PPM Best Practices in the Microsoft Cloud | Sensei Project Solutions

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PPM Best Practices in the Microsoft Cloud

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By Kenneth Steiness, CEO Sensei Project Solutions

How unique is your organization?

Do you have employees who work on projects and also keep the lights on in the business? Do you have competing interests and priorities between the departments in your organization? Does work start organically without any sense of whether or how it aligns with the priorities of the business? Are your projects constantly late and over budget? Are your employees confused about the expectations around scope and deadlines for their work?

There are many more questions like the above, but you get the idea, and probably recognize most of these challenges.

At Sensei, our team has been deploying project & portfolio management solutions for hundreds of Microsoft clients over the past 20 years. In doing so, we started to see a lot of similarities among the organizations we were working with. Often we would hear things like: “we’re unique” or “things are different around here”; yet upon engaging with the client, we would find that their key needs were “uniquely” similar to rather than different from other companies. We found ourselves doing many of the same things over and over again across deployments, and we found a pattern of what worked and what didn’t work well with processes, training, reporting, and organizational change initiatives.

This led us to develop repeatable processes to help our clients learn from our experience with Microsoft PPM. We refer to these as the Building Blocks of PPM™, which address the above questions and the major pain points that our clients face.

The Building Blocks of PPM

If your organization is like most, you’ve embarked on the project and portfolio management journey to help achieve your strategic goals and/or overcome immediate pain felt in the business.

That means getting a handle on all of your work and resources through end-to-end processes for how work is initiated (Project Intake & Prioritization) and what people (Resource Capacity/Demand Management) and monies (Budgeting and Cost Tracking) are required. With a detailed plan and a place for the team to work (Project Planning and Collaboration), your executives get visibility and insight (Project Status and Portfolio reporting) into the true status of the portfolio, and your PMO can ensure compliance to organizational standards (PMO governance), which directly impacts the quality of project delivery.

The Building Blocks of PPM

Within each of these building blocks are proven processes for growing the maturity in your organization and getting predictable results. And while it’s taken years for us at Sensei to gather this experience and discover these best practice processes, our clients benefit in a matter of months rather than years.

The starting point for each organization typically IS unique, so we often scale the maturity within each building block to suit what each client is ready for. Sometimes, whole building blocks are out-of-scope in early phases of a deployment, but we always want to ensure that the foundation is there to allow for growth.

The best practices and proven processes for each building block are built into everything we offer our clients. The Project Manager Guide and Application Administrator Guide, as well as our extensive list of courses and e-learning, all lead with best practices and emphasize the ‘why’ behind our actions. Our apps and reporting solutions facilitate insight into key data and highlight exceptions. Our consultants lead with process discussions to ensure that we’re ultimately answering the right questions and meeting the underlying business needs.

Benefit from Industry Standards

When Microsoft released the first version of Microsoft Project in 1986, there were few (documented) industry standards in the field of project management. Since that time, the Project Management Institute has released a library of standards, frameworks and practice guides. These industry standards have helped to codify best practices and provide excellent guidance for organizations trying to grow their maturity. At Sensei, we’re big fans of the work PMI has done, and as a Registered Education Provider (R.E.P.) all of our content is certified to align with PMI’s standards. We’ve gone one step further, and embedded the principles, processes and standards from the below publications alongside our own best practices into our recommended solutions for Microsoft PPM.

Our best practices are based on the expert guides from PMI, including:

Sensei PPM Beacon™

Industry Standards and Best Practices on the Microsoft Cloud

Sensei PPM Beacon™ is the next generation of our best practices PPM solution that started 5 years ago with the Sensei Jumpstart™. Beacon is built on our extensive experience of delivering PPM solutions to hundreds of organizations and combines our own discoveries of best practices with the industry standards from PMI as well as reporting recommendations from Gartner. It pulls together the technology, processes, and training that we know clients need to be successful on this journey.

Sensei PPM Beacon™

Sensei PPM Beacon™ is a fully configured, Best Practices PPM solution that is compliant with PMI industry standards and aligned with PPM recommendations from Gartner, supporting both traditional & agile projects.

It comes with a World-Class Reporting platform that hosts dozens of reports and dashboards. These reports provide excellent out-of-the-box reporting that cover the most common needs. You can also connect to data from other systems to provide consolidated reporting in your organization.

Project Managers and Team members get self-paced, On-Demand Training, and your Application Administrator gets trained in our Open Enrollment class.

Sensei provides Continuous and Evolving Innovations through updates and new capabilities to keep your PPM solution current with industry trends and take advantage of improvements from Microsoft.

The Automated Governance & Compliance reports monitor data quality and how well your organization is adopting the PPM processes.

Embedded Process Guidance comes in the form of procedure documents and the standard views in Microsoft Project and PWA.

Sensei’s Integrated Customer Care handles problem tickets and also provides monthly Tips ‘n’ Tricks sessions and quarterly health checks.


With Sensei PPM Beacon™ our clients greatly accelerate their PPM initiative and improve maturity by starting from a foundation of best practices. The most common benefits include:

  • Rapid Deployment: Fully functioning PPM environment in weeks, rather than months.
  • Cost Effective: PPM solution at a fraction of the cost for traditional “blank canvas” deployments.
  • Automated Reporting: Instant visibility and insight into the portfolio of projects and resources.
  • Embedded Training: E-learning, procedure documents, and step-by-step views ensure success and adoption.
  • Scalable: Supports small teams of all sizes and large enterprises.
  • Proven Processes: Aligns your organization with Industry Standards and best practices.
  • Instant ROI: Demonstrate the Microsoft PPM value proposition and get instant Return On Investment.

At Sensei we believe we can meet up to 90% of your core PPM requirements with the rapid deployment of PPM Beacon. If you’re ready to hit the ground running with a best-practices PPM implementation, call us at 480-582-1824 or send an email to info@senseiprojectsolutions.com.

About Kenneth Steiness, CEO, Sensei Project Solutions

Kenneth has worked in the project management and scheduling field for over 22 years and has managed customer engagements in over 13 countries worldwide and throughout the United States. His focus is on process and the discipline of PPM and scheduling whenever he engages with clients to deploy Microsoft Project and Portfolio Management or teaches classes on the subject. Kenneth has presented at world-wide conferences for Microsoft and PMI; and to many Microsoft Project Users Group chapters over the years.
As the founder of Sensei Project Solutions, Kenneth provides strategic direction to the business and is deeply involved with client relationships and deployment projects.  In addition to teaching, he has a passion for App design, which has resulted in several world-class Microsoft Project Apps for iPad, iPhone, Windows Phone and Android phones as well as SharePoint and the Microsoft Project client.






About Sensei Project Solutions

Sensei Project Solutions, a Finalist for the 2017 Microsoft Project and Portfolio Management (PPM) Partner of the Year, focuses on bringing Instant Productivity to your team. Our mission is to help individuals and organizations be more productive so that they can achieve their greatest potential. As a Gold certified Microsoft Partner and Registered Education Provider (R.E.P.) with the Project Management Institute (PMI®), Sensei offers a complete set of services and products for a successful Microsoft PPM deployment. Our guiding principles for Proactive PPM follow best practices and industry standards aligned with the Project Management Institute (PMI) and Gartner, enabling organizations to manage resource demand, obtain business intelligence that facilitates better decision making, increase business effectiveness by easily connecting people, and become self-sufficient with PPM processes and solutions. In short, Sensei helps organizations achieve Instant Productivity.