The Microsoft Project Server (PPM Solution) provides organisations with the potential to communicate timely, relevant and up to date project information to users across all hierarchical levels, from Team Members at the base of the organization to Executives at the very top.

In addition to this facility, it also invests the organisation with the ability to report and analyse project and resource performance by innumerable criteria making project plans a powerful means to report key business critical information. This potential can be both a blessing and a curse to the project managers within an organisation.

On the positive side the projects function is likely to acquire a higher profile through the increased visibility of their projects within the organisation, on the negative side they will be more accountable and open to scrutiny than before.

Whilst the Microsoft Project Server/Project Online solution offers these potential benefits, any organisation contemplating its adoption should be aware that it is not an instant fix and that in order for the initiative to take root and deliver the anticipated business benefits its adoption needs to be treated as a project in its own right.

Organisations that have leapt straight in and not invested time in preparing for the adoption of Microsoft Project Server have learnt some painful and expensive lessons and in some cases have failed to derive any business benefit at all from their investment in the solution.

To avoid you encountering the same problems should you be considering adopting the PPM Solution the following have been identified as crucial Success Factors for an Project Server deployment:

  1. Develop a multidisciplinary team

  2. Actively engage the organisation’s executives

  3. Develop a strong business case for the EPM Initiative

  4. Allocate sufficient up-front time

  5. Develop clear and complete business goals, requirements, and usage scenarios

  6. Involve representatives from all user groups

  7. Conduct a multi-staged roll-out

  8. Provide continuous communication

  9. Test the installed hardware and software configuration

  10. Prepare the users for the deployment

  11. Train users at all experience levels – using customised instructions

  12. Prepare to monitor the new environment

1. Developing a Multidisciplinary Team
This is important as the EPM Solution relies upon several different Microsoft technologies, Windows Server, SharePoint, SQL and Microsoft Project Server 2013 itself and it is unlikely that a single individual will be expert in all or have experience of all areas. Microsoft Corporation does recommend that you engage the services of a qualified partner to assist in the implementation of the EPM Solution.

2. Actively Engage the Organisation’s Executives
As the PPM initiative can represent a significant cultural change to the manner in which an organisation functions there needs to be high level support and involvement in the initiative from inception to completion. If team members at the base of the organisation do not see leadership by example there can be resistance to change. If an organisation has in the past introduced flawed or failing initiatives an expectation of further failure can prevail without adequate high level support and involvement.

3. Develop a Strong Business Case for the PPM Initiative
Assess your current situation and identify how the Microsoft Project Server PPM Solution can deliver real business benefits that will represent a good return on investment.

4. Allocate Sufficient Up-Front Time
Fail to plan, plan to fail –a bit clichéd but anyone with project experience will tell you that
getting ready is the secret of success. Try to avoid being rail-roaded in to an implementation
before the groundwork has been done.

5. Develop Clear and Complete Business Goals, Requirements, and Usage Scenarios
Having clear requirements and realistic expectations of the benefits to be derived from the adoption of an PPM Solution should help sell the initiative to the organisation. If there are no clearly defined requirements and objectives the perceived success of the initiative may be open to interpretation.

6. Involve Representatives From all User Groups
Engaging the various types of user from the outset will hopefully promote a sense of involvement and engagement in the initiative –alerting users to the new way of working posed by the PPM Solution, gaining their input and providing support should engender their support. Failing to engage those who are impacted by the solution can result in resistance to and in some cases a determination to see the initiative fail.

7. Conduct a Multi-Staged Rollout
Big Bang may have worked for the City of London but in most cases a more pragmatic approach will pay dividends. Consider evolution rather than revolution.

8. Provide continuous communication
Communication is the very life blood of successful projects –planning for the communication of how your EPM implementation is progressing should engage the user base and prepare users for its adoption.

9. Test the Installed Hardware and Software Configuration
It may sound obvious but there have been instances where a flawed instance of Microsoft Office Project Server has been introduced and then failed to deliver. Again an experienced partner will know what to look for and how to test so that your instance of Microsoft Office Project Server can be proven to be configured to the required standard.

10. Prepare the Users for the Deployment
In addition to communicating with and engaging the user base providing training and support will further underpin your chances of success –communicating to them what training and support will be provided can help allay any fears people may have about the impact of the new initiative.

11. Train users at all Experience Levels –Using Customised Instructions
For the vast majority of users training of the full functionality of Microsoft Office Web Access (the client side of the solution) can be covered in half a day. For Project Managers familiar with Microsoft Project their training needs can in most cases be covered over a maximum of 2 days. Administrators or “Power Users” of the system will also need training on how to administer the system and configure the “Enterprise Layer” to deliver powerful business information.

12. Prepare to Monitor the New Environment
Once your instance of Microsoft Project Server is up and running there will be an element of IT Administration overhead in ensuring the health of the Server(s) and that the system is performing as expected without any problems. The Administrators will likely be provided with guidance on this during their training.

If you adopt the approach suggested here you can dramatically improve the chances of success for your Microsoft Project Server EPM implementation.