How-to, Innovation, Knowledge, Productivity

Slay your dragons by eating your frogs

Welcome to a new month, of the new year, in a new decade! Are you feeling the clean-slate vibe yet? Ready for a fresh start? This article will point you in the direction of greater productivity with a tried-and-true method to more quickly achieve whatever professional and personal resolutions you’ve set your sights on.

May your quest begin!

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Here Be Dragons!

Facing yet unexplored territories often conjured fears of imagined dangers in the hearts and minds of medieval adventurers. Dragons represent a nearly universal way to express that sentiment. In today’s world, our dragons may more aptly represent those goals that we tell ourselves we want but have not yet achieved, those desires that seem too intimidating to pursue. Perhaps you’d like to switch careers, write a book, or pursue a new hobby. Sometimes it is simply inertia holding you in place. Consider eating some frogs for breakfast to get you knocking down those aspirations!

Frogs for Breakfast?

Okay, so not real frogs! Frogs are those tasks that you dread doing, the ones that you actively avoid but you must still accomplish, those things you waste time procrastinating! A business frog might be a writing a challenging performance review. Doing the dishes could be an example of the ugliest frog in your home life. This technique works wherever you could gain efficiencies. The notion is that by tackling the worst item on your list right off the bat, that action will leave you energized to tackle the things you’d prefer to be doing for the rest of the day. So, yes, frogs for breakfast!

“Eat a live frog every morning, and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”

-Mark Twain

Personal Productivity Conquered

The prescription for slaying your dragons by eating your frogs is simply this: 1) frame out your dragons with the specific tasks that must be done, 2) identify your frogs, and 3) eat one or more each morning.

Happy New Year!! Here’s to your success!

#AmazingPM, ALLinPPM, News, Partnership, PPM, Project for the web, project management, Project Online, work management

Looking back at 2019… and ahead to 2020

2019 was a great year for Innovative-e and its partners! Join us for a walk down memory lane to revisit the most memorable events and happenings of last year!

Innovative-e was selected as a finalist in the Microsoft 2019 Partner of the Year Award for our work in Project and Portfolio Management. This honor recognized Innovative-e for providing outstanding solutions and services in Project & Portfolio Management (PPM).

See what Mike Taylor, President and CEO of Innovative-e, had to say when we were named as a Partner of the Year finalist.

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Innovative-e renewed its partnership with Microsoft in early December. We have been a Microsoft Gold partner for more than a decade and are certified in the following areas:

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These partnership levels highlight the strengths we bring to our customers and partners. Maintaining Gold or Silver partnership with Microsoft requires expertise in the competency areas, certification of our SMEs and compliance with the high standards to which Microsoft holds its partners.

As a key Microsoft Partner, Innovative-e provided strong support and a robust thought leadership role when Microsoft rolled out its major update to Project in October 2019, unveiling Project for the Web to bring better work management to pro project managers as well as team members whose work entails everyday, ad hoc project management.

At Innovative-e, we believe in #PMforALL, whether you’re a Contract Manager, HR Professional, or you fill another job role in which a robust, easy-to-use project management tool will boost your productivity and efficiency – even if you’re not a formal project manager.

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If you haven’t seen how flexible and easy to work with Project for the web is yet, we’d be happy to sit down with you and show you around the tool. Drop us a note and we’ll sync up to give you a demo!

You may have noticed, when browsing our ever-growing library of knowledge pieces, a fresh face.

mike and bryan

The gentleman on the right is Bryan Quick, our Director of Sales. Bryan spent years with Microsoft as a Solution Sales Professional and is now leveraging his expertise in Microsoft’s work management suite to  improve our customers’ day-to-day work life with increased visibility, agility and control. We’re thrilled to have Bryan sharing his knowledge and positive energy with the Innovative-e team!

Microsoft isn’t the only partner we’ve worked closely with during 2019. We’ve partnered with edison365 for years and have watched them grow their suite of tools, built to work seamlessly with Office365. In 2019, edison365 announced major upgrades to:

We helped our customer, The Guthrie Clinic, implement all three edison365 products in 2019, and enabled them to achieve success with an end-to-end solution that took Guthrie from idea conception to project execution:

“We had a pretty good foundation in place for project management and we were looking to take it to the next level. Microsoft Project Online got us there and now, with edison365ideas, businesscase, and projects added on, I’m in love! – Gail Strausser, Application Manager, The Guthrie Clinic

We also produced several webinars and other knowledge pieces with edison365 during 2019, the better to show you these fantastic tools that make it easier for you to work smarter, not harder.

The edison365 folks also launched a great new podcast, Innovation Brew, late in 2019. We’re so grateful to be partnered with Ivan Lloyd, Tad Haas, and the other marvelous members of the edison365 team! Thank you for a marvelous 2019 – we look forward to even greater successes in the coming year!

We had a great year with one of our other partners, Bravo Consulting Group, which works largely with government customers to leverage Microsoft products for strategic, technology-enabled innovative solutions. While we do a lot of behind-the-scenes work with Bravo to enable our customers (and theirs!) with work management solutions that improve collaboration, effectiveness and visibility, one of our most popular joint ventures was a webinar, “All in – 3 Steps to Digital Transformation. It’s win/win!” that was such a hit that we did it again a few weeks later. Shout-out to Gino Digregori and his team for years of successful partnership in bringing digital transformation and cloud services to our customers! 2019 was amazing, and we think 2020 will be even better!

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Looking forward

Sure, we packed in a lot of success with our partners and customers in 2019, but we’re not stopping there!

Innovative-e is in the process of developing an expanded selection of educational offerings for 2020, and broadening our offerings with DIY-style content to help you beef up what you can do on your own with the expansive work management tools from partners like Microsoft and edison365. We’re also deepening our offerings for project and portfolio managers; for years, we’ve provided solution-specific training to our customers, but we’re adding PM skills training and other work management-related courses to our curriculum.

We’ve already loaded up our editorial calendar to keep bringing you (free!) thoughtful and practical content in 2020 to help you improve your work life with more effective work management practices and tools. We and our partners like edison365 and Bravo Consulting Group are eager to share new e-books, whitepapers, articles and infographics in the coming year, so keep an eye on our blog, our YouTube channel, and our website for more knowledge pieces. Don’t forget to follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook – and subscribe to our newsletter! –  so you can see when we or our partners drop info that will make work management easier for you no matter your job role.

If your 2019 was as good as ours was, then you’ve had a very good year, indeed! We’re looking forward to an even more successful 2020, and we’re glad to have our partners – and you! – with us for the coming new year!

#AmazingPM, ALLinPPM, How-to, Knowledge, Project, Project for the web, project management, work management

Where is my project portfolio?

The Project for the web service from Microsoft is an intriguing project manager experience in the sweet spot between “back of the envelope” planning of Roadmap and Planner, best used perhaps for a sense of timing and high-level resource estimates, and the full rigor of project management with the comprehensive toolset of Project Online and its attention to details like costs, risks, issues, and resource workload management. Project for the web challenges the status quo for traditional users of enterprise PPM software with a simplified interface, easy to adopt, and an engine under the hood power users will love.Eoin11182019no1

Project for the web looks little like the Microsoft PPM tools familiar to most. At first, you may be lost looking for the projects you’ve created using Project for the web. You may find them on the Project Home page, under either the Favorites section (if you’ve marked any as a favorite) or in with the recently used or modified projects.eoin111819no2

You access Project Home by clicking the Project link in the App Launcher.eoin111819no3

The link to the Home page appears as a “home” icon: eoin111819no4 eoin111819no5

These out of the box views of Project for the web will no doubt be augmented soon by product offerings from Microsoft Partners, if such products have not been announced already. In the meantime, one can build one’s own applications to view, report on, and/or act on project data using the Common Data Service (CDS) and PowerApps. Here is a simple recipe to build a viewer for all the projects shared with you in Project for the web.

  1. Log in to O365 with credentials that can access Project Online and PowerApps.
  2. Launch PowerApps (powerapps.microsoft.com).
  3. Click Create then select Canvas app from blank.
  4. Name the app (e.g. “Pftw QuickView”) in the App Name* field, select the Tablet radio button, and click the Create (Skip the introductory tour if prompted). (Save the app (Click File, then Save) and autosave will begin to happen as you make changes moving forward.)
  5. On the Insert ribbon, select Vertical Gallery and a gallery screen will be added, populated with sample data. Search for the term “proj” in the data source dialog and notice the number of available CDS entities for Project.eoin111819no6
  6. Select the Project entity from the list of data sources and the vertical gallery display should switch from sample data to values from your Project environment and now you have a view listing all the projects in your portfolio!eoin111819no7
  7. All new projects created using Project for the web will generate an “Untitled project” project until the title is changed. If you want more detail than an untitled title, follow these steps:
    1. Rename the gallery you just created (e.g. “Gallery_MyPortfolio”).
    2. On the Insert ribbon, select Vertical Gallery and a new gallery screen will be added, again populated with sample data. Drag the new gallery side by side with the 1st gallery.eoin111819no8
    3. Rename the new gallery (e.g. “Gallery_ProjectTasks”). Change the new gallery items to be [“Portfolio_MyGallery”.Selected.’Project Tasks’]. In our example so far, if you used the same naming suggestions given, the Items for the Gallery_ProjectTasks gallery would be Gallery_MyPortfolio.Selected.’Project Tasks’.eoin111819no9
    4. You can make the viewer “prettier” and easier to understand by adding labels above each of the viewers and you can change the data fields that get shown.
    5. Press F5 to run the application to preview it works.
    6. Publish the application to share with whom you like if you like.

This has been a very brief overview describing one approach to viewing content in your Project for the web portfolio. Subsequent posts will show how to leverage not only the portfolio but also the Grid, the Board and the Timeline, as well as how to use Project for the web with robust project management techniques such as risk management.

#AmazingPM, ALLinPPM, Microsoft news, New Microsoft Project, PPM, Project, Project for the web

Project for the web: project and work management for the rest of us

how-does-one-become-a-project-manager-in-todays-world.jpgWhether or not you’re a project manager by profession, odds are good that if your job parks you behind a desk, you manage projects on a regular basis. Much of what you and your colleagues accomplish day to day is part of a process that must be managed, even if it’s on an ad hoc basis, not part of what you would consider a formal project management process. Contract managers, HR professionals, educators, marketers and other professionals manage projects all the time, often cobbling together tools like spreadsheets and emails to get things done.

Microsoft sees a gap between formal project management and task management in the marketplace – and we think they’re right.  Microsoft designed the new cloud-based Project for the web to help everyone who manages projects. If you’re somebody who is not formally trained in project management, but you’re still responsible for getting project work done, Project for the web will help you do it more efficiently with a simple but powerful interface.  Those of us who informally manage projects need a better tool besides Excel, SharePoint or other third-party SaaS tools stitched together to meet our needs.

The new Project is entirely web-based, more user-friendly, and easier to get started with.  I’d like to show you some of the things Project for the web can do, even if you – like me – are not a project management pro, but still have project-style tasks and teams to manage in the course of your work. My next post will feature digging into creating a project using the new interface, so roll up your sleeves and get ready to see what Project for the web can do!

#AmazingPM, New Microsoft Project, PPM, Project, Project for the web, project management, solutions, work management

New Microsoft Project: a race to the top

Is a more simplified product, geared towards less sophisticated (some say ‘citizen’) project managers, a race to the bottom?  On the surface, one might think so.  Some will say the new, easier to use, Project doesn’t cater to the enterprise customers who will always require robust PPM solutions.  They are wrong.  The key to understanding the vision for the new Microsoft Project is in the subtle, but critical distinction Microsoft makes that Project isn’t a PPM platform, it’s a platform for PPM.   

The incredible potential of “The world’s computer”

Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella, has stated that we can consider the entire world as one big computer.  The crux of this statement is that digital technology is pervasive everywhere and that cloud computing and AI have become the norm. Project for the web is built on the Power Platform, the same platform as Flow, PowerApps and PowerBI for the best integration yet! For IT and security professionals, the new Project offers an opportunity to provide users with a more lightweight project management tool in Office365, which is safe, private and compliant.

All-up work management Nirvana visualized

Microsoft has made the distinction that Project isn’t a PPM platform – it’s a platform for PPM. Project for the web offers powerful scheduling, task, resource and dependency management to everyone, including team members who are not formal project managers but who need robust project management capability. But Microsoft’s aim is to expand to improve not just project management, but work management. Project for the web isn’t a PPM platform – it’s a platform for PPM for overall better work management for your entire team and organization.

While the new Project makes it much easier for all team members to collaborate and manage their work, thus ensuring that project and portfolio data is more complete and actionable for the organization as a whole, the new Project is more robust than ever and continues to enable all-up project and portfolio management for mature PMOs staffed with experienced project managers. The reimagined Project enables all teams within an organization to work together effectively to provide Project and Portfolio Managers and their executives visibility, agility and control, which supports the achieving the organization’s objectives and missions.

Innovative-e has been a key player in early adoption of the new Project, including providing direct feedback to the Microsoft product team.  We’re invested in making sure that you are both prepared and informed about the new Project service.  See what Mike Taylor, CEO and President of Innovative-e, thinks of Project for the web.

 

Innovative-e wants to help you leverage the new Project platform to rapidly innovate and be able to solve collaboration, work and project management problems in ways that allow people to work the way they want it give organizations the results they need.

We’d love to show you around Project for the web so you can see what’s new and what’s better than ever before! Send us an email at info@innovative-e.com and we’ll schedule a one-on-one demo for you to see what it’s all about.

#AmazingPM, ALLinPPM, Innovation, Knowledge, project management

Recognizing the Wins of Failure

We’ve all heard stories of famous failures – in sports, in music, in medicine, in invention…  our entertainment is replete with fictional versions of the same.  What is it that fascinates us about failure?  And how can we use failure as a springboard for success?

Most of us also remember first-hand experiences with failures of our own that shaped our lives.

 Here are a few of the gifts that failure offers.getty_168325476_349217

Failure Clarifies and Refines Motivation and Goals

Sometimes failure is an invitation to delve more deeply into a personal and profound understanding of the ancient Greek aphorism, “know thyself”.  Whether the failure is with the optimal recipe for your favorite desert, the design of an alternative energy mode of transportation, or an aspect of your interpersonal relationships, failure helps us to become clear on the fine details and essential elements of what you really want.

Failure Inspires and Fuels Determination and Stamina

There is nothing quite like falling on your face, literally or metaphorically, to connect with your grit!  Failure, especially public failure, is a situation most people typically find intensely uncomfortable.  These unpleasant feelings provoke an equally or more intense resolve to overcome the obstacles just encountered – along with any other potential roadblocks that may arise.  In this way, failure drives the perseverance required to get the job done.

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Failure Builds and Fortifies Courage and Action

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While anticipation of failure may lead to dithering indecision, actual failure, ironically, often leads to focused achievement in the face of fear.  The experience of failure alters your outlook on conceived outcomes.  If “the worst” has already happened, then you are more willing to risk ABC (Audacious-Bold-Courageous) measures towards the potential of living your goal.

So, now that you recognize the wins of failure, fail fast and fail often!!!

This piece was written by Sylvie Fortier, one of the Project Managers at Innovative-e. Sylvie Fortier is an experienced leader of culturally and geographically diverse technical and non-technical teams.  She has contributed to fledgling start-ups, Fortune 500 companies, and organizations in-between, supporting functions from strategy development to full product lifecycle management.  Whatever the role, Sylvie is passionate about cultivating creativity, innovation, and the pursuit of continuous improvement – for individuals, their teams, and society at large.  She is particularly fond of Thai food and delights in photography, travel, and SCUBA diving as well as everyday adventures with her teenage twins.

#AmazingPM, ALLinPPM, News, PPM

Better Project Management Improves Lives

Reflecting our ongoing commitment to improving lives with all-in PPM, last month Innovative-e was named a finalist in the Project and Portfolio Management category of the 2019 Microsoft Partner of the Year Awards.  Microsoft will officially recognize us for this honor next week at the Microsoft Inspire Conference in Las Vegas.  In the next several blog posts, we’d like to tell you what Innovative-e’s finalist status, as well as our partnership with Microsoft and other world-class solutions providers, means for you.

Innovative-e believes that better project management can improve quality of life in a number of ways.

Effective project management is easier with better tools, processes and training

easy buttonIsn’t your life improved when a task you anticipate being difficult is easier than you expected? Easier is usually better than harder. Innovative-e’s approach to work and project management focuses on making it easier to work on a day-to-day basis.

Innovative-e’s solutions make sure there is a single source of truth for portfolios and projects so that everyone who needs to know has access to complete and up-to-date information to help them do their jobs effectively. This includes Program Managers, Project Managers, Leaders and Stakeholders, and the rank-and-file.

Innovative-e’s process leverages tools and processes that eliminate the need to cobble together disparate tools (spreadsheets, email threads, etc.) to manage projects in a siloes, reducing the chances for info to fall between the cracks. This improves not just the ease of managing work, but the efficiency and value, which is a win for your customers as well as your team.

 “…. the most critical value we have gotten since implementing our solution [with Innovative-e] is the ability to help restore trust in IT.  Now that we have the solution in place and a plan for moving forward, we enjoy a better, more collaborative environment where trust is being restored among the team because we are now able to deliver on our promises.” – C. P., Director, Project Management Office – Information Technology

  1. Easier is better for your team. Happy workers are more productive workers.
  2. Better processes even out the workload so that no one person or group is overloaded trying to compensate for poor processes.
  3. Implementing well-designed and -deployed solutions enables business teams to deliver better work to their customers.

We at Innovative-e know from experience that teams thrive and customers and stakeholders receive higher value. When our customers adopt properly designed and deployed solutions, their lives are improved. Creating this reality one customer at a time is our mission and our passion!

2019 PPM Partner - Innovative-e

With more than two decades of proven experience designing and helping customers implement business solutions, Innovative-e is delighted to be recognized by Microsoft as a world-class practitioner of PPM and business best practices.

For more information about Innovative-e being named a finalist in the 2019 Microsoft Partner of the Year Award for PPM, click here. To learn more about what Innovative-e does for and with its customers, visit our website at www.innovative-e.com or drop us a line at info@innovative-e.com.

In our next blog post, we will explore our customers’ discovery that Microsoft Project Online is a complete end-to-end solution that makes their work easier to manage.