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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Managing Multiple Projects: You Can’t Manage What You Can’t See!

If you have a limited number of resources working on concurrent tasks in concurrent projects, the chances are you aren’t seeing the whole picture. In fact you may be missing critical conflicts thus reducing the chance for project success. I recommend using Microsoft Project Server 2010 to help you manage all of the projects in your portfolio.

Project Server 2010 is more than a repository for saved projects. It assists you in analyzing projects by comparing the fiscal health, resource forecasts, business alignment and schedule goals of all your projects. Dashboards can “light up” using indicators to get your attention.  Great reporting rounds out the power in Microsoft’s premier enterprise project management platform.

The block diagram below is a simplified view of the components in Project Server 2010. SQL Server provides the raw power needed for number crunching. Excel Services graphically communicates the state of the projects and portfolio. SharePoint Server provides the platform to tie it all together.

PS2010 Block

The next two figures illustrate the value of Project Server.

In the first figure you see a listing of projects in a Gantt chart. Note that you can see the schedule concurrencies because you can see and compare all of the projects at once. (Click on the figures to expand them.)

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The second figure illustrates how organizing the projects by their type and using a dashboard indicator can help compare and evaluate the projects in the portfolio. The “Project Health” indicator represents the budget and schedule state of the individual projects. Green is good while red is not. For more details you can drill into the project in question.

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Project Server 2010 helps you manage what you can’t see.

If you want to learn more about topics related to Microsoft Project Server 2010 please join me in my free webinar: Bigger, Better Project Server 2010! on August 24, 2011 | 2pm EDT/11am PDT.

Register Here. (Do it soon because seats are limited and they fill very quickly.)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Hot Tip: Earned Value Analysis Requires Preparation!

In the Versatile Company’s most recent newsletter Eric Verzuh offers a free earned value analysis white paper for download. I strongly recommend you get it and read it along with this blog entry. Together they help you create more accurate status reports by utilizing earned value concepts in Microsoft Project.

  • Get Eric Verzuh’s white paper “Leveraging Earned Value Management” HERE.
  • Sign up for Versatile’s newsletter HERE.

In the white paper, you’ll find that there are three steps to earned value analysis. These should be your guiding light in taking status.  If you are going to use Project 2010 please also take note that in Project 2010 earned value analysis features require input from the user prior to taking status. Here are the program’s needs:

1. Ensure that project resources have a cost rate assigned and that they are assigned to tasks in the schedule. In Project earned value calculations are primarily based on the cost of work conducted by resources over time. Their work schedule should therefore be realistic. If realistic scheduling is of interest to you, check back often as this is a topic I’ll discuss in a future blog.

2. Set the project baseline. Sounds easy and it is! Consider the project schedule and data fields used in the white paper: (Click on figure to enlarge)

EVMS Report Blog 1

The baseline is a snapshot of cost, work and schedule for comparison with “actual” cost, work and schedule. Without a baseline, you have nothing to report against or to determine “how are we doing?”.

Set the baseline by selecting the “Project” tab, then the “Set Baseline” button, finally “Set Baseline…” command to bring up the “Set Baseline” dialog. Be sure to “Set baseline” for the “Entire project” before you press on the “OK” button. See the figure below for reference points in the dialog.

Set Baseline 2

3. Set the status date. Project needs to know when status is being taken. If no status date is set, it will use the current date. Set the status date by selecting the “Project” tab, then “Project Information”. Set the dates according to your need. The diagram below shows where to adjust the dates in the dialog.

Set Status date 3

Once the cost of work, the status date and the baseline data are set, you are ready to take project status! You can then run earned value reports from “Reports” and “Visual Reports” to analyze the schedule and cost state of the project from performance data and not just a hunch.

Need training? For Versatile’s course offerings call Jon Wagner at (206) 417-2290. You can see our offerings for yourself by clicking HERE.