Gaining Business Value through Collaboration, Quicker Startup, added Security, and Accessibility

Today’s current economic situation presents challenges for businesses of all sizes in every industry, especially when leveraging the traditional methods of starting up, accessing and executing projects using on-premise tools and solutions. Around the globe, companies must cut costs and reduce risks as they confront slower sales, hesitant suppliers, and tighter credit, all while trying to manage and prioritize their portfolio of operations, compliance, new product and sustainment projects with limited resources.

With project challenges though, also come opportunities. It is possible to achieve your business objectives, even with limited resources, by taking advantage of standard solutions like Microsoft Project Server 2013 that can be accessed by anyone from virtually anywhere. Customers have the opportunity to enhance its business processes, automate reporting functions, provide near real-time and predictive insight, and improve operational efficiency using Microsoft Project Server 2013 (EPM) without being restricted to many of the traditional location, security, startup and administrative constraints that has plagued project tools and process execution in the past.

In the past, customers have been able to use project management and financial tracking methods against their portfolio of projects to have some insight visibility into:

  • Improving revenue and market share
  • Improving decision making and business insight
  • Executing on projects aligned to the company’s strategic drivers and mission statement for strategic growth

This insight was assuming that there was the availability of resources to execute on these projects. However, with the tightening of budgets, and the reduction of resource pools during this economic compression, almost none were ready for positioning their remaining resources and projects towards new strategic drivers that would be aimed at reducing operating costs, retaining resources and driving down costs at the enterprise level, vs. the past’s more aggressive strategic initiatives. The good news is that most customers already own much of the solution needed to achieve these benefits, just not the platform to enable it.

Figure 1 below depicts the typical 4 categorized areas that projects and programs will fall into within a company’s portfolio structure. Being able to shift resources to the top right quadrant has become one of the greatest challenges today as most EPM methods and tools today do not allow you to focus on the new capabilities until compliance, operations and sustainability projects are delivered, and with reduced resource teams, this may become impossible.

Project Management in the Cloud

 

Challenges of Traditional EPM Solutions

Setting up an EPM solution gives a company the opportunity to focus on better decision making by providing a concise consolidated viewpoint of key information in the organization, increasing transparency
and visibility of mission critical data, while retaining real-time data in a single repository.

Although customers have achieved better organizational alignment, enabled metric-based insights mapped to current strategic initiatives for continual performance management, and have achieved these results eventually with a ROI by leveraging existing Microsoft EPM solutions; there was typically a barrier to have EPM deployed inside the customer’s enterprise. Some examples of barriers that reduced adoption of EPM included low project management maturity, high costs of deployment and licensing, rigid and complicated start-up procedures, and risky or limited security access for resources, resources that need to find new ways to collaborate.

New Customer Benefits of Today’s Project Online

The good news is that the traditional barriers mentioned above have been broken down with the new Microsoft Project Server 2013, Project Online and cloud functionality. The first set of barriers that are mitigated are accessibility, complicated startup, and deployment challenges as Project Online now is accessible from anywhere and even extends the EPM experience to smart phones and devices, while allowing deployment to be simplified through “visual tiles” that are important steps that provide you with a simple guide for deployment and quick simple project startup from visual tile templates that walk you through. In addition to deployment reduced, so does licensing and hardware, as there are no upfront infrastructure costs and users are on a simple per user licensing basis. But wait, there is more, as this employs robust disaster recovery capability, globally-redundant back-ups, and extensive privacy features while filters help protect users against spam and viruses.

Also, hurdling the PM maturity barrier, the additional benefits of Project Online are that you can easily plan and manage your projects; you will work efficiently and be able to prioritize and manage your projects from anywhere. This reduces the various roles of ownership around rich clients and thin clients, extensive need for training and coaching, where now, users of all skill sets are better supported to play a role in this virtual environment. The Administrator role is reduced as all operational maintenance is handled through the Project Online service. Also, preventive maintenance scripts are running on your databases to prevent problems before they happen – the cloud operator manages your platform and takes care of any platform issues.

The online environment also helps you and your (non-)project team improve everyday collaboration: You can easily copy project information to Office applications such as PowerPoint or email and save important plans and details to Office 365 or SharePoint.

Project Online enables you to define and select project portfolios that align with your business strategy–prioritize competing requests, run optimization scenarios under varying budgetary constraints, and maximize resource utilization to manage capacity so that those capital projects and new capabilities projects that make your company more competitive can now be visible.

Conclusion

Lower Total Costs.

During periods of economic uncertainty, companies must cut costs and make more strategic decisions, emphasizing low-risk investments that drive maximum value and focus resources on the “new capability” projects. Because companies benefit by already owning much of an EPM solution typically, deploying Project Online is cost-effective to deploy and can integrate into the existing IT environment and collaborate on devices such as tablets, smart phones and home office accessories while leveraging the elements of EPM that area already owned and deployed.

Empower employees to make better business decisions.

Giving information workers quick access to data and enabling them to perform analysis with minimal ongoing support from IT lets them make fast, accurate decisions. Studies have shown when users are empowered they make much better decisions, decisions that often affect the bottom line.

Enjoy rapid deployment and faster time-to-benefits.

Promote wide-spread adoption with a simple to use approach to managing your projects. Reduced ramp up time due to cloud based approach enables companies to reach ROI faster.

Gain reporting and collaboration enhancements.

You will work efficient and be able to prioritize and manage your projects from anywhere. Reporting issues
have been minimized as you give effective presentations through the timeline that visualizes your project and functionality around forecasting with a Team Planner that allows you to anticipate change or potential problems. From a tool perspective Project Online also helps you and your team improve everyday collaboration.

 

Summary of Compelling benefits

  • Multi skill level access to project management
  • Simplified cloud based IT management
  • Access from virtually anywhere with any device
  • Select optimal portfolios using out of the box functionality
  • Anticipate change with visibility to real-time data
  • Deliver projects successfully
  • Work seamlessly across tools due to integration enhancements
  • Discover and share information across the organization and outside of project teams
  • Communicate in real time
  • Reduce costs

 

This article was originally published for the ProjectZone Congress and has been modified.

About Campana & Schott

Project Management in the Cloud

Campana & Schott provides management and technology consulting services with sound expertise and long-standing experience in the areas of project management and process optimization. Campana & Schott operates globally and provides a broad service portfolio to support their customers. Campana & Schott focuses on improving and automating business processes utilizing Microsoft technology, often integrated with SAP.