#AmazingPM, PS+

Easy OOTB Lessons Learned #AmazingPM

ll1Most organizations that conduct projects repeat the same general steps to manage that work, steps some might call a workflow.  Ideally, a project initiation or proposal workflow includes a risk review (to the company, to the customer, to the project etc) as well as a benefit forecast so organizations can decide how to best allocate their scarce resources efficiently and productively.  Microsoft Project Online can easily help manage risks and issues as lessons learned.

ll2Use built-in Project Online functionality to define workflows and project detail pages (PDPs) where you can define the data that users must provide as they navigate a workflow.  It is not difficult to use in terms of programming or engineering skills needed.  You will need to take the time to think through, and document, how you want your workflows to work before setting out on the journey to modify your PPM environment this way.

ll3Add-ins such as PS+ automate methods of capturing data needed from workflows out of the box (OOTB).  Again, this technique is not difficult.  It does require PS+ (click here  for more information on PS+ or to set up a free trial).  Your simplest answer is to create a plain and simple #AmazingPM OOTB workflow in Project Online using this checklist:

  1. Define workflow discrete steps followed
  • Determine what must be included and which parts happen sometimes
  • Decompose steps into data points – determine when data needs collecting (inputs) and when it needs disbursal (outputs)
  • Put pieces into phases and stages – for more defined modelling and potential interaction with other work flows
  1. Define custom PWA entities such as data content type and format
  2. Build, test, and deploy in PWA – modify existing objects to leverage Project Online’s power

Use the OOTB issues management capability from Project Online to create a lessons-learned database.  A workflow analysis shows three major phases of leveraging lessons, learning lessons, and listing lessons.  After we modify the OOTB issue category list to accommodate a “lessons learned” category, we can use the OOTB filter on the Issues page to create a view or report of the lessons learned.


So, in effect, only change two OOTB features slightly and get a powerful tool to improve an organization’s project and program management by actually learning from previous project issues.

To revise the OOTB settings needed, follow these steps:

  1. On the project site issues page, click the List Settings icon in Settings section of the List ribbon.
  2. Click Category and then, on the category column settings page, in the Type each choice on a separate line: field, enter the label you wish to use for lessons learned and click the OK button.
  3. When closing out projects (or at whatever frequency you think useful) identify lessons learned on the Issues page of the project site by setting the Category to the lessons learned choice.


Use the Category field to sort or to filter and you can easily find actual things that happened on projects that you’d like to pay attention to when planning activities that could be impacted by new, similar issues or by issues that repeat themselves.  Project Online is a powerful tool that can help you build #amazingPM and even more powerful tools to improve your PPM success.

project management

Become One with PS+ and Project Online

This blog series explains how PS+ helps people be effective as shown by Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. The sixth habit, to Synergize, says we find strength when we learn to collaborate. Just as geese leverage the efforts of one leader for the easier flight of the flock, users of PS+ and Project Online, no matter the role, and with little effort or training, follow the path of someone with deep project management experience built-in to an easy-to-use solution designed to deliver very productive results.

Synergy consists of getting bigger and better results from combined efforts than could be accomplished by either party alone. PS+ takes advantage of the best project management functionality on the market in the form of Microsoft Project put in to the Cloud (or on-premises with Project Server) and enhances it with intuitive means of tracking project details easily.

Some ways Project Online and PS+ combine to produce better results together include:

  • PS+ Reports: Each task and resource has hundreds of data fields associated with them and the built-in, out of the box PS+ Reports leverages those to produce Highlight Reports, S-curve Reports, Pie Charts, and several other report types.
  • PS+ Navigator: Combine efficiency with knowledge of Project Online infrastructure and the result is the PS+ Navigator, an easy-to-use tool that helps users jump directly where they want to go inside PWA.
  • PS+ Dependency and PS+ Sequencer: When working with related projects in a coordinated manner in order to achieve benefits not otherwise possible, use the PS+ Sequencer to create unique IDs for each project in the program. PS+ Dependency creates and manage links between tasks in separate project schedules. Never create a Master Project again unless you want to!
  • PS+ Milestone Gantt: Simplify portfolio or program schedules to a single view that shows not only the overall duration of each included schedule, but also the significant events during each timeline relative to today!

A rising tide floats all boats and PS+ helps raise the water level for every role in your organization. Synergize today by signing up for a risk-free PS+ subscription now so you and your team can benefit from purposeful and powerful collaboration with PS+ without further delay!

project management

Gaining Project Wisdom and Sagacity from PS+ and Project Online

This blog series explains how PS+ helps people be effective as shown by Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. The fifth habit, to Seek first to understand, then be understood, speaks to the power of patient wisdom and judicious sagacity. Wisdom comes from experience, knowledge, and good judgment, while sagacity demonstrates shrewdness and keen mental discernment. Users of PS+ and Project Online, no matter the role, deliver very productive results with little effort or training because of the deep wells of project management experience built-in to a solution designed to assist everyone’s mental discernment.

Both wisdom and sagacity require information to begin with since one cannot be wise about nothing. But having data isn’t enough. To be wise and sagacious, one must also use data to make shrewd decisions showing sound judgment.

Some ways Project Online and PS+ help decision-makers with such judgment include:

  • Portfolio Analysis: Use either costs or resources to optimize a constrained group of work to accomplish goals that are important to your company! Model different project portfolios to see which configuration provides the best results and when you might need to plan to hire more resources…
  • WorkViewer: PS+ provides pre-configured generic resources you can use straight out of the box (OOTB) to understand the workload demands of your portfolio. Immediately see where projects have resource bottlenecks and chokepoints, and see which project managers are demanding the most resources!
  • Risk Matrix: Understand at a glance which projects threaten your portfolio the most!
  • Financial Manager: get a handle on project spending by understanding with ease where every penny goes whether for direct, project costs or for Capital Expenditures!

It’s not often that a product makes everyone in an enterprise wiser, and PS+ does it transparently. Seek first to understand, then be understood by signing up for a risk-free PS+ subscription today so you and your team can share decision-making data now!

project management

PS+ does not stand for “Post Scriptum”

This blog series explains how PS+ helps people be effective as shown by Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.  Being effective requires vision of the ultimate goal so one may decisively act (or NOT) based upon how those actions might impact that goal’s accomplishment; Covey calls this the second habit, to Begin with the End in Mind.  If you don’t know where you want to go, then a map won’t help.  Effective people choose to use PS+ because it makes using a project management information system easy AND productive.  Easy is important because people will choose the path of least resistance when asked to adopt new technologies.

PS+ was built by people who were frustrated that the best-in-class project management solution, Microsoft Project Online, was not the easiest to use out of the box.  The outcome is a product that improves the results that every role wants from a PMIS, out of the box, with no need for training.  PS+ apps benefit people who look for the output of the data they and others enter to track project progress.

Some ways to see this in PS+ include:

  • PS+ Navigator – right from the very beginning, on the PS+ home page, PS+ makes it easy to use Microsoft Project Online with a pop-up menu to jump immediately where you want to go to manage your project!
  • PS+ Reporting – Any authorized role can find out what they want to know about their projects, immediately out of the box! The PS+ Highlight Report helps Project Managers present what Executives most want to know.  The PS+ Issues Report collates across projects so you can see if anything happening in one project may impact another!
  • PS+ Project Types templates – Each of the PS+ OOTB project types uses a WBS appropriate for that project type. Why create new schedules with blank tasks unless that’s what you want?  PS+ standard project types include PMI, agile, Prince2, SharePoint task list, and blank.
  • PS+ Project Sites – the quicklaunch bar gets configured according to the project type when created (e.g. PS+ PMI project types quickbars link to Change Requests while Agile project quickbars link to the Product Backlog). You and your team can collaborate immediately OOTB!
project management

Use PS+ to Put First Things First

This blog series explains how PS+ helps people be effective as shown by Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Effective people prioritize properly, something that Covey describes with the third habit, to Put First Things First, which he sums up by telling us “not to prioritize our schedules, but to schedule our priorities.” PS+ makes it easy to track our priorities and the progress made (or not) in accomplishing them.

Several functions in out-of-the-box Microsoft Project Online highlight priorities, such as with Portfolio Analyses at the macro level, and critical path analysis at the micro, but these are not the easiest to use or understand immediately. PS+ helps put first things first with additional tools that don’t come standard with Microsoft Project Online but do with PS+.

Some of these tools are:

  • PS+ Resource Forecast Report – since you need people to do projects, people should be a top priority! Look into the future of a project, a program, or the whole portfolio and see not only the resources with the biggest workloads but also which ones cost the most or have the most available capacity over time.
  • PS+ Risk Matrix – identify the number of riskiest risks with the biggest potential for trouble before they happen with the click of a button! Vivid color-coded charts show how many risks to address immediately to remedy the chance of catastrophe, the impact if it happens, or both…
  • PS+ Project Dashboard – click one link and instantly see all project schedule and quality statuses in a Red-Amber-Green tabular metric. Look for the projects with red on both, look for the programs with the most troubled projects and get to those first!
  • PS+ Dependency App – how freakin’ easy do you want someone to make it to create dependencies between projects? Pick what project and milestone comes first (and second), click one button (again with the one button – sensing a theme?) and set a relationship just like that! Literally put first things first, then see the results in the PS+ Dependency Report.

First things first means you don’t have to do everything – but you do have to pay attention to the most important and least urgent tasks like planning before doing. Put first things first, sign up for a risk-free PS+ subscription today, and get planning productively with ease today!

project management

The “P” in PS+ could be for “Proactive”

This blog series explains how PS+ helps people be effective as shown by Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.  Being effective doesn’t just happen; YOU have to make it happen, so the first habit is to step up, to Be Proactive.  There are people who make things happen, people who watch things happen, and people who say…”what happened?”  Proactive people choose to use PS+ because it supports disciplined project management in an easy to use and understandable format.  With PS+, you’ll get in front of problems that haven’t happened yet and you’ll find that your proactive project execution will improve almost effortlessly.

PS+ marries a best-in-class project management solution, Microsoft Project Online, with the best solution accelerator!  PS+ quickly enables consistent, easy, and productive use of Microsoft Project, transparently, with no need for training in the accelerator’s use out of the box.  PS+ apps do what they’re called (like the PS+ Risk to Issue Escalator app), in a straightforward fashion.  Standardize your project management processes with PS+’s industry-recommended-standard configurations and begin climbing the capability maturity ladder in leaps and bounds immediately.

Some other quick examples of proactive apps you’ll find in PS+ include:

  • PS+ Assurance – for a quick portfolio governance dashboard. Find out at a glance which projects have not even logged any risks!  If you can’t identify (and document) risks, you can’t properly prepare for them!  PS+ Assurance points out where your portfolio faces the risk of being blindsided by teams and projects unprepared for catastrophic events!
  • PS+ Risk Matrix – to prioritize which risks to manage first. Rather than reacting to all events at once, as with standard risk management, use PS+ Risk Matrix to know which ones you want to pay attention to next!
  • PS+ Resource Forecast Report – to project your project’s resource needs and understand whether or not you’ve got enough on hand to meet the demand. Microsoft Project enables project resource management better than most (if not all) other project management solutions in the market and PS+ expands on that power through the PS+ Resource Forecast Report.

The first step you took in being proactive was deciding to buy Microsoft Project Online, but that’s only half the battle because you need to actually use it to get results.  Using PS+ with Project Online is the proactive next step that makes it easier to get your results to the levels you’d like.  Be proactive and sign up for a risk-free PS+ subscription today!

project management

PS+: The highly effective solution accelerator used by highly effective project managers

By: Eoin Callan, Managing Partner

effectiveThe Microsoft Project Virtual Conference 2016 session presented by Eric Verzuh of the Versatile Company made reference to Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People when describing strong project management and project managers.  Some people perform the seven habits naturally (they’re born leaders), some people do them consciously with effort (they’re trained leaders), while some people practice the seven habits sporadically or not at all (they are the co-workers and/or bosses that frustrate us). ☺

PS+ is a solution accelerator for Microsoft Project Online that helps everyone on the team practice effective project management habits!

Be proactive:  tackle quality and process issues immediately when you adopt PS+.

Begin with the end in mind:  productive collaboration doing a temporary job well

Put first things first:  team member needs are given priority so everyone benefits.

Think win/win:  PS+ meets user needs, so systems get used properly giving good data.

Seek first to understand then be understood:  Good data shows where true issues are and gives factual foundations for reporting root causes to executives and sponsors.

Synergize:  Leverage the efforts of other groups and departments and make the most of your enterprise’s entire resource pool and results.

Sharpen the saw:  The time and effort saved by installing PS+ can be spent as you see fit – we suggest a well-deserved vacation ☺ or a training class to improve your skills.

We’ll explore in subsequent blogs how PS+ helps support people looking to practice each of the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.  In summary, PS+ executes on each of the Seven Habits, so if you’d like to be effective, you want to have and use PS+!