Innovative-e, a business consulting and technology services company, had experience in collaboration and project management. To expand its business, Innovative-e decided to pursue the Microsoft Project and Portfolio Management competency from
the Microsoft Partner Network. The competency adds value for both Innovative-e and its customers. Innovative-e has used the competency to strengthen its project management credentials, complementing its expertise in Microsoft SharePoint Server and business
processes. With its new Project and Portfolio Management certification, Innovative-e has gained access to a growing market for Microsoft Project Server 2010, has boosted its revenues by 22 percent, and can more efficiently sell a broader range of higher-margin
Innovative-e is a business consulting and technology services company that helps clients increase worker productivity, improve information management practices, and streamline business processes. Headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, the company has three global
locations and 25 employees. A Microsoft Gold Certified Partner since 2006, its expected 2011 revenues are U.S.$3 million.
||Having the Microsoft Project and Portfolio Management competency separates us from everyone else who wants to jump on the bandwagon of deploying project management solutions.
| Dux Raymond Sy
With considerable experience in project management and Microsoft SharePoint technology, Innovative-e has had success helping companies effectively implement SharePoint technologies such as Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010. Dux Raymond Sy, Managing Partner at
Innovative-e, is a Microsoft SharePoint Server Most Valuable Professional (MVP) and author of the 2008 book SharePoint for Project Management.
“In the book, I proposed Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 as a good baby step toward more mature project management solutions,” Sy says. “I then suggested that as companies’ project management processes became more sophisticated, Microsoft Office
Project Server 2007 was a good next step.”
Since then, Innovative-e has sought to increase its work on project management initiatives, especially after the release of Microsoft Project Server 2010 and SharePoint Server 2010. “Project Server 2010 represents the best improvement in Microsoft project
management software in more than a decade,” says Mike Taylor, President of Innovative-e. “Our clients are getting excited about it, and they are asking us to do more in the area.”
Innovative-e has the capabilities to effectively deliver such projects. Taylor, Sy, and another employee are certified Project Management Professionals (PMPs), and other company employees also have vast business experience in project management. Innovative-e
is approved by the Project Management Institute as a Registered Education Provider.
However, many Innovative-e clients were not aware of the company’s project management expertise. Taylor says, “We actually had SharePoint customers say, ‘Oh, we didn’t know you did project management!’”
Innovative-e wanted a way to increase its revenues. It decided the best way to do that was to highlight its project management capabilities by demonstrating to potential customers that it could perform a broader range of services.
As a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner, Innovative-e knew the value of Microsoft certifications to demonstrate technical expertise. Given its strengths in project management business processes as well as portals and collaboration, in October 2010 Innovative-e
decided to pursue certification in the Project and Portfolio Management competency.
||In one case, we’d done about $50,000 worth of SharePoint work, and when the customer learned about our Microsoft competency in Project and Portfolio Management, we booked another $300,000.
| Mike Taylor
At the time, Microsoft had recently updated its partner certification program, which is now known as the Microsoft Partner Network. The updates changed the way partners attain competencies and brand themselves. Rather than achieving gold or silver certification
at the company level, partners are now certified at the competency level. Additionally, Microsoft made several adjustments to the competencies, including the newly named Project and Portfolio Management competency. The adjustments generally made the requirements
more stringent. For example, Microsoft Certified Professionals who are assigned to a gold certification in one competency can no longer be assigned to another one.
In addition to the Project and Portfolio Management competency, Innovative-e also pursued competencies for Portals and Collaboration and for Web Development. To achieve each competency, the company designated Microsoft Certified Professionals to take specific
certification exams. It also collected multiple client references for each competency, because, as with the Microsoft Certified Professionals, gold client references cannot overlap with other competencies.
“I think the process actually strengthened our relationships with existing and former clients,” Taylor says. “I didn’t want clients getting an unexpected email message from Microsoft, so we had to reach out and talk to them ahead of time. It turned out they
were all happy to do it for us. I think it made them feel engaged in the process.”
As part of the gold competency attainment process, Microsoft required Innovative-e to participate in a Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) Index. “The CSAT involved a survey that was much more time-consuming for our clients than the reference,” Taylor says. “It
was harder to get people to do. We were pleased to score better than the partner average in all the areas in which we were measured. And we were able to use the scores internally to see areas where we could improve our processes.”
Innovative-e has attained the silver level of the Project and Portfolio Management competency and expects to attain gold level by December 2011. With the competency, Innovative-e received licenses for Project Server 2010 and Microsoft Project Professional
2010. “Having the software itself is really helpful,” Taylor says. “We’re big believers in using a solution internally as we recommend it to clients. So we use Project Server 2010 and Project Professional 2010 for tasks such as internal project tracking, doing
client proposals, and actually managing projects for our customers.”
In client engagements, Innovative-e has continued to build on its experience in project management and business processes—now augmented with the Project and Portfolio Management competency. For example, one company that was already using Project Server 2010
wanted to use it for more resource tracking and reporting. Innovative-e helped create processes, identifying roles and use cases. It then helped implement those processes in Project Server 2010 and SharePoint Server 2010, and created a customized training
plan for various project managers and team members.
Building on that expertise, in May 2011 Innovative-e produced a white paper, “Microsoft
Project for the Masses: A Simplified, Scenario Driven Approach.” The white paper shows how midsize organizations can quickly solve business problems using SharePoint Server 2010, Project Server 2010, and Project Professional 2010.
Taylor says, “We’ve got the combination of project management discipline—including the PMP certifications—and deep knowledge of Microsoft products, as demonstrated by our Project and Portfolio Management competency. And that’s exactly the combination that
customers are asking for.”
Innovative-e is using its Project and Portfolio Management competency to improve its credibility and gain access to a growing market. It has increased revenues by 22 percent while more efficiently creating value for its customers.
Increase Its Credibility
With the Project and Portfolio Management competency, Innovative-e is improving its credibility with potential customers. “Holding one or more competencies gives you credibility as soon as you walk in the door,” says Taylor. “The customers know that you’re
supported by Microsoft and that you know what you’re doing.”
||The new Project and Portfolio Management competency gives customers the confidence that the partners they choose to work with have the level of project management expertise they need.
| Dux Raymond Sy
That credential is enhanced by the new, more stringent competency requirements. “The new, more distinctive competency is more valuable than the old certifications were. ‘Gold’ is no longer a company-level blanket—it’s proof of a focus area,” Taylor says. Thus
the Project and Portfolio Management competency helps Innovative-e compete against other firms. “The Project and Portfolio Management competency differentiates us by highlighting our deep expertise,” Taylor says.
The competency also effectively complements the firm’s other credentials. “A potential customer might say, ‘Oh, he’s a SharePoint MVP and the company is a Silver Certified Partner in Project and Portfolio Management,’” says Sy. “That means something, especially
to companies that want to address collaboration and project management.”
Gain Access to a Growing Market
Innovative-e is using its new Project and Portfolio Management competency to gain access to a growing market for implementing project management solutions. “There’s a big push these days to do more with less—so the discipline of project management continues
to grow in importance,” Taylor says. “People want to get a better handle on their work and do a better job of resource planning. And at many companies, there’s a lot of room for improvement. So this is a very good market to be in.”
Because he is based near Washington, D.C., Sy sees particular growth related to the government. “The increasing focus on government accountability is elevating the role of project management across the public sector,” he says. “And government regulations
about compliance are elevating it in the private sector as well. Having the Microsoft Project and Portfolio Management competency separates us from everyone else who wants to jump on the bandwagon of deploying project management solutions.”
Boost Revenues by 22 Percent
Thanks to the new Project and Portfolio Management competency, Innovative-e has increased its revenues by 22 percent. “We’re selling more to existing customers,” Taylor says. “In one case, we’d done about $50,000 worth of SharePoint work, and when the customer
learned about our Microsoft competency in Project and Portfolio Management, we booked another $300,000 worth of business.”
Furthermore, the credibility of the new Project and Portfolio Management competency shortens the sales cycle. “We did a SharePoint assessment for another client, and it came up in conversation that they also had a Project Server 2010 initiative,” Taylor
says. “It was only a month until we were engaged—whereas the sales cycles on these projects are usually two to four months.” He estimates that over the last 12 months, about one-third of the company’s engagements have had a similarly reduced sales cycle.
Finally, the projects are also more profitable for Innovative-e. “Because we have the Project and Portfolio Management competency, we’re able to offer more than just implementation services,” Taylor says. “For example, we can offer training, which usually
has higher margins than typical consulting or implementation work.”
Add Value for Customers
Innovative-e believes that the Project and Portfolio Management competency creates value for customers. “We’ve always been the type of company that, before we do any technical work, asks customers, ‘What are your project management processes? What kinds
of projects do you have?’” Sy says. “There’s so much you can do with Project Server 2010, but it has to be matched to a company’s unique situation. The Project and Portfolio Management competency efficiently demonstrates to potential customers that we know
how to tweak Project Server 2010 to cater to their business needs.”
Additionally, the added stringency of the new competency helps customers make better choices. “In some cases, other Microsoft Partners may have expertise in, say, infrastructure, and not so much in project management,” Sy says. “Microsoft has so many products
that only a huge company can be expert in all of them. So the new Project and Portfolio Management competency gives customers the confidence that the partners they choose to work with have the level of project management expertise they need.”
Microsoft Project Server 2010
Microsoft Project Server 2010 brings together the business collaboration platform services of Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 with structured execution capabilities to provide flexible work management solutions. Project Server 2010 unifies project and portfolio
management to help organizations align resources and investments with business priorities, gain control across all types of work, and visualize performance through powerful dashboards.
For more information about Microsoft Project Server 2010, go to:
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