Automated Project Office | Common Questions
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Common Questions

The VALUE of APO

Automated is meant to describe the fact that APO is a fully hands off and repeatable Project Office capability. Once a project is defined (10 minutes setup), the system performs the full functionality of a world-class project office. It performs stage reviews, expert level analysis, gathers hard data and consultant level" interview information", and publishes complete dashboards and analytics for each project stage.
First of all, and perhaps most importantly, the early stage identification of future project problems will immediately become apparent. In the case of a key project, this could be crucial. Secondly, team communication will immediately improve. Out of alignment issue identification and better coordination will occur immediately and lead to efficiency and reduced rework. Management feedback and visibility into the reality of projects will improve. Surprises will decrease dramatically. Best practices implementation, compliance, and learning will accelerate. A complete, trustworthy repository of project performance will begin to build immediately and provide great analytical value for improvement within one year. APO will become the backbone system replacing many costly, manually intensive, and time consuming current efforts.
APO is primarily based on the cycle of analysis, visibility, review, and communication that has been well documented with best of breed practices such as Six Sigma, Total Quality Analysis, The Learning Organization, Visibility-Control-and Optimization, Management by Walking Around, Total Team Communications, Team Alignment, Project and Program Office Best Practices, as well as the best documented software development practices of the past decade.
APO ships with a very large repository of best practices that is customized for many specific development environments. It contains thousands of consultant level questions, as well as evaluative and grading systems. For example, APO uses the MIT Risk Analysis System. This is just one of dozens of formal well documented and recognized quality assurance and review processes. Additionally, APO is easily modifiable to add any specialized or desired evaluation system. One week is the max it would take to customize APO for any customer- or project-specific environment. As powerful as APO is, it has amazingly comprehensible knowledge repository and can be customized and increased in power to best fit each customer.
APO doesn't compete with Clarity. APO is a PMO tool that enables the PMO to manage aspects of projects not addressed by any other application. APO's concentration is on: Control, Communications and Visibility. It gives consistent QA Oversight of every project. APO is a Software as a Service (SaaS) and can be fully deployed within a month with no programming at a cost of only 5K a month. While Clarity costs hundreds of thousands of dollars and can be challenging to set up. It can take a year or more to implement. Clarity does improve visibility into key initiatives by prioritizing people, projects and programs through a portfolio view.

The Functionality of APO

Absolutely, we can do this very easily by either linking to your Microsoft Project Server or by receiving a Microsoft Project File. In fact any electronic data can be fed in through an API facility.
Yes, we can change the default setting so that the answers are in fact 100% anonymous.
Like status reports and even verbal updates, you have to have an established level of trust with your people. You can also tell them that their answers are 100% anonymous.
There is no programming that needs to occur to allow you to add, delete, or modify a question. You are able to do this on your screen. It is seamless and takes only a couple of minutes.
No we can customize your dashboards so that you see what you want to see.
Yes, we can set APO up so that the assessments automatically populates with the prior week's answers.
First of all, this system is a proactive, actively engaged project office review and reporting system rather than a "cost analysis and past performance system." APO will tell you what is happening systemically within the project and what is in front of the project, i.e., risk analysis, future project time-line assessments, and whether the project is structurally sound or if it is in danger of drifting off course. APO is meant to tell you what will happen in the future, not what happened last month. APO is a full-time consultant monitoring your projects and providing 360 degree and best practice reporting and communications. Additionally the cost of Portfolio management systems on average is in the $500,000+ range and the implementation costs average more than $300,000, as documented by independent sources such as Gartner.
Standard status dashboards will be immediately available for all projects. The dashboards are automatically updated with every new review cycle (as often as weekly). Additionally a full, easy to use business intelligence "drill down and reporting system" is 100% available for all projects...current and past?

Getting Started with APO

APO is hosted on secure servers by CAI and access is provided using the SaaS (Software as a Service) approach. Clients access APO capabilities through the internet similar to many cloud applications.
Survey responders are not users. Users would include project managers, PMO staff, and executives who wish to access dashboards.

Implementation of APO

Yes, any client that can access the internet and communicate over HTTP, can use our web services.
Yes, as long as you can get your project data into an excel spreadsheet, you can import it into AMI.
There is no client footprint, the application is SAAS and can be used with most any browser (IE, FireFox).
APO can be fully deployed within a month. There is no hardware or software for you to install. APO rides on top of any software you already have in place. Thus, it doesn't require replacement of existing operations.
As a separate service we can work with you to define requirements and then customize your dashboard.

The Architecture of APO

The base application architecture is made up by a set of common interfaces implemented as web services.
The application is implemented in C# and .net framework 4.0.
Typically the application is hosted for you on CAI's internal hosted network, however if you wish to deploy the application on your own servers that can be easily accommodated.
The transmission is over HTTPS and your application instance is a proprietary instance, data is not shared across engagements.

Using APO in your PMO

Establish project management standards and best practices Monitor projects to validate compliance with standards Assume a lead role in defining new projects and linking them into related programs to optimize benefits to the organization Monitor the health of in-flight projects to identify risks or issues and prevent problems
Automates the oversight and monitoring of projects to ensure the project is on-schedule, on-budget, and scope is being managed. Additionally, APO monitors ongoing compliance with standards and customer satisfaction.
APO gathers project performance data from project management tools such as MS-Project and also uses role-based surveys (collected via an E-mail interface) to gather information from stakeholders and participants. The survey responses provide the insight required to analyze the performance data.
APO is configured collect operational data and survey responses. API is also configured with baseline information for evaluating the data and calculating a KPI. Finally, APO is also configured to report KPI calculation on reports and dashboards along with color-coded risk indicators (red, yellow, green) to highlight areas that may need attention.
The most common KPI's that are related to projects track performance in the following areas: Financial Quality Scope Management Schedule Process Compliance Customer Satisfaction Other less common KPI's measure the "Professionalism" and "Morale" of the staff and the overall "Value" delivered by the project.
Process compliance is monitored through role-based survey responses. APO is configured to ask process compliance questions. (e.g. The project manager is asked if there is an up-to-date project plan since this is a required artifact). APO is configured to interpret any answer other than "Yes" as a risk. In order to guard against misinformation, this same question is asked of other lead roles on the project. APO can be re-configured to reflect changes to standards or best practices. By asking role-based compliance questions, the system is also reminding project participants of the approved standards and helps to prevent deviations. APO can be configured to require the respondent to attach the required artifact for review to ensure compliance.

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