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 (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/procurement-policy-note-0914-cyber-essentials-scheme-certification)

For further information please see www.cyberstreetwise.com\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.

Understanding Project Management Maturity

Over the last year we have heard the term Project Management Maturity and Immaturity used much more often. Often visitors to our stand or on web meetings have whispered it in hushed tones.  Though people see it as a guilty secret, in fact it is a very common situation to be in.  These people, by realizing their low maturity are at least starting to take the first steps to raising it.

We usually find that their organisation have yet to undertake a formal P3M3 assessment but experience tells them they are immature.  Usually these self aware organisations recognize that as they are immature they should be focusing on steps which move them up the lower ranges of the maturity model. Taking an assessment can really help in identifying the steps which will help the most in this growth.

We also unfortunately see too many organisations who exhibit immaturity but fail to recognize it.  People from these organisations almost always have grand plans about what they want to achieve.  Their most common belief is that complex systems integration and a data heavy solution will make them mature.  My many years in the sector is littered with occasions of hearing of these grand schemes failing.  The horror stories usually recounted by the poor persons successor, the originator having usually been sacked.

As you are reading a blog on Project Management Maturity I suspect you are in the former group not the latter.  You shouldn’t take this for granted though…

Project Management Maturity explained

project management maturity; prince2 software

Our video here introduces you to assessing your maturity using the P3M3 framework.  After watching it you can download the Introduction to P3M3 and self assess your project management maturity.  Axelos have kindly made the guide free and you can download it here.  You will find it won’t take long to do and will arm you for those discussions about how you could be doing things better.

finally, our next blog post will cover three quick wins to help you fly up the project management maturity levels.

PRINCE2 in Practice

You thought the exam was tough, PRINCE2 in practice can be even more of a challenge.

Like other PMs you will have studied PRINCE2 to pass the exam, applying it is so different. You are not alone in struggling with this. We still see and hear of many PMs struggling and falling at this critical hurdle.  Arguablly your inability to easily implement your new skills can reflect poorly on you and your tutors.

We know it isn’t your fault though and have some great tools to help you be successful with your projects.  Of course we think our PRINCE2 tools are a great aide but we are not alone in this view.  Many of the leading PRINCE2 trainers recommend our tools to their delegates to help with this transition.

As we mentioned in our earlier Blog post, Axelos include this tool set in their PRINCE2 Membership service because they recognize how useful it is in putting PRINCE2 in practice.

Helping you to put PRINCE2 in practice

PIAB provide many tools to support delivering PRINCE2 in practice.  Community Edition and Planner as free PRINCE2 tools and also Personal Edition.  We support this with several Method templates, the full Official PRINCE2 Method Template and the PRINCE2 Resource Pack.  To save you having to read lots of website we have prepared some videos to walk you through the options.

prince2 in practice; project management software

Your introduction video is here on You Tube

If you want Free, and who could blame you in that, Community Edition with the PRINCE2 Resource pack and Planner is the entry choice. Our users find this the most attractive starting point with over 250,000 taking advantage of it.

You can then add the PRINCE2 Method Template to Community edition for just £15 and that will give you all the PRINCE2 processes laid out for your convenience.

When you are ready to fully professionalize your PRINCE2 tool upgrade to Personal Edition.  Personal Edition gives you reporting, portfolios and Tailoring for just £99 extra.

So when you are thinking PRINCE2 in practice you know where to come for everything you need.

PRINCE2 Tools

Even the most skillful craftsman needs tools to get the best results.  With project management this is also the case and PRINCE2 Tools can really help.  Whether you are an expert or a novice the tools can save you time and keep you authentic.

The structured nature of PRINCE2 lends itself very well to being supported by software tools.  We have identified the two areas where PRINCE2 tools can help you the most. Firstly, making sure you follow the right process and secondly, collecting and using data better.  Armed with this insight we developed the software PRINCE2 tools you will need.

Finally, the free PRINCE2 Tools you have always wanted

You can use both of the free PRINCE2 tools, Community Edition and Planner.

Community Edition provides the PRINCE2 methodology support, giving you process, guidance and templates.  You can then follow your project in simple steps working on the files in accordance with PRINCE2.  You can collect files, emails and other material in the tool and version control it.  Community Edition really lays out the PRINCE2 process for you making it easy to follow.  Over 250,000 project managers use this as one of their key PRINCE2 tools in the move from classroom to delivery.

PRINCE2 Tools; Prince2 software; document management

Planner provides an easy to use tool for Planning as well as Risk and Issue management.  These are crucial areas for any project and especially so in PRINCE2.  We have spoken in many previous blogs about Planner as a planning tool. You can also use Planner to collect and control your Risk and Issue management with ease.  Planner’s structure around this matches that suggested in the PRINCE2 manual. You will find few other PRINCE2 tools so well matched in this area, and none for free.

prince2 tools;PRINCE2 software; risk management

Download Planner and Community Edition from here today.  You can then use these valuable free PRINCE2 Tools forever, this is not a trial and will not expire.

MS Project Alternative

Browsing recently I have noticed how many people seem to search for an MS project Alternative.  There are also quite a few blogs proposing lists of the top 5 MS project alternatives. So I thought you might all find this a helpful topic to explore further.

I have to start by saying that I’m a long term MS Project (MSP) user.  Although I recognize that does sound a bit like an admission at an AA type self help group! Project is clearly the staple and default planning tool of most organisations and for very good reason.  MS Project is a stable, highly functional,well written and easy enough to use once you are familiar with it.

Many customers and acquaintances from the PM world are quick to point it it’s flaws though. Peoples most common complaint with MSP is price.  Project Managers think that it is just too expensive. Project team members often find it opaque and a challenge to use without training. When as a PM you want others to contribute, or often even just to read, the plan you might need to buy many more licences and for lots that is the last straw.

MS project is still my go to planning tool for large complex projects and most colleagues working in those environments tend to agree. But I hold my hands up and have to agree with those concerns and we at PROJECT in a box worked on some solutions.

We felt it was obvious that most people were facing issues when trying to use the sledgehammer of MS Project to crack the nut of the ‘average’ project plan.  With this in mind we set about producing an MS project alternative suitable for 80% of project plans.  Our result was Planner, a free MS Project alternative designed to be easy to use.

MS Project Alternative Review – Planner

I could now go on about how good Planner is and how easy it is to use. But instead here is Steve Cotterell’s independent review of Planner version 3.0 from Project Manager Today.

ms project alternative; planning software; Prince2 software

You can read Steve’s full review of the best MS project Alternative, Planner 3.0 here on our website.

Your copy of the top MS Project alternative Planner is just a click away, register here to download for free and use forever.