Thursday, September 28, 2006

'Killing development projects early and often...'

Esther Schindler's recent post what Gartner is telling your boss makes for interesting reading.

Gartner urges managers to consider better process control and governance, managing 'application portfolios' much as they do stock portfolios. Part of this discipline is 'killing development projects early and often'. While no doubt some managers will want to respond to this by applying for the "Ghegis Khan training course for mangers" what it really means is that managers need much better information than many currently have about the status and delivered benefits of their projects.

Now where might they begin to get that kind of information from? Not only does it need to be part of the process of managing a portfoio of projects, the information needs to immediately accessible through the process support environment.

Exactly.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Who needs what?

One of the key ideas in xProcess is that it puts planning and process control in everyone’s hands - at the level they need it. For example...

Project Participants can:
  • see their tasks and priorities (potentially across multiple projects)
  • update estimates and progress
  • update their availability and overhead activities
  • update their active tasks and close their tasks when complete
  • see changes to priorities and target dates

Project Managers and Planners can:
  • create project tasks and prioritize them
  • change available resources for the project and assign them to roles or tasks
  • set the scope and target dates for timeboxes and releases
  • see immediately if tasks are forecast to miss targets and why
  • view burndown or Gantt charts of the whole project or timeboxes
  • select and/or customize the processes their projects use

Project Executives and Stakeholders can:
  • overview the goals and progress of multiple projects
  • monitor and improve the processes adopted by projects
  • compare and contrast processes if they are different
  • examine “what-if” scenarios by varying resource deployment
  • redeploy resources between projects
  • monitor financials spend and earned value of projects
  • generate different format reports for projects and resources.

Process Improvement Managers can:
  • monitor and compare the progress of projects applying different processes
  • capture process improvement strategies from different projects
  • define and improve company standard processes
  • monitor process and quality compliance.

The new UI in version 2.5 will reflect the different emphasis required by different roles with tailored perspectives for Project Managers, Project Participants and Process Definers. Expect this to be developed further in future releases.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Summer Fruit

Mmm - no postings in June July and August! Blogging just doesn't seem to have been on the agenda this summer. So what has been happening?

Actually a lot, and the benefits of all that work is now close to fruition. xProcess 2.5 is released in October and has a plethora of new features and user improvements that really are exciting. The headlines for the release mention Workflow, Graphical Process Modelling, Financials and Web Client. But in fact there is so much more, and I'm sure our current users will be delighted while new users will be surprised by the richness of functionality that's available through a much sparser user interface.

Even before the release I've been hitting the road again and showing selected customers the new direction and it's encouraging to hear the feedback. There's a lot to live up to. One customer gave us an outstanding accolade from his use of the existing version:
xProcess has freed me from fighting with a tool to make a plan, and instead given me direct visibility of our progress against plan, allowing me to get on with my job of project managing. (John Andrews, iiPay, www.iipay.com)
Thanks John. That's very much what we've set out to do. I think you'll find this new version takes you further down that road.

A lot of new stuff in version 2.5 is focused on enabling our OEM partners and larger customers to build more integrated process improvement and project planning environments. Workflow let's notification flow round the company, as well as receiving and issuing updates to other tools in the environment like issue trackers, requirements repositories and test tools. The Financials package allows integration with accounting tools and the Web server and client means that pages can built that show xProcess data and allow it to be updated by authorized users. Expect to see some exciting developments in this department over the coming months.

Overall it's been a fruitful summer... even if the harvest is yet to come!