Dutch Scientists in Pursuit of New Project Planning Paradigm

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Statistics show that nearly 40% of business executives complain about running too many projects at once (Reference: Wellingtone – The State of Project Management). The burden of having to delegate a lot of projects weighs on executives and directly affects their ability to focus on priorities, causing company growth to slow.

The Pitfalls of Project Management Tools from the Last Century

Project delays regularly occur because manual planning methodologies, such as Gantt charts, are not suited for dynamic 21st century work environments. The process of re-scheduling is so time-consuming that we begin to spend less effort on capacity planning and instead busy ourselves with routine work that never pays off. The outcome of traditional methodologies (like Gantt charts) in modern workplaces is chaos – a spaghetti network that is difficult to maintain.

Another problem with existing project management tools is that they either commit to a single project philosophy or simplify collaboration between team members; but when it comes to multi-project environments, these tools come to a halt, lacking the features to add many projects to one pipeline. Caniëls & Bakens (2011) conducted a research based on the analysis of current Project Management Information Systems (PMIS) and concluded that “project managers who are dependent upon a PMIS that produces low quality information, are less satisfied and as a consequence do not use the generated information in simultaneously running projects.”

With respect to the project manager’s satisfaction with PMIS it is interesting to note that among the project managers who participated in our study, only 37% indicated to be more than averagely satisfied with the quality of the information provided by the PMIS they use. Even 90% of the participants reported that they were particularly dissatisfied with the reliability of the information. (Caniëls & Bakens, 2011).

Although MS Project, TOPdesk, Oracle Primavera, Jira and other software tools offer proven techniques to overcome certain obstacles of project management, it’s cumbersome to predict the impact of additional projects on future progress. How long can we afford to stay unaware of what will happen to our projects, resources, and priorities as we take on additional projects? How can we respond to relentless pressure at work while creating perfect flow and eliminating the causes of various project inconsistencies? We offer those insightful answers so you can start benefitting from your own projects right now by adding the feature of analytics to your existing planning tools.

Intuitive Prioritization vs. Automated Logic

Having spent more than 25 years working in project management, we’ve encountered a recurring set of problems that create planning inconsistencies in multi-project environments. Business enterprises face hundreds of unpredictabilities. By interviewing about 4,000 PM experts and examining the environments where they work, however, we have identified three basic problems that contribute to negative chain reactions: wrong priorities, overload, and overhead.

 Intuitive prioritization cannot compete with automated logic for the simple reason that people cannot accurately recall all details from memory immediately. It takes a lot of time for a project manager to re-construct a plan, and the efforts double when it comes to setting priorities. Recently, our client working in construction industry has spent over 20 000 hours to plan and align work for 300 people. Business experts expend a lot of energy solving issues that shouldn’t be eating up their time. Often, managers are unable to provide their teams with adequate workloads. As a result, both managers and workers end up overwhelmed and stressed!

Seeking a Perfect Combination of PM Software Features

We started our scientific journey to find the perfect project management solution that can reduce overhead, set optimal effort-based workloads, and determine priorities. We approached these three problems from the perspective of resource availability, and devised the Flow method proven to be successful in large enterprises. The philosophy behind the Flow method is quite simple: in order to navigate your business processes smoothly, you have to release bottlenecks as soon as they appear. In 2006, we developed an offline planning solution called Flow MPM to provide business experts with excellent visibility over their projects. This year, we successfully upgraded Flow MPM to a web-based project management tool, Epicflow, that contains a full stack of features to help create well-balanced work environments both in small and large companies.

Albert Ponsteen, Jan Willem Tromp, and the Epicflow solution architect Alexey Mikhalevich

The Optimal Solution for Multi-Project Environments

Even though multi-project planning is a roller coaster of ups and downs, you can opt for software that will help you stay as focused as possible so that your moves are far-sighted and tactical, not reactive. Our capacity planning tool presents a package of features that not only store your data but also help decision makers figure out how additional projects will impact their overall resource load. These features are built especially for business experts and C-level managers who want to bring order to their project planning chaos. After implementing this new project planning tool, you can expect to see increased production along with clearer focus.

Currently, we are helping an international food company build a plant in India by showing the company how to effectively align priorities and arrive at a common understanding about workloads. After nearly 10 successful years on the market, Epicflow (previously known as Flow MPM) has proven efficient for many companies. Pilz credited their National Business Success Award in 2015 to the Flow methodology that brought harmony to the production of innovative security systems. During a recent demo, an IKEA PM expert called our project management app “the most refreshing and innovative solution” he has seen during his career. We successfully connected with Trimergo to help construct superyachts like the “Venus” for Steve Jobs. Our rebranded SaaS platform integrates into your existing PM solutions, such as MS Project, Jira, Oracle Primavera, and others.

Today’s competitive environment calls for flexibility, durability, and speed. Based on experience, we can say that our unique project management philosophy helps businesses achieve their potential by creating perfect flow at the workplace. Epicflow prevents overload and overhead by resolving resource conflicts and brings peace to dynamic work environments.

What’s actually stopping our progress when the solution is at hand?

Jan Willem Tromp

Jan Willem Tromp

Jan Willem Tromp is a Dutch scientist with deep knowledge of project management based on more than 25 years of experience. He has contributed his research expertise to Epicflow, an online PM tool.

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