Managing Beyond the Project with The BEN
As software gets easier and faster to use, projects seem to be remaining just as complex. In fact, it seems that more projects are needed sooner. A bigger change in the world of software development, however, has come from the fact that management within many organizations is smarter about computers, computer system, and projects. In larger organizations a project may be driven as much from the higher-level management as it is from the developers on the project. As such, there has become a need for tools that allow both, the ability for top-down planning and guidance as well as bottom-up planning and execution of the project deliverables.
In many larger organizations, it is no longer just the project manager who needs project information, nor is it just a matter of managing the timeline and programming resources on a project. More often, everyone else higher on the organizational structure such as CIOs, CTOs, and CEOs as well as managers through out an organization often need summaries of projects occurring within an organization. In larger organizations, this could be for hundreds of projects. Such information may include resources, costs, time lines, and more.
Because of the critical nature of many projects, there is also a desire to tie a project plans directly to core business operations within an organization. This includes tying the project to the business planning and budgeting activities of the company. Additionally, many projects now impact not only the internal company, but also external business partners. These business partners can also be impacted by a large-scale project, and thus are more interested in the working details.
Directly relating projects to the current business plan and budget along with adding the involvement of external business partners pushes beyond what traditional project planning tools can do. While products like Microsoft Project are excellent for managing projects and project resources, you begin to go beyond its focus when you start requiring ties from the project to non-project planned items within the company.
Tracking projects in real-time with exacting details to the true status can also be a strain on many project tools. More importantly, higher-leveled people want to have a direct impact on budgets and other resources in these projects. More likely, they may want to know the impact of changes. All of this is required in addition to the standard details needed by the projects teams and project managers. Such information and manipulation of projects and project plans requires a higher level of detail combined with the need for consolidated multi-project information begins to break the seams of standard project management tools such as Microsoft Project. Combine this with the desire for "on demand" information and you really begin to push the limits.
One solution aimed at addressing this higher demand in the project management arena is the BEN. The Business Engine Network (The BEN) is a Web-based software solution that is currently being positioned at the Global 2000 companies-companies that have the number of projects that require a heavy weight solution. This product has been positioned to allow projects, resources, budgets, people, and time to all be managed. More importantly, it has been build with the ability to customize interfaces for nearly anyone within an organization. This means that a CFO-level person can get access to the information and reports they need without being bogged down by the details that a developer or project manager would need. With the use of the Web, the solution can be configured so that employees, contractors, or even partners can be given access to the appropriate information regardless of where they are located.