Friday, September 04, 2015

Managing the things you can't control

We recently released a white paper focused on complex projects in the construction industry and how creating a more adaptive and agile environment can assist in managing things that are beyond your control (you can see the media release and download the paper here

What's been interesting since  is the number of articles in the mainstream media of a similar nature. What's even more interesting is that most of the commentary is how there's nothing you can do to influence a companies reaction to things beyond your control. One example was the Qantas results. Matt O'Sullivan wrote an excellent article where he quotes ex Qantas economist Tony Webber as saying in relation to Qantas' big turnaround in profitability "You can't criticise him but I still think that a lot of it has to do with things completely beyond his control – most of it, in fact"

Read more:
Follow us: @smh on Twitter | sydneymorningherald on Facebook

Our view is that the best CEOs manage the things beyond their control by creating organisations that are made up of agile teams that can adapt to where the wind blows. Doing this means that if things are bad your less bad than your competitors and if things are good you're doing even better. And, we believe we've built software that can help those teams notice which way the wind blows and collaborate quicker to adapt. One key to this is transparency, which will be the topic of our next white paper due out next year.

Friday, August 14, 2015

UniPhi wins 2015 ABA100 Australian Business award for product innovation!

Yay! UniPhi has won an ABA100 award for product innovation at the 2015 Australian Business Awards. This year we entered the product innovation category for the work we have been completing for AECOM. In 2012, our enterprise portfolio and project management software was rolled out globally at AECOM as the precursor to the Global Unite program. Global Unite is a sophisticated integration project designed by UniPhi to capture and store project information created by the fortune 500 engineering company.

In 2014 UniPhi was recognised as an ABA100 winner for Innovation in the Australian Business Awards and we have proudly displayed our award through our website, emails and proposals over the past 12 months. It has made a real difference to the way the market views our business.

UniPhi again being recognised as an ABA100 winner for Product Innovation in the Australian Business Awards 2015 demonstrably shows our commitment to products and practices that challenge the status quo. We look forward to updating our marketing with this new honour and highlighting the product awarded as we strive to meet the potential described.

GUIDE - the product that has been recognised in the award, is the end reporting interface of the Global Unite project. It is a iOS app, an Android app and a web app that allows end users to view benchmark information as well as develop early stage cost estimates for an enormous range of projects and asset types including hotels, office towers, stadium, museums, libraries etc.

The parametric model that drives Guide has proven remarkably accurate in its estimating capabilities, meaning that AECOM clients can get answers to key strategic construction cost questions in minutes instead of weeks.

The Guide web and mobile application has the potential to revolutionise the way early stage construction decision making occurs. By partnering with AECOM,we have the capability to make this potential a reality.

This is a very proud day for us at UniPhi and we thank all the people at AECOM for assisting us in its development. Specific thanks go to Karen Wood who has been the AECOM project manager since project inception back in 2012. It has been a pleasure to work with Karen and the broader AECOM user base who provide proactive feedback and positive support that have led to the things we have achieved.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Pecha Kucha night...

Mark Heath has teamed up with fellow PMO Sydney Meet up members, including Sandra Arps, to present at a Pecha Kucha night in July. Mark's topic of the night: 'Designing the perfect concept workshop'.

In case you haven't heard of this kind of event before, here is the run down:

"PechaKucha 20x20 is a simple presentation format where you show 20 images, each for 20 seconds. The images advance automatically and you talk along to the images." (source)

It is an event that is now held in over 800 cities around the world (the first one starting in Tokyo in February 2003).

So why was this event created?

"Because architects talk too much! Give a microphone and some images to an architect -- or most creative people for that matter -- and they'll go on forever! Give PowerPoint to anyone else and they have the same problem." (source)

We hope you can attend this event, we look forward to seeing the results of the creative twist that Pecha Kucha has on presentations.

Here are the details:

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

UniPhi for the... Independent Verifier

It's interesting to see how different people and teams utilise UniPhi to meet their business needs.

Here's what the Davis Langdon team said...
The Davis Langdon Verification Services department is responsible for verifying works on major Infrastructure projects throughout their design and construction phases.

On a daily basis our independent review teams deal with large amounts of email to and from external stakeholders including D&C Contractors and government agencies. We have been using UniPhi’s “Save as Issue” feature for a number of years now, and we have found that it saves us an incredible amount of time. Our project teams save all project related emails into the UniPhi system at the click of a button indexing them on the way in. These emails are then available to be viewed by all project team members and all related correspondence is traceable, captured and classified as necessary.

This simple feature has reduced our reliance on individual email accounts such that we no longer need to search through multiple personal inboxes, sent items, deleted items etc. Instead we go straight into UniPhi and find out exactly what is happening within each project and activity subset.

When we first introduced the Save as plugins, we saw the benefits of the feature. The biggest benefit to using both the Save as Issue and Save as Document plugin, was the time and efficiency that it provides. You can upload the email into the relevant issue it is concerning, there is no need to forward or store your email. Thus, you save time, and guarantee that the email you received is communicated through to the right people, and you know it's safely stored in the issue.

As you may have read in the previous blog post, the Save As Document Plugin, allows you to save your email and/ or attachment, into a UniPhi Document. This is useful as well, because if there is a follow up email, you can simply update the version of the document.

Check out the issues plugin here and documents plugin here. Plus hear the difference in our videos over time ;-)

Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify.
Henry David Thoreau, Walden and Other Writing

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

New Feature - Communication tab

As part of the new release of UniPhi 11, the new Communication tab has been introduced. The Communication tab is one of the newest additions to the UniPhi platform, and has impressed users with how it neatly and concisely presents all interactions live in one space. The user is able to quickly and easily locate specific interactions, or get insight into what has occurred to date on a particular project, or across the portfolio. The Communication tab is ideally suited for use as a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool.

What is the Communications tab, and how does it work? 

The new Communication tab displays all forms of interaction that have occurred across your entire portfolio of project activity. In some ways it can be viewed as a transaction log. The information that is displayed is an aggregated view; a window into all of your UniPhi data. It's very important to note that there is no data input required (or even possible) within the Communications tab. The true value comes from viewing the data that has already been entered by each member of every project team. As the Communications tab does display all of those interactions, it is in fact a very broad, comprehensive, and powerful view of information. The interactions that the communications tab displays includes all Issues, issue actions, issue comments, all emails (sent from UniPhi), and all UniPhi documents. All of this information is displayed regardless of status, due date, or ownership.

To simplify the comprehensive view of information, UniPhi has filter options so that you can hone in and focus on the specific view of information you require. So as well as the standard UniPhi filters (Sector, Project Type, Service Line,  Location, Life cycle, and Project) the Communication tab features some new filters which allow you to filter according to; project Role, communication Type, and communication Category.

No more standard filing structure!

UniPhi's integration with Outlook and the party role model that sets up a users rights, access and role on a project can be used to provide enormous amounts of intelligence about activity that is undertaken within the system. For example, when you save an email from Outlook into UniPhi we not only capture the email contents but also who sent the email and who was on the To/CC list. If these people are in the UniPhi resources module then we also know what organisation they're from, what site/office within that organisation they are located and their role on the project that you saved the email to. The communications tab presents this information to you dynamically without the user having to think about where to file the email (all they need to do is select the correct project the email relates to). Equally, if a user enters information into the system, we know what role they're in when entering that data, what organisation and site and even where they were (if entering via a mobile app) when they entered it.

UniPhi as a CRM

All this means with some slight tweaking and the viewing of campaigns/ leads as projects/issues to solve, all this flow on benefits can make UniPhi a powerful CRM tool.

Click here to check it out.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

PMO meetup a success!

It was 6pm the day before the Easter long weekend, but that didn't stop the eager attendees that showed up to the PMO Meetup! Some of the hot topics covered by Mark Heath on the night...

The night proved to be a success, with Mark's presentation receiving positive feedback! Check out some of the comments post meetup:

"Another great event and a fabulous talk. Thank you Mark for your thought provoking presentation!" Sandra (Organiser)

Photo taken by meetup attendee Philip Reid of
Mark's presentation

"Awesome meet up. Special thanks to the organizers for organizing the meet up. Great presentation by Mark." Parag

"Enjoyed tonight. Great presentation and venue. Thanks for a good event" - Mark Schild

Watch this space for announcements on Mark's future presentations...

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Imagine - no reporting, no email, no inbox

Imagine freeing up as much as 25% to 30% of your time and the time of your entire workforce!
In Australia the typical employee works 39 hours per week. So saving time through efficient work practice is a very important consideration, especially when 30% equates to 12 hours per week, per employee!
Now image what your organization could do with all that recouped time. It might be possible to commence more projects, or complete your current projects in a shorter period of time. UniPhi turns the old adage "do more with less" into a reality.

How does UniPhi empower your organisation to realise these time savings? UniPhi has been designed with time efficiency as its core value proposition. Concepts such as entering data once, and reusing it many times are ingrained to our design principles. The decentralised data input philosophy is a classic example of this concept whereby each member of the project team contributes to the overall status of the project. The result is that the status of a project can be seen in real time, without the need to manually compile a project status report, which is out of date and incorrect due to the time it takes to produce. More recently we have been focusing on the elephant in the room - email!

In a recent post by Sara Larsen, reference is made to a Microsoft article that summarizes the inefficiencies of email by stating:

50% of emails can be deleted or stored in a folder

30% can be delegated and completed in less than two minutes

20% can be set aside in your task list to complete later

At UniPhi we believe this is true, and probably understated. So features such as our Outlook plug-in that allow you to save an email as a UniPhi issue, or to save an email as a UniPhi document have been greatly received by our clients. 

Do away with email all together!

With our cloud offering and a commitment from the enterprise or project team, we believe you can do away with email all together. Now without emails, you're probably will I communicate with my colleagues?!?

Screen shot example of an issues list in UniPhi

Issues are the central hub of information for your project team. Each issue can be assigned an owner, as can the various tasks required to resolve the issue. Fortunately as UniPhi is a cloud based platform you can access your issues within UniPhi at any time, and anywhere (i.e via UniPhi Onsite). It is so simple to view issues across your portfolio, or within a specific project and see exactly what is going on. The information is live, its extremely useful, and it saves a an incredible amount of time. Being able to save emails directly into an issue or document adds to the beauty of the issues tab.

Your project team will appreciate the freedom to get on with the task at hand without attending "around the table update" meetings. And your Project Managers, and Project Management Office will love not having to write project reports and compile portfolio status reports. Not to mention the time UniPhi saves when looking for a document.

Imagine not having to waste time forwarding, delegating or sorting emails to a folder, and I'm sure we all have the mysterious miscellaneous folder, that, let's be honest, is pretty much a black hole. So instead of losing those important emails, store it in a Document or an Issue in UniPhi and rest assured that it will always be visible and locatable by your project team, within the correct project.

No reports to write or compile, no lost documents to locate, no lost emails, and no status update meetings to attend! What will you do with your 12 hours?

A desk of reports by
 a user who hasn't
 discovered UniPhi

Screen shot example of reports, neatly organized and
manageable in UniPhi
No reporting, no email, no inbox.... Imagine no more!

PS. If you are in Sydney, why not come along to the PMO MeetUp on 2nd April and hear from UniPhi's Managing Director, Mark Heath. Spaces are limited!

Mark Heath featured in the April 2015 issue of INTHEBLACK!

While your looking through the April 2015 issue of INTHEBLACK, check out this article written on Mark Heath, Managing Director of UniPhi, on Page 25!

What an amazing achievement for Mark and UniPhi!

In case you'r not too distracted by that winning smile, have a read of Mark's article written by Chris Sheedy. It's a great read, and paints a clear picture of what UniPhi is all about.

A sneak peak...
"Everybody says that you can't do that, but we believe you can..."
- Mark Heath.
Inspiring words, with an inspiring vision.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Keep it simple - Standarised Template Use

Project Management Standards - Needed if not wanted...

In today's blog post I'd like to explore the concept and relative importance of "template standards" within an organisation, and why it is important for flexibility in some aspects, while maintaining a more rigid structure in others. For example, each organisation has their own templates and supporting process for writing and managing project documents, and managing project financials. These processes vary greatly in terms of the approach taken, as well as the maturity of each organisation. One of the biggest challenges faced when starting a new job is finding the tools you need, and understanding the processes that are in place.

On the document side, the tool-kit may include business cases, project management plans, test plans and strategy documents, right through to post implementation review and close-down reports. One needs to understand when to produce which document, where the template is stored, what the review process consists of, and even where to save the documents.

Screen shot example of a document created in UniPhi using
 a personalised template

The financial management processes may also apply to the handling of information such as proposal documents, tender submissions, progress claims, and invoices. Similarly, each person with responsibility for managing a budget within the organisation  will  need to understand how the budget was created, what are the delegations of authority, how it will be tracked, and which system (or systems) are required to stay on top of the whole financial management process.

In supporting these processes, most organisations set up document standards, often designed by, or in collaboration with the Project Management Office. A lot of time, effort, and consultation is involved in establishing and maintaining this suite of templates and processes.

The argument for having this standardisation, is that when executive stakeholders review a particular document meant for their approval, they are in fact comparing apples with apples, not apples with oranges. But the world of organisational change is complex, and businesses evolve over time either due to changes in maturity levels, technology, or political change.

What not to standardise

If the fundamental message that needs to be conveyed when producing a document such as a business case is "what are the key concepts and benefits" that the author is proposing, then it is essential that the author can achieve this without being constrained by a rigid template format where variations or modifications are not possible or not allowed.

In constrictive environments such as this, producing an important document such as a business case, becomes little more that a form filling exercise, or worse, the author may find ways to circumvent the process, which can lead to "invisible" or secret projects.

Flexibility in a way that supports a complex adaptive environment, without diminishing the value of the key messages that are being articulated, is therefore important when dealing with the contents of each document. When we think about the actual storage of that information, any flexibility will be a terrible prospect, as it is for organisations where ineffective network folder structures, and reliance on emails is a tremendous drain on time and efficiency.

What to standardise

On the other hand, when dealing with the financial aspects of your business, or of your project, a level of consistency is required both from a management perspective, and in order to present a consistent and professional image to your external stakeholders (suppliers, or clients).

The standards that must be maintained within the financial sphere include a defined Chart of Account (or charts of account), whereby the person or persons responsible for establishing a project budget can allocate costs to a standard set of codes. Firm standards must also exist when completing financial transactions, such as raising an invoice, or a purchase order, and then subsequently paying for the goods, or receipting payment of goods/services.

Flexibility in the financial sphere is an important factor when it comes to how this information is elaborated on, as the project evolves and more information becomes known, e.g. as a project progresses from  budget estimate to an approved and more granular format. In this case you need the ability to capture and track your costs to the level of detail that you have at hand. Over time, your finance department may identify the need to change or expand on the details used within your organisation's Chart of Accounts. Without sufficient flexibility here, your organisation will face significant change costs, as per the blog I posted here. And finally, having some flexibility around the way that your financial documents (reports, invoices, contracts, etc) are presented is important, especially when changes such as corporate logos, addresses, or the need to include a reference number are required.

Screenshot example of UniPhi's Template design tool.

This understanding about the need to balance standards with flexibility has been at the core of the UniPhi product since its inception almost 10 years ago. UniPhi's managing director, Mark Heath, having worked in several Portfolio Management Offices (PMO) recognised the dangers and implications which arise from organisations being too prescriptive and controlling in some regards, and lacking an effective technical solution for areas where standards mattered the most (e.g. finding documents, or retrieving stored information). Mark's own experience, and foresight, means UniPhi has been built with sufficient flexibility in mind.

UniPhi's software solution to standards

So how does UniPhi achieve this balance? Quite simply we provide you with training and/or reference materials to enable you to perform any configuration changes required to the aspects where flexibility matters.

We do this for two reasons, firstly, we are opposed to the practice adopted by some software vendors whereby the client is forced to pay exorbitant rates when minor system configuration changes are required. Secondly, each client is subtly different. You will know how your business operates, and as a result we allow you to "tweak" your deployment to best meet those requirements. At the same time, UniPhi has been designed with rigid design rules where they matter. An example of this being that each unique project in UniPhi is the reference point for all information relating to that project. This mitigates the risk of "losing" a document, a risk, or an issue through user error resulting in information being saved in the wrong location.

It's no surprise that UniPhi is generating a lot of interest, and winning awards for the innovative way we approach Portfolio, Program, and Project Management. If you'd like to find out more about how UniPhi can improve your business, why not contact the team, or sign up for a free trial. Efficiency awaits!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Keep it simple- Have an empty inbox

So 1990s

As you may have gathered from my previous blog on the subject of lost emails, I am not a huge fan of emails. I was, years ago I had something of a love affair with emails. I'd code them, and save them and sort them. I'd search through my sent items, and even my deleted items to support an issue, or just to refresh my memory on a particular incident or solution.

A hip new world

But that was years ago. I've since fallen out of love with emails, and moved in. I am now most proud of the fact that I have very few emails stored anywhere! And I'm not alone. All of the staff at UniPhi Australia, including Mark Heath our Managing Director, have managed to wean themselves off the use of emails. Our clients too are rejoicing in the lack of reliance on email, and the ability to collaborate on important issues via the UniPhi Issues module.

UniPhi has always enabled project teams to share information in an open and transparent way, which is  the most efficient way to collaborating.

The UniPhi Issues module is the centralised hub of collaboration. Each team member can see what actions are required to resolve an issue, who has been assigned, and what discussions have occurred to date. Team members can also add their own comments and even save file attachments to the issue.

When we sought feedback from our clients though, it became obvious that the remaining reliance on email came from the correspondence they sent and received to external parties (such as suppliers, regulators, or clients). So a few years ago, we developed the UniPhi 'Save as Issue' plug in. This plug in installs to your MS Outlook application, and allows you to save an email into an issue within UniPhi, attachments and all. Not only that, but the plug in also enables you to create new issues into UniPhi, with all of the information that has arrived via email. It's powerful stuff, and offers immense time savings to our clients that have embraced this feature.

Thankfully, not all correspondence relates to problems or opportunities so we have now added to the save as issue with our just released 'Save as Documentplug in feature. This feature  allows you to save any of your emails into a UniPhi document. Again, you can also include email attachments. An example scenario of how the 'Save as Documentfeature can be used to save time and eliminate frustration would be:

You are working on a design aspect of a project. The architect sends you version one of a drawing. You can save that drawing into a UniPhi document (eg Design Drawing) within your project.

You and your entire project team now have access to version one of the Design Drawing document. At a later date, the architect may submit a revised version of the drawing. It is now very easy for you to save the revised drawing into the Design Drawing document, from your inbox, at the press of a button. The document revises to version two and your team is always able to access the correct version. As UniPhi features a fully functional Document Management System, issues such as version control, document identification/location, and correct template usage are all taken care of.

Now that you have broken up the complicated love affair with email, your biggest issue now, is all the free time you will have. So put your feed up, relax and read a book.