The users are the ones that bring a project management system to life, either as collaborators or external consultants. It is imperative that the PMO believes, manages and offers support to all of them.
Collaborators or suppliers, everyone is a source of talent.
A good PMO provides a framework that helps project managers allocate resources correctly because:
Projects frequently borrow resources from other business units.
Assigning responsibilities haphazardly normally leads to management problems down the line.
A PPM software tool offers various options to help you define the roles in each project from configuring access permissions to the specific function of every project member. You can also assign a ‘task manager’ to each task. This task is now converted into a sub-project and the assigned task manager can follow up on it.
Integrating the company org chart into a PMO tool is a useful way to classify and identify projects/people/activities etc. within the functional hierarchy. Later on, you can also use it to analyze outcomes.
Capacity: Planning and Follow-up
Managing capacity is a task requiring the utmost efficiency. It is crucial for the PMO to find the balance between:
Efficient management that avoids both over-allocation of resources and non-productive time.
The competing demands of business units and cross-unit projects vying for a limited pool of resources.
Managing capacity should be linked to demand management. Frequently, over-allocation of resources is a sign that you cannot keep up with demand. The PMO should have the means to identify this situation and the power to fix it.
The following example offers an excellent module that allows the PMO to plan globally, while analyzing individual capacity and availability.
Whatever its responsibilities are, at the very least the PMO should offer a long-term view of the demand on resources and raise a red flag when imbalances are detected.
If people are the beating heart of project management then communication between them makes project management possible.
The PMO’s role is to set up formal communication channels, and to promote and facilitate informal communication between collaborators.
Formal communication is related to following up on tasks; it involves specific channels to help team members learn the status of projects and tasks.
The PMO must define key moments when relevant information will be delivered to stakeholders, with the PPM system as the backbone of this process.
Formal communication ensures that the required information is delivered to the relevant people in a timely fashion.
Informal communication enhances efficiency, enabling team members to discuss and deliver information with all the background at their fingertips.
Whether it is a task, risk or purchase, every element of every project can generate its own support documentation.
The PMO has several roles when it comes to documentation. The main priority is to reinforce clear management, standardize procedures and ensure that information is properly used.
Defining which documents are indispensable, when they should be created and to what entity they should be assigned.
Defining documentation formats, in coordination with other business units.
Offering an access system to templates and supporting documents, as well as the procedures to use them.
Depending on the responsibilities, the PMO may use some features or other benefits of its PPM tool. For example, the role of project templates can associate documentation models in the different sections of the project.
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Onyriq’s founding team
Onyriq represents a new generation of innovative companies pursuing the social impact of knowledge.
Ainhoa, Joseba and Mikel met at the University of the Basque Country (UPV-EHU) in San Sebastian while studying chemistry and specializing in polymers. Years later, the three have finished their postgraduate studies and greet each morning in the Parc Científic de Barcelona. Although they research together every day and haven’t lost sight of the laboratories, chemical structures or trials, they don’t teach nor receive a salary from the university.
These three chemists have started up their own company together with Oriol, an aerospace engineer based in Japan: a year ago, in September 2016, Onyriq was founded as a startup whose core business lies in the research, development and innovation of polymers. With a business model that is clearly focused on knowledge transfer, their objective is ambitious: to support the company with the commercial exploitation of its own research through licenses and patents.
The day to day operations of Onyriq include the management of its research projects with ITM Platform. "We work with ITM Platform for both the execution of our projects and the development of proposals to clients, Since we calculate the differences between the proposal and the actual project (in budget, time and activities), that allows us to better know its profitability."
"Onyriq's example is representative of an increasing number of high value-added companies that are using portfolio and program management tools previously exclusive of large corporations"
In a market as broad as that of polymeric materials, Onyriq transfers technologies used across a range of industries, such as: aerospace, health, 3D printing or food. Their previous experience has led them to define three main lines of research: the synthesis and modification of polymers and biopolymers, the encapsulation of active compounds for pharmaceutical companies, and the functionalization of materials to impart specific properties. "We hope that companies with different core businesses that work with polymers can outsource the innovation of their processes by relying on us and our extensive know-how," says Ainhoa.
As for their service portfolio, Onyriq is divided into three corners: the transfer of knowledge with its own research, innovation on demand and training workshops. Although the marketing of own research currently has a secondary importance, the goal is to become the main source of income for the company. To reach this stage, Onyriq not only needs to manage its projects with professionalism, but also to continuously evaluate the different lines of research that group the different projects of the company.
The example of Onyriq shows how more and more high value-added companies need access to portfolio and program management tools that were previously only available to large multinational groups, but to which they have better access thanks to the appearance of actors who are betting on the democratization of the sector, like ITM Platform.
Program management, model requirement
Despite their youth, the Onyriq founders have already run European research projects with multi-million budgets. While managing a major project is not a major concern, researching without losing sight of profitability is indeed a novel challenge, and one that is hard to combine with the long-term vision required by academic research.
Program Management bundles the entrepreneurial and the scientific mindset. Given their previous experience as project managers, it was known from the start that a central piece towards sustainability was a tool that fulfilled two objectives: to allow the team to adopt professional project management methodologies, and to group similar projects with common objectives into programs.
"Program Management bundles the entrepreneurial and the scientific mindset."
It was then, after what Ainhoa describes as an exhaustive process of searching and evaluating different options, they finally opted for ITM Platform. According to her account, "ITM Platform is by far the most complete solution we could find. And we tried many."
In addition to the unified management of the research lines as project programs, some of the benefits that favored the decision were the purchase and revenue management, with which Onyriq manages the benefits generated by the different accounts and associated suppliers, and the freedom to create both predictive projects and agile projects. If Gantt diagrams are perfect for preparing projects for customers, Kanban panels are widely used for more informal proposals and projects in which maximum visibility is desired for all members, so that coordinated progress can be made.
The fact that ITM Platform is not overly technical and allows the use of non-certified project managers has also been a very important factor in ensuring the continued use of the tool. Another important feature is flexibility: "we have been able to configure the tool to adapt it to our internal operating model".
"ITM Platform is by far the most complete solution we could find. And we tried many."
As in any startup, over the next few years Onyriq will be dedicated to checking which business scenarios are correct and which need adjustment. Onyriq's B2B services are so closely related to the core business of customers that the future of the business will depend heavily on the relationships that consolidate in this initial stage. Although polymer applications are very broad, and many of them have an appealing niche potential, the Onyriq team is aware that the market will judge each line of research. According to Ainhoa, "the importance of the different axes of our activity will ultimately be proportional to the demand that we find. In a possible world, within five years we could patent a successful synthesis method for 3D printing of prostheses. Although we could get to specialize in the health sector, we know that diversification will key so we’re not dependent on the economic cycles. R&D is so unpredictable that we must be prepared by measuring how things are moving forward."
That need for measurement lies at the heart of Onyriq's internal processes, which ITM Platform uses to meet its two major business goals today: financial independence and continuous change.
Currently, contract research for companies outsourcing innovation accounts for approximately two-thirds of Onyriq's revenues, which are used to fund own research. So much so, that Onyriq's main goal for the next few years is to market its own research to become the first source of income. When that time comes, Onyriq will become more selective with on demand services. This will be the moment when the long terms of research will be better supported by the rest of the structure.
Some knowledge transfer might not be good for business due to both technological risks and market trends. As in any innovative portfolio, it’s important thing to combine projects with different expectations of profitability and risk levels so that more conservative projects support the most creative proposals.
"In such a changing and unpredictable environment as R & D, it is essential to be prepared and to measure how things are working at all times."
Onyriq's business processes require continuous measurement of different key performance indicators (KPIs) in order to calculate ROI and decide on which project should be part of the portfolio.
While all startups are expected to pivot and search for their model, for Onyriq that pivotal effort extends after breaking even. Knowing what research programs and which technologies are in greater demand or which sectors are more profitable will remain necessary for Onyriq to maintain the competitive advantage in an innovative market dominated by big players.
This business foundation gives Onyriq the strength to fight against the limitations of the most advanced scientific research. As Ainhoa acknowledges: "Although technological centers and universities are committed to the generation of knowledge, this R & D is often not applied. The aim of ONYRIQ is to turn the potential of polymer science into innovative technologies or products with a positive impact on society and, in turn, enable profitable business models. To do this, we adapt our knowledge to the real capabilities of the industry and to the market situation. "
Let’s face it, even if you have the utmost confidence that your project will be a success, there is always the possibility something can go wrong. Wise project managers will identify the project risks in the early stages of the project to give themselves more time to develop a plan on how they can avoid them if they arise. However, risk management is an ongoing activity and can’t be done just once.
Here are a few key components of risk management:
A Contingency Plan
Essentially, this is a plan developed to help the company respond to a possible future situation that could occur but isn’t outlined in the original or “expected” plan. The project team will find solutions ahead of time in the case that the problem appears. A contingency plan is also often referred to as being “plan B”, one which can be put in place in only a moments notice.
For instance, suppose the completion of a product significantly depends on purchasing a component from a supplier. Although for whatever reason, the deal is unable to be made which can set the end date of the project way behind schedule. To prevent crisis from occurring, project managers will use contingency plans that will be implemented immediately to resolve the issue.
This is a well known project management tool increasingly used in risk management. In a single page, it will organize all of your possible risks based on their likelihood of occurring and the severity of their consequences. You will need this in order to develop an effective risk mitigation plan and project strategies.
The risk management matrix can only be completed after you have filled out a risk assessment form. In this form you will have to uncover and list out all potential risks that may be a threat to your project or company. You will need to gather data about these possible risks, understand their consequences, determine the probability of them occurring and brainstorm possible prevention strategies.
The risk assessment matrix will then be able to provide the project management team with a quick and useful overview of the risks to help them prioritize which should be dealt with first.
The team will need to work together to decide which level of risk can be tolerated and which ones should just be “accepted” and left to be watched. Our new free tool for risk analysis allows you to register, quantify and share risks. You can also save different sets of risks, such as those for a project, business, process or any other context in which you are working. You can share them collaboratively as well.
Each circle represents the estimation of a risk. Colors and sizes of circles depend on the exposure level of the risk. They are fully configurable, simply click on the “customize values and thresholds” tab.
If you click on the “see matrix” button in each of the risks, you’ll be able to see all of the possible combinations for impact, probability and place of the product; i.e the numerical value of the level of risk exposure.
Risk Mitigation Planning
This process involves creating possible options to help strengthen future opportunities and reduce threats to your project objectives. It will require project management team members to continuously track the current identified risks while searching for new ones. They will also need to evaluate how successful the risk management process is throughout the development of the project.
It is best if you refer back to the chart below when applying risk mitigation. The Risk Mitigation Handling Option you choose to use will once again depend on the probability of a risk occurring and the severity of its costs. There are several handling options that can be used:
Avoid: You can change your current project requirements to reduce the risk from occurring. However, don’t be surprised if this also impacts your schedule, funding, etc.
Control: Implement new actions to diminish the impact the risk will have.
Transfer: Reassign the projects responsibility or authority to another stakeholder willing to take on the risk
Watch: Constantly monitor the project and its environment for any changes that may impact or increase the risk.
Assume: You may choose to acknowledge that a particular risk exists and then willingly make the decision to accept it without trying to control it in any way.
In a nutshell, risk mitigation planning requires you to think about the probability of the risk occurring and materializing as well as the impact it will have on your objectives if it does.
Steps to Risk Management
Simply put, risk management is a 2 step process that starts with determining what risks exist and then handling those risks. Although, you should develop an action plan which includes all of the 5 steps mentioned in the PMBok:
Step 1: Initiating
This step is all about brainstorming. You will need to determine the project manager, the company culture and understand the business case. You must review and uncover possible risk sources by determining initial constraints, requirements, assumptions and agreements. If you have an strong project management tool, like ITM Platform, you will be able to categorize and prioritize risks depending on if they have a high impact or high probability of occurrence.
Step 2: Planning
This stage involves developing a plan for each knowledge area. To do so, you must perform risk identification, qualitative and quantitative risk analysis and risk response planning. Once this is done you will need to finalize your management plans by developing a performance measurement baseline. By doing so, you will now have successfully developed responses to the risks you previously uncovered.
Step 3: Executing
From here on you will want to execute all of the work being done according to the PM plan you have created in the previous stage. Look to continuously improve by following the processes but also implementing approved changes. You must determine whether the processes are effective by evaluating individual or team performances and performing quality audits. Make sure you give strong feedback as well as recognition to employees when a job is well done. Following your management plans will reduce risk likelihood but will also prepare you in case something does arise.
Step 4: Monitoring & Controlling
With change can come brand new risks, but you will need change to occur if you want your business to grow. In this case, you must bring on change in a controlled way. Start off by measuring the performance of your team members as well as the project as a whole by comparing it to other metrics you have in your PM plan. Determine whether or not variances require corrective actions or change requests. You should request changes regardless and then update the PM plan accordingly.
Step 5: Closing
You must start off by assessing whether the work completed is done based on the requirements listed previously. Gain acceptance over the final product and then hand it off to be able to receive customer feedback. After this is all done you should record the lessons you have learned, all of the risks you may have encountered and the knowledge gained. All of this will help you out in the future.
Risk management isn’t an easy task and it’s natural to feel unsure on how to go about it. The best thing you can do is implement a PM tool that will help you with the process. ITM Platform provides their users with a new and innovative tool to help with calculating and managing project risks. Furthermore, their friendly and supportive staff has your back every step of the way so you’ll have no need to worry.
Customer acquisition & sales funnel, inbound/outbound lead, MQL, SQL and more
Customer acquisition funnel
Customer acquisition funnels can be of much use for SaaS companies. They track and monitor leakages when prospects move between stages. It’s an effective way from companies to measure how well the company is doing in attracting and retaining customers. This is often a difficult step because moving prospects from the marketing team to the sales or customer success teams can create a high risk of losing data, miscommunicating between employees or mixing up responsibilities and metrics.
As you move through the funnel, you will realize that analyzing your content strategy is extremely important, especially when looking at it from a customer lifecycle perspective. Content strategy is a very effective way that you can get your company to increase the speed that your prospects take to pass through stages.
Customer lifecycle funnel
The customer lifecycle funnel consists of 6 stages with each one representing an action the customer must do. The first stage, at the top of the funnel is known as “Visitor”. This means that somebody must visit your company’s webpage and it isn’t until they apply for a free trial or submit a form that they can be considered a “prospect”. If you want the customer to become an “activated user” meaning they are actually using your product (either for the free trial or whatever you have offered them), you need to put in time and resources into creating a unforgettable experience for them. This will take them from being an “activated user” to an “active customer”.
However, once you have the sale, you can’t stop. Customers that pay for the product once, don’t guarantee they will pay for a second time. It’s important for SaaS companies to analyze and discover was usage related to high lifetime customer value and a high renewal rate. Once you have this information, you can work on improving these areas which will help to earn you some “loyal customers”.
The sales funnels main goal is to demonstrate what internal processes companies should follow if they wish to efficiently move their prospects through the funnel. The funnel shows specific processes, actions and workflows which can augment the effectiveness of companies sales process. Sales funnels consist of a variety of different components which each need to be focuses on.
Inbound and Outbound Lead
Sales funnels begin by retrieving leads which can be either inbound or outbound. Inbound leads exist when prospects will provide the company with information in exchange for an asset, for instance a whitepaper or even a free trial. Outbound leads are created after SDRs (Sales Development Representatives) target individuals who may be unaware of the companies existence. This will often take place in many different forms including cold calling, mass emailing or targeted social media messages.
Marketing Qualified Lead
It can often be difficult to make the sale even if with a good lead. Marketing Qualified Lead, known as MQL for short, helps to calculate the probability of closing a lead. Companies can help to attract users and communicate to prospects through nurturing campaigns, newsletters, webinars, etc.
Sales Qualified Lead
After prospects reach a higher score, they will be considered to be a part of the Sales Qualified Lead stage. At this stage, your sales team should have enough information to decide what level of interest prospects have in your company.
Understanding all of these different concepts and definitions will help you immensely on your path to becoming a successful project manager.
Numbers are rising. A study done by Intuit found that by the year of 2020, 43% of the American workforce will consist of remote workers.
What are remote teams?
The best way to understand remote teams is to think of them as small groups of people who are committed to achieving specific company objectives. They often work for the same company and answer to the same boss but live in different cities or even countries. You can also think of remote teams as being similar to virtual ones. The reason for this is because both deal with very similar opportunities and challenges. However the difference is that virtual team members answer to different managers while working together on the same project.
Why they are the future?
The increased interest of implementing remote teams to new and old businesses comes from the numerous advantages they provide. Companies are particularly drawn by the following benefits:
It is much easier to attract and retain top talent worldwide
There is increased productivity and satisfied employees
The flexible working hours appeal to employees
Project collaboration and file sharing is made easy
Improves quality of life for staff overall
Along with this, remote teams provide companies with financial benefits as well. In fact, a study done by Forbes in 2013 found that large companies save millions of dollars on office spaces and supplies by allowing people to do remote work.
Embracing the disadvantages
There are two sides to every story and just like everything else, remote teams too have their disadvantages. However, with a good perspective and an optimistic attitude they can quickly become advantages in disguise.
The big concern companies have with remote teams is that they take a lot of time and effort to get started because all team members must learn to effectively communicate and get to know one another. Although, this shouldn’t be seen as “lost time”. In fact, this is far more beneficial to the company than it is anything else. Remote teams are capable of forming much stronger bonds with one another because they learn to connect with one another on deeper levels. There don’t exist mandatory staff meetings or board rooms to superficially unite everyone. Instead people communicate and develop relationships based on shared values and interests.
Another common fear managers have when using remote teams is that team members aren’t synchronized due to their different time zones and work schedules. What many don’t realize is that this is actually a positive factor. Since consistent communication is difficult to maintain, it puts pressure on workers to complete work on time in order for the next to begin. This will prevent future delays or confusion.
Furthermore, since communication amongst remote teams is often dispersed across longer periods of time, team members learn to communicate deliberately. The result is employees with better communication skills and stronger unity.
Making remote work a success
Setting up a remote team is the first step but once you have it up-and-running you’ve got to know how to make it successful. There are a few things you need to keep in mind during the start-up phase and all throughout the rest of its development:
You need to make sure that all co-workers get to know one another
Since the majority of employees will be scattered geographically and incapable of coming into physical contact with one another you must ensure everyone becomes familiar with their teammates. For instance, video-calling to talk about non-work related topics.
Work hard to show interest in team members
Don’t make distance a problem; take the time to mail over a birthday card or contact a bakery to have a desert delivered to their home. Keep things personal, show you care.
Avoid messy digital communication
E-mailing is becoming a thing of the past. With different time zones and locations, continuous e-mail chains become difficult to manage. Maintain productivity by taking advantage of amazing project management softwares such as ITM Platform.
Supply your employees
As mentioned, time zones have an enormous impact on the way you’ll run your business. For this reason you must provide each team member with all of the information and supplies they will need, conveniently and constantly. Once again, ITM Platform makes this possible because they operate on a cloud-based solution, making it accessible wherever and whenever.
Strengthen the bond
Lastly, you should think about ways to reach out and strengthen staff relationships without the use of work. Remote teams can often use a get-away trip or even a meet up location between those who live nearby. If these aren’t possibilities then think about creating fun social media groups via twitter or tumblr. This allows co-workers to share funny jokes or videos; all simple ideas to help strengthen the bond amongst remote teams.
If you’re interested in creating your own remote team or successfully managing the one you currently have, sign up for a free trial with ITM Platform. Our team is here to support you every step of the way.
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