Coming from a SharePoint world I wondered what I would find at the Project Server conference, but I've really enjoyed my time here! At this point the thing that stands out to me the most is the approach that Microsoft has been taking on Project within the environment.

The event started with a Keynote session from Kirk Koenigsbauer, Corporate Vice President, Microsoft Office Division product management group. In his session Kirk set the mood of the conference. He focused on organizations needing to do more with less and needing to have a consistent experience across any device.

The world of IT is rapidly changing and the Consumerization of IT is having a huge impact on how organizations need to implement solutions. Many organizations are being forced to change how they do things because the world around them is changing. Technology is something that is part of our everyday life and as consumers we expect the same from the technology that we need to use at work.

shutterstock_90139969.jpg This is the concept that excites me. The tools that we use, if it is SharePoint, Exchange or Project Server are simply tools, a means to an end.

With this in mind, it is so very important for us to understand where we want to go as an organization and then select the tools that best fit our needs. As Kirk mentioned in the keynote there are options for every organization, no matter the size.

World class systems can be implemented if you are two people working in an office or 200,000 working around the globe.

They key is determining what specific needs you have and then finding the right tools that help you get there. Tools that will help increase productivity without getting in the way!

Many Different Tools

This conference has been focused on doing what you can and using the tools in a way that works for your needs. This may mean implementing very complex solutions using Project Server or this may be simply using Project Professional and connecting it to a SharePoint site.

Either option is a great option, if that option fulfills a need within your organization. And likewise, either option is a bad option, if it causes more chaos than productivity.

This means that we need to truly understand our organization and our needs to really select the right tools for implementation. As our needs mature, it is likely that our tool sets will also mature. And knowing this in the beginning allows us to build solutions that will have long term impact within the organization because they can grow with you as your needs grow.

Stay in "The Know"

To really move to become an organization that follows this line of thought, you need to position yourself so that you are in “the know.” This will apply to both things internally, as well as what is happening in the IT world around you.

Internally, you need to understand what the organization is about. Learn what the vision of the organization means to your ever day work life and how it should be impacting your decisions. What is the heartbeat of the organization, where it going and what is is the plan to get there?

By knowing this you will be able to understand the direction and be positioned to select the best tools along the way that can be used in the various phases to provide the greatest level of productivity.

But knowing your organization isn’t enough, you also need to know what is happening in the industry. What are the latest trends? What are consumers purchasing and what impact is it going to have on your internal organization?

Keep in mind that the future of your workforce is going to be coming from a generation that used Facebook and Twitter in a way that can almost define their identity. Before long it will no longer be a question of how we convince a workforce to work with social tools, but instead be a question of how do we take what they are currently using and apply it in a way that makes us better. If you aren’t aware of what is going on around you, you will never be able to relate to the needs of your users.

A few examples of the tools that have been highlighted at this particular conference are listed below, along with some links to help you get started as you dive deeper into the details. Some of them may be new to you and some of them may be tools that you are already using.

I challenge you to review the tools and look at them from the point of view of your organization. Can you clearly articulate why you are or aren’t using them? Have you fully explored the value they can bring to your environment?

Microsoft has done a fantastic job at this conference on bringing the tools together to show examples of real world scenarios, everything from executive managing tasks on their IPhone to software developers working remotely from a coffee shop. These scenarios showed the power of the tools used together to offer a complete solution to fill common problems.

Join the Conversation

One final thought that has been reinforced at this conference is the need to surround yourself with a network of people that you can rely on to help you get the information you need. While it is not possible to really dig deep into every possible scenario with every tool, it is possible to surround yourself with a network of peers that you can work with to help get the answers you need when you need them.

There are many options out there that can be used to connect with the community, but here are some specific links that I have seen mentioned at this conference.

  • @MSFTProject – Follow them on Twitter to get links to helpful resources and as a way to interact with the Team
  • @cfiessinger - This is Christophe Fiessinger’s twitter account. Follow him to stay connected to the Project Team and get links to different resources to help you along the way.
  • Microsoft Project Facebook Page – Like this page to see the latest news and to connect with others in the community.
  • Linkedin Groups – I also heard from many people that they like to connect via different Linkedin Groups. Take a few minutes to review the available groups and see if you can find one that works best for you!

I would encourage you that no matter where you are in your lifecycle or implementation that there is value to be found in the community! Making connections today that can help you tomorrow can only be a good thing! Each of us is unique and has certain areas of expertise that are unlike others. By working together as a community we are able to rely on the strengths of others and work together to build richer solutions.

Image courtesy of Maxx-Studio (Shutterstock).

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