Tag Archive for Demand management

CorasWorks’ Federal Contractor Business Grows 75% in 2012 Fueled by Accelerating Industry Competition–Review and 2013 Plans

In 2012, we started our Federal Government Contractor practice.  Federal Contractors (including Aerospace & Defense providers) have been a significant part of CorasWorks’ business since we began in 2003.  In 2012, we created a dedicated team to focus on this industry and build and deliver industry specific solutions.  With the increased competition in this industry in recent years and the threat of the Fiscal Cliff and Sequestration in 2013 – we figured it was the perfect time to engage deeply and help our customers Do More for Less and drive their competitive position.  We focused on solutions for the internal operations of Federal Contractors.  In this article, I do a review of our work in this industry in 2012 and provide you with a heads up of our plans for 2013.

2012 in Review

  • Our business with Federal Government contractors for internal use grew 75%, making it our fastest growing industry segment last year
  • We served a broad group of Top 100 Federal Contractors such as Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, Rockwell-Collins, HP Enterprise Services, Booz Allen Hamilton, BAE Systems, Serco, Chenega and Salient.
  • We focused our industry-specific solution investment in solutions for Business Development (BD) Operations, particularly IDIQ-based activities for Prime and Sub-contractors – a major area of intense competition in 2012 and going forward.
  • We expanded our BD solution set to integrate with existing Proposal Development applications and introduced solutions for Capture & Proposal Management providing comprehensive visibility and process management for BD operations
  • We began the process of cross-industry pollination, by bringing solutions from other industry customers into Federal Contractors such as Idea Challenge Management and Work Management for Engineering and Resource Planning and Program Management/Delivery based upon the CorasWorks Project Portfolio Management solution
  • We continued to expand our footprint in the Federal Government (Military and Civilian) with large deployments in the Navy, Army, Air Force and Marines that enables Federal Contractors to leverage CorasWorks on SharePoint to deliver more competitive services and systems to their customers.

We learned a great deal more about the industry, the solutions, and the way of working within Federal Contractors over the year.  It is pretty clear that the internal operations of Federal Contractors have a lot of room to benefit by increased efficiency and effectiveness.  The BD area of IDIQ work was a real winner where most customers have a) older, legacy systems or b) nothing but email (NBE).  We’ve taken this segment to a new level in terms of lower cost and higher efficiency and effectiveness.  The best testament of our success with BD solutions and in other Federal Contractor business functions are our Customer Successes.  You can read about these by looking at articles of this blog (See Category of Federal Government Contractors, with 9 articles, or by a specific solution Category) or reading about our Solutions and Case Studies at our Federal Contractor micro-site of the CorasWorks web site.

What’s Ahead in 2013

Sequestration still looms. Continued increase in competition is a fact.  To help you compete, we are pushing our Collaborative Work Management solutions for Federal Contractors forward in 2013 in the following areas:

  • We will continue our focus on solutions for BD Operations.  Here you simply have to be at your best.  We will continue to move our IDIQ oriented solutions forward to make our customers the top in internal efficiency and effectiveness and the robustness of partner engagement.  We are also deepening our integration and support for Capture & Proposal Management activities and integration with third-party legacy applications for CRM (notably Deltek GovWin’s CRM), ERP, HR, and Contract Administration.
  • We are “verticalizing” the CorasWorks Project Portfolio Management solution to more specifically support work for Program Management, Delivery and Operations in Federal Contractors (what you do after you win the business – the downstream activities).
  • We are deepening our presence in the Engineering business function by bringing Engineering solutions from other industries into the Federal Contractor space, such as Engineering Work Management, Configuration Management, Idea and Innovation Management, Resource Planning and Demand Management.  This need is being accelerated as our customers start separating their services business from their systems businesses and are looking to set new benchmarks in the management of globally distributed engineering resources.
  • We will continue to expand our set of solutions for cross-functional activities with corporate functions such as HR, IT, Finance, and Legal and cross-pollinate these solutions into our customer base.
  • We are putting new programs in place to help our Federal Contractor customers build CorasWorks competencies internally that help them be more competitive when delivering solutions to Federal customers that leverage SharePoint – a growing segment of the services sector.

CorasWorks – At Your Service

In 2013, it is not going to get any easier to win business or deliver it profitably.  The way to succeed is by getting better and being more innovative.  As part of this we feel that you truly do need to a) eliminate the noise of redundant, ad hoc, wasted activity, b) break the silos, and c) provide the visibility and embedded collaboration to focus resources when and where you need it.

As innovative leaders in Collaborative Work Management solutions on SharePoint and with our focus on Federal Government Contractors we can help you get you where you want and need to be – more quickly, at less cost and with less risk.  We look forward to serving you in 2013.

william

Design More Effective Collaborative Processes by including “external” people and activities

Most of us are familiar with workflow approval processes using SharePoint.  These are targeted towards efficiently routing items for approval usually in a serial fashion with known actors.  However, a great deal of information work is done through collaborative processes.  And usually, this work has a large impact on organizational results.  The key here is to be organizationally effective.  In this article, I’ll define collaborative processes and look at a general design approach that includes not just the core process but the “external” people and activities that drive a higher degree of organizational effectiveness.

What I Mean by Collaborative Processes

Collaborative processes are ways of working where the work progresses through stages that involve a number of people and activities.  Basically, individuals are often not the decision makers.  Rather, work progresses via collaborative group decision making.  Often these processes are oriented towards making the right (or at least a better) decision through collaboration and incorporating relevant activities.  Examples of such processes are:

  • Demand Management: New Project Initiation – onramp to project management
  • Business Development-Capture and Proposal Management – working the process of responding to RFP’s/tendors
  • Policy Management – getting policies out and incorporating feedback
  • R&D Innovation – managing R&D proposals through the funnel
  • Idea Management – the process of capturing, reviewing and deciding on new ideas

The Core Process

When you go about designing such processes, in a SharePoint context, most people initially focus on the core process.  This is typically a single SharePoint site.  Usually, the process is defined as a set of stages for items to pass through (see this article for a more detailed discussion of stage-based applications).  In each stage, items are acted upon, people weigh in, and, an item must pass through a gate to move to the next stage.  The main participants are the core process members.  CorasWorks adds various features to this core process to enable and enhance collaboration amongst these participants.

In most situations, this core process meets the expected requirements. Just getting this done is worth declaring victory for your team. However, we have found that organizations are usually able to make the process more effective by going beyond this core process and incorporating external people and activities in their overall design of their system.

Broader Perspective of Collaborative Process

Below is a schematic illustrating a broader perspective of your collaborative process.  The items in green are the expected elements.  You have the core process and the engagement of the “standard” process members.  The three other elements (in blue) extend the process to engage additional people and activities to flesh out the system.  I’ll discuss each of these three extended elements below.

image

External People

Imagine you are part of a product team.  You all have your ideas.  You put a process in place to enable your product group to work on them in a more collaborative way.  This works.  However, you could broaden your scope of who is engaged in three ways to improve the effectiveness.  First, you could open up the idea funnel to enable people outside of the group to submit ideas.  Second, you can make those ideas visible to the broad community and allow them to collaborate and enhance the ideas – outside of your control.  Third, you can vet your ideas with the external community.  In effect, you take your internal idea and push it out to the broad community or to external targeted groups – allowing them to also engage with other in vetting your idea.

Simply, you are taking your black box process, that has historically been fully controlled by the few and opening it up to external communities.  The objective is to drive effectiveness by a broader set of eyes and experiences on the idea.

Supporting Activities and Teams

You are working to get things through your process.  Within each stage there are various activities.  Most are done by the process members.  But often, the activities involve people that are outside of the core process membership.  Imagine that you are working on business development proposals and you need to resource people.  You may want to drop in a programmatic activity that engages HR and other “sources” of people to check the box on the required people resources.

Some of these activities can be ad hoc.  Others that are common to your process deserve a more permanent and structured way of working.  In a SharePoint context, it is important to note that others work where and how they work.  So, HR might want your activity to nicely become a part of their place and way of working rather then HR folks having to go to your place and work your way.  Thus, you agree on how to work, and then, drop in the element to tie your process activity to their work space.  Over time these “activities” of your process start to become standard ways of working amongst a broader group of people.

Downstream Activities and Teams

So, your process is all set and you start processing.  Imagine that you are working to drive new projects for products and services.  At the end of your process, the approved projects appear in your Portfolio.  You are done – right?  Yet, the project is not.  So, what you now need is a nice, effective handoff from your process to the next downstream activity, maybe the PMO to handle a group of like projects, or, to a project manager.

The key to the handoff is to do it in a programmatic manner and set it up so that the receiver of the handoff has access to the information and decisions that were made upstream.  Likewise, as they do their work on the project, you’d want a certain access to or flow of information back to you to keep track of the results of your decision and help you improve the effectiveness of your process.

As you define this you are again starting to define a broader “workstream” of related activities.  As a design note, these types of workstream are loosely coupled.  This means that each process/activity can live on its own but connects to the other upstream and downstream activities.

Take a Broader Perspective, Start Small and Allow it To Evolve

Collaborative processes are very important to organization success.  You need them to be effective because you are making decisions with a broad impact.  By all means, start by focusing in on the core process and getting the stages and basic activities right.  However, step back and consider the three additional elements outlined above early in your thinking. This broader perspective will enable you to design more effective processes.  As always, I’d say think broadly, start small, and evolve.  The best processes evolve forward with input, lessons learned, and, results. CorasWorks provides you with the flexibility to start simply and enhance and extend your system to add the new elements – take advantage of it.

william

Using Stage-Gate Processes for More Effective Collaborative Work

Stage-Gate processes have been around for many years. They grew up to serve the needs of Product Development.  Over the last few years, we’ve seen a significant increase in the number of customers opting to use this type of design for their applications across many other functions (vs. role-based application design and classic workflow).  The main driver of this new adoption is that organizations are finding this type of design to be more effective for purposeful, collaborative work.  It lends itself to bringing a group of people together to collectively drive the results of the process.  In this article, I’ll look at the overall design of a Stage-Gate process, provide examples of different uses, and talk about how it drives effectiveness for collaborative work processes.

Stage-Gate Process Design

It starts with people aligning on the high-level Stages an item will go through.  Each Stage is then represented visually to make it easy for the group to see where things stand.  Within each Stage there are a set of activities, which must be completed for an item to pass through the Gate and progress to the next Stage.  This is really the power of this design in that the activity is separated from the top-level Stage flow.  The activities can change, but it doesn’t affect the Stages or the Gate.

Below is a screenshot of a standard CorasWorks-based Stage-Gate application.  It is used to manage an IDIQ (Indefinite Delivery – Indefinite Quantity) contract, which is a business development vehicle most often used by Federal Contractors.  The Contractor gets a contract.  The government then issues Task Orders, each of which is bid on by a number of contractors.  Each Task Order goes through a set of Stages along its life-cycle.  Decisions are made and work happens to drive the Task Orders forward.

 

IDIQ Program - New Task Order - ITES - annotated

 

Above we are showing the New Task Order stage.  The Task Orders come in here and are reviewed and prepped.  When ready, they are pushed to the Bid Assessment stage where the team decides whether to bid on the Task Order.  The key elements of the design are:

A. Stages – lay out your stages as you want them

B. Stage Management Display – where you see the items in that Stage and can access information, report, slice, dice, and take action

C. Actions/Activities – custom set of actions to be used in the Stage to get the work done that needs to be done

 

An important part of the design is considering what is actually moving through the Stages.  It is common to think of each item above as a record of information (list/database).  However, with CorasWorks you can associate related information and sites that act like folders.  For instance, in the example above when a new Task Order is entered, a related Task Order collaboration site is automatically provisioned.  This site is where the detail information is and the detail collaboration happens.  In other scenarios, it might be a project site.  Or, an item might just have related information from within SharePoint or external data sources which is surfaced as a virtual workspace.  The upshot is that you have a simple top-level process to track the flow through the stages, but you have access to a very deep set of supporting information and activity for each item.

 

Examples of Stage-Gate Processes

Now let’s look at examples of different types of stage-gate processes and how they might differ.

 

R&D Innovation Process for Consumer Products

This is a classic application.  One customer is using this design to manage the full-life cycle for molecules it creates to be used for fragrances and flavors in consumer products.  The molecules are created in a lab and go into the process.  They go through a multi-phase process with many detailed activities (more than 50 activities are individually tracked).  The process takes about 3 years and they have about 700 molecules at a time.

 

e-Policy Management for HR

One customer uses this design for their corporate policies.  They have converted more than 600 corporate policies from documents into living, digital articles.  Each policy is submitted, reviewed, and published through a series of Stages involving Finance, Legal, Admin personnel, and more.  Users are empowered to ask questions, rate the articles and make comments that can be used for revisions.

 

Demand Management: New Project Initiation for Everyone

This is a common use of stage-gate.  The objective is to have a visible, collaborative review process BEFORE projects are initiated.  It is part of the evolving approach for Demand Management.  We have a standard solution for this where projects are proposed and then put through the stages leading to an approved process.  When approved, this information is used to kick off the actual project management site (a downstream activity).

 

Application Development for IT

A stage-gate process is great for application development.  You have your basic stages of the application development process that can span the full life cycle from proposal to completion or that might just cover the development process itself (because you are using the New Project Initiation process above as an upstream activity-right!).  When the project is approved you can have a project management/collaboration site that is used to manage the development work and the related information.  This site is effectively what is going through the stages.

 

Proposal Development for Business Development

Many BD organizations, particularly our Federal Contractor customers, use a standardized Stage-Gate process (originated by a company named Shipley) to manage business development.   This is very high level.  In addition, each Proposal they are working on has its own Stage-Gate process using a standardized system for color reviews.  Thus, in this scenario, you have a system with two-levels of Stage-Gates.  The top level is the overall BD process with each “opportunity” being managed.  Then, each opportunity that has made it to the Proposal Development stage has a collaborative site for the actual proposal work.

 

Effectiveness for Collaborative Work

The power of the Stage-Gate design is that it gets a group of people on the same page of where things stand and what needs to happen to achieve desired results.  It is simple to understand and easy to use.  The key is that the people involved will be aligned on the top stages.  From there, the systems empowers all of the people involved to work together collaboratively to achieve the result.

CorasWorks has built in a number of features over the years that enable effective solutions for stage-gating.  They enable the core solution and the ability to flexibly support the many different types of activities and changes to activities to support the process.  In addition, with CorasWorks on SharePoint you have the ability to engage “external” people in the process for upstream, downstream and supporting activities.  Ultimately, the effectiveness of a stage-gate process comes by having the visibility, input and the work coming from different people, but, aligned on the core objective of your process.

Examples of Collaborative Resource Forecasting that Drive Global Manufacturing Results

It is a challenge to forecast, allocate and coordinate resources across a globally dispersed manufacturing organization.  It is even more challenging when the work spans functional groups or separate divisions making different products.  These kind of activities typically fall into categories such as Demand Management, Forecasting, and Resource Allocation.  However, the common objective is to simply get all stakeholders working off the same page and collaborating in their forecasting, estimating, and supporting activities.  The value of doing it well can be extraordinary.  In this article, I’ll look at two customers with different needs that leveraged CorasWorks on SharePoint to get the job done.  They cover two of the primary classes of resources where we need to forecast demand: people and material (others being capital, equipment, and facilities).  The solutions are relatively simple, however, leveraging collaboration they drive a new level of global effectiveness.

The General Challenge

Almost by definition, a global organization has a need for coordination and collaboration to forecast demand and allocation of resources.  However, we have lots of barriers to success.  In many situations, organizations reach for two classes of tools.  If the problem is “deep” they tend to leverage their ERP system and build or buy an app.  If the problem or opportunity is not as deep, the tool of choice is usually a bunch of spreadsheets.  However, there are a class of problems where what people really need is a simple way to work together off the same page.  They need an app that is visible, accessible to all stakeholders (even across divisions), easy to use, provides for collaborative work, and has a specific feature set that addresses the needs.  For such an app, the ERP approach can be too heavy and restrictive and the spreadsheet approach is usually a mess.

The Right Solution for Global, Purposeful Collaboration

When you need people to work together globally to coordinate and collaborate on demand forecasting, using CorasWorks on SharePoint, gives you an effective solution.  SharePoint provides the collaborative platform.  CorasWorks provides the application.

Lets see how it works by looking at two specific customer scenarios…

 

People Forecasting and Resource Allocation for Electronics Product Development

A global electronics manufacturer of 20,000 people has a global division that creates graphics products.  They have a rolling planning process with a five year horizon where new products/product revisions are submitted, approved, and planned.  They wanted a way to forecast the demand and coordinate the people (FTE’s) allocation across many different component functional groups.

They had tried a number of different approaches to the problem.  They first tried spreadsheets which was a mess.  Then, they tried their ERP which was far too heavy.  Then, they tried MS Project Server, which was too inflexible to meet the needs.  With CorasWorks they found a just right solution.

The application lives in their private cloud.  People submit their projects which go through an approval process.  Then, each of the component functional groups enters estimates of FTE’s on a monthly basis to allocate to the projects.  At any time a functional manager can update their estimates which may impact the overall plan.  Each functional manager is able to manage their estimates across projects.  Each product manager is able to see the estimates across functions and across other products.

The solution now provides all of global engineering with a single view of the project demand, the planning, and the resource commitments at a high level over the next five years.  The stakeholders get a full top down view that is consistent.  The level of detail is enough to coordinate the commitments from each of the groups.  Then, each group leverages their internal systems to take it to a lower level of detail to manage specific projects and resource utilization.  When they need to make a change, that change is reflected back up at the global level.

 

Forecasting Steel Consumption for Automotive Component Supplier

Now, for the flip side – we are looking at a scenario for demand management for commodity materials.  A 15,000 person $2B revenue, global supplier of automotive components wanted an effective way to forecast their demand and track their steel availability and consumption.  Steel is the primary material used in their products.  It is used across all of their main divisions and in plants in more than 15 countries.  Each division can track their purchases using their financial system.  However, given the financial impact of steel prices and supply/consumption they wanted a way to globally collaborate across divisions.

The solution was an application created using CorasWorks running on SharePoint.  Given the scale of the solution, it is a SQL Server database application, but, the front end is CorasWorks on SharePoint, thus, providing the global collaborative framework.  The application tracks forecast needs of steel by type and grade.  It tracks purchases including currency management.  It tracks and organizes the information by plant and supplier.

This application is elegantly simple to serve the needs of a mission critical process. It is global, cross-division, cross-plant in scope.  It puts all of the information at the fingertips of the users and the buyers allowing for the optimal efficiencies on purchases and consumption in the 100’s of millions of dollars per year.

 

Global Collaboration with a Purpose

At the heart of these applications is collaboration.  It is about people across functions (graphics products) and divisions/plants (steel) working together to get the best results. Each application only has a few hundred users but they have a lot of user interaction in a many-to-many, collaborative environment.  The apps provide a virtual place for many people to see and interact with many others – people they probably didn’t know.  And, note that the applications are for very specific purposes based upon hard data vs. soft collaborative activity.

 

Summary

The two customer scenarios above are very different applications for Demand Management.  One is about people allocation in complex projects.  The other is for commodity material purchases.  Yet, they are both about forecasting, estimating and tracking across a globally distributed manufacturing organization.  Simply put, they make it far easier for a distributed group of people to get a global job done.

Drive exceptional results by combining social business collaboration and project management

We kicked off October as an exhibitor at the SharePoint Conference in Los Angeles.  At our booth, we were showing our two core solutions for SharePoint 2010 – CorasWorks Cim for Social Business Collaboration and CorasWorks PPM for Project Portfolio Management. These are two robust solutions that work great stand alone.  However, we  got people really excited by demonstrating business scenarios where the two are combined to drive a new experience.  In this article, I’ll cover the three combo scenarios that we were showing and give you an explanation of how they come together.

Background

Over the last year, we have driven each of these solutions forward in their own categories with at least 3 releases for each.  Each solution has its own competitor vendors.  Thus, your analyst reports treat them separately.  And, most customers see them as separate animals.  However, when you start to consider the scenarios where they work together on top of SharePoint – you begin to uncover business results magic.

The three scenarios are as follows:

- Project Collaboration

- Project Initiation, Approval, and Management (Demand Management)

- Innovation Management

 

Project Collaboration

In our PPM solution, people primarily work in project sites like many other solutions.  It has all of the great structured project management features you’d expect. Yet, how much of the success of a project is based upon structured management vs. collaboration (people communicating and working together)?  80/20? 50/50? 30/70?

With Cim we have collaborative communities that can be embedded into the CorasWorks PPM project sites.  Thus, smack dab in the middle of structured project work you have a very robust collaborative community.  In addition, users can be anywhere else in SharePoint and go to their Cim Activity Stream and see, contribute, and collaborate within any or all of the project communities for all of the projects that they watch.  Even further, other people that may not be part of the specific project team can be enabled to also watch the community and help drive success.

Here is a schematic depicting a typical user experience where Kim White, a web designer, is working on multiple projects.  She only needs to go to her Activity Stream to collaborate on multiple projects.

image

 

Let’s look at the types of items that you’d find in your project community.  How about: project updates and snapshots, meeting agenda and notes, issues and resolutions, all points bulletins for required resources and responses/volunteers, technical challenges and solutions, posts of core knowledge/information, announcements of handoffs, ideas to move the project forward and discussions…

One collaborative community to handle information, communication, discussions, and resolutions to drive the success of a project by getting the team and the expanded community to work together.  (NOTE: in many of the types of posts, you have two way communication, like a question and an answer or answers).

 

Demand Management: Project Initiation, Approval and Management Workstream

I previously wrote about this scenario with a focus on the New Project Initiation part of the workstream.  That article describes the business value of having a robust front-end project initiation process so that you make sure that you are doing the right projects.  More formally, this is often referred to as Project Demand Management.

Our full demonstration shows an integrated workstream where you start with people entering their ideas for projects.  This gives them visibility and allows for robust collaboration.  Then, the projects are evaluated via the Cim Process Management site that enables management and subject matter expert collaboration.  Once approved, you are ready to go into the project execution phase.  The approved projects may be pushed into the PPM Program Management Office.  Or, they can be pushed into a PPM Project Portfolio to kick off the project.

Thus, in this scenario the two solutions are aligned in a sequential workstream.  Again, at any point users can collaborate from their Cim Activity Stream.  Accordingly, a user that proposed the project can track the entire process and be engaged via the project community in the actual execution.  This is depicted in the following schematic.

image

 

Innovation Management

This is another workstream similar in design to the scenario above but delivering a different business value – innovation success.  In a typical innovation scenario you have a number of front-end communities.  They may be standing communities or challenges that capture ideas and allow for collaboration.  Then, the ideas go through a process where they are reviewed and worked on.  The additional boxes below at the process stage represent task management.  For instance, you may assign tasks to technical teams or marketing teams whose work supports the decision process.  The users can just use SharePoint team sites or they can use CorasWorks PPM sites so that the tasks can be more thoroughly managed in a programmatic manner.  The approved ideas are then pushed into project execution phase which might be managed by a Program Management Office, a Portfolio or Program Manager, or just a Project Manager.

As in the above scenarios there can be a great deal of collaboration at the front-end, amongst managers, subject matter experts, and, delegated teams in the process phase, or, as part of the project execution phase.  This collaborative activity is all surfaced via the users Cim Activity Stream wherever they like to work.

 

image

 

The Wrap

Typically, we have thought of the two types of solutions as separate animals.  They have been targeted at different user groups who see themselves working in very different ways. With CorasWorks, we have now designed the solutions so that they can be naturally integrated to drive the types of scenarios noted above.  They give you the structure you need to properly manage work and the power of robust collaboration to drive the results.  And, it all works on top of one platform – SharePoint.

william

Driving Business Value with the New Project Initiation social business process

Last week we added the New Project Initiation (“NPI”) application to our App Showcase.  This CorasWorks Cim-based app running on SharePoint 2010, front-ends your Project Management systems and provides you with a broad funnel for new project idea/proposal capture and collaboration and a process to review, evaluate and approve them. The application addresses an area of Demand Management that is common across all departments and types of organizations. In this article, I’ll look at the business scenario, drivers of business value, and common objections/pushback that you get by adding this front-end app for Demand Management to your project work.

The Business Scenario

All organizations do project work and we typically have many tools to manage the details of execution of a project.  CorasWorks even provides such a tool, the CorasWorks PPM, for Project Portfolio Management on SharePoint.  In working with our PPM customers, we found a major gap and opportunity to better manage the front-end funnel of project work – a gap that we have now filled with this NPI app.

Any standard Project Management methodology will talk about the importance of Project Initiation.  They reference techniques such as the form of a good Project Charter, the review criteria, etc.  However, the big opportunity is to change the game by adding a collaborative front-end for Demand Management.  The idea with the Cim New Project Initiation app is to open the front-end to a much broader group of people.  To make it easy for them to contribute new projects.  To provide a rich collaborative environment for them to enhance proposed projects and vet them.  All of this activity then feeds into a managed process (that can vary) where the proposed projects can be reviewed, further enhanced, evaluated, and then approved or not.  Then, the approved ones get pushed downstream to be worked on as a project. This workstream helps you funnel demand into a structured process – giving you greater visibility and engagement, as well as, control over what gets worked on.

The schematic below depicts the typical way that the end-to-end “workstream” works.  The Cim application handles the Collaboration and Process phases of the workstream.  It then connects to the Projects phase which is where you manage “execution” through your normal Project Management tools.  You have feedback loops across the workstream.

New Project Initiation Workstream

 

The Business Value

The business value that you derive by adding this NPI front-end comes in a number of different ways. It boils down to lower costs, better return on your project investments,  increased chances of making the right investments, and, less friction and greater readiness internally when the projects are delivered. These benefits are all part of doing proper Demand Management.  Let’s look at some key drivers of these outcomes:

- Eliminate Duplication – What projects is your organization doing?  Which are duplicative and even wasted, unmanaged competitive efforts?  By having a visible front-end, you eliminate or lessen duplicate efforts that cost you valuable resources and time to market.

- Encourage managed competition – What projects is your organization doing? Sometimes you actually want managed competitive efforts, such as two projects to vet two different technical approaches.  They are duplicative in terms of the objective by design, yet, by making them visible and managed you can quickly determine the right way to go and reallocate to the winning solution.

- Balance Project Work with Resources – There is a never ending desire for projects.  They always outstrip available resources.  By seeing the full pipeline of proposed projects and the portfolio of active or completed projects, you can throttle the projects that are initiated to match the available resources.  If people are required to put projects into the system to allocate resources (of course over a threshold) then you can manage this balance.

- Do the Right Projects – Which are the right projects to do?  If you could always do the right projects at the right time, you’d be unstoppable.  First, you need to know the Pipeline (future) and Portfolio (active and past).  Then, you can leverage your entire workforce to weigh in and vet projects collaboratively in the Pipeline.  You can then evaluate the Pipeline projects against one another AND against the ones that are already active or that were done.  You are leveraging the front-end for collaboration and then using it in your decision making for your project portfolio.

- Scope Projects Right – The benefit of the visibility and the collaboration on the front end is that the project gets more eyes on it, in a comparative context, and, the “charter” can be enhanced to try and arrive at just the right project scoping that is relevant to the objective, the resources, and the time.  You’d be surprised how a small fact from someone usually outside of the normal, back-room process, such as a new competitive initiative or market change, can alter the scope and thus the ultimate success of the project.

- Visibility Driving Readiness – The app never sleeps.  As a proposed project goes through the cycle the status and supporting information is at the fingertips of the organization.  They get to have their say up front.  They know which projects got funded.  They can track the progress of execution and be ready – to help or benefit by the result.  The system takes care of keeping interested people informed.

 

The Pushback to Adopting the New Process Initiative App

Many of our customers are adopting this use of Cim.  In particular, our customers using CorasWorks PPM are dropping this application onto the front-end to have an integrated project work stream all running on SharePoint.  But, these champions and most others face pushback within their organizations.  Let’s look at some of the common objections:

“Our people aren’t ready for this level of visibility” – Most are not.  But, isn’t that perhaps the problem, the constraint, and the opportunity.

“We don’t know our process to approve projects” – This is very common.  Many organizations don’t have a process or criteria to approve projects even at department and division levels.  A manager just approves it if they have resources.  If they need resources, they go to their manager.  One approach is to use this system to have people ONLY register projects. Then, learn how they go about approving them, getting their resources, and, what the success is.  You’d don’t have to even have a process to approve projects to realize value.  You don’t need the same approval process and criteria for all divisions and project types – in fact, it should vary and the Cim solution supports different work streams.

“We have a very deep process” – We can accommodate that also.  Cim is unusually flexible and deep on Process Management.  But, whether you have no process or deep process the key is the front-end capture and collaboration that feeds into it and supports the decision making.

“We already have a PMO” – Great.  They can manage the process of approval for that threshold of project.  Now, just bolt on that front end that engages the whole organization, department, division, get the collaboration going, and, they will now have some real-world input into their process.  In addition, you can capture and manage projects at a lower threshold, effectively having mini-PMO’s so that the value of good visibility, collaboration, decision making, and management gets pushed deeper in the organization.

“What about our secret projects” – Secret projects like Corporate Acquisitions should not go into a broad, collaborative front end.  This solution is about the super-majority of the projects, not the few.  (NOTE: We could provide you with a secret project solution like we do for our Military and National Security customers.)

“We really need to get our Project Management system going first” – Maybe.  But isn’t this a bit like building your manufacturing plant before you have a handle on demand.  Maybe getting control over the project pipeline, and getting people used to engaging and collaborating on the front-end should be the first thing that you do.  Then, use that to determine which tools will be best to execute on which type of project.

“We use different Project Management systems” – Everybody does.  The truth is that the number 1 tool is the spreadsheet.  The key is that this front-end can be open, collaborative, and consistent, and then, integrate with multiple execution tools.  The Cim solution integrates natively with the CorasWorks PPM.  It also integrates with native SharePoint Project Sites, third party apps on SharePoint, and Microsoft Project Server on SharePoint.  And, it can integrate to external systems such as Sopheon, Siebel, Salesforce, MS CRM, Clarity et al in a read-write manner.

 

Summary

In summary, the shift is to apply a Demand Management methodology on the front end vs. being focused on just the project work itself.  By taking a broad view of project work across your organization, we hope that you can see the value of greater visibility, engagement, and collaboration on the front-end.  And yes, there are internal objections.  It helps that Cim is quite flexible so that you can start in a way that makes adoption more organic.  You may use it for just registering projects or put strong process behind it.  You may just start with a single department.  Or, you may open it to a whole division or the entire enterprise.  And, you may have different work streams for different project types or business groups.  Whether you have one NPI work stream or many, you are able to see across them all and the full life-cycle to help you make the best decisions that you can.

I believe as the research indicates, that for most industry segments the organizations that master the front-end approach of Demand Management will out compete those organizations that master the mechanics of project delivery.  You need both Demand Management and Project Delivery to succeed.  But, right now most organizations are lacking on the front-end, since the types of tools such as Cim are relatively new and just getting adopted.

 

william