niedziela, 21 października 2007

Project planning and EPM

Mood: Regular, despite it is the election day in Poland
Music: Bedshaped- Keane

Black screen. At the bottom appears the sentence written with the white, bold Verdana 18

7 years ago – Microsoft Project 2000

A manager is sitting in his cubicle and creates in silence the project plan in MS Project 2000. At the end, when he created his masterpiece (at least he thinks so :) ), he is willing to dispatch the tasks to a team. He starts the painful road of tries and dies.

1. Tasks
At the beginning he is ambitious and he wants to share the appropriate tasks to appropriate people. He notices that he can do it by emails! Wow! Great thing! He sends these… but somehow, after some time he is reported that some of the tasks does not reach the recipient, team is bitching and complaining

2. Project plan
He becomes less ambitious, so he wants simply to send everybody the whole project plan. Yes, you can do it. But the reader… must have the full, commercial installation. Bitching and complaining again.

3. Microsoft Project Central
I bet you did here about it. The solution were not too popular, despite it was quite interesting – the installation over the IIS is quite simple and the only disadvantage was a relatively not-comfortable way of browsing the whole plan, especially when it was a little bit more complicated. Bitching and complaining again.

So finally our poor manager, printed simply the plan in 5 copies and passed it manually.
Seven years passes.

Now the manager is sitting in front of the Project Web Access opened from the IE (maybe even Firefox), where the one sees, the central deck with all the flavours:
  • Schedules (personal and teammates)
  • Risks
  • Tasks
  • Status reports
  • List of projects in which we are involved
Yes, there is a difference and furthermore future seems to be promising even more.

The end
of the trailer… Let’s come back to the real life.

Since some time my company uses the Microsoft EPM Solution; I must say there is a lot of complaining in the house, that many things does not work as it should, but these are the most often some organizational / implementation problems. At the end of the road, personally I am pretty amazed by the capabilities of the system. It is still quite new version of the system, not adult yet, but it has truly great perspectives - the marriage of MS Project with SharePoint seems to be great shoot. I am pretty sure that many people on the world, looking at the screenshoots, says "Finnally". It would be actaully quite nice thing for MS commercial :)

The most important thing is to explain that EPM is not just the MS Project via Web Page, but the true implementation of the heavy weight project management methodology like Prince2 or PMBoK. It is a true Project Management Office.

Of course the tool is just a tool – you can build the chair with the hammer or kill your neighbor. If you have no common and detail vision of what you want to do with IT (whatever IT means for you :) ), you should clarify first the processes before the installation, instead of believing in the mysterious panacea for everything. There are no silver bullets – there is always the sweat and pain of the change management :)

I am just getting on the path, but I can already enlist couple of things...


  1. The solution is relatively young and not too many companies are using it
  2. There are still some small bugs like you can change the name of the project, but the portal name will not change
  3. Lack of archiving mechanisms
  4. The hardware requirements are pretty high
  5. System could be slightly quicker
  6. Administrator must know SharePoint solution in details
  7. You must have appropriate SharePoint license, which is not cheap
  8. Just couple of very simple workflows is installed and any new require coding
  9. Limited capabilities of creating a plan for Proposals and Activities on the web
  10. You still must to have couple of smart key users, who make the system living


  1. Common and nice GUI, which is truly user friendly after a while
  2. Very extensive administration/installation options and scalability
  3. Good integration with MS Project 2007 and Office 2007
  4. Focused on collaboration – discussions, alerts, white boards, lists, document libraries
  5. Wide possibilities of customizing – in fact new project runs the new SharePoint site using the template
  6. Nice idea of Proposal (before project) > Project > Activity (after project)
  7. Well-planned reporting mechanisms - eg. reporting hierarchy with accept-decline, status reports
  8. Nice workflow mechanism from user point of view - eg. Acceptance and reviews collection
  9. Possibility of creating any other SharePoint site side by EPM, when necessary like the Bug Tracking System
  10. Smart key users have the place, where they can show their talent
    (if you need more what MS Marketing says)

Before you turn on the system for users

  1. Establish the common vision of users groups, roles and privileges sets
  2. Establish the hierarchy of reporting and mechanism to control the way it works (or not)
  3. Establish the projects life cycle in the system (including projects versioning) – saying that we are Prince2 or PMBoK is not enough
  4. Establish some audit mechanisms to standardize content of the system, avoid duplication and ensure that system works well providing real data
  5. Train all users, especially key users
  6. Establish some working, feedback chain from users
  7. Avoid packing everything into EPM- if you need department site, create the separate SharePoint site
  8. Prepare for integration with the other systems
  9. Except the production environment, prepare the test system, where you can (pre)test various settings
  10. Remember that the main goal of the system is to make the life easier; it is for people and not backward

Other solutions
PlanView – (PlanView vs MS EPM)
Business Objects EPM XI

And at the end... EPM has actually very various meanings, but anyway I hope that at the end of the implmenetation process you will be the monkey walking on two feets :)

And couple of screenshoots (sorry for polish)...
1 - start screen with tasks, schedules, schedules to approve, status reports, problems & risks plus list of projects

2 - Schedules approval screen with filtering options and possibility to send marked elements directly to superior with a comment (at the bottom)

3 - Projects center

4 - Resources center (yellow lines are employees and green are their tasks)

5 - Your tasks list

Brak komentarzy:

web metrics