August 18, 2017

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Project management advice, tips, tools and recommended resources for existing and aspiring project managers.

5 Benefits of Using a Future Fit Critical Chain Project Management Software

Software review by Irina Viter, multi-project management researcher

Epicflow is an online Project Management tool designed for business experts who want to manage large numbers of projects simultaneously without project delays and cost escalations. The web-based PM software works in tandem with MS Project and Jira, the most commonly used project management tools, as well as Topdesk, Trimergo, Primavera, and CA Clarity.

This online project management tool was developed by two Dutch scientists, Albert Ponsteen and Jan Willem Tromp, to prevent overload, reduce planning headaches, and set priorities in dynamic workplaces. Having spent nearly 30 years in project management environments of different kinds, Ponsteen and Tromp recognized that project management experts are badly in need of software features that can bring order and simplicity to their multi-project environments.

Benefits and Strengths

  1. Epicflow is the next generation of Critical Chain Project Management (CCPM) software, offering capacity buffers for resources in addition to time buffers. It approaches project management from the perspective of resource availability, as this is the most effective way to avert the risk of overload and release bottlenecks as soon as they appear. The key benefit of the Epicflow project management tool is that it creates perfect flow by helping business leaders create effort-based workloads and set priorities.
  2. With Epicflow, project management experts can achieve complete visibility over team performance and notice the “bugs” in their business processes as soon as they show up. The system immediately points to overloaded, “stuck” employees who hold back a project’s velocity. You get a real-time overview of all projects in the portfolio, sorted by priority.
  3. Epicflow creates order out of chaotic planning routines. Its smart algorithm eliminates all the waste so people can work according to project priorities and situations of overload are reduced to a minimum. Project managers immediately feel the reduction in planning and management overhead.
  4. This innovative management tool helps you reach high team performance. With adequate resource planning and effort-based workloads, employees are less likely to suffer stress at work, and will be more proactive.
  5. Epicflow increases project awareness by including a mobile application to control resource groups and stay abreast of current projects regardless of location.

Features

Epicflow’s features complement MS Project and Jira, upgrading them for multi-project environments and infusing predictive analytics into an ordinary capacity planning routine. The most striking features of this PM software include:

  • Future load graphs to help you take control of resource planning and predict the impact of additional projects on the existing projects in your pipeline;
  • A pipeline showing multiple projects, milestones, and bottlenecks;

 

Epicflow pipeline software for projects

Pipeline with bottlenecks shown in red above

Pipeline indicating the amount of hours that a project lacks below

epic flow PM software

 

  • Historical load graph presenting group performance, capacity, load, and output over time;
  • Burndown chart;
  • Weeks remaining;
  • Task list;
  • Reporting;
  • User mapping.

Epicflow resource management software

The allocation of resource groups among three PM tools (Jira, Trimergo, MSP) and their associated workloads.

 

Clients Success Stories

Epicflow has already proven effective for many clients in the form of its previous offline version Flow MPM. This is what clients have to say about the software:

  • TKF: “With this project management software we increased our output by 200% and reduced lead-time by 50% in 2 years. We are also able to give our customers a realistic commitment.” Hans de Boer, R&D Director, TKF
  • THALES: “This PM tool resource status is giving you visibility in the near future whether you run into bottlenecks. By doing this it gives you enough time to act accordingly.” Frank Zalm, Program Manager, Thales Nederland
  • DSM: “Analyzing FLOW MPM data shows that agility on projects is increasing and efficiency is going up.” Rigo Bosman, Application Development, DSM Dyneema
  • PILZ: “Epicflow has given us a significant improvement in the amount of projects we can deliver nowadays.” Jan Tournois, Director, PILZ NL

 

Visit Epicflow for more information.

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Unconventional Uses for Gantt Charts

By Matthew Jagiello

Gantt charts are already very well-known among project managers around the world. They are de facto an industry standard, used by thousands of companies and institutions – if not far more! SoftwarePlant has looked at some of their clients to see whether Gantt charts can be used in a creative way, in industries very foreign to classic management and businesses themselves. The results are stunning!

Education

Everyone used to be a child at some point in time. This leads us to schools. Remember all these lesson plans, charts of teachers’ free days, duty hours, announcements, etc? Most likely your school was doing all of this using only a printer (or even pen and paper). Nowadays, some schools use project management software* in order to optimize workload and make everything run smoothly. In fact, universities and colleges also do.

Physical work

Project management” is still too often perceived as something strictly related to cleanly shaven people in business suits. But our customers beg to differ – some of them construct buildings, roads, railways and many other things. Gantt charts and risk matrixes help them manage deadlines*** and serve the public in a timely manner.

Politics

When we follow political campaigns, we usually remember only a few key people from each party. This is precisely what the so-called spin doctors are for. But the truth is, political parties are as big as some corporations! In the US, the Democratic Party has 43.1 Million members, while the Republicans hover around 30 Million**. This is a massive number of people, all working on the same projects around the whole country – and good project management software does help them achieve the results they yield.

BigPicture

Events

We all love to go to a concert once in a while. But even professional project managers from other fields rarely stop to think about the sheer scale of some of the cultural events they attend. The scene/stadium, sound systems, lights, tickets, everything involves a lot of hard work, and the deadline is permanently set in stone – it is pretty much impossible to postpone a concert. In order to ensure proper start and finish dates, some of SoftwarePlant’s customers install JIRA with the plugins and look at the risk matrix like a hawk guarding its chicks.

Military

Logistics, engineer corps and administration amount to far more people than actual combat troops. Each soldier needs to be fed, dressed, transported and equipped on time, often abroad and in harsh conditions. The US started using Gantt charts around WW1****, and continues to do so until this very day. Even there the SoftwarePlant’s software has certain uses among military organizations, though details are (as expected) strictly classified.

Entrepreneurs

SoftwarePlant is a start-up company. The interesting thing is, their product is used by many other start-ups, sometimes even from the same industry. They are pleased that other young entrepreneurs like their solutions and wish them luck with their ventures. After all, Skype, a small Estonian company before acquisition by Microsoft, could not have been developed if not for Gantt charts.

These are the cases that were found the most interesting – but what about you? Do you have an unconventional use for Gantt charts, be it practical or hypothetical? If yes, we encourage you to contact us and share this wisdom. Who knows, there may be great rewards…

Sources:

* http://www.smartsheet.com/blog/Gantt-charts-for-sixth-graders

** http://2012election.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=004483

*** http://archive.excellencegateway.org.uk/media/KSSP/scheduling.pdf

**** http://www.chroniclegraphics.com/community/blog/a-brief-history-of-the-gantt-chart/

BIO

BigPicture_logoSoftwarePlant is a Polish-American start-up company that produces software for Project Portfolio Management. Its main products are developed for the JIRA platform, but custom development, training and implementations are also available.

 

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