Archive for Social 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.

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!

PPMv2 – Social Project Management

As we launch PPM v2 into the market, I’d like to share some of the thinking and ideas behind the solution, specifically our thoughts and ideas around Social PPM.

If you look at a typical project, it is initiated, planned out, executed, and eventually (hopefully) closed out successfully.  Those are the parts of a project we’re all familiar with.  However, if we look just below this surface of the project, there is much more going on.

People, Process, and Technologies

My personal background is around software process improvement and I have had the honor of working with some of the best and brightest minds trying to solve the problem of managing projects and programs successfully.  In this work, I must have met a dozen people who believe they came up with the concept that to be successful the People, Process, and Technologies must all align and work together.  You may think that sounds obvious, but apparently it isn’t. We’ve found—and its supported by others—that most organizations focus most of their attention on the processes and technologies and completely miss what I consider the most important element of project management. . .the people!

In fact, if you look at an organization of any size, the most people-intensive activity is managing projects.  According to the Project Management Institute, a typical project manager will spend 90% of their time communicating.  A project is made up of nothing but people and it starts all the way back in the PMO.  Usually there is a team who decides which projects get funded and why.  Then a PM is assigned and he/she assembles a team for planning.  Then the project is staffed and the team gets to work.  Yet another set of people are responsible for monitoring portfolios of projects and ensuring they are meeting the business goals and stay on track.  You probably get the point…..there are so many people involved that play such a critical part of success or failure.

Productivity Through Connecting People

It also seems obvious that connecting people who wouldn’t normally interact can have amazing results.  We see this in something as simple as finding childhood friends and reconnecting to communities springing up to solve a problem.  You see people with skills or money providing assets to others around the globe.

Taking this power of social connections to a business context is something that is a hot topic today.  This is why we have integrated a social community component into our PPMv2 solution.  By allowing project teams to have a web 2.0 community, they are able to easily brainstorm, share thoughts and concerns, and even share improvements they find to make their lives easier.  This simple concept of making it easy for a project team to communicate and collaborate completely transforms the way a project team stays connected.  But of course people work in roles and across multiple projects.  We have addressed this as well by integrating communities for each major component of PPMv2.  It is now easy to share with everyone in the PMO, a Portfolio or Program, and even across the entire PPM organization.  Have a great technology or process improvement?  Why not share it and see how big of an impact it can really make!

Social PM

Our goal for PPMv2 was to create a solution to make the entire Project Management process simple to use, flexible to meet your unique needs, and collaborative to unlock the power of teams.  While we have many great new features like a web 2.0 interface, web-based Gantt scheduling component and improved visibility through dynamic dashboards, the heart of our new solution is the people element.  As you get to know PPMv2 you will see that each element is designed to facilitate visibility by team members, not only of hard core project management items, but also visibility into the items that don’t fit into a fixed structure.  Let us know what you think of bringing the social element into the realm of PPM!  We’d love to hear what you have to say.

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