Editor’s note: I recently sat down with Daisy Anand, leader of the Bamboo Services team, to talk about the work her team is doing. Following the initial Overview of Bamboo Services, in this, the second of a three-part series, here’s what she had to say…
The first offering from the Bamboo Services group was structured around PM Central, Bamboo’s turnkey application for project management in SharePoint. How did you identify the need for such an offering?
PM Central usually sits at the core of a highly visible, even mission-critical, realm of collaborative activities for our customers. The application, though simple to install, comes with a wide array of features that need to be optimized and configured to match the unique business requirements and existing PM processes of each customer. Our first offering for PM Central was rolled out as “Guide Services,” in which customers were led through the application’s features and best practices via interactive sessions which included demonstrations and a hands-on transfer of knowledge. As the application matured over subsequent releases, however, the need to break up the services into distinct components became increasingly apparent. The realization that customers would be best served an approach in which each deployment activity was treated as a distinct implementation stage (due to the different audiences for each activity, and customer demand for same) led to the decision to provide a complete set of services offerings for PM Central.
What’s the duration and course breakdown of a typical PM Central Services engagement?
The duration is largely dependent on the customer’s rollout plans, but engagements frequently include three core components: Application Administrative training, Design & Configuration, and End User Training
Can you speak to each of those three core components as they apply to a PM Central engagement?
Naturally, Deployment Planning would be the starting point of any deployment. We have partnered with Innovative-e, a leading consulting firm in project management with SharePoint, to guide you through the steps your organization needs to effectively utilize PM Central and mature your company’s project management processes. Using an organizational PM maturity self-assessment, we evaluate the customer’s current system against the knowledge areas of the PMBOK Guide and deliver a deployment plan that outlines how to improve the SharePoint project management efforts in their company.
Installation Support is an assisted install process where we assign one of Bamboo’s expert technical consultants to conduct an assisted install of PM Central, and set up basic configuration in one environment (test, staging, or production).
Once the application has been installed, we recommend Application Administrative Training which is targeted at administrators who are responsible for PM Central’s deployment. In addition to a deep dive into the capabilities of PM Central, the training provides administrators with configuration best practices, and instructions on how to maintain the application.
With PM Central successfully installed, our Design & Configuration services kick in. In this phase of an engagement, a Bamboo PM Central consultant leads the customer through the configuration and customization of the tool. Referencing the customers’ existing project management process, the consultant will map it to PM Central’s capabilities and create two distinct project site templates.
Lastly, End User Training allows our customers to get their Project Managers and Team Members started off on the right foot with dedicated training to teach the basics, and help users avoid rookie mistakes.
Are PM Central Services engagements typically delivered online or on-site?
All of our engagements are typically delivered online using desktop sharing tools. At present, though we are able to accommodate requests for on-site service in special cases where customers are unable to avail themselves of the online method, the online mode is our preferred method of delivery as it is not only highly effective and efficient, but it also eliminates additional travel costs and related expenses.
Who delivers Bamboo Services for PM Central?
Installations are delivered via Technical Consultants who are well versed in various server configurations, and Training and Configuration services are led Angela Dillon, MCSE, MCTS, MCT. Angela has been delivering education and design services for PM Central since its first release, and with PM Central now in its third major release, she brings her years of experience with the application –and a wealth of real-world experience from the field– to new engagements.
Given that every SharePoint deployment is different, how much configuration is involved in the delivery of a “typical” PM Central Services engagement?
Due to the breadth of features in PM Central, configuration plays an extremely important role. The applications need to be designed so that they utilize only those features that are part of the customer’s PM process, while creating a logical structure for the reporting and rollup of data. Since this process is unique to all of our customers, the amount of configuration varies widely based on both a customer’s SharePoint environment and their existing PM process.
What are some of the most common questions or requests that you field during a Services engagement around PM Central?
A sampling of some of the most common questions from the field include:
- What items should I configure when creating my project template?
- How can I create alerts to let PMs know of changes in Task status?
- Should our implementation of PM Central have one Portfolio site or multiple Portfolio sites? What are the implications?
- What changes can I make to the look and feel of the templates?
- How do I create a Department site when projects roll up to more than one department?
Have questions or comments from customers during a Services engagement influenced the PM Central product plan?
Yes, this happens regularly. Feedback from customers, especially regarding requests for new features and enhancements, becomes more contextual and immediate when our consultants are engaged in a PM Central deployment. Customer feedback has, in turn, helped the Product Management team prioritize the addition of features for future releases.
What’s the toughest question that’s come up during a PM Central Services engagement to date?
A customer once requested a solution that amounted to a reversal of PM Central’s core value preposition. PM Central is designed to be the project hub with the flow of data being rolled up (for dashboards) and out (for alerts and reporting). In this scenario, our customer had complex workflows for reporting and project initiation, and wanted PM Central to act as a secondary repository with a dual flow of data. We worked with the customer to fully understand the business requirements and were successful in designing a hybrid model where PM Central was still used as a primary project management tool, but their existing workflows were tied in to update and extract data as needed.
How would a prospective customer for Bamboo Services around PM Central inquire regarding further details?
Get the complete story behind the Bamboo Services offerings:
- Bamboo Services: An Overview of Installation, Configuration, and Training Offerings
- Bamboo Services Spotlight: PM Central Installation, Configuration, and Training Services
- Bamboo Services Spotlight: Workflow Conductor Installation & Designer Training