NEW ENHANCEMENTS TO PROJECT ONLINE

Have you seen the new features rolled out to Microsoft Project Online. These are simple yet very useful quick enhancements which improves overall working experience in Project Online Web Access.

  1. First is the option to remove Gantt Chart from Project Centre views. If you notice, by default the screen area in Project Centre was separated by a splitter bar a between grid of information and Gantt Chart. New option gives ability to remove/hide Gantt when not required and provide more room to use the entire screen for grid. Below are before and after images for the scenario.

    Before

    before

After

before

2. Along with this another enhancement which allows you to keep or disable roll ups at grouping level. This is having a choice to select when you want and don’t want roll-up as well adding performance improvement to load times for project center when dealing with large data set.

Before

before

After

before

Do we need a formal Project Portfolio Management (PPM) Solution?

One common discussion amongst all enterprises not having a formal Project Portfolio Management (PPM) solution is always that “do we really need it?” and trust me it’s a great discussion to have. I call it a great discussion because it shows the enterprise’s ability to ask basic questions against objectivity of something which requires investment both in form of finances and efforts. Any decision coming out of such rational thought process and discussions is always going to be in benefit of the organization. And when I say any decision literally it can be:

  1. Let’s go for a formal PPM solution or
  2. No, we do not need it at this point of time

Now the next question comes the moment I say it’s right on the enterprises part to decide that they do not need an PPM solution, is that “what qualifies it as a right decision?”

The only thing which qualifies it as a right decision is the ability of an enterprise to decide not to go for a formal PPM tool at that point of time and the fact that the decision which is part of a rational thought process and adequate consultations.

The decision of not going for a PPM tool at a point of time can be the result of two basic reasons:

The enterprise doesn’t have an enough big portfolio of projects and programs which requires a formal solution to decide on which ones to do and then do those right

Or

The readiness of an enterprise to go for a formal PPM solution. Here is readiness is in form of people, process, culture, adaptability etc.

In most cases the later out of above two will be the reason behind not going for the solution. Any PPM solution implementation is a cultural and operative shift in the way organizations select and execute projects and it injects great amount of accountability on individuals performing various roles as part of project portfolio management, it is understandable that the decision requires 360 degree thinking on deciding whether on to go or not to go. Of course, all of this is for adding much more value to organization’s project portfolio. So, in summary the decision which is coming out is ideally is not that we do not need and PPM solution but more of enterprise’s ability to go for it a point of time.

There are enterprise systems which require lot of perfection in terms of people, process and cultural readiness before you decide to go for them and there are systems which itself help you to prepare culturally, mature your processes and help you manage the organization changes effectively and PPM falls into the same category. For example, helping you with the decisions like below itself is the objective of implementing PPM solutions:

  • Whether to go for a system at point of time?
  • What value it brings on the table?
  • Where does it stand in comparison to other initiatives proposed?
  • Are we people and finance ready?
  • Is it strategically aligned to organization’s long term strategic goals?

And finally, the big task of, once decided to go for then help you implement it the right way successfully. All above are nothing but the things with which PPM solutions help you to.

 

Hence:

 

  • Let the cultural readiness, people and processes get matured over the time along with PPM implementation and let those not become the reason behind not going for it
  • PPM itself becomes your driver towards becoming more adaptable, mature processes and have an objective and merit based criteria to all the initiatives you undertake
  • Based on your state choose the right size and keep growing and maturing

 

PPM implementations take time to achieve maturity curve and the starting point to the curve is when you start using one. Hence waiting for the perfect time is not going to help you to prepare but is just shifting the starting point of your maturing curve. The early you go, early you start seeing benefits. Go for it, but yes go for the right size and sample which helps you to grow over period.

I will discuss the topic of the right size and sample in one of my upcoming publications.

IT Governance & Project Portfolio Management

In the era where success of majority of business initiatives is either driven and/or dependent on IT, the need of enabling effective IT governance mechanism is at its peak. This article briefly discusses my thoughts on how Project Portfolio Management (PPM) discipline and related tools can play a pivotal role in delivering effective IT governance.

 

“IT governance (ITG) is defined as the processes that ensure the effective and efficient use of IT in enabling an organization to achieve its goals.”

Reference and credits: Gartner IT Glossary (http://www.gartner.com/it-glossary/it-governance/)

 

If we dissect or take above definition to the next level, two primary messages come out of it:

  1. Ensure that IT initiatives are aligned to business goals/objectives
  2. Ensure those initiatives are delivered successfully

Any organization being able to manage above two aspects successfully can achieve major adoption of effective IT governance.

Now on the other side if we look at what Project Portfolio Management (PPM) as a discipline and related tools offer is nothing but functionalities and processes which help you to:

  • Select the initiatives based on their strategic alignment to business objectives
  • Help you to deliver the initiatives in defined time, resources and cost

There is clear match between what IT governance demands in form of its benefits and what PPM offers in form of its capabilities.

 

Going little deep from this alignment of these two disciplines, PPM has an array of functional areas to offer for enterprises who want to use governance as a tool for success and performance rather than just a compliance aspect.

Broadly the areas addressed by Project Portfolio Management and related tools are:

  1. Demand management which helps to manage the demand for initiatives
  2. Portfolio Prioritization and Selection which helps to prioritize and select the right initiatives
  3. Program and Project Management which helps to ensure that selected initiatives are planned and executed successfully
  4. Resource Management helps to effectively manage and utilize all types of resources for the success as well manage resource demand
  5. Collaboration among all stakeholders
  6. Issue and Risk management to ensure initiatives are not stalled or affected deep due to unforeseen and unidentified things
  7. Task and time management helps to be on top of priorities for work
  8. Business intelligence and reporting for providing information in desired representations at right time for informed decision making to get most out of portfolio

 

Looking at Project Portfolio Management from IT or Corporate Governance standpoint enables organizations to extract maximum value out of their PPM investments.