Tag Archive for SharePoint 2010

Why would you want just a Social Intranet?

I recently read an article by Toby Ward posted October 18th, entitled Despite SharePoint’s Success, The Social Intranet is Still Rare. He talks of the massive adoption of SharePoint. He does a good job of describing how Intranets are evolving and the use of social media tools to create a Social Intranet. Then, he provides data showing that users of Intranets with social media tools actually are showing low levels of satisfaction. He also says that enterprise Social Intranets are rare, particularly on SharePoint. Bottom line is that I agree with what he writes. In this article, I’ll give you my take on why this is and talk about the other half of the story which is about where else people are going with SharePoint 2010, and, how fast.

The beginning…

SharePoint 2010 was launched in the spring of 2010. Basically, the features that got in were those that were in the market circa 2008. Things like blogs, wikis, discussion forums, social networking, I Like It tags. So, when you implement SharePoint 2010 out of the box, this is what you get – various social media features that can be used in a Social Intranet.

Recognize there are two perspectives of what SharePoint is (even within Microsoft). About 70% of customers think that SharePoint is “an application”. From this perspective, a Social Intranet is probably the high end of the stack of where they plan to go on 2010. The other half (less than half) see it as a platform. They view SharePoint as an enterprise, distributed work environment. It is a canvas to use to meet their organizational goals. For these folks, they may not even go to the Social Intranet, because it isn’t relevant to their objectives – they just leap frog over it.

What you end up with is a bit of a desert in the middle in the range of the Social Intranet at this point in the life cycle. It is too high for most right now. It is too low and irrelevant for the others.

Now, companies like CorasWorks cater to the platform half. We enable these organizations to go to the next level. In our case, in the context of social collaboration, it is deploying Social Business Applications on top of this platform that deliver a new layer of value and leverage an entirely new set of technologies. This next generation of applications are designed to tap into all those zillion users, engage them, and most importantly, channel their collaborative potential into activities that drive business value.

Below we show two comparative lists of items. The ones on the left are the capabilities that the super majority (largely IT-focused) people talk about in the context of a Social Intranet. The ones on the right are the Social Business Applications that the other half (largely business group driven) talk about putting in place to leverage this collaborative work environment to achieve a business result.

 

When we talk to customers, we are talking about the apps on the right. The conversations are just different. They focus on specific scenarios and how you get there leveraging what we offer along with everything else the customer may have.

It is true that our solutions provide a whole new set of technologies that leverage that collaborative potential and put it to purposeful use -things like Business Activity Streams (that actually filter out social and email noise), Stage-Gate processes, Task Automation, Collaborative Management Reviews, Portfolio management, custom forms, supporting activities etc. But, they are the means to the end, not the end in and of itself.

An interesting change up is that the majority of our customers for these new solutions purchase our products and services BEFORE they deploy SharePoint 2010 in production. This is really new for the SharePoint 2010 cycle (it didn’t happen in SharePoint 2003 and SharePoint 2007). We believe that these customers absolutely get the new breakout potential for SharePoint 2010 and are immediately moving to leverage it to drive business value. In today’s world, it is a luxury to invest the time and effort on something like SharePoint 2010 for a nominal benefit. These organizations are simply looking for leverage to drive significant tangible business value.

Those that breakout

I go back to my original question, “Why would you want just a Social Intranet?”. My guess is primarily because that is what you perceive the high-end of the use case of SharePoint to be within a given view of the cost, time and risk. You are not alone. In fact, as stated above, right now you are in the majority. However, I have a feeling that at this point this position is a risk. These new technologies and the applications they spawn for purposeful collaboration are powerful. Plus, we’ve gotten a lot better at reducing the time, risk and cost to get there. SharePoint 2010 is one of the great platforms to make this happen. Those organizations that figure it out are simply going to outperform those that do not.

william

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.

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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.

 

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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

September 2011 releases for Cim Pros

We’ve just released a small wave of items that are able to be leveraged by Cim Pros using CorasWorks Cim on SharePoint 2010.  This wave consists of the following: 1) the v2.1.1 Hotfix release of Cim, 2) a new Community module flavor called “Quick Facts”, and 3) the New Project Initiation application.

These three items are all released to the Cim Pro community of the Cim Learning Center.  They are only available to Cim Pros that have access to the Cim Learning Center and are using these items in licensed environments of CorasWorks Cim.  Here are details for each.

 

Cim v2.1.1 Hotfix

This is a pure hotfix release containing fixes to issues in v2.1.  The majority of the issues are somewhat cosmetic UI issues.  They are documented in the release notes.  The release consists of updates to 11 of the 14 Cim modules.  It does not require the installation of any new DLL’s.  In addition, this release adds some new support for Cim Snaplets.  You’ll start to see the advantage of this over the next few months as we release some cool new Snaplets, particularly around the Activity Stream.

 

Quick Facts “Flavor” of Community Module

Technically, this is our first formal release of a separate “flavor” of a Cim v2.1 module.  A flavor is simply a customized version of a module that is enhanced with new features, styling, or look and feel. In general, flavors lend themselves to be used for certain scenarios.  Accordingly, you now have a fourth flavor of Community (this one in addition to the communities for Collaboration, Process, and Innovation).

The Quick Facts flavor of the Community Module allows you to easily expose fields of information from the Articles list of the Community in the web 2.0 listing and detail displays of the community.  It adds a box, the Quick Facts box, to do the job.  The release documents how to modify the Quick Facts box and some supporting features such as Pinpoint Search.

PS-We use this new flavor in the New Project Initiation application.

 

New Project Initiation application

The New Project Initiation (“NPI”) application is proving to be quite popular with customers.  We’ve gone ahead and psuedo-productized this for our Cim Pros.  The application gives you a comprehensive front-end process for managing the onramp of new projects.  For the business value of NPI see my post Driving Business Value with the New Project Initiation social business process  This release is designed for enterprise-wide implementations, but, it may also be implemented at more local levels (say for just IT Project Onramp).

The release contains three customized Cim modules (Portal, Community, and Management Hub).  These are complemented by other out-of-the-box Cim modules to deliver the complete solution.  The release contains an Implementation Guide that provides an overview of the application scenario, the deltas of the modules from the OOTB modules, the implementation tasks, customization options, and, appendixes covering technical items and extended deployment scenarios.

BTW, for those of you with both Cim and PPM, this application is a no-brainer bolt on to the front end of PPM.  The documentation covers the core integration scenarios for pushing approved projects into PPM.

 

Enjoy,

william

The What is Working? Solution. Using Cim to Drive Continuous Improvement

We often talk about CorasWorks Cim to be used as a tool to drive innovation.  Therefore, we tend to think of new ideas, processes, and creating something novel.  However, one of the biggest opportunities for larger organizations is taking things that are already working and get them working in other parts of the organization. I’ll present you with a solution we call “What is Working?” and describe how this simple mechanism can drive continuous improvement.

Your organization is already innovative.  If it wasn’t you’d be out of business.  Your people already are doing really effective things.  They came up with ideas and implemented them, usually at a local level.  Someone, somewhere, is doing something valuable in the most effective way.  Who are they and where are they?  What if you could find out and then give it visibility so that others could also be doing things that way?

The problem is that people don’t necessarily think of good practices that they are doing as brand new innovations. They don’t know, what others don’t know.  So, instead of just focusing on innovation, you have to use messaging and provide a channel to your organization that is explicitly focused on getting people to share what is working for them.

Let’s call this solution “What is Working?”.  Your objective is to get your people to tell the rest of the organization what is working for them, their team, their group.  What you find out is that what is working for people at a local level, maybe they’ve been doing it for years, is not common knowledge or practice.  To that local group, it isn’t a novel, innovative idea.  But, to lots of others, it is brilliant.

 

How you would implement it

- You launch a “What is Working?” campaign

- You tell your organization “We are often so overwhelmed with how innovative you all are.  You just come up with great ways of doing things.  We really want you to share what you are doing so that others can learn.  If other people pick up your way of working, we will reward you for sharing.  We are providing a channel to make this easy and natural to do.”

- You then provide a Cim community for people to share and collaborate.

- You enable the Cim peer review mechanism so that others can try out a “way to work”, get results, and share the results with the community.

- You have a group of people to keep track of and manage the flow.

- You then provide a mechanism to provide recognition and rewards for things that people are doing that they share, that are copied, and, that prove to work.

-  You use “What is Working?” to then drive other activities such as an Enterprise Best Practices process, to kick off bigger idea, and to augment your Training curriculum.

 

Wrap Up

In sum, launching a “What is Working?” campaign is an easy and effective step to drive continuous improvement.  It starts with the recognition that people don’t know what others don’t know.  By sharing what works for them others learn and can collaborate.  In many instances, people that share will find even better ways of doing something and/or just validation from others.  They also make connections with others from around the world that are working in areas where they are working and care about getting better.

The nice thing about “What is Working?” is that you don’t need a lot of back end process.  In effect, the community, through sharing and collaboration, becomes self-innovative.  People now have a channel to share what they do and learn what others do in an open way.  It puts a mechanism in place and a burden on people to self-improve.  The management group participates to encourage, recognize, reward, and take findings to drive bigger adoption and better results.

william

Innovation on SharePoint 2010 Should be Different, Which Makes it Better

This week we’ll be doing a webcast on the new release of CorasWorks Cim for Idea & Innovation Management on SharePoint 2010.  Our approach to Innovation with this solution is different from the pack of other offerings in the space.  This is because our solution runs natively on SharePoint and we have designed it to really leverage the full potential of SharePoint to drive innovation.  In this article, I’ll give you a heads up of the reasons behind this which we’ll be talking to and demoing in the webcast.

With Cim we compete in the Idea & Innovation Management solution category with about 10 other main software vendors.  Every one of them offers their solution as a SAAS offering.  They have collectively centered on a certain group thinking about innovation systems.  It goes like this:

  • we have a great solution for Idea & Innovation Management
  • we have figured out how to optimize it and offer you the perfected application
  • and it runs SAAS, so you don’t have to maintain servers and software
  • just tell your users to go to this URL and your organization can start to innovate
  • using this application you’ll get breakthrough ideas that will become major growth businesses

Now, this may appear a bit simplistic.  It is.  However, when you distill it down this is the approach.  Innovation is supposed to be an application that you can send users to and all is great.  This may be true in certain limited scenarios.  However, for most organizations, their objectives with innovation initiatives are varied to start with and tend to evolve.  As a note, CorasWorks uses many very specific applications via the SAAS model.  When the application is very specific, for a specific set of users, with a tightly defined use case – SAAS apps are a very cost-effective vehicle.

But, we simply don’t believe that successful innovation meets this criteria.  Further, we think that the core challenge/opportunity for enterprise innovation requires a very different approach.  Enter SharePoint 2010 and the CorasWorks approach with Cim…

The Core Innovation Application

Like the others we start out with a very nice full featured Idea & Innovation Management application.  At first glance, feature by feature we do offer the same core I&IM solution as our competitors.  If we stopped here, the customer would be comparing the I&IM from the 10 SAAS vendors with ours that happens to run on the SharePoint platform.

The SharePoint 2010 Innovation Environment

Let’s say you are seriously thinking about CorasWorks Cim.  Okay, so you buy it and the application gets dropped on top of your SharePoint infrastructure.  Now, it is conceivable that you would treat it as a siloed application just like the SAAS ones.  In truth, this is almost always the first though of OUR customers – “Here is the new innovation application, and, here is the URL you go to to use it and be innovative.”

But, wait.  Your Cim application is running in the middle of a broad, distributed, multi-purpose collaborative workplace called SharePoint.  It is very broadly available across the enterprise.  People go to SharePoint, and, their place within it to do more and more things.  And, where they go to work is not the URL of your new innovation app.

To drive innovation, we want visibility and engagement amongst our users.  So, instead of thinking of your Cim I&IM system as a siloed application, think of it as a solution, that drives innovation across your SharePoint-based work environment.  With this perspective, we now open it up so that the innovation challenges, activity, listings, supporting tasks, downstream activities, reports, etc. are available to everybody no matter where they are working across this environment.  Below we show a schematic of the idea that this app (like other apps) now becomes part of the DNA of your collaborative workplace.  What we are talking about is making innovation part of the daily work of users wherever they work vs. a place to go.

image

 

The Full User Experience

Remember, a key to innovation is visibility and engagement.  Okay, so as above we are seeing innovation as being distributed across a broad collaborative workplace.  There is another step to take and this is to think about the full user experience.  Typically, when we think of the user experience we think of how the user experiences “our app”.  We think of what the user sees and does when they go to that URL to use the app.   But, it is not the full user experience in SharePoint 2010 (or in general).  A user with access to SharePoint may have access and need to engage with 5, 10, 20, or 50 information resources, communities, project sites, teams, and yes, idea management communities, corporate challenges, and, business processes that are part of your innovation initiative.

The full user experience is as depicted below for Kim White.  We have bolded the various “applications” that probably relate to your innovation initiatives.

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As part of Cim we provide a unique feature called the Cim Business Activity Stream that is designed to provide users with a better collaboration experience across SharePoint.  It puts your innovation apps right at the fingertips of the user.  From wherever they are in SharePoint they can engage.  New innovation communities and challenges light up instantly.  They can watch them.  They can contribute and collaborate with others.  They can see the collaborative activity and the process activity.  They can see user profiles of people they don’t know and check out their My Sites and tap into that persons social network.  They control what activity they see and thus weed out the noise to focus on what is relevant to them.  All without every leaving “home”.

Now, if the innovation initiatives are relevant to Kim white, it is now easy and convenient for her to engage and stay engaged.  Further, innovation work is right there next to HR Policies, Sales Collateral, and Department Community.  As she works, if she has an idea, she just engages.  Kim White has one easy and consistent experience across many “apps” that span the environment.  Your innovation “apps” are now part of her daily work.

 

An Innovation System Designed for Evolution

Now, we have the user in our sights.  We know we can put just what we want at their fingertips.  From this new perspective, the key is now to put the right “apps” at their fingertips to drive innovation.  We believe that the key is that your organization will want to innovate in many different ways.  You’ll want some general innovation initiatives such as General Ideas and specific event-style Challenges.  You’ll also have far more targeted innovation initiatives such as challenges for specific technical solutions or specific processes such as change requests for a product that is being revised.  Some might be managed by a central “innovation team”.  Others will be driven by specific business groups.  Some may be enterprise wide, while others are for specific business groups or communities of users.

The reality is that the average organization will have many different innovation initiatives.  They will evolve.  They will change.  They will have different drivers and owners.  Accordingly, CorasWorks Cim is designed to be unusually flexible.  You can quickly drop in new Challenges that light up at the fingertips of users.  You can dream up specific innovation initiatives or processes and drop in “customized” workstreams that span your work environment.  To the end user, they have a consistent experience.  To the innovation business owner, they get a unique workstream modified to fit the business objective.

 

Bringing It All Together

The fact that your organization has invested to deploy SharePoint 2010 means that you have a unique work environment to leverage.  With Cim on top, you can now drive innovation across this environment and engage your users wherever they work.  You have tremendous potential.  You have little risk.  You have a flexible innovation system.  You can try, and learn, and improve – yes, you can innovate.

william

ENC

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

Enabling Enterprise-Wide Social Business Processes

With the launch of Cim v2.1 last month, I’ve been engaging with a very different set of business groups amongst our customers.  These are groups that have really never gotten into leveraging SharePoint – even though their organization has it deployed enterprise wide.  They are now looking to leverage Cim on SharePoint 2010 to scale out and up enterprise-wide business processes that have been operating in limited, cumbersome environments.  This scenario that we call enterprise-wide social business processes (EW-SBP) is a targeted scenario for Cim and leverages the entire CorasWorks value proposition.  In this article, I’ll provide the overview of this scenario.  In future blogs, I’ll drill into specific business processes.

 

The Situation

These enterprise customers have existing business processes that require contributions from a large groups of users.  You might say that they have a big, front-end funnel.  The organizations have already determined what their process is and that it works for the business. They’ve been doing it, but, it has been painful. As they exist today, they are too limited in visibility and touch, they are cumbersome and not scalable (usually built or managed using spreadsheets and/or legacy systems such as SAP and Siebel), and, they are expensive and a hassle to maintain and move forward.

As Cim v2.1 has gotten out there, these business groups are bringing us their processes.  Here is what they want:

- Broad User Scale – They want to scale the front-end of the process to be able to engage a very broad set of users – the whole enterprise, a division, or their business group.  They want this to occur with very little upfront or ongoing effort.  They want to be able to launch new initiatives with just a bit of effort and not having to reinvent a new process/system.

- Robust Process Management – They want their core process, the way they manage it now (but better and easier), to be part of the solution.  They want it to be rich, configurable, and flexible without requiring a computer science degree.

- Enterprise Integration – They want this front-end engagement/process to be able to connect to their external back-end systems (like their project management systems) to a) push approved items into these systems or b) expose the enterprise data within the system to assist the users of the process.  NOTE: Some of these business groups are now considering the option of also leveraging SharePoint to do this also.

 

Some Examples

In many cases, the processes that these business groups are looking for are already part of the CorasWorks stable.  Some examples of them are as follows.

New Project Initiation – they usually have multiple project management systems, off SharePoint.  What they want is the front-end where people can submit new project ideas, get visibility and collaboration, and then, put them through a review, evaluation, and approval process.  The approved one then get pushed into their PMO or into Project Portfolios in their enterprise project management system.  Their objective is to reduce project duplication and make sure that the projects that even get considered are thought out and vetted amongst a broad, visible audience.

Change Request Management – We are seeing two main “flavors” of this.  One is driven by product groups, the other by IT.  In sum, they want to open up the front end to a broad set of users to be able to easily submit and collaborate on change requests.  Then, they want to run them through a review and approval process.  The approved ones will get pushed into their external system or into project sites or team sites within SharePoint for implementation.  The value is a broader funnel that allows for better collaboration before the change requests move into consideration.

New Product Innovation – We are getting multiple variations for this scenario.   But at the core, the business owners want to engage the full enterprise to capture ideas for new products and markets.  They want to put them through a review and approval process, and then, push them to external systems or SharePoint sites for people to incorporate into their next product cycle.  With this process they are looking to drive revenue growth and competitive strength through a bigger funnel for innovative ideas, the ability to get more varied collaborative input, and the means to target the “thinking” of the organization towards specific challenges/opportunities.

Continuous Improvement Programs – At the enterprise or division level, organizations are looking to capture ideas, projects, plans to feed into a program they are using to manage their Continuous Improvement.  Usually, these are operations oriented groups.  They are looking for ideas for cutting costs, decreasing cycle time, and overall efficiencies.  They want broad participation (sometimes mandatory), and then, they review and approve the ideas, and move them into implementation.

 

The Cim Enterprise-Wide Social Business Process (EW-SBP) Solution

The basic design of our solution is the same across all of the four examples above.  It is a distributed process that lays on top of and cuts across the SharePoint environment and beyond.  Below is a screenshot depicting a generic process.

Generic EW-SBP

The process breaks down into three distinct sets of activities as follows:

Collaboration: Users will have access to one or more communities to contribute and collaborate with others on the items.  They will do this from wherever they work across SharePoint using the Cim Activity Stream.  The items are all collected in one or more “communities”.

Process: The process owners then go about reviewing, evaluating, and approving the items.  It may be a simple process with a few core decision makers.  Or, they may use collaborative reviews that pull in subject matter experts and other managers.  Further, they can configure multiple stage-gates, with specific activities within each stage that need to be completed before the item is promoted.  Here they will make the decision.  And, they will manage the overall portfolio leveraging various reporting features.

Execution: They then push approved items into downstream project sites, processes, programs, or team sites.  These downstream activities may be in external enterprise systems or may exist within the SharePoint environment.  For instance, CorasWorks provides our Project Portfolio Management solution that runs on SharePoint and is integrated with Cim to make this phase a natural next step.

The core selling points of the CorasWorks Cim v2.1 solution are:

- it runs natively on SharePoint and thus they can leverage this existing enterprise infrastructure

- the CorasWorks Cim solution is largely off the shelf in terms of the core things they want for their process

- Cim is easy to use and feature rich, providing contributor users and process users with a good experience

- Cim is easily adaptable and they can see how they can tweak it where they need it

- Cim is based upon the CorasWorks Solution Platform, which is a mature platform (now in v11) and gives them the flexibility to extend the solution in the places where they require some deep enterprise integration

- the price is very competitive and they are able to launch additional processes using the same framework

 

Summary

In sum, we are seeing Cim v2.1 running on SharePoint 2010 being adopted for enterprise-wide social business processes.  Effectively, these customers are leveraging our solution to scale their existing processes.  They are targeting broad numbers of users (5,000 to 50,000).  The target is usually enterprise-wide or at the division level.  They want the front-end collaboration, a clean, robust process to get to the decision on items, and, the flexibility to then use different means for execution (building, implementing) and or extend the solution as needed.

In future articles, I’ll drill down into specific processes and talk about specific features and benefits.

william

Engage the User with the Cim Activity Stream

In my last post, I explained how Cim enables you to create many different social business applications for your SharePoint 2010 environment.  I ended with a scenario of how we bring it all together to provide end-users with a single user experience across all of these applications.  The key enabler is the new Cim Activity Stream.  In this article, I’ll drill deeper into it to explore why and how it works to drive user engagement.

 

The Need for User Engagement – Power to Drive Business Value

Cim is social business software (SBS).  You use it to create applications.  However, the types of applications are a new breed.  They are targeted at a much broader group of users, they are more collaborative, and they are usually distributed across the entire landscape of your SharePoint environment and beyond.   The objective with SBS is to have apps that are the mechanism of business value, yet, to engage a much broader set of users that are the power that drives the business value.  At the end of the day, you don’t get far without engaging the user.  This is particularly true with this breed of enterprise app.

So, how well are most of us doing that today…

 

Engage the User: Meet Kim White

Whenever I speak with customers the conversation is focused on the application, the process, the use that will drive value.  This is understandable; it is how we’ve been trained to think.  As an industry we tend to think about the user interface of the app.  Usually, we do not think about the user experience across all of the apps.

Meet Kim White.  She is a Product Manager that I talk about in my presentations.  The organization needs her engaged in many different activities.  She also wants to engage in other activities to contribute her best.  Below we show a schematic of some of the activities she would like to engage in.

Kim-White_thumb2

In a typical organization, how does it work for her?  Maybe she has access to a bunch of SharePoint portal sites, team sites, and project sites.  She has to remember URLs and go everywhere to get work done.  To find out what is up, she has to remember to check.  She has to check multiple “data typed” lists and libraries – and that is just one site.  Or, maybe she can use email and look for the needles of value amongst the “noise”.  Further, the organization has gotten smart and now has an array of SAAS apps that she has to also log into separately and check out.  Then, there are the other really fun enterprise apps she gets to use.

This is typical.  From an end-user perspective, it is not pleasant.  In truth, as organizations we just don’t make it easy and convenient for users to effectively and efficiently engage.  We have few established, structured “channels” for this engagement.  Users usually don’t even know what channel to use to engage.  Where do I contribute an idea to improve a process?  Do I email it to “All Employees”? How would I get help to solve a technical challenge?  How do I log this change request from a customer before I forget?  Where can I get some great stories from customers to use in my marketing decks?  We lack channels for engagement, and, we lack a simple, convenient user experience to use engage through these channels.

With Cim v2.1 on SharePoint 2010, the user experience of your workplace is different – and much better.  The key new feature is the Cim Activity Stream and how we have tied it into all of the Cim social business applications that you can deploy across your environment.

 

Cim Activity Stream

Let’s just change our perspective.  Imagine that your organization will have lots of social business apps that serve as the channels for your users to drive and derive business value.  They will have collaborative information resources, communities of practice and purpose, idea communities and challenges, business processes, and services.  But, let’s set a new rule – we are only allowed a single user interface for users to use to contribute, collaborate, and engage in activity across all of the apps.

The Cim My Activity Stream is a feature that you can deploy in any SharePoint site.  When a user goes there, they see all of the activity that is relevant to them.  They can contribute, comment, and collaborate, right from there.  They can see the history of what they have done across all of the communities/apps.  They can see what others have done on items that they created or that they “watched”.    They can see a listing of communities and watch them.  When new communities/apps are deployed across your environment, they just light up for the user to choose whether to watch them.

In sum, the Cim Activity Stream is their gateway to your collaborative workplace.

Below is a screenshot of the Activity Stream deployed in a Department Portal.  If this is where the user tends to work, viola, there is there Activity Stream, at their fingertips. This is our default configuration and shows the Community Listing on the left.  On the right is the My Activity Stream snaplet.  It has three sections: My Stream (what others have done), My Activity (what I have done), and My Watch List (what communities and items I am watching).

Activity Stream

So, working from here Kim White has all of your resources and activities at her fingertips.  She can choose what to watch and what to engage in.  She can throttle the level of activity.  She can contribute as she chooses.  As people do work, she sees the activity and responds.  From this one place, she has a single way of engaging in all of the activities that she needs to engage in or that she wants to engage in.

kim white engage

For Kim White, and, each of your many, valuable employees itching to contribute and engage – life is good.

william

Cim v2.1: Our approach to adding value with Social Business Apps

Since the launch of Cim v2.1 last month, I’ve had a lot of meetings with customers.  The conversation quickly turns to a discussion of what are the most valuable applications of this social business software across their SharePoint 2010 environment.  With Cim v2.1, we make it easy to frame this conversation because we ship with 3 core solutions that are ready to implement out-of-the box.  Each of these is really a framework for a category of applications.  Armed with this, customers get focused on the business value much more quickly.  In this article, I’ll go over our solution oriented approach and how it delivers business value to you.

 

The 3 Core Solution “Buckets”

Cim v2.1 is a flexible, integrated system, with many applications.  Yet, to accelerate business value, we have framed the product within the following three core solution “buckets”:

- Cim Collaboration – for Social Collaboration

- Cim Process – for Social Business Processes

- Cim Innovation – for Idea & Innovation Management

Below is a standard slide I use to introduce the three core solution “buckets”.  Each represents a category of applications.  In most situations, the business groups initially come to us looking for an application within just one of these buckets.  So, we’ve made it easy for them to succeed in that one area first and then expand their application scope.

3 solutions

To make it really straight forward to get to the initial business value, the product ships with three pre-configured “base reference implementations” (BRI’s) – one for each solution.  These documented implementations deliver an application within the solution bucket and set a standard for learning and training.  They are as follows:

Cim Collaboration – a Department Portal for collaboration across multiple communities and integration with a native SharePoint team site to show how users can have a great collaborative experience when working anywhere across SharePoint.

Cim Process – a process for capturing and managing Process Improvement Ideas.  This leverages the collaborative community to capture ideas and collaborate on them.  It then introduces how you can set up and configure the process side where you review, evaluate, and decide on the improvement ideas.

Cim Innovation – this solution uses a Product Innovation scenario.  It shows how you can have many different idea communities and challenges that feed into a central management hub where you do your processing of the ideas to transform them into approved innovations.

Having the three separate BRI applications allows IT and the business groups to focus their efforts and deliver that first piece of business value.  It also serves to train them up on how to implement Cim. The key is that we are not just selling and installing a set of capabilities, but, starting with ready-to-go solutions.  This approach makes it far more effective for customers to then envision the next application and the next. 

 

Sample Applications within the Solution Buckets

The 3 solution buckets and the BRI apps are the beginning.  For each bucket, we have standard applications that are commonly desired by customers.  For many of these, we have a stable of designs, best practices and “flavorized” modules to be applied.  Below is a slide showing examples within each solution bucket.

solution apps

How is this range possible?  In essence, Cim is unusually flexible.  In fact, I’d say that it delivers three qualities that allow users to meet varied application needs.  They are flexibility, adaptability, and extensibility.  This translates to the ability for you to implement applications that fully meet your needs.  Let’s look at each of the three qualities and what it means to you.

Flexibility – Cim is a modular system.  It is designed so that modules can be dropped into a SharePoint environment and “loosely” connected, but, work as a system.  This allows for great variation, particularly as the applications become bigger and broader, such as multi-phase processes that span a SharePoint environment.  Imagine you have an Innovation Process.  As you spin up new challenge communities, they light up at the fingertips of end-users wherever they work, and, they automatically start feeding into the existing management process site.  It just works, even though users are working in very distributed places across SharePoint and working in different contexts.

Adaptability – CorasWorks is known for its adaptable software.  This means that organizations can easily modify the software using Wizards and configuration instead of having to crack compiled code.  Four key areas of adaptability of Cim are 1) a flexible web 2.0 style interface supporting CSS/XSLT branding and UI changes, 2) configurable community options to make them fit for purpose, 3) very adaptable business processes to modify the process and the individual activities within it, and 4) the ability to create custom user actions to automate work, connect to external SharePoint sites for supporting and downstream activities and to feed the Cim Activity Stream.  This adaptability is absolutely critical to empower business groups to continuously modify and refine their communities and their processes as they learn and their needs change.

Extensibility – Cim is powered by the CorasWorks Solution Platform running on SharePoint.  This industry leading platform is 8 years old, very mature and now in v11.    The platform enables you to extend Cim in many key ways.  You can tie into SharePoint and external systems in read-write modes, create highly unique presentation widgets (charts, mashups, etc.), add custom mobile extensions, and even, open Cim up to be consumed by external systems.  All of this is done purely through configuration – no need to crack code, deploy code, and support custom code.

 

Bringing It All Together – One Experience for the End-User

With Cim you can address a number of different solution areas and have a wide variety of applications.  It could appear that you would end up with separate siloed applications, with separate UI’s, training, maintenance, etc. – like the old days.  With Cim v2.1, this is not the case.  The breakthrough in Cim v2.1 is the Cim Activity Stream.  It provides end-users with a single place to go that enables them to collaborate across all of the information resources, communities, challenges, services, and, processes that you’ve deployed with Cim.  This makes it remarkably easy and convenient for the user, and thus, engages the user to participate in driving your business value. 

Below we show a screenshot of the Cim My Activity Stream deployed within a Department Portal.  Note that from here they are engaging in activities across the environment.

Activity Stream

Imagine that you want to deploy an application across your entire enterprise that will capture Cost Reduction Ideas, allow broad user collaboration on them, and, put them through a process for evaluation, approval, and, implementation.  You’d drop in your new community, configure your process to evaluate ideas, and click to Go Live – instantly, all users across the enterprise will now have your app at their fingertips and can start contributing and collaborating.  There is no need for users to go any where, no need to deploy new things in sites for users, no need for them to learn a new app UI or be trained, and, no need for you to built-out a branded portal for end-users.  Yet, you now have an enterprise app, in production, with mass scale, delivering value. 

So, in sum Cim delivers business value by delivering on both sides of the coin.  On one side you have support for a broad range of applications that are fit to purpose and serve as the mechanisms for business value.  On the other, you have a single, consistent user experience across all of the apps that engages users to actually drive the value home. 

william

Social vs. Social Business on SharePoint 2010

Over the last few weeks, as we’ve taken Cim v2.1 to market, we are increasingly compared with pure social technology players in the market.  Certainly, Cim v2.1 has gotten more social and this question is reasonable.  There is some overlap; we are both starting in the same place.  In this article, I’ll provide a simple approach I use to draw the key distinction and how this difference drives us as vendors in different investment directions and value propositions.

The really short answer is that in most pure Social offerings, the focus is on the conversation and the network.  Whereas in Social Business offerings like Cim, the focus is on the application and the business result supported by the collaborative conversation.

Let’s look at these graphically…

 

Socialimage

Here is a graphic that shows the essence of a social approach.  It is about the conversation between people and the people network.  Social is really providing a communication mechanism. It is an alternative to email or phone.  Vendors of social typically talk in terms of the medium, eg., the type of capability such as wikis, blogs, and micro-blogging.  The real value comes through the forming of the social networks and linkages and using this new medium for conversation.  These conversations usually have context, but, the context is secondary.

 

 

 

 

Social Businessimage

Here is a graphic that shows the key distinction of Social Business Software from pure Social.  In essence, there is a structured context in the middle – basically it is your “social app”.  People engage in the context of that app (the stronger blue lines).  In Cim, we generically call it a “community”.  However, it serves the business purpose, has structure, maybe even a time limit, and often, involves process.  It might be an information resource, an idea community, a channel between sales and marketing, a department community, a corporate challenge, a business process, or a project.  But, the “app” in the middle has a purpose that gives the collaboration a context and channels the collaboration towards this purpose. 

 

With Cim we also enable the direct people-to-people conversations to occur through our integration and extension of SharePoint 2010 social networking capabilities.  We are even talking to many of the other social players about also integrating with their social network.  However, at the core is the “app”.  With Cim we have invested considerably to make sure that these “apps” can range from simple collaborative communities to deep business processes.  Thus, the app, ie., the business purpose is primary with us.

 

Experience the Difference

The above distinction can be experienced when you work with the various vendors.  When you engage with most social vendors they will usually talk in terms of capabilities and often make reference to why their offering is not Facebook or Twitter for the enterprise.  Whereas when you engage with CorasWorks, we will always be talking about the applications you want and the business objective.  We will talk about Product Change Requests, Sales Collateral that gets better, Innovation Management, managing Technical Solution challenges, Enterprise Best Practices, Customer Feature Requests feeding into Product Development, your New Project Initiation process and how it ties into your Project Management system.  In fact, in all of our Cim business, there are always very specific applications that are the initial drivers for adoption and which are usually driven by business groups.

 

My Perspective

In sum, with Cim as a Social Business offering, we see social technology as a very important new capability to be leveraged in business applications.  When we evangelize it is usually to explain, for instance, how you can make a Change Request process much more effective and powerful by re-designing it to be front-ended with a collaborative community and incorporating collaborative review processes to drive decision making.  But, in the end it is a process with a business objective.  We are held accountable to deliver the business solution; not just a capability.

I believe that over the next couple of years organizations will have solid platforms on both fronts – core Social Business platforms such as Cim on SharePoint with lots of “apps” along with one or more Social/Social Networking systems.  Both will get stronger within their own areas as the competition continues to heat up.  In addition, you will be seeing more classic business applications with their own embedded social capabilities.  The hope (and my hope) is that these vendors will each support the federation of these systems to make sure that customers end up with a truly better collaborative user experience instead of it becoming just one more wave of siloed systems. 

 

william