Archive for PPM for SharePoint

It’s All About Visibility, Part 2

Posted by Gary Voight, CorasWorks President and CEO

Recently I spoke about a Federal customer and commercial prospect pursing greater operational efficiency and cost reduction by increasing their visibility into existing projects.  Since then I have heard more stories from other organizations supporting the notion that “It’s all about visibility.”

In my previous posting I focused on how getting visibility into projects through common operating metrics and reporting enables organizations to identify redundancies and reduce costs.  Some of the follow-on discussion pointed out that this does not apply just to projects.  There were three examples:

1. A major law firm did a root cause analysis on some of their case losses and project overruns.  The one major finding was that the Number 1 problem was inefficient or lack of communication.  They determined that many losses could have been avoided if more people were aware of a situation and could engage early enough to correct the course of events.

2. A large engineering firm produced a large fixed price bid using just their proposal management and account teams.  When they subsequently won the bid and began staffing the project, several of the project members were mystified as to some of the estimated deliverables.  Had they been aware of the deliverables during the proposal development process they could have made recommendations that would have increased the chances for a successful implementation and also increased the operating profit margin for the work.

3.  A non-profit organization leader was frustrated by the inability of the organization to engage its workforce, solicit new ideas, and then expose those ideas up the management chain.  He knew ideas were coming from lower levels of the organization and volunteers, but also knew those ideas were not working their way up the management hierarchy to him.

These examples seem trickier to me than what I posted before, and the solutions may be more challenging.  However, the theme of visibility still applies. In this case it seems that better collaboration is a fundamental requirement.  How can this be achieved?

One thought is to use some basic crowdsourcing, combined with an efficient review and decision-making program.  The solution must be intuitive for all users (without requiring user training) along with an effective stage-gate review tool for quick decision making.  We have delivered this type of solution with the combination of the CorasWorks Software Platform (v11) and the CorasWorks Idea & Innovation Management (CIM) software.  This software is completely based on SharePoint.  I now realize this type of solution supports the notion of “It’s all about visibility.”


Turning Ideas into Projects

Posted by Art Gelwicks, CorasWorks Solutions Consultant

The process of managing projects from launch to completion is highly researched and documented through any number of different methologies. The challenge is when you move earlier in the lifecycle, before the project begins, to the decision making on what will become a project.  There are many different methods for scoring and evaluating projects for the decision making, but what happens when you go back even further?  Can you facilitate the discussion if an idea is good enough to warrant further review and then take it through your managed processes?


If you look at the diagram above you’ll see the traditional project management processes assigned to the Project Management Office don’t come into play until the middle of the life of the idea.  If we look at the process of project idea refinement another way we can see the progression and how it impacts the volume of actionable projects:




It is the mechanism of moving the discussion through the stages without requiring duplication of information coupled with streamlining the user interaction that makes this processing work.  Solutions powered by the CorasWorks Solution Platform make it possible to carry information from one solution to another; moving the process forward without taking steps back due to technical incompatibilities.

Translating the processes seen above into their functional CorasWorks equivalents you get something like this:


If your organization is looking to go beyond the normal check list approach of reviewing project requests and wants to move into the world of collaborative idea to project management, then using the integrated solution sets CorasWorks offers is the best way to take those big (and little) ideas from conception to completion.

Art Gelwicks is a CorasWorks customer turned evangelist and solution consultant. Art provides a perspective on identifying ready solutions powered by CorasWorks that can be accomplished without extensive technical knowledge while still meeting the business need.

It’s All About Visibility, Part 1

Posted by Gary Voight, CorasWorks President and CEO

Practically all organizations are striving for increased efficiency and reduced operational costs.  The United States Federal Government is focused on this as most agencies expect to have 20%-40% lower operating budgets, particularly in the Department of Defense (DoD).  We have one customer approaching this by striving to make each project more visible so they can ultimately reduce or eliminate redundancies, and likely merge or reduce projects.  The method they are using is to enforce a common set of metrics for each project and create a set of charts that report on performance.  These charts are really a “business intelligence” application.  CorasWorks is building that solution.

It’s all about visibility. It is practically impossible to safely reduce costs, projects, et al, without knowing what is being worked and why.  Large organizations almost always have redundant activities.  This is not intended to be a negative statement.  It is just a fact and is a natural phenomenon.  However, if an organization wants to find ways to reduce costs they must have visibility into the cost components. The straightforward step of having each project report on a common set of metrics is an important first step toward safe cost reduction and greater operational efficiency.

This same customer is also implementing the CorasWorks Project and Portfolio Management (PPM) software so that the charts will be automatically generated.  Yet another advantage of having the common tool is that this organization can retire other products and benefit from additional cost reductions.

Interestingly, CorasWorks has another prospect using the same methodology to reduce operational expense.  Over the past several years this firm has acquired many companies and inherited many ongoing projects.  This means they have a diverse set of projects and project-related systems, making it difficult to get common metrics across all the projects.  Without this visibility, it is difficult to understand the project environment, identify redundancy and inefficiencies, and make appropriate decisions regarding the costs of projects and staff.  They are taking the same approach as our Federal Government client, and it all starts with visibility.  We have not yet won this prospect’s business, but we believe we can add great value to their efforts and hope to report on this soon.

The combination of business intelligence and project management is a great use case for SharePoint.

I’ll share more of my thoughts on this topic next time in It’s All About Visibility, Part 2.


True Project Communication Requires More than email!

How many times do you hear a Project Manager or project team members complain about all the meetings they have to attend and the reports they have to complete? Status meetings, status reports, team meetings, client meetings…the list goes on. If it weren’t for these darn meetings and reports, we might be able to complete the project. But what would happen if you didn’t? Try running or participating in a project without the communication. Talk about herding cats! Everyone would get initial assignments then basically go their own merry way. At the end, you’d have a bunch of different tasks that may or may not resemble the project at all.

These are two ends of the spectrum when it comes to project management and communication. You can’t meet and report all the time, but at the same time you can’t go without communicating progress and status. What we need is some middle ground.

Most project and portfolio management applications have some level of formal reporting features. This makes it somewhat easier to communicate and share project status. I like to call this the structured work! It’s the work we all know well, our tasks, milestones, risks, issues, etc. But what about the unstructured information? It is usually sent around in email and if you try and find it later, you’re left with trying to find someone who might still have the information in their inbox. How do you currently manage the communication that doesn’t necessarily require a meeting or a report? How do you communicate those items across project team members and other project stakeholders?

Our CorasWorks Project and Portfolio Management Solution for Microsoft SharePoint, introduces a module focused on enabling more “informal” and collaborative communication around a project. Each project is enabled with a Community in which team members (and even executives, managers, and customers) can post questions, ideas, suggestions, or any project-related comments. Only those individuals associated with your projects—or granted specific access—can participate, so you effectively have a private Community for your project members. It’s similar to many of the social networking tools in the market today, so it’s quick and easy for your team members to pick up. And, it integrates with all the great social networking features of SharePoint 2010. It’s fast, flexible, and fun.


Combined with the formal KPI’s and Portfolio Dashboards that are included in the CorasWorks PPM solution, it allows teams to collaborate on the entire project, not just produce status reports!

PPM v1.2 videos

I have just posted a series of videos on PPM v1.2. See the description, running times and links below.

Grab some popcorn and enjoy the show.

1. PPM Overview (PMO, Portfolio, Projects) [Time: 6:55] View

2. PMO [Time: 7:24]  View

3. Portfolio [Time: 6:25] View

4. Project [Time: 7:52] View

5. Project Synchronization with Microsoft Project [Time: 5:01] View

6. PPM Site Interactivity [Time: 4:24] View

7. PPM Mobile [Time: 4:38] View

PPM v1.2 webcast just concluded

I just finished the first webcast for PPM v1.2. It was a fast-paced hour that scratched the surface of the functionality. The recording will be made available and I will post the link when it’s ready.

The next PPM webcast is 2/11/2010 at 2:00 PM EST. Click here for more information and to sign up for the webcast.

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