Author: Parthiv Bhuta

Parthiv Bhuta is a Consultant and Trainer at EPMA with an MBA from University of Houston. He has been using Microsoft Project and Project Server since version 2003. He is a Microsoft Certified Professional and working towards getting a certification as a Microsoft Certified Trainer. Visit his blog and connect with Parthiv on LinkedIn or Google+.

Proactive Project Management Using Microsoft Project Server and PPMX

  Project Management Institute (PMI)® Professional Development Units (PDUs): This Webinar is eligible for 1 PMI® PDU in the Strategic category of the Talent Triangle. Event Description: If you currently have Project Server, are you struggling with getting your team to use it consistently?  Or if you do not have a PPM solution, are you hesitant due to the perception of cumbersome change management and a lengthy process to implement?  You are not alone. But what if we told you that you can leverage an Enterprise Project and Portfolio Management solution without the complexity.  EPMA simplifies Microsoft Project Server with PPMX to streamline the deployment process, increase user adoption and awareness, and provide management with dynamic reporting. Join us and learn how to: Transform your project management from reactive to PROACTIVE Spend less time managing the technology and more time managing your projects Leverage intuitive and interactive dashboards for portfolio status, resource planning, and forecasting *This is a FREE MPUG Vendor Session. Presenter will discuss Microsoft Project add-ons and how they can streamline the integration of various applications and Microsoft Project in a no pressure, stress-free environment. These add-ons are not out-of-the-box functionality and require product trial or purchase. Presenter Info: Parthiv Bhuta Parthiv is the Director of PPM at EPMA and has been working with the Microsoft PPM solutions since Project Server 2003. He, along with his team of experienced consultants, have configured, implemented, supported, trained, and integrated the Microsoft suit of PPM products, including Project Server and Project Online. He is responsible for deploying these technologies and ensuring client success through proper alignment with business processes and strategies. EPMA is one of the largest Microsoft Gold PPM Partners that works with organizations of varying size and industries, and Parthiv brings years of experience and knowledge to the team. He graduated with an MBA from the University of Houston, is recognized as a Microsoft Certified Professional, and is continually adding to his Microsoft product certifications. Have you watched this webinar recording? Tell MPUG viewers what you think! [WPCR_INSERT]

Warning: Project Status Meetings Are Bad for Your Health

OK, while meetings may not directly impact your personal health, they’re certainly not good for the health of your projects. As a 2014 infographic suggested, $37 billion alone is spent per year on unproductive meetings. That’s a big waste. If you as a project manager could find a way to get team members out of unproductive meetings, you’d surely do a better job of meeting project expectations and delivering on schedule. Yet, you can’t get rid of all meetings. After all, that could kill the team mentality and creativity needed for problem solving and making improvements from one project to the next. So what’s the answer? Do you meet or not? And if you do, how can you use meeting time most wisely? Here are three areas to focus on improving if you want to run the most effective project status meeting possible. Learn more from Parthiv Bhuta about becoming a more effective project manager in his on-demand webinar, “Proactive Project Management Using Microsoft Project Server and PPMX,”. Progress on Assigned Tasks Tracking the time consumed by monitoring project progress needs to include the minutes and hours you spend meeting with individual members of your team to get updates on assigned tasks, composing and responding to emails during the course of the project, and hunting down people for in-person status checks. This way of working is called reactive project management. Ultimately, the project and the people are your responsibility, so it’s up to you to become more proactive in order to ensure the success of the initiative. No pressure, right? Solutions such as Microsoft Project Server can bring together status data across all projects and resources, giving team members the ability to collaborate and keep each other informed at the click of a button rather than an hour-long status meeting. But sometimes the organization doesn’t use the application in that way because individual people are too intimidated or haven’t been given access. It’s possible you ought to consider a Project add-on that works with that same project data but is simpler and faster. Troubleshooting Issues and Risks A key topic at project status meeting is to discuss critical items such as issues and risks in order to understand the impact they could have on the timeline, resources, upcoming tasks and other aspects of your projects. While this kind of subject is important, people tend to lose focus during the course of meetings, and it may get only part of their attention. After all, as a 1998 Verizon-sponsored report found, 91 percent of people admit to daydreaming during meetings, 73 percent confess to doing other work, and 39 percent report that they’ve even fallen asleep. Imagine what the results would look like today with current attention spans. None of this bodes well for productive or proactive meetings. How do you keep engagement high? Remove that meeting fog by leveraging technology to report progress on everyday tasks, allowing you to shorten your meeting and pack it with relevant and exciting topics. Have a standing-room only meeting and encourage the team to get creative in overcoming obstacles. Show energy in discussing the impacts of issues and risks and get feedback and ideas from everyone for every project. Make sure to use technology to let you play out what-if scenarios and get the team thinking strategically. While you may not be getting actual hours back in your week, you will be replacing wasted time with productive time during those meetings. Reporting to Executive Management Even now, when we’re surrounded by amazing digital functionality, reporting to bosses is usually a tedious and somewhat manual process of extracting project data and having to update Excel files or populate PowerPoint decks to present to the executives. Adding up the time spent accumulating the data and then rolling it up into pretty reports should make anybody wonder how relevant, reliable and up to date the information is by the time the executive finally comes around to reviewing it (if he or she ever does). It would pay to learn how to use automated means for generating dashboards and reports and investing in the time to customize reports for your specific environment and manager preferences. Your bosses will be happy because they’ll gain access to real-time data. You’ll be happy because you’re not spending excess time on something that may or may not be used — time that would be better spent on what you were born to do — delivering projects on schedule and within budget. Image Source  

Create Your First Microsoft Power BI Report

Managing the chaos of everyday work and projects is challenging enough. Taking the time to effectively capture information and provide reliable reporting feels nearly impossible. The battle between effectively performing and consistently measuring — or between those managing projects and those consuming the information — has created immense pressure to deliver on expectations. In order to be successful in business, information is critical. Learn more about how to create tailored reports for your project work. View the on-demand webinar, “Creating Powerful Dashboards & Reports with Microsoft Power BI,” featuring Parthiv Bhuta. “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it” — George Santayana By leveraging software such as Microsoft Project, project managers can capture huge amounts of relevant information from their team members to help people make better decisions for existing and future projects. But how do you leverage and digest this data? How do you shift from managing projects from a reactionary position to one of a proactive nature? How do you make improvements while moving forward and stop yourself from repeating the mistakes of the past? “The goal is to transform data into information and information into insight.” — Carly Fiorina, former CEO of HP Historically, building reports and dashboards beyond simple Excel reporting has required technical skills beyond the capabilities of most project managers. Fast forward to today. Microsoft’s free Power BI allows anyone in the organization to manipulate the project data collected and create intuitive reporting to assist project managers, team members and executives. Would a portfolio dashboard highlighting upcoming and overdue milestones or a comparison of actual work to baseline or current planned work be helpful? How about an executive dashboard to quickly see who has completed what and any upcoming or overdue tasks on projects? In order to create your first Power BI report, here are the steps to follow: Download the free Power BI app at this link: https://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=521662&clcid=0x409 Launch the app. From the Home tab click on Get Data. You’ll be able to choose from a variety for data source and services. For this tutorial we’ll use Odata. Click on Odata and then enter your data source URL (in this example, Project Server OData). Once you click connect, you’ll have the option to choose the tables you want to query (if available). Once you choose the table you want to query, select Load or Edit. Loading the table will load every column in the table to the Power BI desktop app. However, in this example, I want to choose what columns to load, so I’ll click on Edit to open a Query Editor window that allows me to filter or choose columns/sort/merge/etc. with the table I choose. Click on the Choose Columns button to select the columns to load and click OK. Next, click on Close and Apply. That will take you back to the main window of the desktop app. The right side of your screen will show Visualizations and Fields. Choose a visualization for the report (I’m choosing a table) and then add the columns from the fields you want to show for this report. To finalize the results, publish the report to your Power BI account by clicking on File | Publish | Publish to Power BI. Voila! You have created your first report. No matter what your specific reporting needs are, Power BI allows you to customize how you view and share the project data being collected. And the best news is that you can start for free.  

Creating Powerful Dashboards / Reports with Microsoft Power BI

Project Management Institute (PMI)® Professional Development Units (PDUs):This Webinar is eligible for 1 PMI® PDU in the Strategic category of the Talent Triangle. Event Description: Getting valuable information from Projects is one of the top challenges faced by Executives. Traditionally creating dashboards and reports required a technical guru to collect requirements from the executives and then to code their way to generating dashboards. Usually this turns out to be far too expensive and a waste of valuable time (both in creating reports and going back and forth with the technical guru to meet your needs). Fast forward to today, and now you can use Microsoft Power BI to quickly create reports and dashboards without the need for technical coding skills. In this Webinar, learn how to create useful dashboards and reports that you can easily manage and share with other stakeholders at the click of a button from anywhere and on any device. Presenter Info: Parthiv Bhuta Parthiv is the Director of PPM at EPMA and has been working with the Microsoft PPM solutions since Project Server 2003. He, along with his team of experienced consultants, have configured, implemented, supported, trained, and integrated the Microsoft suit of PPM products, including Project Server and Project Online. He is responsible for deploying these technologies and ensuring client success through proper alignment with business processes and strategies. EPMA is one of the largest Microsoft Gold PPM Partners that works with organizations of varying size and industries, and Parthiv brings years of experience and knowledge to the team. He graduated with an MBA from the University of Houston, is recognized as a Microsoft Certified Professional, and is continually adding to his Microsoft product certifications. Have you watched this webinar recording? Tell MPUG viewers what you think! [WPCR_INSERT]

image shows how To change the bar style, select the bar you want to change, then click the Format tab in the ribbon. In the Bar Styles group, click the style you want to apply.

Adding % Complete to Milestones in the Gantt Chart

Milestones are an important part of any project. They show important achievements in a project, which can be used to communicate high level progress to senior management. Gantt chart in Microsoft Project gives us a graphical representation of the task/project status. Tasks are represented by bars that  graphically display progress.  Milestones are represented by diamonds, but since they are 0 days tasks, there is graphically no progress displayed. Fortunately there is an easy way to fix this. Open your project in Microsoft Project. (The screenshots are from Microsoft Project 2013, but the same steps apply to Microsoft Project 2010). As you can see, looking at the Milestone in Gantt chart does not provide any information related to status of the milestone. To add Percent complete  – Click on the Format Tab Under the ‘Bar Style’ section of the ribbon, click on Format –> Bar Style From the Bar Style dialog box, Select ‘Milestone’ and then click on the Text tab at the bottom. Click on the Drop Down menu next to ‘Right’ and select ‘%Complete’ and then click ok. Now if you go back to the Gantt Chart, you will see the %Complete next to the Milestone icon. Note: Milestone should always be either 0% or 100%.

Webinar: Using Graphical Health Indicators with Project Professional 2010 and 2013

  Project Management Institute (PMI)® Professional Development Units (PDUs): 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: Create Custom calculated fields and showing graphical representation of the data Learning Objectives: At the end of this webinar, attendees will be able to effectively use calculated fields and graphical indicators to highlight important information in their project. About the Presenters: Parthiv Bhuta Parthiv is a Consultant and Trainer at EPMA with an MBA from University of Houston. He has been using Microsoft Project and Project Server since version 2003. He is a Microsoft Certified Professional and working towards getting a certification as a Microsoft Certified Trainer. Have you watched this webinar recording? Tell MPUG viewers what you think! [WPCR_INSERT]