Activity management manager in a service business called requesting if I may help deploy a server-based EPM system. I started to ask the questions We always ask: "What kind of projects are they? How do you deal with these projects now? Just how big are your jobs, how many do you possess? Just how many people are resources in the system, how many people would be users? " only to have person stop myself in mid-stream to inform me that the answers to these questions were not important. They'd "already chosen the solution, " this individual told me and just needed anyone to make it work.
I discussed which i was in the solution business of course, if I couldn't understand the problem, I wasn't the person to deploy the solution. We talked a little longer and the condition the client kept conveying is that they got outgrown the scheduling they are yet to been doing manually using Outlook calendars and now required to "upgrade".
It's not the very first time I've been challenged with this exact need. Could we migrate a manually-driven Outlook-calendar resource management system to an "automatic" Microsoft Project Server system? The answer to this is almost always no. This answer shocks and upsets everyone who gets it. "But there's an Outlook module/connector in Task Server, " they describe to me patiently. Probably if I'd only known this I'd see the light and deploy what they want. They seem to be more upset when they find out that I am just aware of the Perspective connector and other View tools.
The challenge in these situations isn't the technology involved. This person was quite right. Microsoft company has a new View connector as part of Project Server 2010 that links to Microsoft Exchange Server. There are also Outlook connectors in prior versions of Project Hardware. The problem this person has is the simple fact he wants to move a small organization which has allocated resources to tasks pretty much manually with a single person or a person per large department, sliding tasks personally into calendars in an organization where project arranging, centralized resource capacity planning, resource conflict resolution and an enterprise project management process and associated tools are all automated to the point that the effort happens automatically.
That's a corporate culture and process change, not a technology change. I know how seductive it seems when the solution for all the organization's challenges seems only a software purchase away. But software is better considered as the probable for a solution alternatively than problem-solved. Getting the software until the condition that was at first encountered should go away may take far more thinking as well as resources, time and money. In the end, sometimes going with the large EPM deployment makes perfect sense and strategy not.
Let's take the original problem encountered by the corporation that called me. Exactly what is the challenge exactly? When we dig a little deeper, it seems that the challenge is that the challenge with scheduling by hand is when work occurs out of sequence or is delayed. When that is the case, then linked tasks such as we'd naturally think of in a logic-driven routine don't automatically move. Fine, anyone who's done a basic course in job management and critical route theory can get that. Then, once we look a little deeper, as it happens that several department leaders are trying to share these Outlook calendars at the same time and accomplishing this means that they can't determine the priorities of different tasks.
Well, if we could centralize scheduling into an actual project schedule, we might do well with having a tiny project office with one or two co-located schedulers.
But showing that to the firm immediately generates resistance. What now surfaces is that the client loves how Outlook presents the jobs to the users and just how users get these responsibilities by email even when they're changed on brief notice. This is why they went to taking a look at the big centralized enterprise task management system in the first place.
If we simply take the condition though then there are many ways to build a solution: To begin with, if we stay in a strictly Microsoft world, Job Professional 2010 can read and write down thier tasks from a SharePoint list. Outlook users can subscribe to such data and even get email notifications when the list changes.
Next, if we just look at by using a copy or two of MS Project centrally, we may use a tool like Housatonic, EasyTaskSync or EasyTaskLink to move data back again and forth between Job desktop and Outlook.
However we keep the complete conversation Microsoft-based, similar tools exist for Oracle-Primavera. PRMLook for example links a Primavera schedule with View.
I'm not promoting any of these alternatives but my point is that there are countless paths to get to a solution which may be appropriate and the best selection is heading to have more regarding the exact nature of the enterprise, and the challenge they're facing than it is by using the leaflet of whatever project management software is being most heavily marketed on a given day.
"Work the problem, not the solution" we inform our consultants. It maintains us focused what finally is important.