Project Management Made Simple

Project management is a term that in some respects appears ubiquitous, yet in practice, it seems to still be relatively confined to big business. While this may be the case, the underpinnings of project management are actually quite simple and can be adapted by virtually anyone. But, before we get too far down this path I think it is important to look at what project management is…and what it is not.

First, project management is a methodology. At its core is a framework that allows for efficient use of time, but more importantly this methodology/framework helps ensure that the goal of the project is actually achieved. Second, it must be understood that to be considered a project, there has to be a specific “start date” and “end date.” If the project has no official beginning or specific date to end, by definition it is a process. It is important to differentiate between the two. A project is undertaken to meet a specific goal or requirement, within a specified time frame. For example, if you are planning a wedding you would want to use a project management methodology. This is because if certain things aren’t pulled together by the wedding day, proverbial heads are going to roll. A process, however, could be thought of as a repeatable group of activities and tasks that will be done over and over again. Making coffee would be a good example of a process. Coordinating everything to pull off a successful wedding, however, is a project.

There are a few project management methodologies, but for our purposes we will look at the basis of good project management. Our goal is to apply the principles of solid project management, rather than try and memorize a particular methodology.

In my experience, it is often thought that projects need to be somewhat complex in nature in order to use project management. The beauty of project management though is that even if there is little complexity to deal with, these principles will still be of great value to the individual applying them. At its core, project management is as much about efficiency as it is about bringing to fruition something that does not currently exist. Let’s get started by defining a few things.

There are typically 5 phases to any project. Some phases may only have a couple of things that happen within them, but there are about 5 phases nonetheless. The phases are Initiation, Planning, Executing, Controlling and Closing. We’ll take them one at a time, and remember, it’s more about the methodology than anything else. Effective project management always seeks to break down the enormity of the project into manageable parts. These manageable parts are called phases.

One more thing before we begin…sometimes it’s easier to apply a scenario or hypothetical situation to help us understand a concept. We will use “Planning a Wedding” as our scenario to help us understand various points or concepts.

The Initiation Phase

Project Charter

This is a very important component of the project that is often overlooked. Think of the Project Charter as your “Permission” to continue. Why do you need permission you may ask? Because 80% of project failures occur from a lack of communication. Have you ever had your boss tell you what they needed from you and then ask you to something completely different? I’ll bet that not only did you clarify exactly what they wanted, but you spent an enormous amount of time creating it. Only in the end to have them tell you that you must have misunderstood. A Project Charter is really your protection against this type of mismanagement and miscommunication.

What you put in the Charter is essentially the objective of the project, the scope of the project, what things will be done to complete the project, and who it is that needs to formally authorize the project. And, the best part of the Charter is that if it isn’t in the Charter, you can’t do it. This keeps your boss and others from continuously changing their minds and not letting you finish what you started.

So far as the mechanics of the Charter, here are some definitions. The “objective” is really just stating what the project should accomplish. The scope of the project is simply defining the parameters or boundaries of what will be done to accomplish the project. The things that need to be done to make the project a success are called deliverables. These are packages of work that need to be done, either individually or collectively, for the project to move along as planned. Finally, the authorizers are the ones that have the authority to say yes or no to the project and ultimately the ones that are going to pay for it. The authorizers are also called Stakeholders…not because they love beef, but because these are actually the people that have the highest “stake” in the project being done right. Sticking with our wedding planning theme, the stakeholders might be the Bride, Groom, Parents and the minister.

The Planning Phase

This is the very beginning of the project where you begin to brainstorm about what you think will need to happen in order for the project to come together. For example, using our wedding planning theme, we know that there are several things that need to occur in order to make this wedding come together seamlessly…so you begin listing them. There must be somewhere to have it, someone to open and close the facility, catering must be determined, what is the anticipated budget or cost that the family is looking to spend, etc. In fact, this can just be a list of items or bullet points that you know will need to be broken down more granularly later. Remember, this is just brainstorming to see what the main “things” are that need to occur for the project to be done correctly. This is where we look at how to begin adding shape to this wedding. We need to somehow bring it from conceptualization to reality, from thought process to paper. This is the rough framework of what we know will happen or at least what we think needs to happen. The planning phase is critical for getting started, but not critical for being 100% correct. We will refine as we go.

The planning phase is really just getting the major people together that will own part of the project work and planning how they will do it and what they will need to get it done. In the business world, these are the Subject Matter Experts. A project manager does not need to be an expert in everything, but the project manager does need to find those that are and get those Subject Matter Experts on their team. This phase is also where you assign starting dates and ending dates to particular tasks. This is crucial to the project’s success. There will be tasks that can happen at the same time that may or may not be related. But, some of those tasks will end later than others because they will simply take longer to complete. Start and stop dates also give you a way of ensuring that everything gets completed on time. This makes sense because the project has a specific stop date (otherwise it’s a process), so all tasks have to end sometime. A word of caution, you are still in the “planning” phase here. Don’t get overwhelmed with the lack of details. Every home needs a frame before it can be built. But, before the frame is constructed there is a rough idea of the total square footage of the home, how many rooms, bathrooms, etc. that there will be. That’s what the planning phase if for…to determine how this thing should look.

Activities and Tasks

Project plans are created to track activities and tasks. It may be easier to think of a project plan as an Excel spreadsheet with as little as 4 columns (Task Name; Start Date; End Date; Assigned To). This gives each activity and task the ability to be formally tracked and completed. You may be wondering what the difference is between an activity and a task. Simply put, an activity is the culmination of 1 or more tasks. As an example, let’s take drinking a cup of coffee in the morning. If you like coffee, drinking a cup in the morning is an activity you enjoy. However, for that activity to occur, you must complete several tasks. For example, you need to clean the coffee maker; put in the coffee filter; scoop in the coffee; fill the coffee maker with water; get a clean cup…you get the idea. Now, just because there are numerous tasks in making a cup of coffee doesn’t mean that you need to include them all in a project plan. You need to go deep enough into the activity to ensure it gets completed on time, but you don’t need to list all 15-20 tasks to make a cup of coffee. Remember, these are tasks and not procedures. The final rule of thumb is that tasks should always be able to be accomplished…yes or no items…did you do it or not? This means that tasks are intentionally named using action verbs. So, the activity is making a cup of coffee. The tasks that make up this activity we’ve already discussed. We could name one of these tasks “Scoop the coffee into the filter”. Now we have a task that is action oriented and can be tracked.

Milestones

This is a way of rolling up or categorizing activities and tasks into their highest component. For example, maybe coffee is actually a part of a milestone named Provided Beverages for All Age Groups. The milestone is there to ensure that all of the beverages are bought and ready for when the guests arrive. Within the “Provided Beverages for All Age Groups” milestone then, you may have activities and tasks for Water; Punch and Soda, Iced Tea, Coffee, and Ice. Together (once purchased, delivered, and ready to be served to the guests) they complete the Provided Beverages for All Age Groups milestone for the project. Milestones give you the ability to track project completion at a higher level. This makes it easier for both reporting and tracking purposes.

The Execution Phase

This is where the activities and tasks are being completed according to the start and stop dates. You have moved out of the planning phase and into the executing (doing) phase. Here is where you, as the project manager, track others progress in completing their assigned tasks. Remember, even though you are not responsible for completing the tasks themselves, you may need to do some hand holding to help ensure that others are completing their tasks accordingly. Completion of the tasks, activities, milestones, and ultimately the entire project falls on you.

The Controlling Phase

Once you have begun to execute the project tasks and activities, you will begin controlling the work and the times it takes to complete it. Controlling the project is not as difficult as it sounds if you have good management support. Again, try and remember that your resources (those doing the work) are responsible to the stakeholders and management to ensure that they are completing their assigned work, on time. Your role is to ensure that everyone knows what tasks and activities they are supposed to be working on and tracking that completion on the project plan. From there, at regular intervals, you need to report progress to management. Management won’t typically want to know every task that is being done, but they will need to be apprised of what tasks are behind schedule. You always need to have a “point of escalation” plan in case things go south. It is a good idea to also set up a weekly meeting with all of your resources to discuss tasks, completion, issues and other items affecting the project. This becomes your leveraging tool for managing people not in your area and not under your direct management. This also allows a forum to be in place so that everyone is on the same page when issues or questions arise about tasks and activities.

The Closing Phase

Think of this as the winding down phase. Tasks, activities, and milestones are almost all completed. The project is officially coming to an end…maybe there are some tasks still being performed to ensure that everything is running accordingly, but for the most part the project is coming to a close. This will usually be a fairly low resource constraint for you. You will be updating any necessary project materials and making sure that the deliverables match the Charter that you defined this project by. This is also where resources will go back to their usual daily activities as was normal before your project began.

No project should end without a close out meeting where people are praised for their efforts and thanked for their project dedication. This is a tag-team effort and everyone deserves credit.

Lessons Learned

Other than the Charter, lessons learned is probably the other most neglected part of a project. It is reasonable to think that since projects are new there will be unanticipated obstacles that you run into. Those obstacles, no matter how small, will somehow be resolved. Lessons learned is your opportunity to capture what the Subject Matter Experts learned to resolve or look out for when working on the project. These should be documented and given to management, as well as kept for yourself. From a reasonableness perspective, you may manage a project in the future that has similar characteristics of the project you just finished. How inefficient would it be to drive a project team into the same issues and obstacles that you already encountered and make the new team come up with their own resolutions? Lessons learned becomes the project FYI that can help a new project team plan better and be more efficient because they are aware and have planned for certain obstacles ahead of time. All this because you were wise enough to capture this information from past experience.

In conclusion, while there is much more to formal project management and the memorization and application of proven methodologies, it is the author’s hope that this will benefit you to some degree and that maybe you will even have a take away to apply to your own project. I wish you all the best in your project management endeavors.

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Authority and Responsibility, How They’re Related and How They Affect Project Management

Veteran project managers know that they accept responsibility for the project when they accept the role of project manager. They also know that the lack of authority can seriously impede their ability to deliver the goals and objectives set for the project. Responsibility is directly proportional to consequences. Responsibility for project results doesn’t mean that they get placed on the bench until the next project if the one they’re leading fails, it has a monetary consequence. They will suffer with the project through elimination or reduction of bonus, a re-assignment to a less responsible role (with an attendant reduction in salary), or dismissal in the case of consultants. The connection between responsibility and consequences is entrenched in business. Larger more costly projects will tend to engage more senior project managers and the consequence of failure will be proportional. The connection between project results and consequences will also be heightened.

What is lacking in my experience (20 plus years as a programme and project manager) is a correspondence between authority and responsibility. Project managers can do much of the project planning without having access to authority. Project managers will need some help from subject matter experts for some of the planning work, even if it’s just to validate effort or cost estimates. Larger, more complex projects tend to have more need of subject matter experts to the point that some of the work is planned by these experts. The authority needed to acquire and manage the resources needed for this work will usually come with the territory. It’s when the project reaches the build or implementation phase that the project manager needs authority. They can plan the work, organize the work, and monitor performance but without authority they have a very limited ability to ensure the work is done on time and with the necessary quality.

The largest, most costly, most complex projects are led by project managers who hold senior positions in their organizations and bring that level of authority to their projects. The Manhattan project, which delivered the Atomic bomb during World War II, is a good example of this type of project and project manager. Leslie Groves, who managed the project, was a 3 star (lieutenant) General. The vast majority of projects which don’t fall into the Manhattan project category in terms of size are where the connection between authority and responsibility falls apart.

Most projects nowadays are executed in a “matrix” environment where the organization uses project managers to run projects and functional managers to manage people. The matrix environment is a good fit for most organizations because they have a mix of operational and project work. The problem with the matrix environment is that seldom do they come with a blueprint for the division of authority between the functional and project manager which means that the project manager has none of the authority and the functional manager has it all from the resource’s perspective. Organizations with more mature matrix environments may have taken some steps to resolve the issues that this division causes, but rarely do the definitions of the 2 roles include a precise description of authority. This is probably also due to the fact that the HR group plays a big role in defining authority through their policies and they tend to be behind the curve in accommodating their policies to the management of projects.

Problems start with the acquisition of the project team. Project managers are prone to the same greed and the rest of the human race and would like to have a free reign to acquire the best resources the organization has to offer. Functional managers, on the other hand, have their operational responsibilities to consider. They will be compensated for the resources they relinquish to the project but aren’t usually incented to make sure their best and brightest are made available to the project manager. That’s because their performance is measured based on the success of their operational responsibilities. If they make their best resources available to the project, they may fail to deliver on their operational goals and objectives and that may have a negative impact on their compensation. The best approach I’ve seen to balancing operational and project needs is to have functional managers whose sole responsibility is the “care and feeding” of resources. Since they don’t have any other operational responsibilities, they are free to assess the competing needs of projects and operations and make assignment decisions based on their perception of what’s best for the organization.

Problems encountered with team acquisition will propagate throughout the rest of the project. Presuming effort and duration estimates were based on some level of performance that is greater than some of the acquired team are capable of meeting, project performance will suffer. Pointing out to the project sponsor that performance issues are being caused by under-performing team members may or may not bring relief. The sponsor is likely to view your complaint with scepticism if you didn’t raise the issue before. An inability to perform the work is not the only cause of poor performance. By far the most common cause of inadequate performance is the bleeding of resource time from the project by operational demands. The demands may be quite legitimate and the operational work demanded of the resource may be the best possible use of that resource for the good of the organization. That doesn’t help the project manager when he or she has to explain poor project performance to the stakeholders. This situation is bad enough when the project manager is given notice of the demand but is much worse when they learn of the change after the fact. The level of authority the project manager has been given, or at least the functional manager’s perception of that authority, will often determine whether they find out about the operational work before or after the fact.

The other side of the resources coin is the recognition and rewards that are used to build team morale. A lack of authority in this area usually has to do with the project manager’s ability to spend money to give awards or purchase any other kind of team building activity. Recognition and rewards are usually governed by HR policy which is the reason the project manager is not given authority to bestow these on deserving team members. The lack of any kind of budget to buy awards is the other reason.

Lastly, the project manager may be called upon to deal with team members whose head just isn’t in the game. They have the ability, experience, and training to perform the work at the level of competency envisioned in the project plans but don’t. There may be a variety of reasons for this but they usually stem from the resource’s commitment to the project, or lack thereof. Let’s look at the example of a process improvement project to illustrate what I mean. The benefit of the process improvement is the elimination of effort which will translate into job loss (at least in that department). Some of the team members who work on this project may be the ones whose jobs will be eliminated; after all they’re the subject matter experts in the old process. Is it reasonable to expect these folks to show enthusiasm for the project? Of course not. Unless the project manager can show these team members how the project will benefit them, or at least not harm them they’re going to be less than committed to the objectives of the project.

The lack of enthusiasm may have nothing to do with security; there are any number of reasons for a lack of commitment from team members: jealousy, the perception that their best interests are served if the project fails, a commitment to a project they perceive as competing, dissatisfaction that a friend is not assigned to the team are just some of the “political” reasons that a team member may not give the project their best effort. Resolving any of these issues will require that the project manager have some degree of authority over the resource. This doesn’t necessarily mean they have hiring and firing authority, the ability to influence their compensation may be sufficient.

Now that I’ve made the case for an authority commensurate with the degree of responsibility, let’s look at some ways and means of acquiring that authority. I’ll start by addressing the folks who sponsor projects. You should hold your project managers responsible for project results; that’s their job, but it doesn’t make sense to hold them accountable without giving them the ability to meet the project’s goals and objectives and authority is a key component of that ability. You can help here by coming to an agreement with your project manager over the degree of authority you’re giving them. Working within the policies dictated by your HR group, you should assign them the authority level you both agree they need. Don’t speak in generalities, be specific. The project manager should know what their remedies are in the case where they have performance issues with team members. The process used for determining the composition of the project team should also be clearly articulated. How will disagreements over individual resources be resolved? Of course to do this in a way that makes sense for your organization, you’ll need to prioritize your project against the other projects and operational work of the organization. If the project goals and objectives are high priority, the project can’t be a low priority when it comes to competing for scarce resources.

Their level of authority over the team members, once the team has been defined needs to be clearly articulated as well. How will the project manager deal with a team member whose performance is sub-standard because they don’t have the necessary skills or experience? How will they handle the team member who has the necessary skills and experience but isn’t performing for some other reason? The project manager’s authority needs to be articulated in sufficient detail so that these questions are answered. Delegating authority to the project manager doesn’t have to contravene any HR policy. For example, it may be against policy to allow the project manager to hire or fire resources but where stakeholders, customers and others, contribute to performance reviews make sure the project manager is a contributor and make sure their review is weighted in accordance with the amount of time the resource spends on the project and the project priority. On the other hand sometimes projects are important enough and HR policies behind enough to warrant changing them. Don’t be afraid to gather political allies and make the case for change to HR. You may be successful in effecting the change for the next big project even if you aren’t successful making the change for the current one.

The project area that the project manager will need authority for is recognition and rewards. The project manager should be able to articulate a recognition and rewards programme for the project, or how they will utilize existing recognition and rewards programmes. Ensure they have sufficient authority to administer the programme. This will mean a budget, in most cases. Work out how you’ll make the money available when needed in cases where it’s impossible to give the project manager any signing authority. Lastly, make yourself available to take part in awards ceremonies or team building activities. I haven’t dealt with any sponsors who didn’t enjoy these occasions once they had been exposed to them.

Project managers who have sponsors that have failed to read the above, or who are not comfortable taking the initiative with you, will need to initiate the conversation themselves. Once you’ve defined the level of authority you need in detail make certain it’s documented. If your authority isn’t written down anywhere, you don’t have it. People’s memories being what they are, the perception that you have of the authority you have will differ from your sponsor’s and that gap will only widen as time goes on and memories deteriorate. Remember that the authority you’re given isn’t plucked from thin air, it is authority that your sponsor has (or any other senior stakeholder) that they delegate to you.

Your authority should be captured in the Project Charter. The level of detail need not be any greater than the rest of the charter; you can leave that to specific tasks or purposes. It should be spelled out in generalities such as “the Project Manager has the authority to participate in the selection of the project team”, “the Project Manager will evaluate members of the team and these evaluations will be used in performance reviews”, or “the Project Manager has the authority to address performance issues”. Specifics can be left until the project advances to the stage where authority is needed. For example, you can ask for an e-mail from the sponsor in advance of team acquisition specifying how decisions will be made on individual team members and how disputes will be handled.

Authority is like a muscle: it will atrophy if it isn’t used and won’t be available when it is most needed. Your sponsor has given you authority so that you can use it to achieve your project’s goals and objectives so you should never fail to achieve them because of a lack of authority unless you were specifically denied it. This means that when team members refuse to recognize your authority to direct their work you must use it to impose your will on them. Don’t confuse the imposition of your direction with abuse. You abuse your authority when you use it for purposes other than the accomplishment of the project’s goals and objectives or when you show favouritism imposing consequences or rewards. Avoid abusing your authority at all costs, but not at the cost of failing to exercise it. To ensure you avoid abusing your authority it’s a good idea to have your HR organization’s policies and guidelines handy and ensure you’re familiar with them.

Project managers who initiate the conversation about authority will have the advantage of being able to define the level of authority they believe they need. This can either be done by spelling your authority out in the draft version of the Project Charter or in some other document that precedes it. Don’t be faint-hearted here. It’s better to have authority that you don’t need and don’t use than to fail to have it and need it. Don’t be shy to exercise an authority you don’t have because neither you nor the sponsor foresaw a need for it. Your sponsor is much more likely to forgive you exercising an authority that leads to the accomplishment of a project goal than they are to forgive you for failing to meet the goal.

Most of what I’ve said here will apply to project managers who are permanent employees of the organizations they manage projects for, but what about consultants? These folks perpetually find themselves in “matrix” environments because even in organizations that are projectized or that have a mature, proven matrix arrangement, they don’t apply to the consultant. Consultants need to be especially diligent in outlining their level of authority and in using it. Their authority will never include the ability to fire or to pick and choose resources when acquiring the team. At most they will have the authority to hire contractors and participate in acquisition negotiations for employees so they need to ensure that they have a remedy that will address an insoluble problem with a team member. Don’t forget that when you first arrive on the job you’re an unknown quantity to the stakeholders. They may have had exposure to you when you interviewed for the role but you’re still an unknown quantity. After you’ve been in the role for a while you should have gained a level of trust that will allow you more leeway in exercising authority but until then don’t make assumptions that could embarrass your sponsor.

Finally, if you fail to have your sponsor delegate the authority to you that you need to succeed, make sure you document that fact. How do you do that without insulting your sponsor? Simple, not having the authority needed to achieve project goals and objectives is a risk to those goals and objectives and should be captured in the project’s risk register. Don’t describe these risks in personal terms; describe them in terms of what the risk event looks like and the likely impact on the project if they happen. A conversation about mitigation strategies to address the risk may lead to granting you the authority. At the least they should lead to a mitigation strategy that will reduce the level of risk. If all else fails and there is no granting of authority or identification of acceptable mitigation strategies, the project must accept the risk. You still have the option of reviewing this risk and its acceptance whenever the risk register is reviewed with the stakeholders. A word of caution here: the risk identifies a disagreement between you and your sponsor; don’t use this as an opportunity to embarrass your sponsor in front of their peers or managers.

One final word of advice for all project managers: it’s usually easier to ask for forgiveness than permission. When in doubt assume the authority and exercise it. If you’ve overstepped your bounds but achieved your objective your sponsor may point the mistake out to you, but won’t be as unhappy with the result as they would be if you failed to exercise the authority and failed to achieve the objective.

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4 Signs That You Are Not Working With a Professional Expert Witness and Need to Switch

Expert witnesses are integral to the success or failure of litigation. There’s much more to being an expert witness than offering an impartial, knowledgeable opinion at trial.

Experts should be able to communicate effectively with legal teams, meet court deadlines, and prepare accurate, well-written expert reports admissible in a court of law. Often, it can be challenging to find an expert who has all these traits and possesses the specialised knowledge appropriate to your case.

While factors such as experience, qualifications, professionalism, and fees are of course central to selecting an expert, they are not foolproof grounds for making a decision. Listed below are four clear signs that you’ve selected the wrong expert and need to source an alternative.

Your expert is not credible

A key part of expert evidence is the credibility of your expert both on paper and in the court room. Your expert needs to have sufficient training,education, and experience to convince the court that their opinion is well-substantiated and worthy of being taken seriously. If your case goes to trial, it is of paramount importance that your expert is comfortable with a trial setting and able to withstand cross-examination confidently.

If your expert does not have the education, experience, and confidence required to present a credible, qualified opinion, look for better alternatives.

Your expert spends a little too much time as an expert witness

Generally, leading experts gain their experience by spending the vast majority of their time practicing as a professional in their field. While a wealth of expert testimony is in itself a good sign, spending a disproportionate amount of time in the witness box, rather than in practice, should be a red flag. Ideally, expert witnesses should have both specialised knowledge and recent, practical experience in their field of expertise.

If your expert is more over-used than they are experienced, it’s time to search for another one.

Your expert lacks conviction

The foremost duty of an expert witness is one of impartiality to the court; witnesses should not be an advocate for either party – not even the one paying their fees.

If your expert appears easily swayed by your comments and is eager to change the substance of their report in order to align more closely with what they believe you are wishing to hear, it may be unwise to continue to engage their services.

Your expert charges an unreasonable fee

As with other consultants, experts set their fees based on the complexity of the case and the time required to review files, prepare a report and, if necessary, appear in court. Yet legal teams should be wary of experts who charge rates that appear at odds with the demands of the case at hand.

If you suspect that your expert is charging more than what could be deemed reasonable for the review of documents and preparation of an expert opinion, you may want to make the switch to another expert.

Conclusion

An impressive CV or extensive field experience alone do not qualify a professional as an expert witness. Rather, there is a broad variety of factors to consider when selecting and engaging an expert.

If your chosen expert shows one or more of the signs above, we recommend terminating your business relationship and approaching Experts to find a better choice.

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More About Interest Rate Cap And How To Take Advantage Of It

Borrowing money either for personal or for business use is now very common in most places. Financial establishments offer several different options for you to take advantage of. And as a borrower, you should know how you can greatly benefit from the options offered. One of the things that you should know about is an interest rate cap.

An interest rate cap serves as a hedge that protects the borrowers from rising short term rates. It works when a variable rate goes over the cap, the cap will be compensated for whatever difference may be between the cap price and the market variable rate. It can also be viewed as an agreement between the provider of the cap and the borrower. It limits the floating interest rate to a set level for a certain time period.

Additionally, an interest rate cap translates to a series of call options on an index of floating interest rates which normally involves 3 or 6 month Libor and it coincides with the rollover dates on the borrower’s floating liabilities. Knowing this will greatly help a borrower stand on his feet again knowing that he will be paying the same all throughout the time period of his loan.

The borrower can greatly benefit from having this cap especially if he is set to pay the borrowed money within a short period of time only. He is protected against the increasing interest rates that most financial establishments add on top of the amount being borrowed. And when the market rates go above the cap rate, you will no longer have to worry because the cap rate provider has to make payments to the borrower or buyer of the cap to bring the interest rate back to the cap level which is actually a very big help and a huge advantage on the borrower’s side.

The cap provider, on the other hand, does not need to make payments as long as the rates are below the cap, so the borrower is left to pay market rates. So now, you can rest assured that you do not need credit approval during this process, although it may involve an auction process with the help of a consultant. And this usually results in highly competitive pricing and terms.

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Should You Use an SEO Agency for Your Business?

8 Benefits of Engaging SEO Agencies to Boost Your Online Presence!

Advertising has transformed to one of the most demanding and crucial aspects of having to run a business. This ultimately means that the overall success of your business is going to depend mainly on the effectiveness of your advertising campaign.

Nowadays, online is where everyone’s at, which is also the reason why most businesses look to promote their products or services online. To do that, one needs to have a business website which will run their internet marketing campaign. With an abundance of spam links and countless other websites floating around in cyberspace, it’s easy for a business website to get lost or rank so low in the SERPs, that the chances of searchers to find the website are seriously diminished.

Since, paying a search engine to place your business website at the top of its list doesn’t come cheap, the next best thing one can do is to use search engine optimization or SEO techniques to increase the clicks to the website and help it work its way up the search engine’s results page.

Why You Should Hire a SEO Agency?

Optimizing a website for a search engine can be not only a tough, but also costly process, mainly because there is just too many business websites competing for the coveted number one spot on the page rank, by using the exact same keywords.

While businesses can opt to do their own SEO, hiring a SEO agency that has experienced search engine optimizers will no doubt, help businesses reap ROI in the long run. One of the best ways in which businesses can do that is by outsourcing their SEO needs to qualified SEO agencies.

The growing demand for SEO services has lead to a mushrooming of many a great number of SEO agencies fulfilling their business objective, which has lead many businesses seeking SEO services asking the question, “how do we find the best SEO service provider?”

Obviously, all those searching for SEO agencies will have to make their selection by passing SEO companies through careful and meticulous scrutiny, in order for them to get the best in search engine optimization for their business website.

Benefits of Using SEO

One of the most obvious advantages of using the services of SEO agencies is their ability to enhance the visibility of a business website, but that being said, business owners also raise concerns on affordability, which can only be analyzed when businesses know the benefits of using the services of SEO agencies. In more ways than one, the following are some of the benefits of using search engine optimization services, especially the right ones, which can allow businesses to enjoy the following advantages.

Target Traffic

While businesses embark on an SEO marketing campaign, they should realize that an entire marketing campaign can fall flat on its face if a business is unable to reach the masses, that is, their target audience. It doesn’t really matter whether your business website is attracting hundreds of clicks per day, if those visits are not from your intended target demographic, you will only be seeing them spending time on your website without actually buying anything, which is really the opposite of your marketing intentions.

Get a Well-Made Business Website

Even though, search engine optimization is necessary for businesses to compete with one another online, the importance of the website design cannot be undermined. While hiring the services of a good SEO agency can get you good marketing copy for your website and an effective use of the related keywords, having a brilliantly designed website will help a lot when it comes to attracting people and even the search engines to your website. This is true because search engines always take into account different aspects of usability and the overall layout of the business website.

Cost Effectiveness

The fact of the matter remains that while using radio and TV advertisements can be an effective means of marketing a business’s product or service, it still is very expensive, especially for start-up businesses. By taking their marketing needs online and hiring the services of an experienced SEO agency, a business is able to reach thousands, or even millions of people which they would have not been able to otherwise.

Using SEO Best Practices

Hiring an experienced SEO agency will allow you to get information on the various techniques they have adopted in their SEO tactics. Hiring a SEO agency that has been in the game for a while will also provide you with the added advantage of not having to worry about them using any SEO techniques while working on your business website.

Hiring experienced SEO experts will ensure that your website climbs the search engine ranks without using any illegal practices or short cuts that could produce short term spikes in the website’s ranking, but eventually lead to your website having to pay penalties.

Access to Latest SEO Techniques

Needless to say the field of SEO is constantly evolving, which means that it is important for businesses to stay abreast on all the latest SEO techniques that can help them stay in the game. That being said, businesses usually have little or no time to keep up with the latest developments in SEO techniques. However, an agency providing SEO services is all about being proactive in keeping up-to-date with the latest search engine news and changes in SEO techniques.

Cutting-Edge Tools

Keeping in mind the last point, SEO agencies are fluent in navigating through a wide range of online marketing tools that helps increase the value of your marketing strategy. Whether it’s using web analytics for carrying out research or conversion tools that monitor and report the usage of important keywords, SEO agencies know how and where to get the information they need to save time and reduce your in-house cost.

Comprehensive SEO Knowledge

As mentioned earlier, SEO agencies are usually the most qualified in dealing with various verticals of online marketing, mainly due to the nature of their work. Therefore, an SEO agency is able to solve a multitude of problems which a business simply cannot handle by itself. An SEO agency can work together with a business to provide an added perspective, when it comes to understanding and developing marketing strategies for different sectors and various types of business websites.

Bottom Line

Lastly, search engines like Google realize all too well that websites that don’t add value to a searcher’s experience on the internet are not worth a mention in their index. Furthermore, in some cases Google might also decide to drop your website from the SERPs altogether if you’ve used spam to get a higher page ranking.

The two main goals of SEO agencies who develop marketing strategies to push your product or service online, is to make sure online content is interesting and no techniques have been used for obtaining your goals. So, are SEO agencies worth it? Absolutely!

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10 Secrets to Hiring the Right SEO Company

Even if you are armed with an abundance of knowledge in SEO, you may still need the services of a professional SEO company. Having strong knowledge of SEO is hardly sufficient in some cases. Even if you are doing your best to attempt to obtain a good ranking for your website, you might still wind up wondering why your website is simply not doing well. For starters, you must understand that your website will have to be fully optimized in all elements. Not just that, but your website has to be maintained on a regular basis. SEO is a continuous process that includes a great deal of time and effort. To make things simpler, you will be better off utilizing the services of a competent SEO company to do the work for your website.

There are numerous SEO companies today, and there are a lot of trustworthy companies as well as unreliable ones. Thus, it is crucial that you select the perfect SEO Company. Here are 10 important points that you must keep in mind when selecting SEO services:

Site Evaluation Guide

Does the SEO firm offer you a site evaluation guide? A reliable SEO firm should have the ability to provide you with an extensive analysis of your site, regarding ranking and design structure. This can be done by performing a website audit. The result of this website audit will allow the SEO firm to offer you a proposal of how much work needs to be done to bring you to a certain level of ranking. They must be able to advise and troubleshoot all aspects related to performance, content, and design that might hinder the reading or indexing of your pages.

Tools in Figuring out Keywords

What tools does the SEO Agency use to look for keywords? Do they offer competitive analysis based on your chosen keywords? Understanding what methodology the SEO Agency utilizes for keyword evaluation or research is very important. It will be a great help if you perform your own due diligence using basic tools, such as conducting keyword research and analysis through the use of keyword planner in Google AdWords.

Backlinks to Website

Where will the SEO Company return links from? Backlinks are just as, if not more, vital in SEO than onsite optimization. The SEO Company should be able to obtain high-quality backlinks from reputable websites that are highly related to your niche. Ask your SEO Company what techniques they employ for gathering backlinks.

Cost Structure

A dependable SEO Company will not just give you a quote once they figure out how much work has to be included. Charging you high costs will not necessarily ensure you receive high quality services. It also doesn’t ensure that the rate being quoted is proportional and consistent with the services you anticipate the SEO Company will provide. A good SEO Agency should be able to give you a rundown of services to which the performance and price contract will be based upon.

The Timeline

Does your SEO Company provide you with a timeline? It is through hard work and correct planning that results can be attained on time. Some SEO Firms offer SEO plans that claim to put you in the very first page of search results in just a matter of 10 days. Realistically, however, no SEO Company can guarantee you the number 1 position in Google in as short as 10 days.

An SEO campaign will take 6-18 months to deliver the top outcomes you expect. Make sure you don’t give in to false pledges. Conversely, avoid SEO services that provide you with a time limit. A good SEO company knows that optimization is an ongoing process and they should be able to offer you regular maintenance, customer support and proper upgrading.

SEO Technique

What SEO strategy will your SEO Company use to raise your ranking? You should look out for companies that will utilize spam advertising methods to rank you on top in no time. If the strategy includes any form of dishonest practice, such as spamming or deceiving online search engines, then you should instantly turn away.

An excellent SEO company will certainly see to it that you will not be subjected to spam or misleading services. Keep in mind that if it is based on using deceitful strategies, your site might be taken out of Google’s indexing, which will certainly lead your site to being blacklisted. Knowing your SEO Company and doing your own research on how proper SEO is done is extremely vital in choosing the ideal firm.

Providing Targeted Traffic

Do they understand the distinction between plain traffic and targeted traffic? You will hire the services of an SEO Company mainly due to the fact that you need to attract traffic into your website. However, what you need is targeted traffic that gets you visitors who might be genuinely interested in purchasing your products or services. This is based on your desired keywords in order to generate leads.

You don’t want irrelevant traffic that comes to your website because of irrelevant keywords. Unqualified traffic only enhances your bounce rate (surfers that arrive on your page and immediately leave) and not your sales. The right SEO Company will create relevant content for your website and distribute it to relevant channels, social media and Press Releases (PR). This will potentially lead to natural backlinks that will enhance your overall ranking in the search engine.

Transparent Deliverables

A professional SEO Company should have a clear course of action to attain the desired results in a given time frame. They should be able to show the client what’s being completed for the first month and subsequent months. With this, you will be able to determine how much work is being done in relation to your costs, allowing you to determine your ROI. A clear outline of work in the proposal should be available at any time to show the extent of the campaign. This includes how much fresh and high quality relevant content they are going to publish on your website every week. How many distribution channels? What social media, article directories and websites are they going to use to distribute your content? How many PR submissions? And how many backlinks have been generated? These are the qualifying questions that need to be answered by a good SEO firm.

Reporting

A comprehensive report system should be provided to show the progress of the SEO campaign, as well as ranking status of the site. This reporting could be monthly or quarterly. The report should be clear and concise, using the right combination of graphics and texts. This will be the bench mark of how the firm is progressing towards your desired ranking status.

Performance Guarantee

Does the SEO Company offer some kind of guarantee, such as a percentage increase in traffic? Although there are a lot of factors involved in an SEO campaign, a professional SEO company will be able to give performance guarantees based on their years of experience and proven methodology.

These are the major considerations you need to look at when hiring an SEO Agency to make sure that you don’t pour your money down the drain. SEO is a vital marketing strategy to make your brand highly visible online to your target market and to grow your business. It is a time-consuming effort, but it has greater ROI in the long run when compared to other marketing options.

THE NEXT STEP IS YOURS.

Newman Ramirez is a Digital Marketing Consultant at Sakal Marketing Solutions, LLC.
At Sakal Marketing Solutions, we offer the best internet marketing and mobile marketing services to make your business grow by acting and deciding diligently and intelligently. We do the hard work to prosper your business because we love what we do and we care for you.
YOUR SUCCESS IS OUR BUSINESS.

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What is SEO Anyway?

Both pay-per-click and SEO are targeted to get your website placed as close to the top of search engine results as possible. Marketing and SEO are different, yet very, very similar. SEO are considered as the main factors in enhancing the traffic of one’s website. The concepts of good SEO are hardly a secret. The people who least understands issues with URL structure and SEO are the very people who create them: web developers, programmers, and software developers.

Many long-time SEO’s are now looking at the big picture and working with usability analysts. Some SEO are scam artists. I find it interesting that so many newcomers are given the wrong impression that there is one almighty answer to doing well in search engines. SEO are specialized techniques used to optimize your web site, to be Search engine friendly and increase your chances of placing well in searches. But SEO can also be the most profitable methods of driving leads because any leads you receive from SEO are free leads.

There are a large number of companies that adopt a fast and unethical approach to SEO known as Black Hat SEO. They employ unethical techniques that are against search engine policies. The best results from SEO are rarely achieved overnight. Black hat SEO are the techniques used to fool the search engines in order to bring in more traffic to websites. Website owners who unknowingly utilize black hat techniques of SEO are more vulnerable to changes in search engine algorithms and faced being banned.

Most hardcover books on the subject of SEO are best viewed as a vehicle to help the beginner understand the process of search engine optimization. This is because the principles behind SEO are not easy. They are very informative and most webmasters are involved in SEO and using it. White hat and black hat SEO are two opposing views of how to do search engine optimization. In a nutshell, SEO are methods that aim to improve the position or rank of a website in the listings produced by search engines. The benefits of SEO are almost unlimited.

Watch out for SEO Tools and software that is outdated and totally useless. Always research before you buy any SEO software because the search engine Algorithms are constantly changing thereby improving their search technologies to provide the most relevant results for their users. SEO tools for Google, MSN and Yahoo are numerous. SEO tools for press release optimization were also launched by PRWeb at the end of June called SEO Wizard. Search engine optimization is not easy, but with the right SEO tools, your website promotion task just got a lot easier. Blogs are one of the best SEO tools around and some like WordPress are free. Google Sitemaps’ are a powerful SEO tools which you can get free by visiting my website.

MSN has launched a suite of SEO tools to go with their Pay Per Click product Adcenter. There are many SEO tools available on the internet, some are better then others, and some are not. Header tags, proper Keyword density, proper text formatting fonts, start text key-phrase as whole phrases, alt image tag text, links pointing to your site and each page and your domain name itself are some things to pay attention too. Many specialized SEO tools can help you determine the popularity and the competitiveness of your possible keywords and can help improve your search engine ranking particularly in Google.

Writing fresh content for SEO plays a large role in keeping visitors on a web site. Let’s talk unique web page content and SEO content strategy. Finding a good SEO content writer is easier than you think. Just run a Google search or checkout elance.com. What is good SEO Content? It is unique, quality information that your visitors can use and is helpful to them. RSS feeds are an invaluable tool in the SEO content toolbox. If you scrape SEO content and end up scraping a couple spam pages, you may get noticed even more because someone is investigating the other spam pages.

The primary factor that will determine whether your SEO content is “good enough” is the content provided by competing websites. You need unique content that nobody has in order for it to pass duplicate content filters. That’s why it is important to get your content articles indexed before you submit them to the search engines. I think nowadays though search engine algorithms can trace back the content and see who published it first, so at least make sure you publish it to your website or blog before submitting it to article directories.

To strengthen the theme of your web site, you need keyword rich SEO content. SEO content writing tips content writer’s main aim is to create a new written piece which is original, simple, informative and also to the point. Write specific targeted SEO content for the independent pages. Unique SEO content remains king. Showing your visitors you can really write unique, compelling content, your traffic will grow very fast. Earlier it was just content writing but now it is widely known as SEO content writing. However there are some strict rules enforced on SEO content. Once you have visitors, your SEO content should be converting them into customers. With effective SEO content on your website, half of your search engine rank optimization work is done.

Ethical search engine optimization is a must or you will get banned. It’s not if, it’s when. Search engine optimization was and still is fascinating to me. Search Engine Optimization is a crucial part in a websites success. The objective of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is to achieve high natural search engine placement for relevant keywords or keyword phrases. Hiring an ethical search engine optimization company to rank well in the natural results is essential to long term success.

Your white hat Search engine optimization (SEO) campaign will provide you with a long term increase in targeted traffic and qualified visitors to your Web Site. Visit my site often and add it to your favorites as I update you with the latest news and rumors in the search engine optimization industry everyday. The effects of bad search engine optimization are devastating and very depressing. Each website is unique in its own way and hence your (SEO) plans differ from website to website.

My site has some tips on how to perform search engine optimization (also know as SEO) on your website. I have a free, comprehensive guide to the practice of search engine optimization for those unfamiliar with the subject if you send me an email. There’s a lot of hype out there about search engine optimization (SEO) services. Some are good and some are bad. Read through Google’s terms of service as they have some information on their site about it.

Too often, visual design and SEO are perceived as a mutual sacrifice. Pay-per-click and SEO are targeted to get your website placed as close to the top of search engine results as possible. Pay-per-click cost money, but the clicks from SEO cost you nothing. SEO are considered as the main factors in enhancing the traffic of one’s website. Both, PPC and SEO are important. The truth is, the most rewarding part of SEO are often the slowest to reward. PR and SEO are based mostly on editorial credibility and relevance, not a direct payment for exposure.

SEO are specialized techniques used to optimize your web site, to be Search engine friendly and increase your chances of placing well in searches. There are a large number of companies that adopt a fast and unethical approach to SEO known as Black Hat SEO. The main components of on-page SEO are optimization of the title tag, the headline tag, the body text and the Meta tags. Companies interested in SEO are occasionally not very happy with how their website looks. Programmers with an understanding of SEO are in high demand. As a matter of fact, sites with excellent Search Engine Optimization are making giant leaps in rankings and getting a major boost in free traffic with Google’s new update.

Great web usability and SEO are wasted if folks who visit your web can’t tell that you are worthy of their trust. Those who specialize in SEO are in the unique position of understanding the web in a way that no traditional marketing agency can hope to. White hat and black hat SEO are two opposing views of how to do search engine optimization so if you use one, choose with great care. The second most important aspect for high SEO is the headers. Use H1, H2, H3, H4 headers.

Many of the techniques that can be used for SEO are banned by the various search engines. The benefits of SEO are almost unlimited. Bad techniques of SEO are a strict ‘NO’ – Like same color text as the background and Doorway pages can get your website banned. The five forces of SEO are relevant Keywords, unique Content, clean Code, relevant Links and proper use of Technology. Designing for users and designing for SEO are not mutually exclusive goals. There will be compromise. White hat SEO are techniques that follow precisely the rules and guidelines provided by search engines stand a better chance of receiving traffic and higher rankings than black hat techniques.

For this reason it is important to try to stay updated as far as new SEO are concerned. The off-page elements of website promotion and SEO are just as important. The majority of issues with SEO is very basic and just takes time to be picked up on search engines. Web design and SEO are two very different disciplines, but a certain degree of collaboration is required. It’s easy to see why effective SEO are now very much in demand. Black hat SEO is techniques used to trick or manipulate search engines for higher rankings.

If done properly, the results of your SEO efforts are very impressive. Those who practice what some refer to as “ethical” and “correct” SEO are called White Hat SEO’s. The most important for SEO is to follow the rules and you won’t have anything to worry about.

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Strategies to Incorporate Project Management With SharePoint In Mid-Market Organizations

Many organizations today have implemented technology such as Microsoft SharePoint to provide a central portal into their organization’s information and operations. While the promise of a central portal is alluring, it can also be elusive for project based organizations. The reason for this goes to the very purpose of systems such as SharePoint and project management systems.

In addition, mid-market organizations have additional considerations. For the purposes of this paper, a mid-market organization is simply an organization that needs more than the tools that the low-end market provides, but does not have the resources, time, or budget for the tools provided for the high-end market. In other words, they are right in the middle and need the right balance between sophistication, ease of implementation, and cost. Whereas certain solutions may be obvious for large organizations because of the internal resources available, they are less obvious for mid-market organizations.

This article will discuss strategies for how to solve these problems and properly implement project management capability with a SharePoint-type of information portal, within the bounds of the mid-market predicament.

Different Systems, Different Purposes

An online portal, such as SharePoint, is generally defined as collaboration software with the benefit of sharing information in order to work better. In the last 10-15 years especially, information within the organization has grown dramatically. Emails, spreadsheets, documents, and all other types of information became scattered throughout the organization. The promise (and purpose) of SharePoint especially is to put some structure around this information, centralize it, and make it easily accessible to everyone in the organization. There is a lot of value in this. This is not to say that SharePoint cannot be configured to do a number of different things beyond what was just mentioned, only that this is the primary, stated purpose of SharePoint.

For project organizations that are focusing on running projects, this focus causes some gaps if an organization is planning to rely solely on SharePoint for its project management needs. The primary reason is that SharePoint is not project management software and thus does not naturally have some project management features that project organizations need. These include items such as Gantt charts, project scheduling engines, and resource utilization tools. SharePoint does have natural capabilities that do support project management processes, such as lists, document management, and collaboration. It is just that, for project-based organizations, these capabilities tend to weigh too heavily on collaboration and not enough on more formalized project management tools. Organizations with heavy project loads find that they need a balance of both. The fact that this is true of SharePoint is evidenced by Microsoft’s push for deployment of Microsoft Project Server as a tool to be deployed in addition to SharePoint, although many mid-market organizations struggle with the implementation of two complex systems.

Conversely, project management software systems, are designed specifically to help project based organizations manage their projects. As such, they generally include more formalized project management features such as Gantt charts and scheduling. A good project management software system will support the processes that a project based organization needs to follow to work better and be more competitive.

On the other hand, most project management software systems are not designed as a portal for all information in the organization. They are focused on projects, the information pertaining to those projects, and the management of those projects. As such, it can be difficult for an organization to rely solely on project management software as a portal for the entire organization. It is not impossible to do this, simply difficult without the right mix of project management system capability (or better stated flexibility) and organizational needs.

This all is not meant to frustrate the reader, only to reiterate what the fundamental purposes are of different types of software systems so that a coherent and practical strategy can emerge to meet the needs of mid-market organizations with project management requirements.

Strategies

What are the strategies then that a project based organization can employ to achieve both the centralized portal and collaboration benefits of a SharePoint type of system and the project management benefits of a project management software system?

There are three fairly obvious and logical strategies to be discussed along with their strengths and weaknesses.

Strategy #1: SharePoint Only

The first strategy is to utilize the SharePoint technology exclusively and take the time and resources to configure and even extend its capability to fill in any gaps that arise. There are several advantages of this approach. These include the fact that there is only one system to manage. All of the information is in one system meaning that you do not need to develop knowledge regarding two systems or worry about integration between those systems.

In addition, many organizations already have SharePoint implemented within their organization making it an easy decision to use existing technology.

There are also some disadvantages to this approach. These include the fact that there will most likely be some gaps in the project management capability that will need to be filled in some way. This could be done via technical configuration or programming, or third party tools, but in some way the gaps will need to be filled to be effective. Another disadvantage is that technical resources will be relied upon to both keep the system operational and help it meet project management-specific needs. SharePoint is not a simple system to deploy, implement, and maintain.

The idea with this strategy is to simply do the best you can with your existing SharePoint technology.

Strategy #2: Project Management System Only

The second strategy is to implement only a project management software system and use it for all of the organization’s needs. There are advantages to this approach as well. Similar to the first strategy, one advantage is that there is only one system to manage. All of the information is in one system thus requiring less training and administration. Another advantage is that the system will be designed specifically for project management. If most or all of the organization’s information is project-based, this will work well.

Some of the disadvantages of this strategy include the fact that most project management software systems are not designed for other types of information sharing. For example, you generally will not see information on open orders from the organization’s accounting system in the project management system’s dashboard. It should be noted that this is not impossible, some systems have the capability to link to other systems and display data, but this is not the native purpose of these systems. Stated another way, these systems are usually geared towards projects, and not an overall portal for all the information in the organization.

Another disadvantage can be the fact that project management software systems tend to be more formalized which means there may be some additional training involved over a simple collaboration system. This is not necessarily a bad thing – if an organization needs that level of capability, then it needs that level of capability and must train its staff on the capabilities and desired processes – but it is still something to consider.

The idea with this strategy is to go full-out into what your organization in reality does: delivering projects.

Strategy #3: The Hybrid Approach

The third strategy is a hybrid of the other two strategies and involves implementing both a SharePoint type portal system, in addition to a project management software system. In other words, you implement both types of systems and connect them together.

There are several advantages to this approach. For one, this approach works well with the whole idea of a portal system in the first place. In other words, a portal system like SharePoint is not meant to replace every other system in the organization but to act as a portal and central processing point for the information from those other systems. For example, an accounting system does what it does, while sharing information with the SharePoint system so that SharePoint can act as the central “clearing house” of all information. Likewise, a project management software system does what it does, while sharing information with the SharePoint system. In this approach, SharePoint becomes a true portal for delivering all relevant information across the organization, while the other systems are used to do what they do best (i.e. accounting for the organization’s finances or managing projects).

In addition, there is generally more flexibility that an organization has with this approach. Considering the focus of managing projects, if there is a specific need for technology to support a new or improved process, you have more than one option. You have the option of doing that in the SharePoint system or you have the option of doing that in the project management software system, or even in the connection between the two systems. Either system may do certain things better than the other so that you are not tied down to a single technology.

As with the other strategies, there are disadvantages to this strategy as well. They include the fact that you have to maintain multiple systems. This is negated somewhat if you take a Software as a Service approach (i.e. you do not host the software yourself), but there will always be some administrative items that you will need to have internal knowledge to function effectively.

In addition, you need to maintain an interface between the two systems so that project information can be easily displayed in the SharePoint portal. That is not terrible difficult these days, but still an item to consider that needs to be maintained.

The idea with this strategy is to get the best of both worlds.

Conclusions

As with any evaluation of software technology, the conclusions depend a great deal on the specific needs, objectives, culture, and processes of the organization performing the evaluation. The purpose of this paper is to provide background information so that you can determine the appropriate technology direction, not to make the decision itself. Thus it is important to understand your own organization before making determinations regarding technology. Once you have done that, there are some general guidelines that you can follow.

If you do not have formal processes and can operate the organization entirely by collaboration, then native SharePoint technology may work.

However, if you are a project based organization with any type of scheduling needs, project management software capability will be needed. A distinguishing factor is often in the management of tasks. If a simple to-do list is all that your process requires, then collaboration-type of software may fit the bill. If there is a scheduling component to the process (i.e. tasks need to be done at certain times and the schedule of those tasks needs to be tracked), then project management software-specific capability is generally required. There are other factors (such as resource utilization tracking) that can be evaluated, but task scheduling is generally the most common factor determining project management software need.

If your organization is small enough in size and the scope of its information sharing is primarily project management focused, then using a single project management software system is generally a good approach. In other words, if you are in reality delivering projects and that is your world, go with the technology geared towards that world.

Conversely, if your organization is large enough in size and has broader information sharing strategies beyond just project management, then incorporating a project management software system combined with SharePoint provides a lot of value.

SharePoint is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corporation. EnterPlicity is a registered trademark of Team Interactions, Inc.

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