Tag Archive for PPM

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.


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.

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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