This Thanksgiving, We’re Thankful for our Customers!

Thanksgiving is a wonderful time of year. It is one of those periods when we can take the time to reflect and think about the things in our lives that we are truly grateful for. A time to express this appreciation in a wholesome way and to be happy. At BrightWork, we’re especially thankful for all our families, friends, co-workers, customers, and community members like you! We wish you the happiest of Thanksgivings and hope you enjoy this great holiday season. “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” – John F. Kennedy. Here is a selection of some of the customers we are grateful to know and work with. If the turkey is taking too long in the oven or the football doesn’t quite keep your attention then take some time to read and watch their stories as well as many others. AmSurg standardizes project management processes with SharePoint templates. APi Group IT Uses BrightWork to Implement Software Across 50+ Subsidiary Companies. Ascend Performance Materials Increases Work Visibility by 40% using BrightWork. Camden National Bank Eliminates More Than 60% of Extra Project Documentation – With…

Microsoft’s One More Thing: Surface Studio

All the leading tech companies like to do big reveal days once or twice a year, and recently it was Microsoft’s turn. They announced a bunch of stuff, and one post would definitely not do it all justice, so today I am just going to focus on the Surface Studio and the Surface Dial. It’s not for nothing that the phrase ‘one more thing’ has become associated with the late great Steve Jobs, who used it to launch some of best tech products of the last 20 years (it also launched a fair amount of rubbish as well). For many years, the cool stuff Apple launched made Microsoft look every inch the boring beige-box tech company that gave us Clippy, Steve Ballmer shouting, and such exciting innovations as the ribbon in Microsoft Office (a great innovation, but did it ever make you happy?). Well Surface Studio sure changes all that. Surface Cool Recent years have seen Microsoft turn the boring label around, most especially with the Surface family of innovative devices, originally launched back in 2012 alongside Windows 8 (while it was still under shouty Steve!).  The Surface two-in-one concept was invention of a new class of device; sure, we’d seen tablets before,…

5 Key Success Factors for BrightWork Deployments

BrightWork has been deployed to thousands of customers over the past twenty years. Having spent some time reviewing customer success, I have identified five key success factors behind these deployments as follows:   Clear understanding of the organization’s project and portfolio management requirements Use an Agile Iterative Deployment Plan that ensures all requirements are accomplished Design and adjust the site templates for ease of use Get management support for the process and BrightWork Have regular solutions reviews to assess the tool’s effectiveness and alignment to process priorities.   Let’s take a closer look at these key factors. 1. Clear understanding of the organization’s project and portfolio management requirements First, any project and portfolio management tool is only as good as the process it serves. It is important that everyone involved in project management has a clear understanding of the requirements the organization will follow. Know how much of the process is being used today and, more importantly, how the organization wants to evolve and mature in their use of project management in the future. Prioritize the important capabilities that will meet these requirements. Make sure everyone agrees this is the path the group wants to go on now and in the future. 2.…

5 Project Management Stories from the Healthcare Sector

Healthcare organizations often need to track many medium-to-large projects at once. In one of the more scrutinized industries, project errors can be costly and can often bring down an organization. Hence there is a need for a project management tool that is reliable and scalable. With BrightWork, these organizations can install standard project management practices and get the visibility and transparency to know what is going on across large programs of projects and make better decisions. Here are 5 project management stories from Healthcare organizations using BrightWork: Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics Track Project Milestones with BrightWork Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics manage 100+ projects of differing types (operations, new product development) at any given time. One of the major aspects of Siemens Healthcare project management process is Milestone Trend Analysis. This graphically illustrates time-related discrepancies with project milestones and how their finish date could change throughout the life cycle of a Project. Using a set of filters and workflows in SharePoint, a log is built in the background of the project site using SQL. Once the log is built, BrightWork uses SharePoint’s charting features to display a graphical chart which is fed from the log. The milestone log updates automatically, so the charts are…

Microsoft Office Tips: Use the Quick Access Toolbar

I’m one of these annoying PC users who know and use tons of keyboard and productivity shortcuts. I live in Microsoft Office, in particular Work, Excel and Outlook. In this series of blog posts, I will share some of my wisdom with you – lucky you! Joking aside, the idea is that if you are a project manager or a team member, these tips will save you time and enable you  to do more. What is the Quick Access Toolbar? The Quick Access Toolbar (QAT) is that little ribbon generally found over the ribbon to which you can add your own commands. The Ribbon was introduced in Office 2007 to much weeping and gnashing of teeth – it is hard to believe that people preferred to search for commands in menus and submenus. I had a friend who was an Office trainer who totally hated it. Imagine trying to make people go back to the below today! However, the Ribbon is not perfect. You can often find yourself suddenly overwhelmed by the multitude of options in the visual array and forget why you are looking at it! The reality of a feature rich application like Word or PowerPoint is that 20% of the commands are the ones…

Add Videos to SharePoint 2013

From a project management point of view, ensuring that your team has easy access to training is often key to project success. In this post I’m going to describe how to add multiple videos to SharePoint and to make them all accessible from one page by adding navigation that means the users don’t have to leave the page. This post assumes that you have multiple videos that you want to make available in SharePoint; however, if you only have one video to start with, you should still find value to the post. Get iframe Embed Codes The easiest way to get the iframe embed codes is to add the movies to  a video hosting platform like Wistia or YouTube. If this is not possible, you can use a SharePoint Assets library to get the iframe embed codes. Click Site Contents | add an app | Assets Library.Note: The Assets Library can sometimes be found on the second page of available apps. Upload the movies to the library. Click on a movie thumbnail to go to the page for that movie.  Click < > on the movie to open the code window. Copy and paste the code into a text editor and…

6 Must-Watch TED Talks for Project Managers

A big thank you to our friends over at brightpod.com who came up with this fantastic list of must watch TED talks for those involved in project management. Keep scrolling for the list in its entirety and the accompanying video! 1. For Building a formidable team: Tom Wujec’s ‘Build a Tower, Build a Team’ is just 7 minutes long and gives some interesting insight on teams and team building. He even gives you an exercise that you can use at your next office team building session: ”the marshmallow problem”. It’s worth noting here that myself and three of my other colleagues are the official BrightWork marshmallow problem champs of 2015. Just saying…   2. When it comes to recognizing individual capabilities in a team: I’ve always hated the way people talk about so-called ‘introverts’. They’re not such bad people! And Susan Cain shows you exactly why in her talk ‘The Power of Introverts’. Hopefully, after watching this, you’ll realize that introverts can be extremely influential team members, despite their reserved nature. 3. For sustaining a healthy team: Healthy teams are key to success, and not just in terms of biological health! Watch Dan Pink’s ‘The Puzzle of Motivation’ to find out…

Project Lifecycle Management & Out-of-the-Box SharePoint 2013

Live Webinars in August! Our August webinar schedule includes Project Lifecycle Management Using SharePoint and How to Manage Projects Using Out-of-the-Box SharePoint 2013. Check out the details below and register to join us. We would love to see you there! Imagine being able to control the full lifecycle of your projects in SharePoint? YES, we’re talking from project idea right through to project completion – all in SharePoint. Join us live and see how you too can use SharePoint to: Manage your pipeline of project requests Organize in-flight projects Efficiently control projects of all sizes from initiation to close Register: [US] Tuesday, Aug 4th at 9.30am PT/12.30pm ET  Register: [Int’l] Thursday, Aug 6th at 10am GMT/11am CET Out-of-the-box SharePoint 2013 provides awesome capabilities to support project management initiatives in your organization. Learn how to leverage these capabilities to enable a collaborative environment where project teams can: Consistently initiate, plan, track and control all projects. Get real-time status reports and make decisions faster. Communicate efficiently and stay connected to their work & each other! Bonus: This session will also show how SharePoint 2013 can be further extended for more advanced project and portfolio management. Register: Tuesday, August 18th at 9.30am PT / 12.30pm ET / 5.30pm GMT  

My Top 5 takeaways for SharePoint 2016 from Microsoft Ignite

Hmmm … the first takeaway is that it is too early to say much with real certainty! Beta is in Q3, a release candidate probably in Q1 2016, and the release is Q2 2016, so understandably a lot more is planned than got a mention at Ignite. To give you an idea … of the 150 sessions flagged as SharePoint only 6 mention SharePoint 2016, with the two stand outs being “The Evolution Of SharePoint: Overview and Roadmap” and “What’s New For IT Professionals In SharePoint Server 2016”. Second, is that there is a SharePoint 2016 … and there will be a SharePoint 2019 and probably beyond that (Julia White, SharePoint GM confirmed this)! This was repeated time and again. Obviously previous conferences had left it hanging in the air a bit but this time around there was none of that! The all-app message does remain and apps (now to be called add-ins) are as much for on-premises as the cloud. The approach … Cloud Inspired. SharePoint Server 2016 is being built on a version of SharePoint taken from the Office 365 cloud environment for the first time, and so the years that Microsoft has spent learning how to run…

How to get Office 365 on your Mobile

As BrightWork is a Microsoft ISV, we probably have more people with Windows mobiles than most offices and for those guys, getting Office 365 on their mobiles is pretty easy, but what about the rest of us? What if you’re a project manager who needs their team to be not only able to get office email when on the road, but to also view and edit documents like the guys with Windows mobiles have been able to for ages? Surprisingly, pretty much everything Microsoft related that can be done on a Windows phone can now be done on an iOS or Android device. You can get: Microsoft Office apps like Word; Excel and PowerPoint Microsoft Outlook OneDrive for Business Lync OneNote Microsoft Office I have found this useful for reading a doc on my mobile but realistically, I don’t think anyone will be doing any heavy editing on a mobile. I have yet to try it out on a tablet and I guess that experience would be better; also, the incoming Office 16 is supposed to make great strides in the mobile experience. Get Microsoft Office Mobile from the Android Play store With Apple, the Office apps are available individually and…

[Infographic] Enterprise Search SEO Infographic for SharePoint 2013

SEO is great for getting your content found on the web, so why not on you intranet as well. Joel Oleson has put together a neat infographic that has 10 tips for improving enterprise search SEO – 5 tips for optimizing the content and 5 tips for optimizing the search experience. Check out Joel’s Collab Show blog for more helpful tips on SharePoint search!

6 Questions to Ask Before Selecting a Project Management Solution for Your Business

Selecting a project management solution for your business can be quite difficult. Not only do you want to select the right solution for your organization, but one that will evolve and mature with you! But how? Here are six questions to ask yourself to help you out: Does the product have the required project, portfolio and work management functionality? The software should fulfill your project management needs, whatever they may be. This could cover critical items such as project management capabilities, task management, project manager role support, project management process support, non-project work management, project portfolio management, charts graphs and KPI’s. The key to remember, though, is that you may not need (or may not be ready for) all of the functionality a tool provides. Be sure that the tool can be configured to meet your scenario, not the other way around. Is the product easy to deploy initially? We all know of the stories of that awesome software, but two years and $1 million later, the organization has nothing to show for the effort – no project management. So look for a solution that can be deployed seamlessly so you and your team can get to work managing projects…

5 Tips for Keeping IT projects on Track and Other Links…

Microsoft killing some features in Office 365 SharePoint Online – In the past few weeks, Microsoft has slowly started to kill some features from SharePoint Online. Before we go on, here are some of the features that you will slowly see disappear from your SharePoint Online tenant.  Absolute SharePoint Blog Uncovering the ROI of SharePoint – Your priorities should always be in that order — people first, process second, technology a distant third. And yet, many organizations often flip them, putting technology ahead of people and process….and this is where problems occur and business alignment fails. buckleyPLANET Increasing Employee Productivity by Boosting Microsoft SharePoint Performance – SharePoint 2013 has capabilities to increase collaboration in organizations. In talking to executives about their SharePoint deployments, Mike Iem found that a strong link exists between perfromance and productivity. Virtual-Strategy Magazine Project Management is Issue Management – With a good plan in place the key to successful execution then becomes all around how quickly issues are identified, raised and closed. With a good plan in place the key to successful execution then becomes all around how quickly issues are identified, raised and closed. Adventures in Project Management SharePoint Users Stick with Older Versions, Eye Hybrid Cloud #SPTechCon –…

Stop Reinventing the (Project Management) Wheel!

When it comes to project management, there’s no shortage of activity required to keep the project ship afloat. Meetings (and more meetings!), planning, communicating, managing people, managing tasks, managing vendors, putting out issue fires, etc., keep us quite the busy person. Any tool that can eliminate some management effort would be greatly appreciated. Enter SharePoint to the rescue! When you think project management made easier, think SharePoint site templates. So let’s say you have a project site in SharePoint with all the bells and whistles you need. This may include lists such as Project Charter, Project Tasks, Issues, Risks, and Lessons Learned. Upon closer inspection you realize that not only are the lists just right with a great mix of pre-configured columns complete with the choices you need etc., but those tasks and risks you entered would be perfect for future projects of this type as well, and it sure would be tedious to keep entering them each time you create a new project site. And that Quick Launch going down the left side of your site…it’s a work of art! It has all of your organization’s processes perfectly grouped together just as your protocol dictates – your project calendar,…

App Review: 2Day for Windows

I personally find it really hard to stay on top of all the things I have to do. I’ve tried keeping a paper checklist, using the OneNote Task check box and using Outlook. Paper gets lost, I love OneNote, but a task manager it is not and the Outlook task experience is just not great. I’ve tried using Outlook to manage tasks a few times but it just fell by the wayside. Step forward 2Day for Windows; a task management application for Windows 8 that really proves what good UI can achieve. This is the first time I’ve liked the full screen Windows 8 app experience.   The app is available as a 30 Day Trial for both Windows Phone and Windows 8. The full version costs $2.99 for Windows Phone and $5.99 for the Windows Version. As far as I can make out, buying the desktop version entitles you to a copy of the Windows Phone version – but don’t hold me to that as I don’t have a Windows Phone and wasn’t able to verify this. The app itself is very simple, intuitive and pleasant to use. To this is why I will be prepared to part with $6 for…

Weekend Links: Why We Collaborate, Yammer and Other Stories

This weeks’ round up covers everything from Yammer and why we collaborate, to SharePoint planning, to basic tips for project management.  Enjoy! Why We Collaborate – Exploring Yammer Maturity & Engagement – Interesting article on collaboration and the stages of Yammer maturity.  Perficient Focus on the Last Mile of SharePoint Automation – Christian Buckley looks at some best practices for designing SharePoint solutions with the goal of improving end user productivity.  CMS Wire Changes within Microsoft Do Not Mean SharePoint’s Demise – Mark Rackley looks explains why the SharePoint brand is not going anywhere.  IT Unit Take Control of Growing SharePoint Environments – An article exploring how you can manage and maintain high-performing SharePoint environments, even as users and content grow. CMS Wire 7 Indispensable project management tips – A look at some of the common factors of project management success.  InfoWorld Predictions for the SharePoint UX – Highlights from Christian Buckley’s May 2014 #CollabTalk tweetjam.  IT Unity Back to Basics (Again) with Enterprise Collaboration – A mid-year check up on enterprise collaboration and technology goals. CMS Wire Logo

Bi-Modal IT

Like most of us, I think the project and program managers at one of my clients have become seriously enamored with all forms of agile development and the associated PM methodologies that would tag along.  And that’s OK!  A lot of good has come from IT being more transparent, stakeholders having more of a ‘say’ in what gets done next, and how much money is left in the budget and what it should get spent on. But too much of a good thing is rarely wise.  So I read with great interest an article by Gartner that talks about “bi-modal” IT – basically, that agility is great for innovating, but that doesn’t release IT from its role to ‘keep the lights on.’   As a portfolio manager, I found this approach to be remarkably pragmatic –  allowing agile to do its best when IT needs to create new value, but recognizing that to achieve Service Level Agreements, maintain process controls, and generally ensure that transactions get managed the way they should, rules, checks and balances are necessary. I think this is an idea that has come at the right time.  We, as project and program managers, have embraced agile and scrum,…

Lightning Fast Project Reporting

With the latest release of BrightWork on SharePoint 2013, we introduced a great new feature called the Project Cache – delivering lightning fast cross-project reporting to organizations with lots of BrightWork sites. If you’re familiar with BrightWork, you will probably know that BrightWork includes the ability to report across multiple sites and lists and display the results in a single report. This is especially useful for program managers and senior executives, who want (need!) to be able to see how all the projects in the organization are performing in a single snapshot. Unfortunately, there is a direct relationship between the number of sites and lists being reported on and the amount if time it takes a report to load. The Project Summaries report above is from the very simple 4 site project-office with a Projects Tracker structure shown in the diagram below – this report would actually load very quickly; however, many of our customers are trying to report on over 100 projects. A Project Summaries report has to open every single one of the project sites and each Project Statement, Project Metrics and Projects Tracker lists consecutively. When you have those 100 or more projects we just mentioned, the…