Author: Kenneth Steiness

Kenneth Steiness, PMP, PMI-SP, MCP, MCT, is an industry expert on Microsoft Project and Project Online. Kenneth has worked in the project management and scheduling field for over 20 years. He has managed customer engagements in 13 countries and throughout the United States and presented at conferences world-wide for Microsoft, PMI and MPUG. Kenneth is the CEO of Sensei Project Solutions, a certified Microsoft partner specializing in project and portfolio management deployments. Sensei offers a complete set of services to help organizations succeed with their Microsoft PPM deployments. Services include full implementation and training as well as pre-configured solutions and report packs. Visit senseiprojectsolutions.com or contact info@senseiprojectsolutions.com for more information.

Understanding the Microsoft PPM Public Power BI Content Pack

Project Management Institute (PMI)® Professional Development Units (PDUs): This Webinar is eligible for 1 PMI® PDU in the Technical category of the Talent Triangle. Event Description: Microsoft recently announced the new Power BI Content Pack for Microsoft PPM.  This content pack allows organizations to deploy out-of-the-box reporting in a new Project Web App instance; so not requiring any customizations what-so-ever.  In this webinar, Kenneth Steiness of Sensei Project Solutions will provide a guided tour of this new content pack and will help  you explore the reports available for Portfolio, Resource and Project reporting.  He will also demonstrate how this Content Pack exploits the full power of Power BI with cross-filtering and drill-up/down which allows you to also use these reports as powerful analysis tools as you can dynamically adjust the report content to focus on exception based management for your portfolio, resource pool or projects. Presenter Info: Kenneth Steiness & Raphael Santos

Out-of-the-Box Dashboards and Reports for Microsoft PPM

Microsoft just announced an updated Power BI Content Pack for Microsoft PPM, which allows organizations to get started quickly with dashboards and reports without requiring any customizations in Project Online.  This content pack utilizes the latest visualizations and features available in Power BI and contains 13 pages supporting portfolio, resource, and project reporting: Portfolio reporting – focuses on viewing key data across the entire portfolio of projects, including which projects are in the governance phases, by owner, department, project type, and key performance indicators. It also includes a portfolio timeline, roll up of costs, summary of key milestones, as well as risks and issues across the entire portfolio. Resource reporting – focuses on understanding resource availability across the organization, including the ability to zoom in on specific departments and groups. It also allows resource managers to quickly drill down into the data to see which projects their staff is working on and what the detailed work is.  Predictive analytics reporting shows forecasted demand based on historical information. Project reporting – provides an automated project-level status report that summarizes key data on the project and highlights variances for cost, work, and the schedule. It summarizes all completed milestones and upcoming milestones, and provides links to the project schedule as well as the project site. Dive deeper into this new release by viewing Ken and Raphael’s training webinar on-demand! This content pack update will help you take your organization’s Project and Portfolio Management reporting to powerful new levels. It will support everyone in your organization, from highly visual executive dashboards, to resource utilization reporting for resource managers, down to detailed project reports for business sponsors and project managers. Microsoft PPM Public Power BI Content Pack – Report details 1. Portfolio Dashboard The Portfolio Dashboard provides an executive level dashboard which allows all levels of management to view the portfolio of projects on a single page. The dashboard provides links to the SharePoint collaboration site for each project. 2. Portfolio Timeline The Portfolio Timeline provides a visual overview of the projects in the portfolio. This report is often used to provide senior management visibility into the active projects in an organization. 3. Portfolio Costs The Portfolio Costs page summarizes the project costs into a single dashboard to allow management to review project financials. The cost variance column allows management to focus on exceptions. Users can drill into the data in the table to see where the costs are coming from. 4. Portfolio Milestones The Portfolio Milestones report is a key management report, as it summarizes the milestones onto a single page with visibility into accomplishments (completed in the last 30 days) and near future goals (upcoming in the next 30 days). From this report, users can click through to the detailed project schedule in Project Online. 5. Portfolio Risks Management visibility of project risks is vital, as it surfaces the risks with the largest exposure to ensure management remains engaged and prepared to deal with the risks, should they begin to impact the projects. Users can click through to the detailed risks on the project sites. 6. Portfolio Issues As issues are immediate project challenges, it is important that they are highly visible to allow management to understand the nature and impact of the most critical issues. Project issues having senior management visibility helps ensure that all issues are resolved before they impact the project’s success factors. Users can click through to the detailed issues on the project sites. 7. Resource Availability The Resource Availability report allows resource managers to quickly and easily determine which resources are overallocated and need to have their workload reduced, as well as which resources have capacity to take on additional work. 8. Resource Overview The Resource Overview report provides insights into the enterprise resource pool to better understand which resources are associated with the groups, departments, or RBS. 9. Resource Assignments The Resource Assignments report shows which projects the team members are assigned to. Users can drill into the data in the table to see the detailed assignments on these projects. 10. Resource Details The Resource Details report shows detailed information for a single team member, including where they are in the organization, their all-up availability picture, assignment metrics, and which projects they are assigned to. 11. Resource Demand Forecast The Resource Demand Forecast report uses historical data to predict future demand.  The predictive analytics functionality provides upper and lower bounds. 12. Project Status The Project Status report shows the detailed status for a single project, including key data about the project itself, cost information, variances, completed and upcoming milestones and percent complete, as well as links to the project site and schedule. 13. Project Risks and Issues The Project Risks & Issues report pulls together all the risks and issues from a single project. The risk matrix allows users to quickly spot those risks that are high impact and probability.  The issues charts allow for quick filtering to keep track of project issues. Related Content Webinars (watch for free now!): Report Basics: Build an Agile Kanban Board in Microsoft Project It’s All About… Reports! Articles: Create a Monthly Cash Flow Report in Microsoft Project 2013 Creating Milestone Reports in Microsoft Project Creating a Custom Report in Project 2013: This Week’s Tasks

Closing Out a Project Schedule in PWA

A proactive project portfolio management (PPM) system includes proper governance to ensure the accuracy and integrity of the data. An essential element of this governance is addressing projects that are completed or cancelled and to perform several actions on them also in order to complete them. You’ll want to ensure that all work has been captured, that resources don’t have remaining work on the project, and that the project is no longer visible in Project Web Access (PWA) views of active projects and tasks. When a project is completed, take the appropriate steps to close out the project schedule. Process all updates from team members. Of course, you’ll want to capture the total work effort for each project. Since some of the next steps will impact the ability of team members to report their actual work, the first order of business is to inform the project team that you’ll be closing the project and that they need to submit all hours worked. Once all hours have been submitted and any discrepancies have been addressed, approve and publish all the task updates. Update the project “Status Date.” The project Status Date is the mechanism by which the project manager communicates how timely the project progress is. This date should reflect the last day of the reporting period for which task updates were received. Set this date in the Status Date dialog by going to the Project ribbon Status section and clicking the Status Date button to open the Status Date dialog. This value should be set to the date that the current timesheet period ended on, not the current date. Typically, that’s the Saturday or Sunday prior, depending on your organization’s timesheet policies. Click OK when finished. Update project milestones. Project milestones aren’t automatically updated by the process of accepting team member progress updates, so the project manager must mark all project milestones as complete. To mark a milestone as completed, first set the “Actual Start” date to reflect the milestone date and then from the “Task ribbon” | Schedule section, click the “100% Complete” button. Remove any remaining work. If there’s any remaining work on a project, it will affect resource utilization and availability. To ensure this data is accurate, it’s vital to remove any remaining work on completed and cancelled projects. In Microsoft Project, use the “11 – Project Closure” view to set Remaining Work to 0h and Remaining Duration to 0d for all tasks in the project that are not already zero. The easiest way to do this is to use the AutoFilter button in the Remaining Work column header to filter for all tasks that have a non-zero value. Repeat the above process to filter and set Remaining Duration to zero as well. Remove project tasks from Tasks, Timesheets, and Resource Assignments pages in PWA. The “Publish” field is used to manage the tasks that are published to team members for execution. To remove tasks from these views, set the Publish field value to No using the 11 – Project Closure view. If the project manager changes Publish to “No’ for a task that was previously published, the following changes occur: The tasks are no longer visible in the Tasks page. The tasks are no longer visible in any existing timesheets. The tasks aren’t available in any new timesheets. The tasks are no longer visible in the Resource Assignments page. Set the resource “Booking Type” to Proposed. This will remove the projects from the default Resource Capacity views. Using the “B – Resource Sheet,” set the value in the Booking Type column to Proposed for each named resource. Update the project status to reflect that the project is no longer active. Most likely, your organization uses a project-level custom field to distinguish the state of a project (in other words, Active, Closed, Cancelled, etc.). This field is typically used to filter non-active projects from PWA views and reports. For example, our company, Sensei, uses a field called “Project Phase” to exclude projects where the Project Phase is “04 – Close.” To remove the completed or cancelled project from the active project view, starting from the Project ribbon | Properties section, click the Project Information button to open the Project Information dialog. Set the Project Phase field used by your organization to the correct value to indicate the project is closed and then click the OK button. If your organization uses a workflow to manage project phases, you should follow your organizational procedures to submit your project for final closure. Publish the project. After completing steps 1 through 7, your project is now ready to be officially closed. Click the File tab and then click the Save button in the Backstage. Click the File tab again and then click the Publish button on the Info page of the Backstage. Close out Issues and Risks. The final step is to close out any remaining issues, risks and action items by changing their Status in the Project Site. This excerpt is from the new book, Proactive PPM with Microsoft Project 2016 for Project Online and Project Server: A best practices guide for project managers, written by Kenneth Steiness and Dale Howard and published by Sensei Project Solutions. Image Source Written by Kenneth Steiness Kenneth Steiness PMP/PMI-SP MCP MCT is an industry expert on Microsoft Project and Project Server and has worked in the project management and scheduling field for over 16 years. He has managed customer engagements in over 13 countries worldwide and throughout the United States, in addition to presenting at world-wide conferences for Microsoft, PMI, and to many Microsoft Project User Groups over the years. Kenneth is the Managing Partner & VP of Delivery of Sensei Project Solutions, a Microsoft Partner specializing in Project and Portfolio Management (PPM) deployments with Microsoft Project and Project Server on the SharePoint platform. Sensei offers a complete set of services to help an organization make their Microsoft PPM deployment successful, including full implementation and services, training as well as pre-configured solutions and report packs. Visit senseiprojectsolutions.com or contact info@senseiprojectsolutions.com for more information. View all posts by: Kenneth Steiness

The 7 Habits of Proactive Microsoft PPM Users: Habit 7

Sharpen the Saw No doubt you know the story of the man in the forest who is too busy sawing to stop and sharpen the saw. Every day we come across project managers who are too busy updating their schedules and running their projects to stop and learn new techniques and disciplines that would greatly increase their chances of success. Consider these five simple changes you can make in your interaction with the schedule in Microsoft Project that would provide many-fold returns on your time investment: Options: Carefully review and understand the detailed options, as these have a direct impact on the calculations, dates, and behavior of Microsoft Project. For example, your default “Task Type” will determine how tasks are calculated when they are updated, such as whether the date is moved, the duration changes or the work effort goes up. Deadlines: Start using the “Deadline” feature for dates you’ve committed to, rather than entering a start or finish date or setting a constraint on your tasks. This approach gives you the best of both worlds. You can see what the commitment date is, but also recognize whether that date is being met or corrective action is needed. Remaining Work: In addition to tracking “Actual Work” against tasks in the schedule, also ask your team members to validate the estimate to complete through “Remaining Work.” Not only does this ensure better data quality, but it also helps team members buy into the estimates on a weekly basis and think about effort instead of duration. Status Date: Utilize the “Status Date” feature to clearly communicate the date to which the schedule is up to date. There should be no incomplete work or milestones prior to the status date or any actual work after the status date. Use the “Update Project” feature to move work forward. Update Project: During project execution, it’s quite common for things to progress at a different pace or even in a different order than originally planned. In order to ensure that the project schedule stays relevant, we must make sure that the schedule is updated each week to move any incomplete work forward of the status date. The “Update Project” feature does this very nicely and forces the project manager to work with resource managers and team members on how to adjust to the new reality. This excerpt is from the new book, Proactive PPM with Microsoft Project 2016 for Project Online and Project Server: A best practices guide for project managers, written by Kenneth Steiness and Dale Howard and published by Sensei Project Solutions. Read “Habit 1: Be Proactive” here. Read “Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind” here. Read “Habit 3: Put First Things First” here. Read “Habit 4: Think Win-Win” here. Read “Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood” here. Read “Habit 6: Synergize” here. Written by Kenneth Steiness Kenneth Steiness PMP/PMI-SP MCP MCT is an industry expert on Microsoft Project and Project Server and has worked in the project management and scheduling field for over 16 years. He has managed customer engagements in over 13 countries worldwide and throughout the United States, in addition to presenting at world-wide conferences for Microsoft, PMI, and to many Microsoft Project User Groups over the years. Kenneth is the Managing Partner & VP of Delivery of Sensei Project Solutions, a Microsoft Partner specializing in Project and Portfolio Management (PPM) deployments with Microsoft Project and Project Server on the SharePoint platform. Sensei offers a complete set of services to help an organization make their Microsoft PPM deployment successful, including full implementation and services, training as well as pre-configured solutions and report packs. Visit senseiprojectsolutions.com or contact info@senseiprojectsolutions.com for more information. View all posts by: Kenneth Steiness

The 7 Habits of Proactive Microsoft PPM Users: Habit 6

Synergize What is synergy? Stephen Covey defines it this way: “It means the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. It means that the relationship which the parts have to each other is a part in and of itself.” Once all the pieces of the schedule have been put together properly and are in line with industry standards, the schedule becomes greater than the sum of its parts. It will now truly represent the actual project and will enable the project manager to be proactive and provide executives with critical information for decision making. If a project experiences delays or overruns, a proactive schedule will give early warning and help identify the best options for corrective actions. Synergy on the project team will also allow team members to participate actively in any corrective action required. Techniques such as crashing and fast tracking are much more successful with a synergistic project team and easier to apply in a proactive project schedule. This excerpt is from the new book, Proactive PPM with Microsoft Project 2016 for Project Online and Project Server: A best practices guide for project managers, written by Kenneth Steiness and Dale Howard and published by Sensei Project Solutions. Read “Habit 1: Be Proactive” here. Read “Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind” here. Read “Habit 3: Put First Things First” here. Read “Habit 4: Think Win-Win” here. Read “Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood” here. Read “Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw” here. Written by Kenneth Steiness Kenneth Steiness PMP/PMI-SP MCP MCT is an industry expert on Microsoft Project and Project Server and has worked in the project management and scheduling field for over 16 years. He has managed customer engagements in over 13 countries worldwide and throughout the United States, in addition to presenting at world-wide conferences for Microsoft, PMI, and to many Microsoft Project User Groups over the years. Kenneth is the Managing Partner & VP of Delivery of Sensei Project Solutions, a Microsoft Partner specializing in Project and Portfolio Management (PPM) deployments with Microsoft Project and Project Server on the SharePoint platform. Sensei offers a complete set of services to help an organization make their Microsoft PPM deployment successful, including full implementation and services, training as well as pre-configured solutions and report packs. Visit senseiprojectsolutions.com or contact info@senseiprojectsolutions.com for more information. View all posts by: Kenneth Steiness

The 7 Habits of Proactive Microsoft PPM Users: Habit 5

Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood In just about any situation, it’s much more important to listen and understand than it is to be immediately understood. When faced with a problem on your project, it is important to act as a facilitator and get all the right people involved in the conversation. The team members or subject matter experts on the project will often have a very good understanding of the issues and will be in a good position to provide input on how best to resolve them. By listening to their concerns and understanding the situation and their suggestions, you will be armed with all the right information to make key decisions to move forward. When we fully understand the situation, we’re better able to ask the right questions to get to a resolution. After having gathered the facts, try to provide options for the key stakeholders to review. You can accomplish this by modeling each scenario in Microsoft Project and even use the “Inactivate Task” feature to show what the schedule would look like with and without the proposed solution. Use Microsoft Project to facilitate effective communications As project managers, we’re often the hub of communication and will experience better results if our stakeholders feel understood before we report status or propose changes to the project. In your next team meeting, try letting team members take the lead on reporting status to the group instead of repeating what they told you prior to the meeting. You will find that they are much more open to being influenced if they feel understood first. This excerpt is from the new book, Proactive PPM with Microsoft Project 2016 for Project Online and Project Server: A best practices guide for project managers, written by Kenneth Steiness and Dale Howard and published by Sensei Project Solutions. Read “Habit 1: Be Proactive” here. Read “Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind” here. Read “Habit 3: Put First Things First” here. Read “Habit 4: Think Win-Win” here. Read “Habit 6: Synergize” here. Read “Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw” here. Written by Kenneth Steiness Kenneth Steiness PMP/PMI-SP MCP MCT is an industry expert on Microsoft Project and Project Server and has worked in the project management and scheduling field for over 16 years. He has managed customer engagements in over 13 countries worldwide and throughout the United States, in addition to presenting at world-wide conferences for Microsoft, PMI, and to many Microsoft Project User Groups over the years. Kenneth is the Managing Partner & VP of Delivery of Sensei Project Solutions, a Microsoft Partner specializing in Project and Portfolio Management (PPM) deployments with Microsoft Project and Project Server on the SharePoint platform. Sensei offers a complete set of services to help an organization make their Microsoft PPM deployment successful, including full implementation and services, training as well as pre-configured solutions and report packs. Visit senseiprojectsolutions.com or contact info@senseiprojectsolutions.com for more information. View all posts by: Kenneth Steiness

The 7 Habits of Proactive Microsoft PPM Users: Habit 4

Think Win-Win While the project schedule is an important tool for many project managers, it is often misunderstood (or not understood at all) by project team members. When building the work breakdown structure (WBS) for the project, you will get a more accurate definition of scope (and as a result, the schedule) by involving the team and letting them own the decomposition of the deliverables. It is also important to stress to the team what benefits they get from having the scope fully defined and contributing to the ongoing updates to the project schedule. For organizations that have adopted the proactive scheduling approach, these are some of the common benefits to team members:   Reduced over-allocation: When schedules have complete dependency networks and incomplete work is rescheduled each week, the typical pileup of work is avoided. With resource manager commitments to allocations, there are also typically fewer conflicts across projects. Visibility into planned work and priorities: Project team members see a complete list of tasks with dates and priorities. Accurate forecasting of project time availability: Organizations develop better forecasts when they choose to capture all time and identify how much work is spent on projects vs. ongoing support activities. Push prioritization decisions back on management: Frequent interruptions by senior executives with urgent requests for support can be better managed when team members are able to show a list of scheduled work and priorities. Stephen Covey’s famous dialog with a team member: “I’m happy to help with your request, Stephen. Which of these existing project tasks would you like me to postpone? Would you like me to notify the project manager or will you do that?” Managers can now see how hard team members actually work: If resources work 60-plus hours each week to get all the work done, there’s usually a long-term impact and potentially high employee turnover. The above will help answer the “What’s in it for me?” question and should get you more participation from team members when updating the status of the project schedule. It’s a “win-win” if project managers get the input they need from the team to build the best possible schedule, and team members get a more structured working environment with visibility and reduced over-allocation. Another “win-win” is between project managers and the project sponsor and key stakeholders. All too often, we neglect to ask what the success criteria are for the project and whether time, quality or cost is more important. Managing the triple constraints and reporting against key performance indicators will enable senior management to make better decisions and provide guidance for corrective action. This, in turn, gets the project manager’s buy-in on the project schedule and commitment to a formal project management approach. This excerpt is from the new book, Proactive PPM with Microsoft Project 2016 for Project Online and Project Server: A best practices guide for project managers, written by Kenneth Steiness and Dale Howard and published by Sensei Project Solutions. Read “Habit 1: Be Proactive” here. Read “Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind” here. Read “Habit 3: Put First Things First” here. Read “Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood” here. Read “Habit 6: Synergize” here. Read “Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw” here. e. Written by Kenneth Steiness Kenneth Steiness PMP/PMI-SP MCP MCT is an industry expert on Microsoft Project and Project Server and has worked in the project management and scheduling field for over 16 years. He has managed customer engagements in over 13 countries worldwide and throughout the United States, in addition to presenting at world-wide conferences for Microsoft, PMI, and to many Microsoft Project User Groups over the years. Kenneth is the Managing Partner & VP of Delivery of Sensei Project Solutions, a Microsoft Partner specializing in Project and Portfolio Management (PPM) deployments with Microsoft Project and Project Server on the SharePoint platform. Sensei offers a complete set of services to help an organization make their Microsoft PPM deployment successful, including full implementation and services, training as well as pre-configured solutions and report packs. Visit senseiprojectsolutions.com or contact info@senseiprojectsolutions.com for more information. View all posts by: Kenneth Steiness

The 7 Habits of Proactive Microsoft PPM Users: Habit 3

Put First Things First Once you have built a solid work breakdown structure (WBS), it’s time to walk the talk and put first things first. Building a complete and accurate dependency network is what makes the schedule truly proactive. When building dependencies, try to think about natural relationships that exist for the scope of work and NOT about the order in which you would like to schedule things. We typically talk about the cause and effect when adding predecessors and successors. Can we install the operating system before the server has been procured and received? It’s a silly question, of course, but these relationships exist throughout your schedule. So, “Install Operating System on Test Server for Accounting System” is dependent on the milestone “Accounting Test Server Hardware Received.” This milestone, in turn, is dependent on “Place Order for Accounting Test Server Hardware”, which happens to have three weeks of lead time. Modeled properly, these relationships will help you automatically update the project schedule each week as the team makes progress. The rules of dependency planning are straightforward: Every detailed task and milestone in the project schedule should be included in the dependency network (i.e. no orphan detailed tasks or milestones). That means there should be a predecessor and successor on each task/milestone, with the exception of the project start milestone and the project completion milestone, and potentially any Level of Effort (LOE) tasks, such as “Ongoing Project Management Support.” Lead and lag time can be used to account for softer dependencies between tasks (e.g., start testing when we’re 75 percent done with coding). Summary tasks should NEVER have dependencies on them. Putting first things first also means monitoring and focusing on the critical path of the project. Showing the critical path in team meetings and status reports involves the team and clearly demonstrates the priorities that will allow us to “walk the talk.” If we do experience a delay during project execution, we can easily search for effort-driven tasks on the critical path to take corrective action that can help bring us back on track. This excerpt is from the new book, Proactive PPM with Microsoft Project 2016 for Project Online and Project Server: A best practices guide for project managers, written by Kenneth Steiness and Dale Howard and published by Sensei Project Solutions. Read “Habit 1: Be Proactive” here. Read “Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind” here. Read “Habit 4: Think Win-Win” here. Read “Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood” here. Read “Habit 6: Synergize” here. Read “Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw” here. Written by Kenneth Steiness Kenneth Steiness PMP/PMI-SP MCP MCT is an industry expert on Microsoft Project and Project Server and has worked in the project management and scheduling field for over 16 years. He has managed customer engagements in over 13 countries worldwide and throughout the United States, in addition to presenting at world-wide conferences for Microsoft, PMI, and to many Microsoft Project User Groups over the years. Kenneth is the Managing Partner & VP of Delivery of Sensei Project Solutions, a Microsoft Partner specializing in Project and Portfolio Management (PPM) deployments with Microsoft Project and Project Server on the SharePoint platform. Sensei offers a complete set of services to help an organization make their Microsoft PPM deployment successful, including full implementation and services, training as well as pre-configured solutions and report packs. Visit senseiprojectsolutions.com or contact info@senseiprojectsolutions.com for more information. View all posts by: Kenneth Steiness