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It's About Time! The Journyx Blog

September 15, 2009

Journyx is proud to announce a new webinar series that is designed to empower project managers who are tasked with executing 100s of projects on time and on budget with the right resources. Topics include 3 Critical Components of Project Success, Extending Microsoft Project, Improving Project Execution with Better Resource Management, and others. For a full schedule or to register, visit webinars.journyx.com.

September 15, 2009

Pick any sector and you'll find empty offices and barren cubicles: banking, health care, media, technology, retail. All have thrown thousands upon thousands out of the workforce, which is why the nation's unemployment rate has almost doubled in the past year or so to around 9.5 percent.

Yet you know that blanket job cuts create their own set of problems. They wreck morale among those remaining on your team, and they are all but certain to leave you shorthanded when business finally cycles back up. Plus, there's the human factor: laying off good people is just about the worst part of managing. This is why you should turn to layoffs only after you've tried just about everything else. So before you sign the first of those pink slips, think about these alternatives... read more

September 15, 2009

By now the kids should be back in school no matter where you are. And to celebrate their return to the hallowed halls of learning Journyx is having a sale on training. From now through the end of September you can take any of our classes for 10% off the list price. So whether you need to brush up on your Timesheet Reporting or would like to examine the canon we call Admin Common Tasks, here's your chance to save a little green while learning more than enough to be dangerous. Contact your Journyx Sales Rep to register for one or more classes.

As for you advanced degree candidates, be sure to ask your sales rep about the Timesheet Admin Certification Program. It's the way to graduate from dear ol' Timesheet U. Summa Cum Laude.

To take advantage of this deal please contact the Journyx Sales Team today.

September 15, 2009

The parallels between managing a successful project (including meeting due dates) and managing a successful sports car racing campaign are striking. In this article, we explore those parallels, and the insights to be gained even by those who have never experienced life 'at speed'... read more

September 15, 2009

Building on the initial release of the highly anticipated Journyx ProjectXecute, new version 8.5 will deliver exciting new features to PX customers. Track not only existing projects, but also review and approve new project and work requests. Use new dashboard options and graphs to gain greater visibility into project status and trends. Check calendar availability to pinpoint specific dates when work can be completed, and much more. Watch the Journyx Newsletter for local listings and availability.

September 15, 2009
  • How can Managers run their own Sheet Status Report? (Timesheet)
  • Can I use the My Assignments screen to track all of my time and submit it for approval at the end of my time period? (ProjectXecute)

Get the answers to these and other questions in the Journyx Tip Archive.

September 14, 2009

To the uninitiated, it might seem as though RA/M is all about measuring threats and opportunities (i.e., risks) and implementing processes to mitigate (threats), capture (opportunities), and manage risks. While measurement and management are secondary tenets of any RA/M scheme, it is really all bout changing behaviors – of organizations and of individuals.

With regard to implementing a RA/M process in any organization, the statement: “We get rewarded for successfully launching a project and not necessarily for launching a successful project” captures and encapsulates both the essence of the challenge and the basis for remedy.

Read the entire article at PM World Today.

September 11, 2009

The latest Standish Group report shows more projects failing and fewer successful projects.

'This year's results show a marked decrease in project success rates, with 32% of all projects succeeding which are delivered on time, on budget, with required features and functions' says Jim Johnson, chairman of The Standish Group, '44% were challenged which are late, over budget, and/or with less than the required features and functions and 24% failed which are cancelled prior to completion or delivered and never used.'

So what is going wrong out there? Why are your projects being challenged in this way? Are your project managers perhaps working too hard to be successful for you?

Read the rest at ProjectTimes.

September 9, 2009

We constantly hear hype about how a given market is changing drastically. And given the economy, many companies we talk to tell us that the only thing drastic happening in IT services today is the rate reductions they're asking from their vendors. But after years of moving forward slowly, IT services is in fact about to change drastically.

[...]

New Delivery Models

The lines between products and services are blurring - Software-as-a-service (SaaS), solution accelerators (pre-built code that systems integrators use to kickstart client projects), and cloud services are all examples. And while these hybrid solutions are often pitched as being less expensive in the near term, buyers also want them for more long-term strategic reasons too - more transparency into the cost structure of their IT delivery and less dependency on dedicated assets are two key long-term benefits.

One utilities firm told Forrester that while they could justify SaaS on cost alone, they were actually implementing it to get services to their business users faster, helping IT develop a better relationship with its constituents.

Read the entire article at ComputerWorld.

September 7, 2009

Back in July, Kristen Caretta wrote a fabulous article over at Search-CIO about having purchased a 160-piece kitchen set only to find that she never used most of those tools and could have purchased something much simpler and more affordable. She goes on to say that many companies do the same thing when looking at PPM solutions - they spend time and money on an enormous tool and years later find that most of the functionality is untouched.

Come to think of it, we probably all have stories of times when we got excited and made an unwise, impractical purchase. The good news is that with project management software, you don't have to. There are solutions out there that address the core basic needs every organization has without trying to sell you $1 million worth of add-ons. You just have to know where to look.

September 4, 2009

Project managers all over the world struggle with this problem. How much detail is enough in my project plan?

Most project managers err on the side of high-level tasks. It's easier to do at the beginning; everyone can agree on it, and it's easy to get estimates on.

It's also, unfortunately, what leads to problems. Let's say, for example, you have an implementation for a customer that calls for developing five pieces of functionality. You put in a development task and appropriate testing tasks for each piece; then you put in a deployment task at the end. That should be enough for the development piece, right? You get your estimates from development - four tasks at four hours each, and one larger piece - it's going to take a week. Fine! You move on.

Fast forward a month. The one-week task took three weeks. Testing has been a pain. It's gone back for corrections five times now. Your deadline is completely shot, and no one can give you a well-defined date on when you'll be done.

What went wrong? Was the original estimate bad?

I would argue that the original estimating method was bad.

Read more at ProjectTimes.

September 2, 2009

Despite recent reports of growing economic optimism, real recovery may take much longer than expected, as companies continue to experience declining or flat revenues. Now is the time for constant vigilance -- to revisit the basics, particularly new strategies for managing IT costs.

With a comprehensive, no-holds barred approach to IT asset utilization, your organization can boost savings, improve efficiency, and maximize return on every dollar. By putting both your investments and assumptions on the table and performing a cost-triage, you can take a leaner approach to IT that improves your liquidity today and helps you prepare for the growth that will ultimately arrive.

Read more at Inc Technology.

August 31, 2009

When employees spend a lot of time in the field, it can be difficult to manage projects and share information. Especially when those employees are actually out in the middle of a giant field. That was the situation at Stranger's Hill Organics, an 81-acre farm in Bloomington, Indiana, that grows organic produce and sells it to Whole Foods Market, food co-ops, and farmers' markets. Almost two years ago, the farm's founders, Dale and Lee Jones, brought on four new partners to help fund an expansion. That created some problems. The founders continued to work at the farm, but the new partners held jobs elsewhere and could make it out there only a few hours a week. That made it difficult for the owners to discuss topics such as tax planning, marketing budgets, and which crops were ready for harvest. "It was almost impossible to get everyone together on a regular basis," says Rick Dietz, one of the new partners.

Things changed last summer, when the owners began using Web-based collaboration software that allows them to create a central repository for information.

Read more at Inc. Magazine.

August 26, 2009

Aloha! The ocean's roar fills my ears, and a beautiful Kona sunset paints the sky. But me, I'm thinking about mud. Muddy thinking, to be exact. Being educated as a physicist, as I was, has its drawbacks. For one, most people assume we have no marketable skills. Sometimes we are misunderstood. I once was contacted by somebody wanting help with their "aura". Apparently "psychic" and "physics" are pretty close in the dictionary. But the biggest challenge I'm facing these days—and I think it's a result of the extremely rigorous and self-consistent thinking I learned during those years—is a complete lack of tolerance for what I call muddy thinking. People work on low priority items while urgent issues languish. Teams fall apart because no one confronts behaviors that undermine trust. Organizations spend huge amounts of money on a project, then suddenly wonder how they will measure success. These bizarre behaviors may seem like examples of muddy behaviors, but to me they indicate either a brain that has flat-lined or a total lack of clarity about what really matters.

Muddy thinking is jeopardizing far too many people's success, and your project may be getting stuck in some of this mud. Here's my approach to thinking and acting with clarity in order to steer clear of the morass. Regardless of your title, position, or job, you need these three sharp instruments in your professional tool belt to stay out of the mud pit:

1. Personal Values
2. Written, Measurable Goals
3. Priority Lists

Read more at ProjectConnections.

August 24, 2009

It's a jungle out there, but there are still plenty of ways to keep your integrity in the business world. Here are some previous posts from the Journyx Project Management Blog with advice on how to do so.

1. Gifts
A post from Journyx CEO Curt Finch on why your products and services should give added value to customers.

2. Making the Best 'Right' Decision
A CIO article on morality in the decision-making process.

3. Yes, Telling Part of the Truth is Lying
Our Grumpy IT Guy's tirade on false advertising and other shady business practices.

4. Look After Your People in These Tough Times
A PROJECTmagazine article on how to do right by your employees in a bad economy.

August 21, 2009

Companies that rely on innovation for growth — that view the development of new products and services as their métier — must learn more than most to live with failure. For all the effort put into developing and marketing fresh ideas, many projects, particularly the bold ones, are unlikely to achieve commercial success or emerge as major growth drivers. Indeed, studies have shown that it takes as many as 3,000 raw ideas to result in one commercial success.

But lack of commercial success does not have to be a terrible result. If you keep your disappointments cheap, you can afford a lot of them. First you have to be able to separate the winners from the losers. To do that, Ian C. MacMillan, the Dhirubhai Ambani Professor of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the Wharton School, and I have created a “barebones” net present value (NPV) calculator (available in our book) that assesses such factors as launch time, ramp-up time, competitive response, total investment, and projected annual costs and sales. This analysis, which can be revisited repeatedly during a project’s development, provides a simple way to compare innovation initiatives in a company. If a project consistently produces a negative NPV, continued funding cannot be justified and a graceful ending is warranted.

We call this process “pruning.” Just as a fruit tree yields more if its old, low-yield branches are trimmed back, so a business intent on growth needs to cut projects that are not promising. The goal is to shift resources from unproductive activities to higher-priority, more attractive opportunities.

Read the rest at strategy+business. Free registration required.

August 19, 2009

In a previous article titled "Kick-Starting Your Projects - What Should You Know About Defining Scope?" we have already discussed the elicitation of high-level scope requirements that would probably appear in the Project Charter or some other auxiliary scope document. At this stage however we are zeroing-in on the next step, the following iteration of scope definition that happens some time after the sign-off of the project charter but before the technical team members start working on the final designs, blueprints and bills of materials.

Eliciting Detailed Scope: Who Should You Talk To?

A question that gets asked frequently, especially on large and complicated projects is: "Who should I include in scope discussions?" This is a very complicated matter and a good number of projects I have known suffered setbacks in the form of cost overruns and missed deadlines because the right group of people (or even single person) were not consulted properly at the scope definition stage.

The first collective group of primary stakeholders are the clients (aka sponsor), customers and the future users of the product or service you are trying to build.

Clients have the final say in the product scope discussions about what the product does, how it does it and how sophisticated or simple it should be because they are the ones financing the project.

Customers are also important because they (hopefully!) will buy and pay for your product. Alternatively they may ignore it and decide to buy the competitor's product. Therefore it is very important that you understand their real needs.

Read on at ProjectTimes. Free registration required.

August 17, 2009

We have a saying here at Journyx: "No shelfware." You see, many software companies don't care if their software gets used or not, as long as they get your money. We, however, don't feel that way.

Software is not like a hammer that you buy and put in a toolbox until you need it. It is a living, breathing part of your company, and if it is not being used, at least some of the responsibility lies with the manufacturer.

Our attitude extends to the pricing models that we use for our Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), where staffing firms and others with volatile employee bases can pay for only the number of users who use the software every week. It also extends to the metrics that we use internally to measure ourselves (e.g. what percentage of licensed users are actually entering time regularly?)

Wouldn't it be nice if every business operated this way? Your cell phone bill goes down if you don't use the phone. Your cable bill goes down if you don't watch TV for a month. Your car insurance is connected to how much you drive - your mileage - instead of just how many cars you have. Solutions that are flexible and scalable are the ones to use, especially when cash is low.

- Curt Finch, Journyx CEO

August 14, 2009

In the middle of a lake is not where I expected to learn a significant workplace lesson, but that kind of environment away from desks and cubicles is what allowed my IT leadership team to face the brutal fact that communication is less about talking and more about understanding.

When I took my leadership team on our regular, two-day offsite last year, I knew that I wanted to focus on the basic but critical issue of communication. That decision came after I met an author who made a career out of helping companies leap from good to great. I started thinking about how that applied to my IT group and me: While I think we're good and we do a lot of things well, I don't think we're great.

My first actions were to look at the daily interactions within my group and then seek feedback from the business. People are never fully happy with the level of communication in any organization but, after my observations and conversations, I realized that if we were to be effective team members and keep the business engaged, we just had to become better communicators.

Read the rest at ComputerWorld.

August 12, 2009

Optimal performance involves finding the right way for the current situation. The goal is to meet the often conflicting multiple demands that face us. One of those demands is the demand for accurate estimates and rational expectations. Estimating is far from a solved game in most project environments. Making it more difficult are irrational demands for certainty and a lack of effective estimating processes.

In estimating, accurate does not mean 100% assured. After all we are estimating, not divining the future. We expect different degrees of accuracy depending on knowledge of requirements, experience with the tasks at hand, the available resources, among other factors. It is widely accepted in project management circles that early in the life of a project an acceptable estimate might have 50% or more possible variance, while later, after requirements have been well understood and transformed into a design the estimate accuracy may increase to within 10% of the final outcome (assuming that the estimators know what they are doing and the environment is stable). Nevertheless, we find that executives, sales people, clients and project sponsors pressure project managers (PMs) into making definitive estimates well before there is enough information to accurately do so. Project managers often pass the pressure along to team leads and project performers who view the whole estimating effort as a stupid game in which no one wins.

Read more at ProjectTimes. Free registration required.

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