Thursday, March 27, 2014

Problem 12 - Where's that email!?

Email has been around since the early 1990's, which for some of us doesn't seem that long ago. Email really surged in popularity due to its use in corporate networks (Outlook, Lotus Notes, Groupwise), and in the public domain with early tech start-ups such as Hotmail and Yahoo leading the charge. I can still recall the headlines when Microsoft bought Hotmail for $400 Million in the lead up to the tech boom.

What's not to love about email, right? They're "private", so only the person composing and whoever it is addressed to can see its content. They appear almost instantly, and can be used to plan your work day. You can typically see which emails you have read, which remain unread and which ones can be stored for later reference. And by later reference I mean those instances where you need to recall who said what to whom and when. Who hasn't gone to the deleted items and found a hidden gem of an email that gets you out of a sticky situation? All hail the email!



But, there is a major problem with email, and it actually relates to all of the things we love about it. In a way it is too popular, too pervasive, and as a result, it's too damned hard to find anything! On a broader scale, the private nature of email means that unless you use a long list of CC and BCC recipients, your valuable communication is locked away, and potentially lost forever. This is particularly troublesome in project teams or any environment where information sharing and collaboration are key requirements. I've personally lost count of the hours I've spent searching for the right email, with the right attachment version, or requesting a copy of this email or that email or even forwarding sent email to recipients accidentally left of the email CC fields. It's mind numbing and frustrating.

UniPhi is already known for its focus on transparency and as an enabler of cross functional collaboration. Did you know that UniPhi also features an add-on utility which integrates seamlessly with Microsoft Outlook? Ensuring that important information can easily be shared with all team members on a project without duplicating it to each user’s email inbox. With UniPhi, for the information to be sent and shared, an email technically doesn't have to be composed and sent in the traditional way. UniPhi users update project related information, assign issues and tasks, contribute to conversations, and generate document and reports. All of this information is then able to be emailed directly from UniPhi to email recipients, effectively informing the project team and stakeholders of change to the project. Thus ensuring that all people involved in the project will know what has changed, and why.

The level of integration UniPhi’s software has with Outlook promotes transparent communication which is vital to the successful completion of any task or project. The transparency of the application means that the emails generated and sent out to teams and stakeholders have context. Everyone can see what project the issue or task is related to, who assigned the issue and its due date and so on.

Contact the team at UniPhi Australia to discuss email integration, and effective project and business management solutions.

Now, if only UniPhi could help me to remember where I put my car keys...?

Friday, February 28, 2014

Problem 11- Where's that Document?

Documents are typically stored on corporate fileshares. The problem with this is that there’s nothing stopping someone creating numerous sub directories and putting all the files into this one folder that no one else has a clue about. Corporate fileshares generally have immense amounts of knowledge embedded within them. The problem is it is all tacit knowledge. Without knowing the secret code to the folder structure you've got know way of unlocking this knowledge. Added to this is the bizarre security applied to these fileshares where a person in one office can't access information of another person in another office. The opportunities in solving these problems are immense. Faster access to information, broader awareness of this information and the ability of new knowledge to be created out of this information by people not directly involved in its creation.

UniPhi software has been designed to make sure these opportunities turn into the way things are done around here.

The transparency of UniPhi’s software allows anyone in the organisation to look across projects and see all documents created. Each document has meta data that unlocks the tacit knowledge of what is within it.

Document register across all projects
The integrity of the meta data is maintained by controlling the way documents are added to the system or created within the system. UniPhi software doesn’t allow people to create their own folders. Documents have to be uploaded into a document container based off of a template. By doing this, all the contextual information that is needed to explain what this document is automatically gets associated to it. Someone who has no idea about the existence of the document will be able to find it if they browse and search based on their requirements. For example, someone wanting to find sample business cases can select the business case template and they will be able to see all business cases ever created.

Document register across all projects filtered for business cases only

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Problem 10- Where's That Photo?

Whenever there’s an inspection conducted, or a defect noticed, or an audit carried out on a construction project, copious amounts of photos are involved. A bunch of photos get taken and the camera software then creates a file name using a numbering system, the photos are then stored on a computer or a file share directory. It’s all done simply enough, but storing the photos this way can make it frustrating and time consuming to refer to them later on. Simply, trying to locate files on numerous systems can prove problematic, frustrating and a waste of valuable time.

A lot of the time, the photos will be put into a word document so that the information surrounding them can be annotated and expanded upon. This, while providing more structure, can make it difficult and time consuming to find the document months later when there is a dispute over something or even days later when the contractor is onsite trying to find the defect noted and you need photographic evidence.

UniPhi OnSite gives instant context to site photos as they can be recorded against a specific issue or included dynamically into a contextualised document.


UniPhi OnSite is all about making it easier to access vital project information. Integrating images to the issues on projects as they occur helps you to gain access in a more time efficient way. From this point, the issue can be actively managed and closed out by the project manager. The time savings per issue are immense. 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Problem 9 - Methodology non-compliance

PMOs are in charge of and are therefore responsible for rolling out methodologies in the project environment. P3M3 maturity models assess as level three companies that are generally compliant with their methodology (i.e. they practice what they preach). This can be a very difficult thing for a PMO charged with getting the organisation to comply.

The problem is that the tools used by the project managers are always separate to the methodology which is communicated either via an intranet site or a Microsoft Word document accessed seven directories down in a corporate fileshare. This disjointed method adds unnecessary complication to something that should really be extremely simple.

UniPhi is all about simple and as such, integrates the process of running projects (i.e. the methodology) with the tools to do so; completely removing the complication of things being separate.

Methodology templates populate content dynamically from other modules within the system. 

Whoever is required to review and sign off is included in the workflow and dynamically routes to their work to do list. 

Issues management and risk management methods are embedded in the modules to capture the issues and risks. 

Registers populate automatically rather than being manually populated into an excel spreadsheet (which nearly never happens).

Key templates can be mandatory (e.g. the business case). This means that fundamental governance processes are followed.

All of this leads to a compliant by accident organisation, a less stressed PMO and a level 3 achievement on their next P3M3 maturity assessment.


Friday, February 07, 2014

Problem 8- How Many Projects?

If you were to walk into the building of any company around the globe, ask to speak to the managing director and then ask that managing director to go through their project list with you, would it surprise you that an audit would prove this was not the definitive list. This has been our experience on several occasions. Why? We feel the main reason is a lack of transparency and prioritisation. People are afraid to kill projects and hence end up running too many (which actually means not running any).

A lot of the time, gaining the knowledge of how many projects are being run is a complete run around. Asking every senior manager in the company for their project list is time consuming and tedious, and results in someone having to inform the managing director that there are actually 200+ projects on the go, instead of the 30 he was actually aware of. In larger organisations, this can mushroom into an enormous task that is out of date by the time it is completed (e.g. treasury department capital expenditure reviews).

What’s worse is, a lot of the time, projects will be product-related, will have market-announced release dates for the calendar year and will have no people working on them. This results in the project failing to be completed and the company having to be accountable, not only internally, but publicly as well.

UniPhi’s web based project portfolio management software supports the simple priority and stage gate approvals of projects and then displays the results in a transparent manner for all to see.

Prioritsed list of new product development projects in Manufacturing sector
The use of the prioritisation framework and stage gate funded project life cycle means that there is always a project list, which is classified by stage, priority, budget and end-date. The transparency of this allows for everyone involved in any and all projects to see exactly where they’re at right now, not tomorrow when it’s too late.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Problem 7- Out of Date Risk Management Plan

Risk management has its own international standard (IS0 31000) built upon the ANZ standard that preceded it. It's also a core function in the Project Management Body of Knowledge published by the Project Management Institute. Our experience conducting RegPM assessments for the AIPM has show it is not, however, something that is practiced very often by most project managers. Most project managers though, would be aware of the process:

-Identify potential threats to your project
-Assess their likelihood and consequence
-Develop contingency plans
-Execute said plans
-Monitor
-Course correct.

Unfortunately, most project managers only ever get to the ‘assess their likelihood and consequence’ stage and even then, it’s usually only at the start of the project lifecycle or when a new team is formed. We believe there are a few reasons behind this. Firstly, risks identified at the start of a project are recorded into a MS Word document and then stored on a server, never to see the light of day again. Secondly, when there is intent to manage risks, it gets included as an agenda item in the notoriously tedious weekly project meetings, where it will usually sit at the bottom of the list. Being the last item on the agenda is never a good thing, all the progress updates consume every minute of the meeting, which leaves the risks to be looked at ‘next time.’ Naturally and predictably, tomorrow never comes, and even if it does, full mitigation is never developed again because people run out of time.

UniPhi's risk module integrates risk management with the daily work life of a project team member.  


Mitigation actions appear in a user’s ‘my work’ summary list.




Risks can be added to by anyone on the team at any point in time. Re-rating risks dynamically updates risk trend graphs that track the success/ or failure of risk mitigation strategies over time, which will help to better the quality and outcomes of a project. 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Problem 6- The Eternal Weekly Progress Meeting

Keeping track of the issues and tasks throughout the life of a project is essential to the project’s ultimate success. Typically, progress meetings are held so that specialists can relay the progress they have made with their tasks and issues and, ultimately, the project to the project manager. A roundtable process sees each specialist update the project manager on where they are at within their project.

The chief concern of the specialists in attendance at the progress meeting is obviously going to be their own involvement in the project, and not that of the others’. For this reason, progress meetings can prove to be tedious and dull for specialists, as well as proving to be a waste of time and resources by having them sit in when it is not necessarily needed. It is these types of meetings that get satirized by Dilbert cartoons and the like.

UniPhi is all about collaboration. The OnSite mobile applications, the issues and risk  modules, contract deliverables linked to timesheets and document sharing all provide a platform for each specialist to communicate any progress made as and when it happens through the software. Providing these simple tools to specialists on the project means that the status of a project is live.

When meetings are called, they can focus primarily on the problems that arise or on strategy development for success. These meetings all have a targeted attendee lists and agendas so that time and resources aren’t wasted. Meetings become a tool to extract the most value from the group environment as possible. 

Friday, January 17, 2014

Problem 5 - Issues and Risk Escalation

Issues and risks unfortunately arise continually throughout any and all project environments. These things need to be resolved in order to progress the project, but how can they be resolved properly when those who have the tools and knowledge to actually provide the leadership and solutions can’t seem to find the time? These strapped-for-time guys are senior managers of organisations and are therefore members of numerous governance committees. Being involved in numerous committees is exactly what strips them of all their time and prevents them from getting involved with the issues and risks that need their attention.

Project managers are required to report to senior managers, but, due to the lack of time on the side of these senior managers, the reports are met with little to no feedback and as a result, the project suffers. Project managers continually find themselves in a completely one-sided conversation and a senior manager simply becomes valueless to the project, when they and their expertise should prove invaluable. It is frustrating, it holds up progression and can also end in less than stellar results.

UniPhi Software's project management escalation functionality provides these senior managers with the time they need to be able to clearly see the issues and risks that have been escalated to them throughout any of their numerous projects. At a glance, they are able to see all risks escalated to them and by drilling into a particular issue and reading comments by all who are working on the project, they can then gain context to the issue and contribute to the conversation. This functionality eliminates the one-sided conversation project mangers seem to find themselves in and encourages and promotes the much needed input of the senior managers. This allows for a level of transparency to arise and promotes the successful completion of a project. 

Friday, November 29, 2013

UniPhi OnSite Mobile Apps to Launch in December 2013!

Remotely track live site progress!

UniPhi is releasing new iPad and Android apps called UniPhi OnSite. These apps have been designed to solve the problem of managing multiple sites. The apps are used by both site manager and project manager to communicate progress on tasks, raise issues, track variations and manage defects. The document generation module allows for quality checklists and notes to be made directly into the UniPhi web application while on-site. The apps work in offline mode and have a seemless integration with the camera function of the device.

Android Phone Issues Logging
Android Phone Document Register
Android Phone Track Progress
This exciting new addition to UniPhi’s software suite is all about making accessibility to your vital project information easier and as stress-free as possible. The app will allow functionality for the tracking of the progress of your project/s in as little or as much detail as suits you..

We are launching the apps via a free breakfast roadshow that's heading to Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. Dates and locations are:

Brisbane Mantra on Queen – 9th December 2013
Sydney Rydges World Square – 10th December 2013
Melbourne Rydges Exhibition St – 11th December 2013

Breakfast starts at 7:30am and will conclude at 9:00am.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Problem 4- Status Dates

It’s a Monday, the second day in May, 2011 and thousands of Twitter followers around the globe are glued to their seats as they follow the unfolding story of the Navy Seals finding and assailing the house of Osama Bin Laden’s refuge. Thanks to the internet, this truly incredible world event was streamed online exactly as it was unfolding and did an amazing job of highlighting just how poor business communication systems are. Here we are, the world, super glued to our screens watching as, what is supposed to be a covert operation unfolds, yet a CEO or a managing director of a company as small as two hundred people has no clue how many projects they’re running or what each project’s status is as of today. How does this work? The three-week-old status report is the most expensive piece of bureaucracy existing in the corporate world. What is the point of knowing that as of three weeks ago you were over budget and behind schedule?!


There is no point, or no point that helps you when you need it, or, ultimately, in the long run. As mentioned in this post, the ultimate goal of UniPhi’s software is to help remove the need to report and therefore, aim to remove three-week delays in the information being relayed to CEOs or managing directors of companies. This is not only to free up their time so that they can concentrate on facilitating resolutions to other issues, but also to help facilitate productivity and promote a more time efficient way of sharing information within the project environment and therefore, eliminating any issues that could arise before they actually do.