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

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

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

On time delivery

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

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

Figure 1 – EPM Live Online Project Planner 








On budget delivery

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

Figure 2 – EPM Live Dashboards 








Customer satisfaction 

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

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

Figure 3 – EPM Live Report Dashboards









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

Leverage Online Project Management for Flexible Scheduling Tools

With EPM Live’s online project management solution, users are able to choose the best tool for their online schedule management requirements.

When creating a project workspace, you will want to choose whether you are going to use the EPM Live Project Planner or Microsoft Project  – which you may already have installed – to manage your project schedule and plan. As a third option, you can also simply use “Tasks” to track the work you need to do in a flat list, which I’ll cover more in a follow-up post.

Most commonly, experienced project managers are creating a hierarchical schedule, or need complex dependencies or assignment-hours detail. If that is you, you will want to choose one way or the other to manage your project plan in the long-term within the project management products which EPM Live has made available.

There are several points for comparison in this decision process, but here are a few key things to consider:

EPM Live’s Project Planner

  • Completely online – no software installation necessary
  • Create a hierarchical tasks list with assignments, set baselines, track actuals
  • Supports custom views unique to each user within the Planner

Microsoft Project 

  • Must install both Microsoft Project and the EPM Live Project Publisher add-in
  • Create a hierarchical tasks list with assignments, set baselines, track actuals
  • Supports custom views stored locally within your Project

A final tip on making your selection easy: just set the Default Planner option to your choice the first time you edit the project inside the workspace.  The default setting will apply to either the Project Planner or Microsoft Project.

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!

Use SharePoint to Build Your Next Project Schedule

As many of you know, SharePoint 2010 allows you to build project task lists within your SharePoint sites.  That being said, the functionality can be somewhat limited if you are needing a more comprehensive tool to schedule your tasks.  If you are looking to manage a project in SharePoint and you need the flexibility of a scheduling tool but you also need it to be user friendly and easy to use, take a look at EPM Live’s schedule management capabilities.  EPM Live’s project planner has all the typical features of a scheduling tool including:

  • Summary tasks (indent and outdent)
  • Predecessors/Successors
  • Milestones
  • Gantt chart
  • Critical path
  • Baseline
  • Resource assignments

Notice I say “typical”.  There are also many features you simply won’t find anywhere else in regards to other SharePoint Project Management solutions.  These include:

  • A SharePoint-based resource pool that can be easily customized with critical resource data important to your organization
  • A “my work” rollup that users can access and view all of their work across all projects regardless of what site it resides in
  • Out of the box schedule, resource and cost reports stemming from your project schedule
  • Out of the box schedule dashboards and views

In addition to the above, there are many other advantages to building your schedules in SharePoint using EPM Live.  Take a look at the video below to take a quick tour!



EPM Live Wins TopTenREVIEWS Bronze Award for Scheduling Software

The schedule is one of the most critical components used for delivering a project. Project Managers have needs to manage schedules with different levels of rigor and complexity. Other project plan software limit Project Managers to one scheduling tool and method. WorkEngine offers a variety of scheduling methods and tools to meet the needs of every Project Manager.  EPM Live’s WorkEngine has always been known for its flexible scheduling tools that allow users to build schedules and tasks using a variety of methods including simple task lists, the online planner, the agile online planner, or Microsoft Project.  Regardless of user maturity or preferred methodology, EPM Live’s WorkEngine has the right tool for every user.  We are thrilled to announce that it is finally official, EPM Live has been named as one of the top scheduling software tools for 2012 by TopTenREVIEWS.

EPM Live’s WorkEngine’s scheduling application was chosen for the TopTenREVIEWS Bronze Award because of how effectively it streamlines communication and keeps projects on schedule and under budget.  TopTenREVIEWS evaluates products from multiple platforms providing customers the information they need to make smart purchasing decisions. TopTenREVIEWS only make recommendations for the best product in each category.  “With WorkEngine you can keep track of everyone on your team, their tasks, the budget and the schedule all in one program,” noted TopTenREVIEWS, “with a myriad of support options available from EPM Live, now you can focus on the project and not worry about the details falling through the cracks.”

To read the full review or check out the review video, click here.

Share your project plan when you are good and ready!

Did you know that you can use the EPM Live Project Planner to create and refine a schedule, and then keep that data “under wraps” until you are ready to make it public?

For example, if you create a Project, then Edit Plan and choose the “Project Planner” — a tip here is to set as default so you don’t get prompted each time you go back in — you can “Save” your planned schedule as many times as you’d like until the plan looks exactly how you want it to look.

The data that is in the saved plan will not be pushed out to your workspace  — and therefore visible to others — until you Publish.

So, when you are good and ready, notify everyone on the team of their individual assignments, and, of course, the overall big picture of the project schedule.

The trick here is to Save your plan as many times as you’d like until you are ready to publicize it, and then Publish.

Happy scheduling!

How Waterfall and Agile Work Together at EPM Live

At EPM Live, we confront many of the same challenges our customers face in regards to managing all types of projects.  For example, we have a managed services division of the company that manages customer deployments using a traditional waterfall type of methodology.  This model supports defined stages and allows for thorough planning, logical design, implementation and deployment.

On the other front, we also have our product development department using an Agile approach to managing our product releases.  For those that are not familiar with Agile, we basically develop in short and frequent sprints or iterations by cutting down the “big picture” into puzzle size bits, and fitting them together when the time is right.  This allows our product team to focus on “the now” (what is currently happening) and take into account any feedback, shifts or changes that may occur and respond quickly.

Now, the challenge…  we were all working within our own WorkEngine product to manage these projects & products.  We needed to manage costs, time, resources and general work with varying schedule management needs.   Yes, we do “eat our own dog food”!  At the same time, we had customers looking for the same capabilities we were looking for internally!  There are many robust tools available to support the varying Agile software development methodologies.  However, they force customers to have separate platforms if you manage your projects with different methodologies.

Facing these challenges internally and listening to our customer feedback motivated us develop WorkEngine’s Agile Planner and Application Management templates to support using both waterfall and iterative planning within the same application.   We released our Agile Planner in June of 2010, and have continued to improve it with each release by taking feedback from our internal team, in addition to the valued input from our customers.  I won’t spill the beans on the new release, but we are continuously enhancing the product so that our customers can easily manage their projects using the tools that make the most sense to them!

On a side note, for more information about WorkEngine application development capabilities,  watch our webinar focused on TFS integration presented by one of our valuable partners OAG:

Extending Microsoft Project Server 2010 into a Complete Work Management System

Microsoft Project Server 2010 is a powerful application that many organizations have adopted and deployed to centralize and manage their project schedules. It has a robust database back-end that allows for storing enterprise resources, field attributes, field calculations, and more. Although Microsoft Project Server is a powerful solution for Project and Portfolio Mangement, most organizations find that where there are projects, there is also other work that affects the same resources.  So how do Microsoft Project Server users extend their project platform to not only include all other work that needs to be managed within the organization but expand the use of Microsoft Project Server to a broader audience allowing them to maximize their return on investment?  By connecting PWA WorkEngine to the Project Server platform, organizations take advantage of all the features Microsoft Project Server offers and tie it together nicely with a flexible SharePoint solution that enables them to manage not only their entire project lifecycle but all of their other work as well.  PWA WorkEngine combined with Microsoft Project Server’s technology caters to all users, all work and all processes making any Microsoft Project Server deployment the most flexible and robust system available today.

PWA WorkEngine was designed to leverage the powerful capabilities of Microsoft Project Server 2010 such as portfolio management and schedule management and extend the same value-driven concepts to all areas of the business whether it be traditional projects or the other work that surrounds them, all within one centralized platform.  Project Server users can maximize their return on investment and reduce cost and risk with minimal disruption to their existing processes by leveraging pre-configured SharePoint project templates that best suit any project and work management need.  Project Managers continue to use Microsoft Project Professional and Microsoft Project Web App without any new training or change to their process. Directly accessible from the Project Web App (PWA) interface, teams can share all work assignments, priorities, and critical dates with an effective and easy to use collaboration tool, to increase communication and productivity across their projects. PWA WorkEngine enables organizations to work better together and allows Microsoft Project Server to reach a broader audience and meet the needs of the entire project team.

In addition, different types of departments may manage their projects with varying methodologies. Using WorkEngine pre-built site templates, organizations accelerate their Project Server deployments and augment Project Server’s enterprise project types, allowing them to scale to enterprise wide deployments. For example, Software Development Department may use SCRUM methodology whereas the Program Office Department uses PMBOK.

WorkEngine allows teams to truly understand and manage all the work around a project. By connecting Project Server with WorkEngine organizations have the ability to manage all the activities involved with managing a project. Each project workspace comes complete with pre-built templates and a rich set of features and capabilities to help teams effectively monitor, manage, control and execute on all critical business items such as projects, issues, changes, and everyday work actions that impact their projects bottom line. Team members can easily view and update all their activities across projects within one view. Functional managers finally have the visibility to what their resources are working on- all activities, not just the assignments within the Microsoft Project schedule.   Teams can simply work better together with Project Server and WorkEngine.

Click Here to view an OnDemand Webinar on PWA WorkEngine

Microsoft Project Server enhancements include:

Project Management:

– Publish Microsoft Project schedules to a SharePoint list in the Project Workspace
– Publish Project Web App schedules to a SharePoint list in the Project Workspace
– Ability to manage different meta data (outline codes) for different projects based on the project workspace template

Resource Management:

– Resource What-If Modeling on All Work (including Project Server assignments)
– Printable Resource Management Reports (including Project Server assignments)
– Build SharePoint Workflows on Resource Work and Assignments (including Project Server assignments)

Work Management:

– Add any SharePoint Work List to Project Workspace (Issues, Bugs, Actions, Defects, Changes, Service Request, etc…)
– Rollup All My Work in a single list (including Project Server assignments)

Time Management:

– Report Time on any work item (including Project Server assignments)
– Report Time using Work Log feature (including Project Server assignments)


– All Data resides in SharePoint Content DB (Project data, Assignments, Issues, Risks, Bugs, Changes, Actions, etc.)
– Leverage WorkEngine’s pre-built SSRS Reporting templates
– Leverage Silverlight Chart Web Parts for graphical chart reporting
– Take scheduled snap shots for trend reporting


– Site hierarchy flexibility (Department – Portfolio – Program – Project – Sub Project Workspaces)
– Publish multiple projects from Project Server into a single Project Workspace (Programs or Portfolios Workspaces)

Cross Platform Support:

– View Project Server data on both PC or MAC computers
– View Project Server data in Non IE browsers
– Safari 3.X or higher
– Firefox 3.X or higher​

EPM Light with Microsoft Project 2010 Professional and SharePoint 2010

Microsoft® Project Professional 2010 offers Project Managers a powerful tool for scheduling, planning and assigning project work within their projects and programs.  Microsoft SharePoint® Foundation 2010 provides its users with an easy to use, intuitive platform for effective team collaborationis and continues to be the most widely used collaboration platform on the market today.

Although many organizations leverage both tools for improved business productivity, many times these solutions operate in parallel and therefore aren’t even beginning to scratch the surface for reaching their true potential .

Join us in this 30 minute presentation to see how EPM WorkEngine combines the power of both technologies to provide a powerful EPM solution for effectively managing project, operational, development and all other types of work in your organization.  Join this session to learn how leveraging a common platform and getting more value from technologies you already own, can streamline your operations, save money and have direct impact to your bottom line.

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