Praxis Framework – an introduction

PROJECT in a box were among the first to see just how useful the Praxis Framework could become.  Armed with that insight we created the method template and made it freely available via CE. That was the first Praxis related product but in the years since it has really blossomed.  So we thought we would take another look.

Therefore lets start with the basics and a definition:

Praxis is the process by which a theory, lesson, or skill is enacted, embodied, or realized. “Praxis” may also refer to the act of engaging, applying, exercising, realizing, or practising ideas.” – wikepedia

So here we can see what this framework is all about.  It is far more than about learning an approach to project delivery.  Rather all about the totality of making it happen.  We like this ambition and of course we really like that it is free!

The Praxis framework is a one stop shop

Praxis Framework; Praxis; methodology

The framework consists of four sections with it’s core material.  These are:

  • Body of knowledge
  • Methodology
  • Competency framework
  • Capability maturity model

With so many well known, widely used and successful PM resources out there already, why another?  In truth all the existing resources are great in one area or another but lack broad coverage. There have been lots of mapping exercises, showing how PMBoK ties to PRINCE2 etc, but nothing fully integrated.  It is in providing that total coverage that the Praxis framwork does something special.

Rather than having imperial spanners, metric ratchets, Philips head screwdrivers and flat head screws you have a single unified toolbox.  What is more all of this is provided free so it is easy for an organisation to adopt it.  Since we included a ‘Praxis light’ method in our standard set of methods we provide for free we have had some good feedback from users.  Trainers and consultants also tell us that it has worked well in scale implementations.  The competency framework in particular, which is an oft poorly addressed area in many organisation’s approach.

The core areas are supported by a Library of materials and tools to help you succeed.  Of which, of course the PROJECT in a box method template, CE and Planner are a part.  We share with Praxis that view that free resources to help people get started ultimately help us all.

Your next steps with the Praxis Framework?

If you like the sound of this, and frankly why wouldn’t you? then you need to know what is next.

If you already have Community Edition then it is likely you already have the framework, just go to create new project select Praxis Framework and off you go.  You can Community edition including Praxis and much more by signing up here.

To dive fully in please go to the framework website where you will find all the resources you need to make a success of your projects, programmes and portfolios.

Planning tool review – Planner 5.0

Steve Cotterell reviewed Planner v5.0 in the Sept/Oct issue of Project Manager Today and you can read it here.  This planning tool review hit the nail on the head with the summary:

Why pay for a planning, risk and issue application when you can have this one for free?

Steve’s four pages of review covers every area of Planner 5.0, both the core features reviewed previously and the new capabilities.  PMT last reviewed Planner in 2012 and they clearly liked their first look. On that occasion calling it “an excellent entry-level scheduling and risk management tool”.  In the five years since then Planner has come on in leaps and bounds with a host of new features.

planning tool review

Planning tool review the main areas

Steve’s review covers all the basics of planning, which are nice and easy in Planner and then goes further. Investigating the cost management budgeting and actuals as well as progress cost data models.  Steve loved the calendar display showing tasks as well as risk and issue responses in weekly or monthly format. That you could export this as an iCalendar file for import into Outlook was also highly popular.  Steve loved the filters and views which really help you take control of the plan data, high value features in a free product.

Of course this is not just a planning tool review, Planner of course goes much further with risk and issue management.  This approach in Planner to roll in together all the project controls in the same tool really makes it stand out.  Other planning tools may be deeper, but none are so broad. Planner can therefore really help you take a grip of your project in a way other tools can’t. The expansion in version 5.0 to collect change data is a great example of this.  Planner’s ability to move risks into issues and visa-versa again shows the value of an integrated tool.

So you can read the full review here.  Our thanks to Steve of Project Manager Today for such a thorough planning tool review.

Planning tool review – what the next steps?

So now you have read the planning software review , what next?  You simply sign up and can download it for free.  If you were a user of a previous version it will upgrade you and if you are new it will install Planner 5.0.  Nice and simple just the way we like it.

PRINCE2 2017 templates produced

The PRINCE2 2017 templates are now available for use.  So you can download them from the Axelos website and use them on your projects.  The template pack is pretty complete consisting of 26 word templates baselines, records and also reports covered.  We have included a full list of the templates below.

PRINCE2 2017 templates; business case template

About the development of the PRINCE2 2017 templates

Another PRINCE2 refresh, another set of templates, but it wasn’t always this way.  We produced our first set of PRINCE2 templates for PRINCE2 2005.  OGC, the then owners of the method, then adopted them as the official pack.  So when PRINCE2 was refreshed in 2009 we were again asked to produce the official template pack.  Although the wait for PRINCE2 2017 was much longer we were again happy to produce the official PRINCE2 template pack for AXELOS which we did this summer.

The new templates all follow a much more modern clean format and also have no version signing boxes reflecting the fact that this tends to be electronic these days.  All templates include a guidance section at the back.  The author can then removed that once the file is complete.  You will find these sorts of improvements make the templates much easier to work with and improve the quality of your work.

PRINCE2 2017 templates list

Your PRINCE2 2017 templates match the requirements for Appendix A of the PRINCE2 manual as follows.

Firstly the baseline management products:

  • Benefits management approach
  • Business case
  • Change control approach
  • Communication management approach
  • Plan
  • Product description
  • Project brief
  • PID (Project initiation document)
  • Project product description
  • Quality management approach
  • Risk management approach
  • Work package.

In addition the records templates are provided:

  • Configuration item record
  • Daily log
  • Issue register
  • Lessons log
  • Quality register
  • Risk register.

Finally, the reports templates:

  • Checkpoint report
  • End project report
  • End stage report
  • Exception report
  • Highlight report
  • Issue report
  • Lessons report
  • Product status account.

Accessing the PRINCE2 2017 templates

Previously the templates had been made available for general use under the OGL licence.  Because of the drive to increase CPD around PRINCE2 this set will be made available differently.  Your AXELOS PRINCE2 membership will provide you with access to the templates.  So if you are already a member you can access the PRINCE2 2017 templates here.  If you don’t yet have a membership you can find out more about the many benefits here and learn how to maintain the validity of your Practitioner certification.  Regular readers of our Blog will know that membership also gives you the ability to get CE with the PRINCE2 method template, for free.

PROJECT in a box, as the authors of the templates have secured permission to make them available to you in our products and so we will be rolling these out to users over the coming weeks.

Free project plans are just the start

Creating free project plans was a dream for must people until they found Planner.  Planner is totally free forever.  You can use it as much as you want, create as many plans as you want.  You can also share it with whoever you want.

Planner is also easy to use and you can even import any existing MS Project plans you have.  Maybe that is why so many of you have adopted Planner as your planning tool of choice.

free project plans; planning software;planner

Free Project Plans? Yes and now with so much more

We have not rested on our laurels though. We recently launched new Planner 5.0 with a stack of great new features mostly suggested by you the users.  You now also get the following planning related features for free in the new Planner:

  • Calendar views including export to Outlook
  • Milestone timeline display including colouring for completeness
  • Status and commentary collection
  • A new Project progress to date calculation, for great indication of on-track.
  • Budget and Actuals management roll up for export

So as well as your free project plans, Planner 5.0 also provides you with great additions in the Risk and Issue areas:

  • Risk management
    • Set your own choice of colour bands for rating colours
    • Status and commentary collection
    • Risk responses with due dates show in the calendar view
  • Issue management
    • Impact data collection for cost, time and quality
    • status and commentary collection
    • Impact data roll up for stats and reporting
    • Issue responses with due dates show in Calendar view

As a result the download numbers for Planner v5.0 are going up.  More and more people want to find out just how far free project plans, risks and issues can get them.

You can see these new Planner capabilities on YouTube or here on the Planner home page.

Or why wait? you can sign up to download Planner here now.

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 (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.