View from the Top
Project Management Drives the Engine of Innovation
I often think of projects as vessels that get your organization to its desired destination. When those ships take an indirect path, then achievement of your greater corporate objectives is slowed; when those ships sink, your organization becomes severely handcuffed by sunken investments and the search for alternative ways to get there. Unfortunately, this perspective is rarely reflected in boardroom conversations because there is a general belief that the consequences of project delivery don’t extend beyond the projects themselves.
If you’re in R&D, the connection between Project Management and driving innovation is easily understood, but if you are in IT, for example, you are still a cog for the overall corporate strategy. If the projects within an IT department are failing, then there is a trickle-up effect: low success rates of projects within the IT department leads to an overall incompetent department, and an incompetent IT department hinders an organization more than it helps it, which forces an organization to play catch-up instead of leading the way on innovation.
When we’re asked to deliver PM and Project Portfolio Management solutions, we’re brought in because there is an obstruction in the way of project success, which is keeping the organization from driving toward its larger Mission. Investing in Project Management solutions reaps value because proper PM drives your vessels toward your destination so that you can focus on what to do next, instead of constantly fixing what is failing.
Microsoft Cloud Deployment
Microsoft’s 2013 suite allows you to use Project Server 2013, Office 365, Outlook 2013 and SharePoint in the cloud, officially solidifying hosted solutions’ place in the mainstream of Project Management software. There is plenty of incentive to move to hosted solutions, especially the significant cost reduction you can expect to see by replacing on-premise options. The cloud also offers more independence from IT departments, whose volatility (for example, an inconsistent availability of servers) often hinders effective technology implementations.
Project Assistants’ cloud deployment offering is designed to implement technology in a way that enables your organization to do new things—not just as a tool that better facilitates the status quo. In this vein, Project Assistants makes two comprehensive considerations:
- The solution technology platform itself, which has all of the capabilities to do everything you would like it to do, and
- The problems that your organization is seeking to solve.
From there, we fit the technology to the problems in order to develop an optimal approach to configuring, deploying and adopting that technology platform to integrate with your People, Process and Governance.
Contact us for more information or for next steps on expelling the roadblocks to project success through cloud-based solutions.
Best Practices for Managing Professional Service Engagements
The standard method of operation for Professional Service Organizations (PSOs) is selling projects and delivering projects, which makes for an explicit connection between Project Management and generating the bottom-line performances that serve as the lifeblood for PSOs. This webinar will identify the challenges specific to Project Management in Professional Service Organizations, discuss the risks those challenges bring, and illustrate best practices for resolving the issues that occur when those risks are realized.
We will address each of the process challenges from beginning to end, including:
- Presale: Working with sales people (who aren’t themselves Project Managers) results in suboptimal approaches to ensuring that scope, schedule, resources and client expectations are kept in a realistic balance
- Handoff: Dealing with the reality that promises are often misaligned with actual labor revenue and schedule estimates that would be required to deliver the scope; sometimes the scope itself isn’t clear enough to ensure that the client expectations will be met
- Delivery: Handling the inevitable discoveries that occur—unexpected risks, changes in assumptions, new scope items, etc—all of which require thoroughly honed PM skills in order to move a project to a successful conclusion and provide the benefits that the client expects.
Finally, the fact that PSO operations are generally centered around contracts adds a whole other dimension to Project Management. Whereas most projects are nebulous in the beginning and become clearer as they unfold, the contract language is specific and objective. Though this may sound like it would simplify management, the legal packaging can detract from implicit expectations. It can be extremely complicated to understand the completion criteria (ie: the contract) against a backdrop of client expectations, many of which aren’t and/or can’t possibly be fleshed out in a contract.
Project Assistants CEO, Gus Cicala, will lead this complimentary presentation on how to navigate these challenges. Mr. Cicala is a well-respected name in the world of Project Management and a published author on the subject. Jim Colton, Practice Director of Portfolio and Project Management, will co-host.
Restructuring a Major Online Retail Organization’s IT Department Success
One of Project Assistants’ most recent successes took place within an IT department that was facing a wide range of challenges. When we engaged the department, they were missing commitments both because of a lack of control and structure in major initiatives, and because they had mission-critical PM technologies that were outdated and unstable. As a result, the department garnered little trust from business leadership. The future wasn’t looking any brighter, either: they lacked the ability to determine if their Portfolio Plan for major projects could be completed, and they weren’t even sure where to start to improve their Project Portfolio Management.
Project Assistants leveraged our VIA Methodology (Vision, Implement and Adopt) to support re-architecting the organization for success. We delivered a roadmap that detailed the long-range plan for improvement. We re-planned major projects and put them back on track. We realigned the portfolio with corporate objectives, which involved canceling many projects that were doomed to fail. We implemented a solid technology platform to support future improvement.
Over the course of our engagement, the organization has been enabled to continuously improve. Our mutual efforts have dramatically changed the organization, better equipping them to improve their project success rate and drastically improving the portfolio execution of the IT department.
Project Assistants has opened up the New Year by already publishing three articles in January:
- PPM: Real-World Observations
- Which Project Management Software Is Best for Your Organization
- Analyzing Work Plan Variances
We have nine more publications that are pending, including a 3-part series on Resource Management and a chapter in a Project Managers’ advice book.
Latest on the Blog
To go along with our publications in several top venues, we are also regularly posting content on our blog. Some of our latest posts include:
- An Approach to Optimal Resource Management
- Improving PPM: The Perfect New Year’s Resolution
- How Task Dates Are Automatically Set in Microsoft Project