EPM Live's Project Collaboration – How We Use Our Tools Internally

Staying true to our EPM Live rock theme…. Bob Dylan’s third studio album titled, “The Times They Are a-Changin’” , says it in a nutshell.  With Facebook, Linked In, and the “Google age” providing information at your fingertips, communication in the project management world and the tools to do it are evolving at an alarming rate!  With the constant availability of technology, people want real time information at their fingertips at all times.  As such, Project and Product Managers are facing the challenge of having current data available to their team remotely and the flexibility to work in this dynamic environment.

At times, the rapid rate of change may feel a bit overwhelming for some.  However, I think the new ways for us to connect with our teams represent an opportunity for building our own mini-communities to help find and share information faster and more easily.  So, for this blog series, I thought I’d take some time to share some of my favorite collaborative features within EPM Live that we use internally.  These features help keep everyone in the loop and come up with the best ideas for reaching goals.

First, with our last release we included a new “Comments” feature.  This feature allows users to share comments on any item in the system.  We use this new feature here internally and it has allowed me to keep history and keep my discussions centralized on a particular work item.  For example, for a particular defect item within our backlog that I have questions about – I can simply add a comment/question.  The EPM Live system will email the comment to the user who is assigned to the item, and anyone else on the discussion string.  It’s a very useful feature!!

In addition, I’ll highlight the new My Work web part.  The recently enhanced My Work web part allows team members to update and manage all individual work assignments from a single location. Roll up any work across the enterprise for global visibility and increased efficiency. Team members can update status in one view to reduce cost and improve productivity, so project managers know what the status is on their projects work items.  Yes, we do use it here – and when someone asks me what they should be working on – I ask them to review their “My Work” items.  Yes, change is difficult here too, but we are moving in the right direction!  :)

Lastly, Team Discussions that are included in project workspace templates let you share information and discuss project topics with your team for real-time project collaboration.  The unorganized email threads can drive a person batty (this person in particular)!!  Discussion boards can be connected right within your Outlook so you can quickly reply to messages within a familiar email application.  This allows you to keep track of discussions within your site, so the entire team can review and search the site to find information that is important to them.

To connect your Team Discussion to Outlook:

  1. Navigate to your Project Workspace Team Discussion.
  2. Within the List Ribbon, click on “Connect to Outlook”
  3. When you are prompted to confirm that you want to connect the discussion board to Outlook, click Yes.
    1. In Outlook, the discussion board is added to the folder list in a new folder called SharePoint Lists. After the discussion topics appear, you can read and respond to them.

* TIP   After you connect a discussion board to Outlook, you can send a sharing message to other team members that invites them to connect to the discussion board. Right-click the discussion board name in Outlook, and then click Share discussion board name on the shortcut menu. This creates an e-mail message that contains a link and a command to connect to the discussion board.

Over the last 10 years, the face of project and portfolio management tools has changed immensely enabling teams to work more quickly and efficiently than ever before.  Take it from Bob Dylan.…  “For the times they are a-changin’”

Roll Up Any List in SharePoint for Total Work Management

There are many types of work that have to happen on a day to day basis to keep an organization up and running.  It’s not just about projects or the tasks within them but all work that affects your resources such as action items, to do lists, issues, risks, etc.  Work management is a critical component for increased productivity.    So how do you get visibility of all this work in a project management tool?  WorkEngine can handle this for you.  Let me show you how.

With the WorkEngine Grid/Gantt web part you have the ability to roll up any list or multiple lists in SharePoint into the same view.  In the example below I have a list called “My Work” where I have created a rollup view of all the different lists in which I have work assigned.

In order for data to display in the view, all your list names and column types must match as well as have the same internal names for all the columns you want to display in the rollup view.  External column names can be completely different.  By this I mean that all columns in WorkEngine lists have an internal and external name.  The internal name is the name of the column when it gets created and never changes.  This is why we use the internal name of the column for the web part.  Take for example a column entitled “Schedule Status” (best practice is to never put a space in the internal name of a column).  For the column listed above you would create the column as “ScheduleStatus”.  Once the column has been created, you can go back and edit the column and change the name to “Schedule Status”.  Now the internal name of the column will forever be (unless you delete the column) “ScheduleStatus” and the external name is “Schedule Status”.  You can edit the column and change the name as many times as you want and the internal name never changes.  Here is how you check what the internal name of a column is.

  • Navigate to the list settings page for the list where the column resides


  • Find the column in question and click on the name of the column; it will show as a link that can be clicked on
  • On the edit page for the column, click in the URL address bar and move the cursor all the way to the far right (the end of the URL).  Here you will see the value as “Field=ScheduleStatus”.  This is the internal name of the column


  • Navigate to the list settings page for your custom rollup list (remember, I’m using a custom list called “My Work”)




  • Click the “General Settings” link
  • In the “Field Settings” section choose the appropriate “Start Date”, “Due Date”, “Progress Bar”, “Milestone”, “Right
    Information”, and “WBS” values, if applicable
  • In the ““Roll-Up Settings” section enter in the lists that you want to roll up into the view in the “Rollup List(s)” text box
    (Ex:  Task Center, Issues, Risks, Actions)



  • Select the “Enable Performance” check box
  • In the “Editable Grid Settings” section select “Allow Edit Toggle” if you want the users to be able to switch to an editable grid view.  This means the user can switch to this mode via the “Datasheet” button in the ribbon and be able to bulk edit in the view
  • Notice in screenshot below that you can see all work assigned to you in one view

Video: Integrated Work Management – The Value of Total Work Management in SharePoint

Many organizations are not getting the full value out of their PPM systems because they are not accounting for all work that affects their project’s resources.  Take a look at this integrated work management video as WorkEngine Solution Specialist Christina Williams walks you through some of the common issues organizations face when total work management is not considered.  Find out how you can extend your SharePoint value by practicing total work management within your organization today.  Click on thumbnail below to view video.

Burn Down Charts – Not Just for Software Development Anymore….

While participating in the recent EPM Live Bootcamp (which was a HUGE success!!), I came across an interesting case study presented by one of our experts that I’d like to share with you. By implementing the Enterprise Cost, Resource, and Work Management capabilities of EPM Live’s WorkEngine product, a prominent telecommunications firm saved over $20M in fines!

Some of the key requirements for this particular WorkEngine Enterprise deployment involved:

  • SAAS solution for the Enterprise Project & Portfolio Management solution
  • Enterprise level Task and Work Management collaboration and reporting
  • Portfolio visibility of all projects, displayed in Gantt views for Projects within SharePoint
  • Enterprise reporting and business intelligence

One of their key work management needs included the need to count the number of Planning, Engineering, and other key tasks by Phase (Not started, In progress, Completed). This data needed to be stored in a time-phased manner so that trends could be graphically displayed in a report. A sample of this report is attached.

For those of you who have been exposed to Agile methodology, you will notice this is very similar to a traditional agile “Burn-Down” report. I found this an interesting approach to leveraging Agile-type reports within a traditional waterfall schedule that was managed within Microsoft Project 2010. Because WorkEngine supports snapshots within their reporting solution, you can create a “Burn-down” or “Burn-up” chart on any SharePoint work items, not just your backlog!! State regulators were so impressed with this reporting method, there are many other vendors that have adopted this same reporting format.

This case study represents how WorkEngine supports true integrated work management to meet all needs across an organization, and provides valuable cost savings!  By implementing WorkEngine Enterprise, the organization avoided millions of dollars in penalties and improved resource efficiency by 40%.

Special thanks to our training department for hosting such a great Bootcamp where all our EPM Live experts could share their knowledge with our customers, partners and internal staff!

WorkEngine #Agile Management – Expanding Iterative Planning Outside of Software Development

The Agile trend has been rapidly increasing now that the practices are more easily understood and adopted, and tools have become more increasingly available.  While Agile is definitely more prominent within the software development community, we’ve found customers finding new and innovative ways to leverage iterative planning outside of software development projects.  Since WorkEngine supports both standard waterfall scheduling approaches, along with iterative planning, organizations have been able to leverage one solution across multiple departments.

For example,  one of our customers has a department with a need to manage their monthly publications.  Key requirements that influenced them to use iterative planning include:

  • Short cycles with repeated activities
  • Frequent releases of publications
  • Highest priority items are addressed first
  • Finish date is firm but scope might be changed
  • Need to easily move work items among iterations

To meet these requirements, each monthly publication is represented as an iteration within WorkEngine.  Users can create, name and time-box these iterations associated to publications for management and tracking capabilities.  Managers easily create tasks, sub-tasks and general activities and associate them to a specific publication (iteration).  They then define the complexity (points) or workload (effort) to a specific monthly publication and resource within their WorkEngine solution to balance the workload.  As such, managers now have the capability to plan and coordinate resource workload to ensure proper placement, expertise and efficiency for each publication (iteration).  Work items that don’t make a specific publication can be easily dragged into another publication iteration.

In addition, some articles may span several iterations.  WorkEngine’s Agile solution allows them to associate each article to several tasks or activities within each iteration(s).  Combine the powerful iteration planning WorkEngine offers, along with the other work management capabilities such as workflow/approvals,  content management and financial management and you have one simple to use solution to manage across multiple department needs.

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​

WorkEngine's Feature Spotlight

In addition to WorkEngine’s core functionality, WorkEngine has many features that deserve the spotlight from time to time.  This month’s spotlight includes the following features and functionality that add even more value to your SharePoint platform:

  • Work Log:  WorkEngine’s Work log allow team members to enter their Timesheet data from any SharePoint list item.  For example:  If a team member is working on an issue, task or a even service request stored in a SharePoint list, that team member no longer has to leave that item and go to their timesheet to enter how many hours they have worked on that day, they can now simply click the Work Log link in the SharePoint item and enter their time for the day.  They will then see these hours show up in their timesheet when they are ready to submit for approval.
  • Resource Tools: WorkEngine 2010 provides visibility into resource demands across the organization so functional managers can make staffing decisions to support corporate goals and objectives. Understand which projects and types of work are consuming your most valuable resources for effectively and proactively aligning your staffing plan based on changing priorities and budgets.  As you are assigning resources to any item in SharePoint, make sure you use the “Check Resources” or “Find Resources” feature to view availability and current assignments.
  • My Work Reminder Web Part:  My Work is a WorkEngine feature that allows users to view all their work from one centralized location.  The My Reminders Web Part is designed to display the status of such actionable items rolled up from all sites where the work items were created.  The My Reminders Web Part renders the following information on the My Work home page (and can be easily configured to include additional list data as well):
  • Tasks: New Tasks, Overdue Tasks
  • Issues: Active Issues, Overdue Issues
  • Risks: Active Risks, Overdue Risks
  • Actions: New Actions, Overdue Actions

Effective Work Management with Microsoft Project 2010 Professional and SharePoint 2010

EPM Live’s EPM WorkEngine offers expanded Microsoft Project Professional and SharePoint capabilities that give organizations the ability to manage both projects and all other work with one solution.  By providing the proper toolsets to track and manage all work and associated costs, EPM WorkEngine is empowering businesses of all sizes and types to extend their current project management practice into a full work management discipline.

Join us in this half hour presentation to see how you can leverage your current Microsoft Technologies to achieve effective work management across your organization for maximum productivity and increased ROI.

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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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