Prior to installing Project Server 2003, an organization needs to develop the specific goals and objectives for the system. The installation and configuration of the software are supported by other system components. Training, processes, infrastructure, quality assurance, and other elements are critical to a successful implementation. Review the following considerations and put together a project team from all areas of the organization that will be affected by the implementation.
Get Professional Assistance
Acquiring professional EPM consultants reduces the time to deploy and effectively meet business objectives; the added value is well worth the one-time cost. Many organizations have not achieved the desired results of a Project Server 2003 implementation due to many reasons. One primary reason is due to the lack of experience with an EPM system. Project Server 2003 is only a part of the entire system. Other components include business processes, quality assurance, training, infrastructure, organizational model, and integration with other business systems.
Microsoft Project Premier Partners have the experience to effectively guide an organization through the implementation process. From architecture to business processes to training, Partners can customize the system to match your organizational needs.
At a minimum, provide the implementation team with training on EPM deployments from a certified Partner. This training should cover the full spectrum of requirements.
Establish a Program Management Office
A critical factor in successfully implementing the EPM solution is the effectiveness of a program office. This office should be the lead in defining the project management methodology and integrating processes into the EPM configuration. The following responsibilities should be assigned to the office:
The program office should continually monitor and audit compliance with process standards and ensure data accuracy in the system.
Training is often underestimated in an EPM deployment. There is a considerable difference in working on project schedules on a local file system versus Project Server. Even the most experienced Microsoft Project users need to be trained on operating in an enterprise environment.
Training also needs to include the organization's specific project management processesfrom the fundamental question of what constitutes a project to specific work flow and timing of required actions. Furthermore, organizations need to plan on recurring training, and training to support new users to the system.
Training should be customized for each user role in the system. This is important to focus the user group on its requirements and role in creating a successful EPM implementation.
Performance and availability of the system influence the acceptance of the end users. A poorly architected infrastructure can have irreversible consequences. This does not mean that you have to purchase the most expensive equipment but rather build your infrastructure to support the user base. The highly scalable EPM solution provides flexibility in initial design and postimplementation options to expand scale.
Business requirements should drive the architecture designed to support the operational use. Build in a scalable infrastructure; set up the Project Server front-end web server in a Network Load Balanced (NLB) configuration. This allows you to easily expand the server farm if and when required. Dispersing the Project Server services also provides greater scale and performance.
An organization with a geographically dispersed resource base should consider a distributed application server. This can dramatically improve performance of Project Professional connections to the server. Maintainability and support of the application are also efficient.
Establishing enterprise standards is typically an objective for all organizations. This is usually easier to talk about than to implement. Standards can be created for scheduling, reporting, training, custom fields, and views. The standards created in an EPM configuration should support the overall goals of the organization. Consider the effort to collect and maintain custom fields created as part of the enterprise data standards. The benefits should justify the collection and maintenance effort required. Each required data element should be justified so that the effort to collect and maintain the data supports an objective.
Standards are not isolated to the Project Server configuration but must also be created for project scheduling processes. Project schedule templates, task modeling, resource assignments, local resources, tracking procedures, and other interactions with the system should be fully documented.
Understanding the Project Server 2003 features, processes, and techniques to achieve the organizational goals is critical to a successful project. Organizations differ in their project management methodologies, project management skill sets available, types of projects executed, and EPM solution implementation objectives. Project Server 2003 is designed to be flexible enough to support the project management needs of virtually any organization. The key to deploying an EPM solution is a thorough understanding of the goals and the solution components required to achieve the goals.
Goals can be categorized into four areas:
Meeting specific objectives should be staged in the deployment schedule. Project management maturity should be achieved at one level before proceeding to the next maturity level. A roadmap with incremental achievements should be developed to move the organization from its current project management maturity to the desired maturity. This will not happen overnight, and expectations should be measured.
Moving from a standalone project management methodology to an enterprise environment can take months. Listing and prioritizing the objectives you are trying to achieve will assist in building a realistic implementation schedule.
Conduct a Pilot Deployment
Conducting a pilot deployment is essential to validate the Project Server configuration, performance, and internal processes, and to get the end users involved. The pilot should contain a representative sample of actual project activities. The team should be small enough to manage and exercise the system to collect feedback on processes and configuration.
The configuration and processes should be baselined prior to commencing the pilot. A post pilot review should be conducted to review issues and take action as necessary. Expect changes to the configuration and project management processes used and implement these changes prior to a production rollout.
Integrate with Business Systems
The EPM solution can easily integrate with current business systems used. This can be a critical area to explore. To achieve the efficiencies expected from the EPM solution, duplicated processes must be removed or integrated into a single contiguous process. Data sharing is an essential efficiency you can achieve by only keying in data once. This applies to adding users to the corporate network and automatically synchronizing Project Server users through the Active Directory integration built in to the EPM solution. Time recording is also an area that should be investigated for integration. Project Server is not a payroll system; however, common elements could be shared to present the user with one timesheet interface and pass data to the appropriate system. Project accounting systems, human resources systems, document management systems, and other lines of business applications can be integrated with significant operational efficiencies.
Integrate with Business Processes
Project Server 2003 has enormous flexibility in the configuration, which can help tailor the system to your business environment. The tool should not drive the processes. There are boundaries in the functionality of Project Server, and some areas may require business process changes. The efficiency of current project management business processes can be improved with the EPM solution. Be conscious of the amount of change you are introducing and phase in the changes.
Sell the Solution
Resistance to change is a human attribute that will not go away. You can mitigate reservations by highlighting the benefits of the change. Project Server 2003 is beneficial to all levels in the organization, and this should be communicated throughout the deployment. Reassure team members that the data is to be used for project decisions. Team members have access to assignment information and can collaborate on those tasks. Project managers gain efficiencies in updating project schedules through the use of timesheets. Executives have information on resource utilization and data to make informed decisions. The benefits are many but must be communicated to users to build enthusiasm and acceptance.