Archive for PPM

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.


Project Managing an RFP

Project management can be applied to a number of different business problems, so why can't project management tools? Recently I was asked by a CorasWorks prospective customer if we had a way for them to manage RFPs without requiring a special application to do the job. After thinking about it for a few minutes, I suggested they use our Project Portfolio Management solution to track and manage their RFPs.

The Project Portfolio Management (PPM) solution from CorasWorks allows you to configure your project sites as you want, enabling and disabling functionality as needed. For the purpose of managing RFPs a trimmed down version of a PPM project site will do the trick.

Step 1 – Create an RFP portfolio site

To keep everything neat and organized, create a portfolio in PPM and use that as the starting place for all new RFP sites as they need to be created. By generating the RFP site from the portfolio, it is automatically connected to the portfolio and the information from all the RFP sites are aggregated together.

Step 2 – Auto-provision a RFP site

Using the portfolio auto-provisioning function in PPM, create a new project site. Go into the new site and disable all the main tabs except for Plan, Communicate, Documents, and Configure. You've now defined a default set of features to manage the tasks, share discussions, and store documents.

Step 3 – Set up the RFP tasks

Go into the Plan area and use the Gantt chart to enter the series of tasks you need to do to manage your RFP. This doesn't need to be a complex series of tasks and relationships. Your listing of tasks could be a simple milestone list to track what needs to be done by when.

Tip: Create tasks with Finish to Start relationships one after the other and then set the duration on the tasks but not the date due. Once you have all the relationships and the durations, just enter the start date on the first task and the rest will schedule themselves accordingly.

Now you can use the site to manage the documents for your RFP by loading them into the Documents section, share conversations about the RFP in the Communicate section, and manage the schedule of the RFP through the Plan section. There are a number of other changes you can make to the PPM project and portfolio sites to optimize managing your RFPs, not to mention templating your RFP process sites to make start up more efficient, but that's for another post.


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