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Some really good things about Microsoft Project Server and Enterprise Project Management (EPM)

Millions of Microsoft Project Users #3: This may not sound like good news but it is. There are a lot of Enterprise Project Management (EPM) users out there. We have heard that the product line has been wildly successful. There must be 15 million Microsoft Project legal users worldwide. Microsoft pretty much owns the desktop market and is getting a large share of the enterprise space. We think all of this is a good thing for the user.

Why? Because deploying Microsoft Project Server is going to be costly as it is with any enterprise system and if you are going spend a lot of time and money then you should consider the risks. We don't think it is smart business to purchase a product you are going base your business on, when you aren't 100% sure what will happen to the product a few months down the road. You don't want to wake up one morning and read that it has sold to a firm overseas. Then, when you have adjusted to all of the new rules and procedures, you find that it has been sold again to a US firm that has a history of squeezing their customers. With any enterprise system you are going to make a considerable investment, do you want that kind of risk? Do you want to base your career on the uncertainty of product life-cycle and ownership?

These things we think are true, and it is why we think Microsoft's Enterprise Project Management (EPM) is a good investment:

Microsoft is a huge pubic company and they are not going anywhere in the near future even with Gates moving into retirement. They are not going to sell off this product line.

Microsoft has a history of treating their customers pretty well. We know there is a lot of people that have issues with Microsoft. But given their sphere of desktop control, they treat us pretty well. No company is perfect, look at some of the things Google is trying to pull now that they have our attention and devotion.

In general, Microsoft's products tend to improve over time. EPM is still pretty rough in some areas but we think it will get better. 2003 was better than 2002, 2007 is better still in some critical area like the new Queuing System. That is what we have learned to expect from Microsoft.

And last, if you are managing a deployment you will deal with attrition. You will get new people. When you do, what are they going to know? Microsoft Project, Project Server, and Windows SharePoint services. Not likely some other system.

Experience: Our estimate is that it takes 6 months for a person to develop the required skills to be a Project Server administrator. If you are doing capacity resource management project managers need about 250 hours under their belt working in all of the eight conceptual areas of Microsoft Project. They are not going to get the right experience by taking a class and receiving one of those Pink Belts in Microsoft Project. 

No one wants to be told this, but it is true.

The point is, you can't just keep investing in people's knowledge, skills, and experience. There are a whole lot more people out there that know Microsoft Project than all of the experts combined that work with other competitive products.

This is the bet we are all making and we think it is a reasonably sound one: This is going to be the project management system that most everyone in the world will be using in the next decade, so we might as well buckle up and figure out how to make it fly. Think about us, we are basing an entire business on Microsoft's EPM system. We certainly are not going to base a business on some small privately owned firm, in say a small eastern town that is going to tell us what we can and can't do. It is far too risky.

We get no direct business from Microsoft and it works best that way for our customers. It is helps to keep our priorities straight and we can feel free to give our customers straight information because we not indebted to anyone. The market is so huge we can run a business without Microsoft's involvement. That is good news for us, and it is good news for you.

Experience: Suppose you were dependent on Microsoft Consulting Services? How bad would that be? Sorry, that is a bit of a dig because we know some of you may have purchased consulting hours along with your enterprise agreements. Maybe it has worked out for you pretty well, and we hope so. We have never met an incompetent Microsoft technical resource and we have worked side-by-side with a few. But we have also noticed they are not inclined to provide a customer the same perspective on things that we might. Once we remember, at a partner technical briefing, the speaker chided the audience for telling customers that certain EPM features didn't work. His perspective was that a workaround could always be found by technically competence and that some people are too quick to dismiss a feature as broken. I think you get our point, "workaround at what cost?" 


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