Our Project Portfolio Management app was released in October. It has been rapidly adopted by our existing customers and new customers. Most users are drawn to it for the standard “Out of the Box” capabilities for solid project management and flexible portfolio management. That is great. But, the key differentiator is how it can evolve to meet your needs. In this article, we’ll cover 10 “outside of the box” ways that YOU can enhance and extend PPM using the standard point and click wizards of CorasWorks. They are things that may not have occurred to you at first, but, tend to be very powerful ways of leveraging PPM in a SharePoint environment.
First of all, let’s add some context. CW PPM is designed to leverage a SharePoint environment – so it is a bit different. By its nature SharePoint is a distributed environment. The UI structure is distributed and the content is usually distributed. Second, the PPM is usually just one app within this environment. Not only does it typically not live alone, but, it is only practical to use PPM as an integrated part of your work environment. Third, out of the box, CW PPM allows you to have many projects sites, located anywhere in the environment. And, you can have many portfolio dashboards, located anywhere connected to any project sites.
This is the backdrop for thinking outside of the box about PPM. You’ll find it powerful to think of it more as a system, then, just one app. Now, let’s look at 10 ways that you can enhance, extend and integrate PPM as part of your SharePoint work environment.
1. Centrally upgrade the distributed PPM System – PPM has a single Application Configuration Site (“ACS”). it can be located anywhere and is accessed by a CW Global Link. This is part of CW’s “One Touch” architecture. This means that when you want to upgrade the basic functionality of project sites or portfolio dashboards, distributed across your environment, you just go to the ACS site, make your change and all of the parts of the PPM are updated. You make your changes using the Action Wizard or the Central Views wizard. Say you want to add a new Email action to your 100 project sites that allows users to send contracts to legal for review. You create it in the ACS, attach it to a Central View, and you are done. No need to touch the 100 project sites. This means that upgrading in-process project sites is now possible and practical.
2. Hybrid Project Site/Portfolio Customization – The ACS is the baseline for your PPM system. But, a site owner can also customize any project site or portfolio dashboard to meet their specific needs. Thus, you can have customized hybrids of central ACS functionality and localized changes. This is done with the Display Wizard that lets you clone a Central View, and then, customize it. Thus, you have a consistent baseline of functionality with the ability of site owners to customize, enhance and extend their instance. Of course, they can then re-templatize their changes for the next project. NOTE: You can also prevent this or limit who can do it using the CorasWorks Lock Down functionality – your call.
3. Role-Based Portfolios – When thinking PPM we typically think of a manager/executive with a portfolio of projects – to keep tabs on the status. The CW PPM portfolio dashboard contains functionality at two extremes – for the manager wanting a high-level dashboard and for users to be able to do their contributing work on multiple projects form one place. As such, you can create instances of portfolio dashboards for different roles. You may have one for members of a team to do work on their 4 projects, another for a department manager, another for a portfolio by say partner or product, another for a program manager for related projects across departments, and, the PMO’s dashboard with just high-level metrics, risk charts, etc. These changes are done using our Display Wizard.
4. Connect to Central Resources – You can centralize resources in the PPM ACS or elsewhere. An example is a library of standard processes, an employee list, or a list of vendor contact information and rates. Each of these can then have a CW Snaplet that is centrally configured and that you can drag and drop into your project site on demand. You can build up a catalog of drag and drop Snaplets for use by project owners or portfolio users.
5. Push Info In and Out – Project Sites have data. Often, you might have documents in a teamsite, such as the business case, that you want to add to a Project Site when you set it up. You do this by adding a CW action to the teamsite/workspace which lets you pick a project to push the documents into. You can standardize this because you know the schemas in the project sites. You can also force the contributor to fill it a bit of metadata in the process. To push documents out of a project site, you just add an action to push to any other sites. You can also push any other type of information such as tasks, issues, meetings. This is all done using the CW Publisher action type.
6. Integrating with External Data – You often have external data sources with information that is useful for projects. Examples are vendor information, accounting codes, facility locations, etc. You can set up central resources, using a CW Data Provider for all of these external data sources. Then, you create Snaplets that project managers can drag and drop into their sites for instant external data integration. Just add them to your Snaplet catalog. If needed, you can also add read-write functionality to edit or add information to the external data source. The PPM administrator can centrally configure all of the aspects of this – the end-user just decides whether to use this or that Snaplet.
7. Other SharePoint Application Integration – Projects don’t work in a vacuum. Imagine you want project managers to create Purchase Requests or Work Orders from within a project site (two off the shelf business apps by CW and partners). You can add a Snaplet from the app to the project site, and viola, you can now kick off those downstream workstreams from within the project site. As a portfolio manager, you may also want to look upstream at the potential projects managed in a PMO or activity within your Help Desk system. Just connect them up with displays or actions or Snaplets.
8. Implementing Resource Management at a Manageable Level – PPM manages resources and effort at the project level. These are attached to tasks and phases. However, in more structured environments people want to manage resources (primarily people and their time) across projects. You can see this in a portfolio dashboard. However, often the level of granularity is too detailed. One approach is to raise the Resource Management to the Project Allocation level vs. the task level. You create a Central Resource of Employees and you “schedule” them to work on a project for a set of hours. Thus, you can see at a high level who is committed to what projects for how much time – a level that you can manage instead of trying to manage resources at the task level. You can also add a time frame to allocations. So, provide easy resource allocation visibility and let people negotiate the details of their commitments.
9. Add a PMO (to come) – At this time, project initiation, review and governance is not in CW PPM – out of the box. It is coming in v1.2, probably next month. Thus, you will have a process for initiating projects and managing them as a separate module. A nice, clean process that is easily connected to the rest of the PPM system.
10. SaaS PPM (to come) – So, how about running PPM in a Software as a Service model. CW will be launching its CW in the Cloud service over the next couple of months. You can bring up PPM just in a Saas model for internal users. Or, for an external user base. And, you can integrate your PPM in the cloud with your PPM in your Intranet on premise. This is done through remote data connections. On premise, SaaS, or both.
Hopefully, these 10 items give you a flavor of thinking outside of the box about CW PPM. A key is that most of these YOU can do on your own when the need arises. For support on any of these items, ping our support at firstname.lastname@example.org or post to the Community forums. We’ll be fleshing many of these out in future blogs and Community Resources (videos, articles, etc.).