#AmazingPM, project management, Uncategorized

What creates an amazing project management experience?

As it relates to a Project Management Information (PMIS), amazing experiences may mean different things to different people.  One core theme we have heard repeatedly, is that to be amazing, a project management solution must provide value to all stakeholders.

There are many types of stakeholders for a PMIS, but we find there are 3 core roles.  These have common value points they seek:


Executives are most interested in information that helps them make better decisions.  Project transparency that is surfaced via dashboards, reports, and other data analysis tools allows for better project outcomes.

For this level of management, the ability to visualize problems before or as they are happening is critical.  Whether it’s schedule, budget, cost, risks, or other dimensions of project management, near real time information anywhere, on any device, is paramount.


Project Managers want to have all the information in one place to manage their project data and resources more effectively.

Managing data in multiple sources such as individual project plans, excel, shared drives/SharePoint, email, etc. by multiple people can be inefficient at best and downright impossible at worst.

A single source of truth for all PM information is vital.



Team Members are the folks are the ones doing the actual project work.  They need tools that create the least disruption of this work.  Ease of use by the team members is a key factor to sustainable adoption.

Bringing data together into a single, easy to use, purpose built system with relevant information available at a click can create an Amazing Project Management solution for all!

project management, solutions

Why Innovative-e loves PS+

We do Project Management for a living… 

This post isn’t a sales pitch…  Yes, Innovative-e is officially the first partner in the U.S. to offer the PS+ product suite.  However, what I’m going to talk about here is why WE love what PS+ does for OUR BUSINESS.

Innovative-e subscribes to the philosophy that we actually use the products that we build solutions upon for our customers.  The core tools we use are in the Microsoft stack, most notably SharePoint and Project/Server/Online.  What I’ll describe here is a few ways that PS+ makes our usage of Project Online a more efficient and satisfying experience.

 Experience and just finding things

Project Online/Server are fantastic tools, but they are built to be completely flexible and customizable.  That flexibility often leads to, well, let’s just say less-than-intuitive ways to do many things.  Microsoft calls these ‘partner opportunities,’ meaning they leave it to the Microsoft Partner community to address these challenges…

The folks at PS+ took these partner opportunities to heart and solved some challenges that project managers often find annoying and time-consuming.  There are dozens of cool things PS+ does, but one of the biggest is vastly improving the user experience.

It is much easier to find information.  For example, all of the PS+ Apps are installed into the default Project page by default (this is customizable).  Another cool feature is the ability to surface most project information right from the Project page.

why we love ps+ pic 1

And the little things

ps+ issues and risksSometimes it’s the little things that make the difference.  I know when I am managing projects, it always seems that there’s no time to do those last-minute, right-before-a big-meeting items that can make a big difference.  One such item is managing and reporting risks and issues.  A great example of this is the Risk to Issue Escalator.

This app addresses the steps to convert a risk to an issue whenever the risk becomes a reality. Before this app, you had to create a new Issue, then copy paste the info from the risk, then go close the risk…  This is a great time saver and makes the risk and issues list much more usable (and therefore meaningful)!

why we love ps+ pic 2

why we love ps+ pic 3

Why PS+ makes project management easier for Innovative-e

In the end, PS+ helps Innovative-e be more efficient and effective managing our projects, which as I said before, is our bread and butter.  The keys to me are:

  1. Greatly improved my user experience, which makes it more likely that I will open Project Online and actually DO my updates in a timely manner. Guess what – this is a fundamental aspect of ADOPTION.  As I stated in my blog on adoption, it is the most important of all.
  2. I find access to information much easier. I can navigate to most projects within a couple of clicks.  This saves a lot of time, which in turn, can be used to provide more meaningful updates/data entry.  At the end of the day, this increases the value of the information in the system.
  3. I love the time-saving tools like the Risk to Issue Escalator. It’s these ‘little things’ that save time and energy when time and energy are in the shortest supply (e.g.,. before a big project review meeting, under a reporting deadline, etc.).  This is the polish that makes me a better project manager and my projects more successful!

Adoption Tools – Scaffolding and Proximal Learning

Adoption is most important of all…

Getting real value out of any process or project automation solution requires many things.  These systems must produce some tangible results, such as increased business agility (decision support, visibility, etc.). And they must have some intrinsic value (ROI, compliance, better productivity, and make executives look good).  Don’t laugh about that last one – never underestimate the value of providing important and influential people tools to make them successful.

Other key factors:

  • First iteration must be relatively quickly deployed
  • It must work – as in not break
  • It must remain stable – as in keep working reliably
  • It has to be usable by ALL stakeholders (application owners, customers, users, executives, etc.)
  • It must be used – (AKA adopted)

While all of these are important, adoption is the most important one of all – after all, a system cannot be successful if it isn’t being used.

 Adoption solutions are becoming self-evident

Way too many attempts to improve processes and create value have ended in utter failure.  No need to cite examples here… If you’ve been in the workforce more than a year or two, you have seen failure firsthand.   What was the reason for the failures?  Many studies cite “missed requirements,” “lack of scope control” or “lack of sufficient management/oversight” as the reasons. All are true, but in almost every case, the underlying cause is a lack of alignment. Either not everyone has bought into the solution, or not everyone can use the solution effectively.

 Ever stop and think why ‘iterative’ development and implementation methodologies have become so popular in software development?  It’s because in many (though not all) cases, people have discovered that they are the ONLY way to accomplish meaningful change.  Iterative development facilitates a framework where all stakeholders become comfortable with the “what” and “how” of change.  Their involvement throughout the development process eliminates the need to get buy-in after systems have been deployed.  This leads me to a conclusion that I believe to be self-evident:

Adoption happens throughout system development, not after!

To further that concept, it’s critical to understand that complex systems’ development is never complete.  Decision support systems are always growing and evolving.  Many think that once an application is deployed that it is “done” and that its evolution is centered on the changing business environment; this is true.  However, it’s not the whole story.  What is often missed is planning for ongoing organizational adoption.

Sustained Adoption requires disciplined attention and measurement.

A teacher’s perspective on organizational change

My sister is a high school teacher and has a Master’s in education.  She and I were discussing the challenges of getting organizational adoption for complex systems.  When I told her about our iterative, incremental approach, she said “That sounds like you’re mirroring scaffolding theory.” I did some research and she was spot-on right… Scaffolding theory, introduced in the 1950s by Jerome Burner to describe parents’ role in children’s cognitive development, and expanded by  Lev Vygotsky to include the idea of experts assisting students, is now used in American schools to improve the effectiveness of a learner’s instructional experience.

Instructional scaffolding is the provision of sufficient support to promote learning when concepts and skills are being first introduced to students. These supports may include the following:


Source: http://im404504.wikidot.com/social-development-theory

Proximal development shows how people (and systems) can move to from things they already do to new things so long as the leap isn’t too far.  Mistake many (most) organizations make is slamming in technology and trying to get users to use everything so they get maximal value from day one.  This clearly puts users in the ‘what I can’t do’ region.  This is akin to asking someone who’s riding a bike with training wheels to jump on a Harley and take if for a spin – this won’t go well…

Iterative approaches to change allows the PEOPLE, PROCESSES, and TECHNOLOGIES to grow in incremental steps.  Each step builds on the new heights attained by reaching the step before.

scaffolding stairs

Use of instructional scaffolding in various contexts:

  • modeling a task
  • giving advice
  • providing coaching

What works in the real world

Here are a few things that we’ve learned:

  • Create maximum visibility to keep all stakeholders aware of information critical to their success
  • Build and staff dedicated sustained adoption program
  • Analyze impact of proposed changes by looking at proximal change at the people, process, and technology levels
  • Building multi-modal learning tools into solutions

Our toolbox

People ask us how we manage our projects and work toward sustainable adoption for ourselves and for our clients.  Here are a few of the tools we use:

  • Office 365 – extensive use of SharePoint sites/lists for artifact management/work board
  • Microsoft Project Online – managing schedules, time capture, reporting
  • Point 8020’s ShowMe ™ and Just-In-Time Learning™ – embedded and contextual on-demand product training. Also customized to specific solutions

At Innovative-e, we have a solid understanding of what drives adoption and how critical adoption is to the success of our customers’ solutions. That understanding has led to our cultivating solutions with the necessary supports that will help our customers make the most of the solutions they implement.



Project Hosts and Innovative-e team to accelerate Project Management for Government with FedRAMP compliant solution


We recently announced that our popular Project Management on Your Terms™ (PMOYT) for Government is now available as a FedRAMP-compliant solution thanks to our longtime partner, Project Hosts .  Project Hosts is a Cloud Service Provider (CSP) that has achieved FedRAMP SaaS Level Compliance for Project Server private cloud environments. Innovative-e’s PMOYT solution was deployed and tested in Project Hosts’ Federal private cloud and was verified to be compliant with all relevant FedRAMP security controls.

Innovative-e’s experience with government customers enabled us to develop Project Management On Your Terms™, a unique solution that helps agencies gain better visibility into their portfolio of projects.  PMOYT is a framework and toolset that places an increased focus on common public sector requirements including dashboards for executives while also addressing the ongoing adoption concerns of project managers and users.

At its core, PMOYT is built on the Microsoft Project Management suite of software, anchored with Project Server.  It is a flexible solution that can be rapidly deployed, helps achieve initial wins and build momentum that fosters widespread and lasting organizational adoption. PMOYT for Government is often paired with the Application Management and Organizational Adoption (AMOA) component that provides ongoing application planning, enhancements, and consultative support to customers, ensuring that an organization’s investment remains relevant and effective well beyond the initial deployment.

In a news release from January 22, 2015, Scott Chapman, CEO and Co-Founder of Project Hosts, Inc., said, “By achieving FedRAMP compliance at the SaaS level for Microsoft SharePoint, Project, TFS and CRM, we are removing a huge IT burden and expense for any government agency considering building their own FedRAMP or FISMA compliant deployment. FedRAMP SaaS compliance at the Moderate impact level means that we have fully implemented all of the 325 unique security controls required to achieve this standard, unlike IaaS FedRAMP certified platforms which only fully implement around 70 controls, leaving it up each agency to implement the remaining 78% of the security controls.”

We believe that by removing complexity, costs, and time for developing, deploying, and maintaining Project Management Information Systems (PMIS), government organizations will be able to gain value from real enterprise class solutions like never before.