MS Project transfer to Planner

Your colleague has sent you an MS project file and you can’t open it?  Yes, unfortunately it happens all the time and MS Project is pretty expensive to buy.  So instead of buying MS project why not convert the file instead?  You can do an MS Project transfer to Planner quickly and for free… so what are you waiting for.

Planner is also totally free and provides you with risk and issue management tools.  That is why most PMs who switch to Planner never go back, and who could blame them!

See an MS project transfer happen in real time

Our video here shows an MS Project transfer to planner in real time so you can see just how easy it is.  You can watch it on YouTube or direct here on our website.

ms Project transfer; ms project alternative; free project planning software

Some PMs just convert their MS Project files to read them, others make the switch more permanently.  If you do move over to Planner you can do your budget and actual cost management based on the existing tasks.  You can also edit to add, remove and alter tasks in Planner and save in the new .spn format.  If you have been previously struggling to manage your risks and issues in spreadsheets then even more good news awaits… Because Planner will let you manage all this in the same file.  So giving you the full set of project controls all in one place.

Now you know the advantages, so what are the next steps for MS Project transfer?

The first thing you will need to do is sign up to download Planner for free.  Yes we do mean free, not a trial you can use if forever.  All you need is a Windows OS laptop or computer to install it on.  If you are a MAC OS user then Parallels or some other Windows emulator will do the trick.

Project Report Review – Project Statement report

The best sort of project report is concise, simple and also easy to produce. That is why both you and your boss will love the new Project Statement report.  You will love it because you can produce it in 30 seconds.  Your boss will find the project very clearly explained.

project report;project statement; PM reports

You can have a look at a project statement report saved as pdf file here.

This project report, like all your others is created from all the latest data held for your project.  So you can be confident all the data is bang up to date at the time of production.  All your calculations will be correct and formatted as required.  You can be sure that it looks as it should.  Most PMs produce Project Statement reports direct to Word so they can print them or save as PDF.

The only remaining question is what will you do with all the time you now have free?

Project report consistency

Your project statement report will always include the following content:

  • Firstly a set of technical and process statuses with colour coding
  • Next Description, commentary and key stats on finances and dates
  • A project summary timeline and a list of any overdue tasks
  • Your top 5 risks and issues
  • Finally a summary of the current benefit position on the project.

You can use this project report at any time by selecting it from the library of report definitions.  Furthermore you can personalise it with your own branding or data changes if you want to.

Project Report; project statement; project reporting; pmo; ppm

You can watch the video here on you tube or here on our website to find out how the project report works.

Getting your hands on this project report

Live, Small Team and Enterprise editions all include the Project Statement report as standard.  Customers upgrading from older versions can add the Project Statement when they upgrade to version 5.0. So contact us if you want to know more.


On-line Team Collaboration

It isn’t often that you can deliver a project on your own.  So your on-line team collaboration is going to be an important part of any PPM solution.  Especially when you consider that much of your project records will be electronic.

If you can get this important aspect of projects right you can save lots of time.  You can also improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your teams.  Your likely problem though is that not everyone wants to collaborate in the same way.

PROJECT in a box solves this by offering you a number of approaches to on-line team collaboration. Giving your team members a choice is always helpful.

on-line team collaboration; team collaboration software

Formal or informal On-line team collaboration

First of all users will already be familiar with the great file management tools in PIAB. With them you can share files and work on or view content controlled by permissions.  You will find this formal collaboration helps with document control.  When you need to seek group approvals, which are also included, that is especially the case.

You know that not all your project work needs such formal documentation.  Often you and the team will be chatting around ideas before making a decision.  The new collaboration thread capability is perfect for helping capture this process.  You simply create a new topic and anyone with access to the project can join in and read or add to the thread.

On-line team collaboration tool; project collaboration

Team members can also get thread updates by email, in  similar way to other social media platforms.  You can reply to your email via hyperlink and read or update via browser or Windows App, keeping you in touch from anywhere.

Your On-line team collaboration tools

You get all these on-line team collaboration tools included with Live, Small Team and Enterprise Editions.  So you just choose the number of users and SaaS or on-premise and we do the rest.

You can see the collaboration tools in action here on our You Tube channel.

Milestone Timeline now available for free

Many PMs are now realising the benefits of using a milestone timeline in project reports. If stakeholders have previously struggled to understand a full Gantt chart then this could work well for you. Your milestone timeline image will get over that problem making your job much easier.

milestone timeline; project planning;reporting

You can see Milestone timeline in action in Planner on our YouTube video here.

Your Milestone Timeline produced for free forever

You continue to plan your project using Planner.  You can either type in the task details or you can also load from MS Project if you prefer.  Many of your tasks will be normal and in addition some will be zero duration Milestones.  Your milestones will pick out key points in the project.  Usually you will also update the milestones with progress information.

You monitor your project as usual from the gantt or task list and when you want to report on it the new capability kicks in.  You switch to Milestone timeline and it is right there waiting for you.  Using your options you can adjust the layout and choose how much data to display.  Project managers often filter their Milestones depending on the Audience.  Some PMs will also show a table of the milestone data or colour code milestone completion.

You can also save the settings to use them again, saving you even more time.  Simply use right click copy and then paste into your report and your Milestone timeline will be there.  Customers of the full PROJECT in a box can have automated reports including the timeline and lots of other data too.

In addition you get the rest of the Planner benefits all for free

Planner is totally free forever, no restrictions on use and available to individuals, commercial and non-commercial organisations too.  There really is no catch, use it and improve your projects. Planner is more then plans, more than milestone timeline it covers risks, issues and finances too.

You can register and download Planner here and of course feel free to send us an email telling us just how useful you find it.


Cyber Essentials success for PROJECT in a box

It is great to be able to tell you that PROJECT in a box is now Cyber Essentials approved.  We have taken this step to give a clear demonstration to our customers about our commitment to their on-line security.  So we will now be wearing the badge with pride on our website and product pages.

Cyber essentials; SaaS PPM solution

While this badge is a visible sign of our efforts this doesn’t mean we are resting.  We continue behind the scenes to strengthen and improve our security, undertaking penetration tests and acting on the results.  For your safety we won’t be laying out all the details here.

About Cyber Essentials

Cyber Essentials aims to help organisations implement basic levels of protection against cyber attack, demonstrating to their customers that they take cyber security seriously.  The scheme is available at two levels:

  • Cyber Essentials – an independently verified self assessment. Organisations assess themselves against five basic security controls and a qualified assessor verifies the information provided.
  • Cyber Essentials PLUS – a higher level of assurance. A qualified and independent assessor examines the same five controls, testing that they work in practice by simulating basic hacking and phishing attacks.

The five basic controls within Cyber Essentials were chosen because, when properly implemented, they will help to protect against unskilled internet-based attackers using commodity capabilities – which are freely available on the internet.

Organisations that undertake Cyber Essentials are encouraged to recertify at least once a year and, where appropriate, progress their security.

Since 1 October 2014, Cyber-Essentials became a minimum requirement for bidding for some government contracts (

For further information please see\cyberessentials

About SaaS PPM Solutions

Many customers buy our Live Edition and YourPMO solutions to deliver their PPM requirements.  We host these applications for you within our assessed environment.  Therefore public sector customers should always be buying their SaaS services from a verified organisation like ours.

PRINCE2 Exam Changes

PRINCE2 is one of the main project management qualifications worldwide.   Axelos announced their plans to revise PRINCE2 just last week and we covered it briefly.  So in this post we take a closer look at the proposed PRINCE2 exam changes.

project management services; project management software; prince2 software; prince2 exam changes

Firstly if you are in the middle of studying for an exam right now then don’t panic!  You can still take your exam based on PRINCE2 2009 through to the end of the year if you want.  Axelos also confirm that the validity period for current exam passes will also continue unaffected.  In fact you can even take a 2009 syllabus Foundation and then a 2017 syllabus Practitioner if you want.

PRINCE2 Exam changes – Foundation

So what will your new look PRINCE2 Foundation exam be like? Well in practice it won’t be a world away from the current one.  What we do know however is that the question count falls from 75 to 60.  You will also find less of those ‘negative questions’ which have always seemed a bit odd, so that is great!  You also won’t need to revise configuration management as it is being dropped from the Syllabus.

One of the key PRINCE2 exam changes is the increase in focus on tailoring and the minimum requirements in each of the 7 themes. Tailoring and agility run through the PRINCE2 2017 refresh. A strong focus on them in the exam is therefore only to be expected.  You will also find an even weighting on all 7 themes in the 2017 PRINCE2 Foundation exam.

PRINCE2 Exam changes – Practitioner

We don’t yet know so much about the PRINCE2 exam changes for Practitioner. However you should still expect this to be a challenging qualification.  The PRINCE2 2017 Practitioner exam will still be open book but will not feature any multiple response questions.  You will find more of a focus on principles and less of a focus on management products.  You will get your scenario material slightly differently in the new PRINCE2 2017 Practitioner exam.

More about the PRINCE2 2017 refresh

We hope you found this post about the upcoming PRINCE2 exam changes helpful.  This topic is part of a set we are running looking at the PRINCE2 refresh.

If you have any specific questions about PRINCE2 exam changes let us know and we will answer as best we can.

PRINCE2 2017 Refresh

For those of you thinking Axelos had forgotten about PRINCE2, you were wrong.  Axelos announced today that PRINCE2 2017 will be coming out in the middle of the year.

This refresh has been long awaited as it was back in 2009 when it was last updated. The last PRINCE2 refresh process was very public and the changes relatively large. PRINCE2 2017 though has largely been prepared behind closed doors.  We very much like what we hear about it so this doesn’t go against it at all.  In fact this may have helped the review team of over 100 keep the refresh focussed on sensible enhancements.

PRINCE2 2017 has a strong emphasis on tailoring and scalability.  We at PROJECT in a box have always been champions of these aspects in the 2009 versions, so it is great to see them expanded here.  Following the prior release of PRINCE2 Agile this update is also of course much more Agile friendly than 2009 was.

Peter Hepworth of Axelos summarized the evolutionary rather than revolutionary nature of this refresh.  Peter spoke of constant change in business practice and also the value of a method rooted in decades of experience.  Axelos as custodians of the world’s most used PM methodology have rightly been cautious in modest tweaks to the core.  Whilst at the same time they have addressed the concerns about inflexibility.

PRINCE2 2017 timescale and transition

PRINCE2 2017; project management software

Users can expect, as with previous Axelos refreshes, a well managed transition period.  The new PRINCE2 2017 manual will be out in the middle of the year.  Exam candidates will have the choice of which exam to take through until the end of 2017.  As previously English will be the release language.  Axelos will announce the plan for manual and exam translations later in 2017. Dutch, German, Polish, French, Danish, Norwegian and Italian are already being prepared.

Find out more about PRINCE2 2017

We will be sure to keep you updated with information about the PRINCE2 2017 refresh as it comes out and about our own plans to refresh our PRINCE2 Products.  For now we would suggest you have a look at the PRINCE2 update pages on the Axelos website here.

You could also check out our latest related post on PRINCE2 exam changes arising from the refresh.

Project Management Productivity

In all walks of life productivity is a big issue and people strive to raise theirs.  It seems like project management productivity is a particularly difficult challenge.  Certainly the temporary nature of projects cannot help as it often takes some time for teams to settle into good work patterns.  Short terms decisions can also be more common due to the short term focus of projects.

So perhaps we should never expect the same productivity levels from a project.  However we should still try to improve project management productivity where we can.

project management productivity; prince2 software

So lets have a look at three top tips for improving your project productivity.

Top 3 tips for improving your Project Management Productivity

1 – Standardize your project management process

To help your teams get quickly into good working patterns use a prescribed project management process.  If you haven’t already developed one you can easily adopt one and we have lots here for you to try.  Having a consistent process also allows you to move staff between projects more easily.  many customers tell us this is invaluable when addressing day to day portfolio management.

2 – Provide self service project management tools

Time is always in short supply so delays getting information can quickly grow into big impacts.  Giving your team members self service access to files, tasks and plans will save time in the long run.  Of course you need to make sure you manage this process securely, giving people only what they should see.  In particular your PMs will thank you for this as it is usually them pestered for inf by the team.

There are lots of tools on the market to help you with this, PROJECT in a box being a market leader.

3 – Automate mundane tasks

Freeing your project team from mundane tasks will save them time, allowing them to address more important issues or deliver the project more quickly.  Your best friends here are software tools that can help in particular the PM with their project management productivity.  Most customers find the quickest and easiest improvements here with automating the reporting process.  Other savings are achieved with communication improvements like notifications and reminders.

Your next steps to project management productivity

So you are serious about wanting to improve your project management productivity, what to do next?

You can download our free project management software tools right now to help you with standardization and automation.  You can also explore the links above to find out more about specific topics.  Of course if you have any further questions on project management productivity just contact us.


Project Management Survey

Our project management industry is growing so quickly.  Change is the only constant in so many organisations these days.  Projects are the way we seek to keep that change agenda in control.  So do you wonder where you fit in this space? Are you ahead of the curve or maybe feel you are lagging a long way behind? We hear these concerns regularly and thought a project management survey would help shed some light on the topic.

By filling in our Project Management survey you can help assemble a better picture about project management maturity.  In particular you can tell us about how you and your organisation see the challenges involved in delivery.  Also how mature you feel your practices are vs those of similar organisations in your field.  We have also asked about your skills and affiliations to project management organisations.

Our survey is completely anonymous so you can tell us straight without fear of your words coming back to haunt you.  Survey Monkey are kindly hosting the survey and providing the analysis of the results.

Complete the project management survey

You have probably completed other project management surveys before and this is important in developing a stronger understanding of our sector.  If this will be  first time for you we hope this small project management survey will be a low key way to ease into it.

project management survey; prince2 software

We know you are busy so we have kept this nice and simple.  You just need to fill in ten questions so the project management survey should take less than 3 mins to complete.

You can access the survey here or by clicking on the image above.  We will publish the results in January with a set of blog articles picking out the key themes.

If you have any questions about the Project management survey you can contact us here.

PM Maturity Quick Wins

In our last blog post we looked at the project management maturity model P3M3. So in this post we are going to look at how to move up quickly from no or low maturity.  Our 3 PM Maturity quick wins can get you to a maturity level three in no time.

As we discussed in the first blog there are many ways to improve your score on the maturity model.  So the bid question is which ones should you choose?  Which ones offer the best fit and the best improvement for where you currently are in the model?  You should be asking yourself these questions to get the best results.

3 PM Maturity Quick Wins explained

PROJECT in a box have helped many organisations who have very low maturity, maybe 0 to 1 in the model. By applying these 3 PM Maturity quick wins we have helped most of them reach maturity level 3.  So how did we achieve this herculean task?

We did this by getting them to focus on the basic building blocks of project management maturity.  First of all, PROJECT in a box delivers the Consistency required for repeatable process. This is probably the most important aspect and yet opposite to the plan led approach of most PM tools.

Furthermore PROJECT in a box gives you strong Controls.  Strengthening your management and analysis of risks, issues, benefits, finances, resources and planning.  Finally providing you with Communications which save time rather than adding jobs to your day.  Especially relevant are Reporting and Notifications and reminders to keep the team in touch with developments.

The Video below takes you through these PM Maturity quick wins.  Remember you don’t need much, or any maturity at all, to take advantage of this.  By putting these strong foundations in place you will then be in a great position to add skills and cultural aspects of the model and achieve even higher maturity levels.

PM Maturity quick wins; prince2 software

You can watch this video tour on 3 PM Maturity Quick wins on our YouTube channel.  If you can’t use YouTube it can also be viewed directly here.