

Boston Medical Center HealthNet Plan Chooses EPM Live PPM Work Management Platform

Thank you for choosing EPM Live for your PPM solution!

Boston Medical Center (BMC) HealthNet Plan is a not-for-profit managed care organization serving more than 230,000 members across Massachusetts. The health plan serves members across three product lines: MassHealth, CommonwealthCare, and commercial (Employer Choice/Commonwealth Choice).

BMC HealthNet Plan is committed to quality and has achieved Excellent Accreditation status four times in a row from the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA). BMCHP is one of America’s top five Medicaid health plans, according to NCQA’s Medicaid Health Insurance Plan Rankings 2011-2012.

Through its community outreachteam, the Plan partners with its healthcare providers and local organizations to educate Massachusetts residents about health and wellness topics, as well as their health insurance coverage options. To serve its MassHealth and Commonwealth Care members, BMC HealthNet Plan contracts with nearly 60 hospitals, 15,000 health care providers, and 1,000 pharmacies across the state (except for Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket). For its Commonwealth Choice/Employer Choice plans, BMC HealthNet Plan currently offers a network of selected healthcare providers in eastern Massachusetts.

Learn More about Boston Medical Center (BMC) HealthNet Plan.

Kames Capital Implements EPM Live PPM To Improve Productivity and Maximize Efficiency

EPM Live recently sat down with our valued client Kames Capital to discuss their EPM Live implementation and the benefits they are now receiving leveraging our powerful PPM and Work Management platform.

Based in Edinburgh and London, Kames Capital manages £50 billion of assets (as at 31 March 2012) and benefits from the financial backing from being an integral part of the AEGON NV group, one of the largest financial services groups in the world with around 31,500 staff worldwide. Kames Capital manages fixed income, equity, property and multi-asset investments for individual and institutional investors in the UK, Europe and Asia. With a rich history, Kames Capital goes back a long way – to 1831. In fact, in the subsequent 180 years, Kames Capital’s goals have remained steadfast and simple – to be global in their perspective and deliver consistent success for their investors.

Prior to implementing EPM Live, Kames Capital resource managers met monthly to review all incoming resource requirements and align supply with demand. This process was handled through an Excel spreadsheet that covered three main areas: 

  • Project Detail – a universal look into all projects, the resources assigned and the resources still required to execute the project successfully
  • Staff Detail– resource details including resource names, projects assigned, skill set, hours committed and available hours
  • Programme Summary– programme information including description, programme type, and overall supply and demand for each programme

Kames Capital turned to EPM Live to assist them with implementing an automated process to improve their manual resource management efforts that currently were resulting in a total time of 1 day per month per project manager.

Leveraging EPM Live’s powerful Resource Management capabilities, Kames Capital was able to create global visibility into all resources to make better resource management decisions for a more optimized portfolio and allocation. They were able to implement a standardized process which eliminated previous manual processes and rework. With EPM Live, our customers receive real-time and accurate reporting; this allowed Kames Capital stakeholders to reduce risks, time, overages and labor costs.

By levering EPM Live’s SaaS solution, Kames Capital now has shortened deployment cycles, expedited ROI realization and no costly infrastructure.

EPM Live proved to be a powerful tool for Kames Capital as they now have a successful automated resource management processes creating efficiency and maximum resource allocation across the organization. 

EPM Live Resource Management in SharePoint

Proper Resource Management is vital to the success of any project. The ability to deploy employees effectively against often conflicting projects and other work priorities enables organizations to optimize their return on human resource investments. In order to maximize both task throughput and company morale, resource and project managers need an efficient system to place the appropriate staff on the right teams at the right time.

 

Microsoft SharePoint is a widely used collaborative platform that is commonly deployed for content management and general collaboration. EPM Live’s adds additional value to your existing investment in SharePoint by providing enterprise resource management tools and capabilities right in a SharePoint environment.

EPM Live can help organizations accomplish every stage in the resource management life cycle so that maximum allocation can be reached without introducing risks. The five stages of the resource management life cycle are:

• Resource Capacity
• Resource Allocation
• Resource Work Management
• Resource Collaboration and
• Resource Task Management

Capacity Planning helps to ensure that resource capacity meets current and future business requirements in a cost-effective manner.  In the Capacity planning stage you will need to identify all the roles needed for the given project or work effort at hand.  For example, which organizations or departments will be involved in your project?  This will help you establish the structure for your project and potentially how your tasks will be organized and even identify security constraints.  What disciplines and skill sets are required to complete your project?  Without the proper skill sets and expertise, particular tasks may require more training, longer term times, possibly even result in rework.   Effective resource management relies on the fact that these factors have all been considered prior to selecting your resources. Once you have determined your generic roles, you will need to determine the quantity of each role needed as well as the timeframe.  As this information is obtained, you will then be ready to analyze your plan, make adjustments and prepare for actual named assignments.  Let’s take a look at how you can accomplish Resource capacity in SharePoint.

1)  Build a resource plan directly in EPM Live:

 

 

 

 

 

 

2)  Use a resource modeler to perform what-if analysis, finalize portfolio selection and apply the right sequencing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

3) Leverage resource capacity reports built to analyze your current resource needs and all potential risks associated.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To see how you can leverage EPM Live to manage the remaining four stages of resource management, download our “Resource Management in SharePoint” on-demand webinar by clicking on the link below.

View Resource Management in SharePoint- On-Demand Webinar

No Excuses. Use Proper Project Management for Marketing Campaigns Too! EPM Live Makes It Easy.

At EPM Live we like to think outside of the box when it comes to the ability Enterprise Project Management. Who needs multiple systems when you can configure the right software to be an all in one work management solution for your entire organization. Project Management solutions are not only for large-scale technical, construction, and manufacturing projects, they’re also a necessity for marketing campaigns, big and small.  Essentially all projects have the same basic management needs; optimization of time, cost and resource alignment. You may have heard the excuse with regards to the management of a marketing campaign; “It’s only a small project, it’s not worth the time and effort of putting together a project plan. We can just use a spreadsheet”. However, this approach carries great risks.  The ability to complete a marketing campaign on schedule, within budget, and with fair resource allocation, necessitates careful project planning.

Successful marketing campaign execution requires:

  • Estimating team work efforts accurately and recognizing dependencies
  • Managing scope change through analysis, options, opportunity costs/trade-offs, and formal communications with the stakeholders
  • Anticipating risks and devising contingency plans to manage them
  • Meeting project financial targets
  • Reporting project status accurately, transparently, and in a timely manner
  • Creating open channels of communication and ongoing collaboration
  • Administering basic project tasks such as project setup and status reports

EPM Live Enterprise Project Management solutions ensure that work is delivered within the established timeframe and to a high standard. EPM Live Project Software makes it easy to setup and execute effective project management for any project- yes, even the small marketing campaigns. EPM Live provides easy-to-use planning tools, document management, collaboration tools, reporting, and other PPM essentials that are created in minutes and immediately available for sharing amongst team members and stakeholders.

It’s actually pretty simple to get started.  We set up all of our marketing projects including events, campaigns, email and internet marketing, etc. within EPM Live and modified the data points (on our own without the need for a technical guru) to reflect the data we needed to see. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After they were all entered, we created our cost categories and began to enter estimated cost for all projects.  We were able to establish resource plans as well as cost plans for the various costs associated to each campaign.  Although I’ve whited out our cost values, you can get an idea of the various cost categories you can create by looking at the graphic below.  On top of that, we were able to create our own cost types (budget, forecast and actuals) to be able to track against moving forward. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next step, detailed project schedules!  We created our schedules in Microsoft Project and published them to EPM Live using the EPM Live Project Publisher.  What a cinch!  Now we have our projects, cost plans and schedules on in one centralized location!  For our less complex schedules we used EPM Live’s online planner.  Once we had all of our project data entered we then leveraged EPM Live’s Outlook Publisher to publish our EPM Live tasks to Outlook so that we could work directly from there.  Now we have the choice to go to the “my work” view within EPM Live as seen below…… 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

or simply navigate to our Outlook task list and access and status our tasks directly from there. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So as you can see, managing marketing campaigns in a Project Management Tool has never been easier! 

EPM Live offers three editions of our Project Management solution to meet the needs of every organization. Easily deployed online or on-premise, EPM Live will give your team the tools they need to create efficiencies and empower resources to work smart and get more work done.

With EPM Live there are no more excuses to not use proper project management techniques for your organization’s marketing campaign. Get started today with a Free Trial!

PPM for the Enterprise Part 2 – The Importance of Understanding Maturity

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? 

Introducing a new system that is designed to take an organization from level one maturity to level five maturity in the first phase is destined to fail and will only introduce risks.  Organizational readiness is a critical factor in implementing a PPM system that will essentially make or break your deployment success.  Let’s take a look at all the areas where maturity can be measured.

 Users

There is more to PPM design then just defining the various roles in your organization.  You must also understand the functions that each role plays in the business as well as what tools and processes are being leveraged to execute them.  There are many maturity models available to help you determine where your organization and users reside in project management maturity.  I tend to prefer the maturity model published by Gartner for PPM Maturity. 

Maturity can be measured by the tools and processes currently in place as well as the disciplines supported by them.  Again, the faster you move up in maturity, the more risks you will introduce.  When implementing a new system it is always a good idea to start with a transfer of the current processes.  For example, if a user is managing their resources through a list of projects found in an excel worksheet; transfer that same process into the new toolset.  If the user expresses that the same process is also one of their core challenges, make adjustments to that process where needed but start at the same level of process maturity within the PPM application.  As users become familiar with the toolset, it will be appropriate to mature their processes as well as adopt new functionality within the PPM system.  User readiness is crucial.  Enforcing your users to utilize a tool that leverages disciplines and processes that are unfamiliar will only result in user frustration, low user adaption and overall rejection of a critical investment.  Don’t expect to implement a PPM system that will leverage the same functionality for every user; instead, implement a flexible and scalable system that will accommodate all users and allow them to improve their productivity through gradual maturity progression. 

It is wise to not only determine current organizational readiness and maturity but also define a roadmap to ensure your organization has a plan for improving overall maturity to gain better control and management of all project and operational investments.

Capabilities

Similar to users, there are multiple levels of maturity found in system capabilities.  As you define the processes that are currently in place for your users, the capability maturity will also be revealed.  Let’s take a look at some of the common PPM capabilities that will be defined in your PPM system. 

Portfolio Management

Portfolio management includes both the discipline of identifying and selecting the RIGHT projects for your portfolio as well as the ability to effectively manage your portfolio of projects once they have entered the execution phase. Although portfolio selection is critical, many organizations begin with project execution or the managing of project schedules long before they consider the benefits of portfolio selection.  Identifying the right projects for your business may include processes such as determining business objective alignment, identifying risk probability, resource and cost planning, and project portfolio scenario modeling.  For the execution level user, portfolio management may simply be portfolio visibility across all projects and work.  Visibility into project status, resources and costs generates awareness and will help prevent unforeseen risk to maintain a healthy portfolio.  Questions that will help determine portfolio management maturity may include:

  • Will this tool help you manage potential projects?
  • What kind of information is required to accept or approve a project?
  • What is the process for moving projects from proposal to execution?
  • What project and work data must be seen across your portfolio to ensure a healthy portfolio?

Project Management

Projects and work will be the core of your PPM system.  Project management maturity is a critical factor in determining what tools should be implemented and to what level of functionality.  Don’t be surprised if you end up spending the bulk of your design session answering the following question:  How do you define a project?  Most organizations function at a low maturity level.  Maturity can be measured by the processes already in place within your PMO or across your projects.  For example, are processes clearly defined or are they ad hoc?  Do users use the same tool consistently or is everyone on their own when determining what tool works best for them?  It is important here to understand what type of projects and work will be handled in the PPM system and how that work will be defined.  Will you manage that work at the task level, the milestone level, or will projects be entered and tracked at the project level?  Imagine your filling out a document or project charter regarding your upcoming work.  What questions need to be answered and what data needs to be defined?  Once you have clearly identified the information that must be captured for all your projects, define what processes will take place to execute on them.  How will you manage changes, issues and risks?   The level of project detail and the depth of your processes will help determine maturity and corresponding functionality that should be introduced to the business within the PPM platform. 

Schedule Management

In the last discipline area of project management you determined whether or not your projects will be detailed to the task level or will be managed at the project level only.  If you determined that they will be managed at the task level, schedule management is the next necessary topic for design.  This area is critical because we all work differently.  Many PPM tools give you one scheduling option.  This could be a point of failure for many organizations.  Which user maturity level will the scheduling tool accommodate?   For those that fall above or below that particular maturity level, what tool will they use?  User adoption is the only answer for a successful PPM system.  Every user must have the tools necessary to manage their work at their level of comfort.  If I’m a Marketing Director who needs to maintain a simple list of campaigns, there is no question that I will need a different scheduling tool than a Construction Manager who needs to manage the build of a new hospital to code. 

Resource Management

Resource management can mean many things.  Let’s take a look at the various ways resource management can be applied to your PPM tool.  There is much more to this discipline than simply assigning work to a resource.  We’ll take it from the bottom up.  A task or work is put into the system and a resource is assigned.  The resource goes into the system, views his/her work, executes on the work and marks it as 100% complete.  Some organizations stop here in the practice of resource management, but there are many more levels to reveal.  How do you know which resource is available to work on the task?  How do you know if they have the right skill set?  Let’s now work from the top town.  A project has been defined and you need to build a resource plan against it.  You don’t know who is available or who has the proper expertise but you do know what role you need.  You schedule 5 developers over the next 3 months to work on this project.  Now you want to see which developers meet the requirements of your project. 

Cost Management

Let’s move on to cost management.  The following questions should be considered when determining cost management needs for your PPM system.  At what level do you plan your project budget: project or task?  This again will help you determine where the budget data will be entered into the tool.  What types of costs must be tracked?  For example do you only want to track the costs associated with resources, or also other project costs such as purchases, expenses, materials, subcontractors, overhead, etc.?  If the answer to this question is expenses, you may want to design an expense form used to track expenses and apply against your project’s financials.  If your organization isn’t prepared to exercise cost management at the task or work level, don’t.  Start where you are now and then mature your processes as you adapt to the tool.  A system that houses partial data can lead to poor decision making.  How will you know what decisions are necessary when you don’t have the visibility to see where you currently are with your costs? 

Tracking and Controlling

Tracking and controlling is important because it not only defines the data to be tracked but the process for how it will be tracked within the system.  For example, do you want team members to supply detailed progress information about their assignments?  If so, you may want to allow team members the ability to go into their tasks and enter percent complete so that the updates can automate back into your schedule to save time and improve efficiency. 

Are you looking to include timesheets in your PPM system or are you looking to integrate your current timesheet system?  If you do want to include timesheets in the system you will want to make sure that it has been configured to include the proper categories needed to reflect your business needs.  If you were reporting actual hours worked on a weekly basis against projects, would you complete your time entry daily or do it at the end of the week?  This response is also needed to help define your timesheet configuration. 

What work do you want to track?  Is there a requirement to identify and track changes in scope or other issues when project status changes?  If the answer is yes, you may want to define attributes needed for a change request list/log so project owners can easily adapt to those changes and adjust their costs, schedules and resources accordingly.  Do you have a requirement to track project issues and risks? Is there a requirement to track other work items that need to be considered when managing your projects and resources such as service requests, action items, etc.?  Again, data capture must take place for ALL work if it affects your costs, resources and/or schedule. 

Reporting and Business Intelligence

Now that we have addressed the main content needed for project and work definition and management, let’s take a look at some of the outputs that may be considered in your PPM system design.  Some questions to consider are:

  • Do you have reports that you use today that are used for analysis or decision making?
  • Do you currently have a requirement to generate weekly/monthly status report? 
  • Do you have any standard reports required for your projects?
  • What type of information would be useful when viewing project status? 

All of these questions will help you determine what reports and dashboards are necessary to ensure you are getting the outputs required to maximize ROI and optimize value of your PPM and work management system. 

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.

Keep an eye open next week for PPM for the Enterprise Part 3, “PPM Deployment Tips”.

PPM for the Enterprise Part 1 – Common PPM Deployment Challenges

There are many factors to consider when assessing your PPM (Enterprise Project Portfolio Management) needs across your organization.  It occurs more often than not that financial constraints or time to market requirements outweigh the critical need to truly understand and evaluate the original need for this organizational change.   Of course that’s not to say that those seeking PPM disciplines and applications don’t have objectives in mind; but, whose objectives are they and how can you meet those objectives by enforcing a tool or discipline that only benefits those at the top?  Well, in my mind the answer is simple…you can’t.  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, which I’ll touch on a bit later, knowing and understanding your target audience will undoubtedly result in higher user adaption, leading to overall acceptance and maximized ROI. 

In this 5 part blog series, I will be covering the following topics: 

  1. Common PPM Deployment Challenges
  2. PPM Maturity – Users and Capabilities
  3. PPM Deployment Tips
  4. PPM Branding
  5. PPM Tools that Address Today’s
    Challenges

Before we get into the various areas where maturity can be measured, let’s first discuss three common challenges that can potentially cause a negative impact on PPM deployments. 

#1 – One solution rarely fits the needs of all users

An enterprise system typically isn’t tailored to meet all team’s/user’s needs.  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.  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, the data outputs are only as good as the information going into the tool. 

# 2 – A PPM system rarely accommodates all other work that affects your 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.  If you can’t effectively manage your resources how will you end up with a quality product within budget and delivered on time?  Once again, the answer is, you can’t.  In order to perform the resource management functions needed to obtain project success you must capture all work, not just project tasks.  Let’s say that Jim and Bill are working on my project and I can’t figure out why they are so far behind on their tasks.  I go into the PPM system and I see that they are only 50% allocated to three projects combined. As a PM that doesn’t give me the insight needed to effectively manage my resources.  It also doesn’t help Jim and Bill with productivity because most likely they have a different system for every type of work they are managing.  The solution?  Your PPM system must have the ability to manage all work associated with all resources so that you can properly manage your organization’s most valuable assets… your resources.  If you can remove the silos of information spread across your organization and accommodate all work in one solution, not only will you increase productivity but you could potentially reduce significant costs by eliminating unnecessary infrastructure, reducing the need for dedicated system expertise and removing the ongoing expense of maintaining redundant systems.

# 3 – PPM systems seldom represent a complete portfolio making visibility into all investments
impossible

Have you ever looked at your project portfolio in your PPM system and wondered why you are only seeing $265,000 worth of projects when you know you have allocated three times that amount for execution? 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.  Isn’t visibility into all your investments critical in understanding your true portfolio health?  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…no project management scheduling expertise needed.   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.  

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.

Keep an eye open next week for PPM for the Enterprise Part 2, “Understanding Maturity”.