Initiating Your Enterprise Project Management Implementation in Microsoft Project Server 2007
- Jun 6, 2008
Enterprise Project Management (EPM) is an organizational managerial philosophy based on the principle that an organization’s goals are more achievable when managed through a set of projects and operational work that is visible to the organization as a whole. An EPM system includes people, process, and technology to run efficiently. It requires a systematic approach and includes corporate strategy projects, operational improvements, and organizational transformation, as well as traditional development projects.
This book focuses on the technology component of the EPM system, but the technology must be implemented within the context of the people who will use it and the processes that define how the system will be used. Making an EPM solution a reality means developing a structure aimed at transforming the organization into a more dynamic, project-driven enterprise. During the tool implementation, many decisions must be made regarding the level of process and tool integration and the level of management required by the people who will be involved in the system. To do this successfully, an EPM implementation must be managed as a project in its own right with the appropriate set of goals and plans, resources, budget, and oversight. For that to happen, the initial phase of the deployment needs to be well grounded so that subsequent implementation phases are carried out successfully.
Deployment of an EPM solution involves participation of representatives from all departments. Ideally, deployment efforts will be coordinated by the project management office (PMO), sometimes also referred to as a portfolio or program management office. If your organization does not have a PMO, the Information Technology department often coordinates the deployment of an EPM solution. The deployment requires performance of the same functions, regardless of the departments involved.
Independent of the coordinating structure in the organization, the EPM deployment project must follow the project governance rules established in your company. These rules should clearly define who the ultimate approval authority in the organization is and who will approve moving the project from one phase to the next.
Project management books teach that to be successful, any project must have a clearly defined scope. An EPM solution deployment project is no exception. Defining the boundaries of the project is not easy. What will be included in and what will be excluded from the scope of the project must be established up front.
Defining the scope of the deployment helps the organization manage expectations of end users of the system or those of the sponsors. It helps set the appropriate criteria for project acceptance and determines how the project should be measured.
Review and Incorporate Organizational Factors and Processes
As discussed in Chapter 1, “Enterprise Project Management Overview,” organizational change management is a key to a successful EPM implementation. Each organization is unique in its history, its capabilities, and its needs. There is no single way to implement the Project Server 2007 technology. You must make many decisions to determine which of the many system features are most important and appropriate in your company. This section addresses those decisions.
When you begin your implementation of Project Server 2007, it helps to look at the software as a framework that can be modified in hundreds of different ways to support your organization’s culture. If you have a disciplined organization with projects that are well defined and stable, you can implement many system capabilities relatively quickly to streamline and simplify formerly manual processes. However, if your organization is new to the field of project management, you might have to introduce system features in several phases so that the learning curve is not too steep. Other factors that should be considered in planning the scope and phasing of your implementation include the following:
History with enterprise implementations—Your record of success and failure with previous enterprise applications will provide insight into what must be done to make this project successful. If your organization has failed in the past, there might be a level of cynicism and resistance to overcome. Likewise, if your organization has been successful, you might have examples that you can leverage for success.
Types of projects and operational work to be managed—Organizations able to clearly identify the priorities and goals of their projects can often implement a more rigorous set of features in the initial phase than can organizations with less definition and structure. Repeatability also plays a role in this. For example, construction projects tend to be much easier to replicate than research and development projects. Because of this, it is easier to create templates, to standardize effort and duration estimation, and to enforce tracking processes in the construction industry. It might be harder, however, to implement standard vendor management processes in construction because of the number of vendors typically managed.
Number of departments involved—In general, fewer departments mean that the configuration has to satisfy the requirements of a smaller set of users. If your implementation will start small and eventually have to meet the needs of a larger group, it is important to plan for expansion so that the configuration does not get locked into something that is inflexible and cannot grow.
Support and expectations of senior leadership—One of the most important cultural factors in success is that leadership is both involved in the implementation and has a reasonable set of expectations for the amount that can be accomplished accurately in each phase of the project. Involvement drives acceptance; setting reasonable expectations allows the organization to learn and mature more quickly.
Value to management and end users—It is absolutely essential that the system provide value to everyone who uses it. During the planning and rollout of the system, its value must be clearly communicated.
Number of individuals and projects involved—Care must be taken to stage the rollout of the solution correctly so that the users are trained at the right time and the projects to be managed are added to the system when it makes the most sense. Training too early or too late causes frustration and might inject excessive errors in the system. Projects should be reviewed to see whether they have been properly set up before they are added to the system. In addition, some projects might be at a critical point in their execution. Changing the way that a project is managed at the wrong time in its lifecycle might add an unacceptable amount of additional risk.
Maturity of the project management discipline in the organization—Project Server 2007 has a large number of features to improve the way you manage projects. If your organization is new to project management, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to absorb all the capabilities at one time. History shows that staging the introduction of features over phases actually improves the success and shortens the timeframe of the overall implementation.
Number of other changes going on in the organization—Implementation of an enterprise solution requires a concentrated effort and has an impact on virtually every role and individual within an organization. If there is too much change already underway, the risk for the implementation is very high. A staged rollout is even more critical in this environment.
Many other factors might be important in your organization but are not included in this list. You need to make sure that you have considered them in your planning effort for success. Resistance to change is a human attribute that will not go away. You can mitigate reservations by highlighting the benefits of the change. Project Server 2007 is beneficial to all levels in the organization, and this should be communicated throughout the deployment. Reassure team members that the data is for project decisions. Team members have access to assignment information and can collaborate on those tasks. Project managers gain efficiencies in updating project schedules through the use of timesheets. Executives have information on resource utilization and data to make informed decisions. The benefits are many but must be communicated to users to build enthusiasm and acceptance.
Project Management Information System
Project Server 2007 is a project management information system. It provides a central place for the collection, analysis, reporting, and ongoing management of all the work that an organization has underway. The cost/benefit story for Project Server 2007 is very clear. When implemented in a staged manner with adequate resources and appropriate training, the return on the investment can be a very short timeframe. The benefits include the following:
- Proactive and timely visibility into the work performed in the organization
- Near real-time analytics for decision support
- Visibility to minimize or eliminate project and resource conflicts; improved ability to accurately forecast resource requirements
- Improved ability to deliver on time, on budget, and with quality
- Improved productivity through collaboration and improved management of project artifacts
It is, however, only as good as the data inside the system. If the data is out of date or of poor quality, you have succeeded only in providing bad information more quickly than before you had the system. It is critical to implement the solution so that the integrity of the data is unquestionable. This means that you must implement the right capabilities, train the organization to use the solution correctly, and establish metrics and methods to monitor the solution.
The Role of the PMO
A critical factor in successfully implementing the EPM solution is to have within the organization a function that focuses on project management improvement. A PMO is not always established as a separate entity in every organization. but the functions it performs must be done by someone for an EPM implementation to succeed. The PMO should be the lead in defining the project management methodology and integrating processes into the EPM configuration. The following responsibilities are typically assigned to the office:
- Project methodology
- Project management tools and templates
- Project management processes
- Application administration
- Project management training
- Quality assurance
- Standards creation and enforcement
- EPM configuration management
- Project management mentoring and support
The PMO should continually monitor and audit compliance with process standards and ensure data accuracy in the system.
Human Resource Pool
Resource management business processes also have a direct impact on which Project Server 2007 technology features will be used by your organization. Project and resource managers within your organization might already be using some form of resource management business processes, but you definitely need to review those practices as part of the EPM implementation.
The Project Web Access 2007 (PWA) Resource Center contains several major technology features that help resource managers understand how resources are assigned to projects and what the overall resource loading factors are across multiple projects. Resource managers can examine the Enterprise Resource Pool and attributes associated with each resource within the pool. Use of the online analytical processing (OLAP) and SQL Reporting Services (SRS) capabilities will assist in the analysis and management of the resources.
Policies, Procedures, Standards, and Guidelines
The implementation of the Project Server 2007 solution will require you to set policies for security and various roles and responsibilities of the users. Reporting requirements will need to be determined as well as procedures, standards, and guidelines for how the system will be managed, how often it will be backed up, disaster recovery, and integration with other systems. The EPM project management plan should address each of the following technology items:
PWA user security roles—Defined by groups, categories, and security templates that control the permissions each user has to use features and access data within PWA and Project Professional 2007. Individual users can belong to multiple groups, therefore providing them access to a broad range of information. These security settings are a critical part of the overall implementation success because these settings also control which features are enabled or disabled for the entire system.
Project Professional 2007 enterprise global settings—Define the key operating standards for people who use Project Professional 2007.
PWA views—Allow people with sufficient privileges to view a sophisticated mix of project and resource information within PivotTable and graphical chart formats. The definition of these views is controlled through the data analysis functions in the software. Each view can contain information such as project lifecycle, sponsor organization, planned work, baseline work, actual cost, and other measurements.
Project management business processes are an important aspect of a successful EPM implementation. As you plan your overall implementation, consider how people throughout the organization will apply project management disciplines such as those found within the guidelines of the Project Management Institute. The project management guidance you provide your organization will help people use the EPM technology in a coordinated way.
The project management business processes guide people throughout the organization on how to use the technology of Project Server 2007. Software functions such as the PWA Project Center directly relate to the business processes you establish. Processes to consider for your implementation will include many of the following as well as others specific to your situation:
- Project initiation, including project charters, cost/benefit, business case preparation, and project prioritization
- Project planning, including defining the scope, work breakdown structure, building a schedule, and more
- Project budgeting and resource planning
- Artifact management
- Project execution/control processes, including risk and issue management, status reports, progress tracking, and more
- Project communications
- Project closure
- Program and portfolio management, including resource forecasting, cross-project management, portfolio oversight and optimization, and others
Your implementation plan has to define decisions regarding how much of the preceding list can and should be supported by the technology.
Historical Information and Lessons Learned
As mentioned earlier in this section, your organization has a unique history that will have an impact on the success of your Project Server 2007 implementation. Take the time to collect information from previous enterprise deployments and talk to key players from those projects to learn the valuable lessons that they have already learned. Use this history to tailor your project for success.
A great deal of information is available from other organizations that have installed this software. Check out some of the blogs and online help groups on the Microsoft website for solutions and case studies (see http://directory.partners.extranet.microsoft.com/, and the Microsoft partner community, for lessons already learned by others).