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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.