Archive for category Professional Services Automation

An All Purpose Checklist for Project Closure

This post is from Kevin Sequeira, Product Manager for Tenrox, the leading workflow-driven  project
management and professional services automation solution.
 

You’ve reached that point in the project where you stand at deployment and you are ready to shake hands with the project customer and move on to your next assignment.  Do you just flip the switch, wave goodbye and ride off into the sunset?  Is your job complete?  How do you know…what is your yardstick for saying, “that’s it, we’re done here!”?

From my project experience there are some key steps and critical things to check on as the project is deploying so as to ensure that the engagement is over and the solution is ready for the project customer.  I’d like I present what I consider to be a reasonable ‘general’ checklist for use at project close out to ensure you’ve dotted the ‘I’s and crossed the ‘T’s before moving on to your next project.
 
Are all deliverables delivered?
Review the project schedule closely. Has your project team successfully delivered on all project deliverables?  And just as importantly, do you have something documenting customer acceptance of each project deliverable?  Is there a formal signoff in your project folder?
 
Are all invoices current?
Most projects either bill time and materials, by deliverable, or monthly. Look through all project invoices. Has everything that should be paid up till now actually paid?  If not, now is the time to check with the customer to see if there are any outstanding invoice issues and work to resolve them quickly.
 
Has a lessons learned session been conducted or at least scheduled?
I’m a fan of conducting one or more lessons learned sessions before the actual point of deployment because it’s hard to pull everyone together after the solution has been turned over to the customer and to support staff. But if you’ve not held a session yet, schedule that now with the client even if it’s just a one or two hour phone call.
 
Have all user acceptance testing (UAT) issues been resolved?
How did UAT go?  Were there any remaining issues to be fixed?  Ensure that those have been acceptably resolved prior to deployment. Make sure that you have a formal UAT signoff in hand as well – a project that does not have a formal testing acceptance from the project client should not be headed for deployment.
 
Are all training issues completed?
Most customer solutions require some level of training to be conducted for the customer’s end user community.  Naturally, this would have been well laid out in the project schedule with specific tasks designed to ensure that this is accomplished.  Review the schedule to ensure that all training tasks are complete – a customer who doesn’t know how to use their newly deployed system will likely not be a satisfied customer who gives good references to other potential project clients.
 
Is a formal project acceptance signoff ready for the customer?
Finally, do you have a formal signoff document ready for the customer to sign upon deployment of the final solution?  It’s important that you’ve been accumulating ‘official’ acceptance signoffs on all deliverables up to this point, but this one is probably the most important of all as it signifies overall acceptance of the deployed solution to the customer.  Any discussion of remaining outstanding invoices will likely begin and end with this signoff, so make sure that it is always part of your project closure
checklist.
 
Summary
This is my practical checklist for closing out a project engagement.  Readers – do you have other things that you would suggest adding to this list?  What other items do you consider critical to every project to cover before considering the engagement closed out?

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5 Key Challenges for Project Managers in Services Organizations

This post is from guest contributor Brad Egeland, a leading project management consultant and author. His website, bradegeland.com, is regularly lauded as a top blog for project management, PMO and Agile related topics.

Project management in any environment can be a challenge – there is no doubt about that. But when you’re involved in a professional services organization and working with shared resources and delivering on projects with tight budgets and tight schedule commitments – not to mention likely juggling four, five or even six or more projects at a time – it can get become a very daunting task.

While the list of challenges for project managers is definitely never ending, I’ve created my own ‘Top 5’ list that I’ve encountered over the years of managing projects. They are listed in no particular order of importance, but all can be devastating to your project if not managed well and responded to proactively and appropriately.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Sales to Service and Everything in Between

Written by: Marlon Arevian – Senior Solution Consultant, Tenrox

Ahhh…the life of a Solution Consultant! They sit warm and snug, in between the Sales and Service departments. Solution Consultants’ inherit a hybrid role of ambassadors for their company’s products during the pre-sales process while effectively assessing scope and mitigating risk for the Service Delivery Team. They also bridge the gap of the high flying energy and emotional rollercoaster of Sales to the pragmatism and well-drawn lines of Professional Services. Outside of showcasing product offerings to potential customers, a big part of their job is to communicate what exactly our new customers are looking to accomplish. The Services Team needs to know things like objectives, scope and risks which were collected during the pre-sale process. Solution Consultants own the post sales knowledge transfer process which saves our customers a ton of frustration from not having to repeat themselves and allows our professional services team to kick off a project on solid ground. It also ensures that the customer vendor relationship is fluid from their initial contact to being live on the system.

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Why Your Project Management Sucks

Here is an article I wrote for PS Village explaining why companies have to very carefully assess how they select and manage projects in their business.

http://psvillage.com/pulse/why-your-project-management-sucks

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Certified Professional Caulker

I got a hands-on reminder to the subtle differences between a pro and a beginner. How often we forget and the dear price we pay when we assume “it’s easy”, “anyone can do this”, “let’s go with the cheapest solution” …

http://www.gantthead.com/blog/Project-Workforce/2594/

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Ten Major Trends for 2011 and How They Impact Professional Services and Project Delivery

As the year end approaches we all become prognosticator of all prognosticators. I ran into Jim Carroll, a bonafide futurist, in one of my trips and he inspired me to write this article for PS Village. He got me thinking about what are the trends for 2011 and how they will affect enterprise software, project and service delivery and cloud-based technologies, all of the stuff we work and live with everyday.  I started with Jim Carroll’s 2011 trends and wondered how these trends will impact our world.

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A CEO’s Perspective on Professional Services Management – Part 2

This is Part 2 of an article I wrote for PSVillage about the challenges of running an embedded services team, what a CEO expects from those who manage the service organization and some suggested best practices based on all the feedback I have received on this topic.

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Top Professional Services Management Challenges – Part 1

We discussed this topic in a meeting I had with a few senior people from various high tech companies. It was good to exchanges notes and see that many mid-sized high tech/software companies have experienced similar challenges with their service teams.

Please share your experiences with the management of your professional services teams. I will collect your feedback and report back to everyone with some comments and recomemndations in a part 2 of this post.

You can read the entire article at this PSVillage link.

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We’re going SaaS‚ no exceptions

I attended a PS Village meeting last week. PS Village is a pretty interesting, fun and educational breakfast meeting that takes place in various cities all across the United States and Canada. The attendees are primarily professional service executives, project management and software professionals. The sponsors are Professional Services Automation and project management software solution providers like Tenrox and others. The breakfast meeting lasts about two hours, is pretty informal, and the attendees simply sit around the table and discuss a few topics together.

One of the people at my table (name and company will not be disclosed of course) was the leader of a professional services team in a large multi-national organization, let’s call him PS-man for short. He was complaining about a meeting he attended where the division’s CEO articulated his strategy for the division’s product and service offerings.  The CEO said, and I quote:  “We’re going SaaS, no exceptions”.

PS-man was quite frustrated and unhappy with this sudden shift. To him, the CEO had not articulated a believable vision and a clear path to achieve that vision. According to PS-man, it seemed like the CEO, being sort of new to the job, had heard of the industry buzzwords and decided the industry trends are the way to go. However, PS-man felt that neither the company’s products nor his team were ready for the shift to the SaaS (software as  a service) model. They did not believe that SaaS was the answer to their challenges or that it could drive new growth. PS-man’s reaction was “Yeah right, we’re going SaaS until a sales guy comes with the next big order for an in-house implementation”.

Our table spent the breakfast talking about SaaS, its benefits, how to transition a traditional product and service offering towards the SaaS model and the roadblocks one can face on this journey. At the end of the meeting, PS-man seemed more sold on the opportunity that SaaS could represent for him and his team, but he was still unsure as to whether his company’s leadership truly is willing to make the investment, has the sponsorship and the expertise to navigate the company towards this change. I tried to highlight a roadmap to SaaS from our experience, and how to take some steps towards this goal without completely abandoning what works for them now.

This meeting reminded me of how executives can so quickly get out of touch with their teams. While our “visions” and ambitions may sound great and exciting to some, many out in the field will react exactly as PS-man did. Your team has to see and feel that you have really done your homework, you have thought it through in great detail, and that you are truly in it to win it. If you are unsure, unprepared or it looks like you are simply following the crowd then even a good strategic initiative and good intentions can actually hurt instead of help the organization.

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A Primer on Just-in-Time Resourcing

A Primer on Just-in-Time ResourcingSM, Enabling the Concept of Just-in-Time Resourcing (JITR) with Project Workforce Management is a white paper I co-wrote with Randy Mysliviec CEO of RTM Consulting. Just-in-Time Resourcing  (JITR) can offer significant advantages and immediate benefits to professional services agencies, consulting companies and other expanding technology firms needing improved resource planning. “Stop gap” and other measures can compound the problems in handling large scale fluctuations in labor sourcing and management. Find out how JITR addresses the need for optimal resource supply for growing businesses, and how to enable JITR through project workforce management software.

You can register and download it here.

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