MS Project Tips : Maintain a section to track your external dependencies


Project Managers are always playing around with dependencies. It could be dependencies with your vendors or suppliers or peer teams or project team members.

In reality , you will hardly find a project without dependencies. If not external definitely we will have internal ones.

There will be deliverables from parties who are beyond your span of control. But your deliverables will have dependencies on those. Any delay can impact your project.

The following can help in managing those

  1. During project planing stage identify your dependencies also.
  2. Create a Summary task in MS Project and capture your dependencies under that.
  3. On the tasks which are under your scope & control, set the predecessor field to appropriate tasks captured under your dependency summary task.
  4. It’s a good practice to set a finish date for the external dependencies. To do that, you need to work backwards. Look at the task which has a dependency on the external dependency. Use your  judgment and identify a delayed start date, the task can absorb without jeopardising the overall project time lines. ( That start date – ‘y’ number of days ) would be your external dependency’s finish date. Choose ‘y’  based on your comfort level.
  5. Utilize the project review calls to keep a tab on the progress by external teams. You can raise a flag based on the info you have captured on the dependency and your task as in step(4)

MS Project Best Practices – Maintain Project Plan Templates


No two projects are same. But you will still find some items repeating in each and every project. So also is the fact that each project will come across areas of improvement.

How do you ensure that we don’t miss out those common tasks in our next project?

The common tasks  could be part of the process followed at the organizational level or by the nature of the project. A project manager who have executed project in the organization in the past, will be aware of those. But how about a project manager who joined your organization recently and about to start with his maiden project?

Having this mandatory tasks or items as stipulated by the organization or type of project captured in a project plan template helps in addressing this scenario.

How do you ensure that the mistakes made in the current project are not repeated in future projects?

Lessons learned is the formal way of addressing this. You can maintain a centralized repository with adequate indexing and search criterion , so that its easy to find what you are looking for. But this still doesn’t ensure that we will miss something in future.

Each lessons learned will end up with a recommendation on how this mistakes can be avoided. And this recommendations should be implemented either on the processes or templates or tools used for project management.

So if any of the recommendations can be addressed by including that as a task in a project plan, then a project plan template is the right place.

Project Management Office(PMO) owners change, so will Project Managers. But embedding the best practices or lessons learned in our processes , templates and tools ensures that experience gained by our predecessors are utilized by future team.

Last but not the least, have your project plan template available on a centralized repository. And make it mandatory to Project Managers to always use a  template to start off with their individual project plan.

See Also : More articles on MS Project


What’s the best sequence of steps involved in creating a Plan in MS Project ?


Note : This post doesn’t capture/discuss the activities involved in Planning a project. But it focus on entries required in creating a plan using MS Project. Menu references are based on MS Project 2010.

Your Project Plan will have the following key ingredients(may vary)

  1. Summary Tasks
  2. Sub Tasks
  3. Milestones
  4. Effort / Work
  5. Schedule
  6. Dependencies
  7. Resources assigned.
  8. Calendar

Based on my experience, I found the following order of Entry effective and eliminates any adjustments or rework later.

  1. Set the “Calendar Options for the Project”.
    This is accessible through “File” –> “Options” –> “Schedule”.  Set your Shift Timings*, Hours Per Day, Start work day of the Week and  Average days in a month as appropriate for the project
  2. Enable display of Project Summary task.
    This can be achieved by setting “Show Project Summary Task” check box under “Display Options for this Project” accessible thru “File” –> “Options” –> “Advanced”
  3. Key in your Key Summary Tasks. Only Task Names.
    Never Key in Estimates , Duration or Schedule for Summary Tasks.
  4. Create a dummy milestone to capture the Start date for the Project
  5. Key in your Milestones with the dates.
  6. Key in your Sub tasks / Detail Tasks. Only Task Names.
  7. Key in your Work Estimates in Work Column for your Detail / Sub Tasks.
    Never key in Work Estimates to any of the Summary Tasks. This will affect rolling up of Estimates of Detail Tasks to Summary Tasks.
  8. Key in your duration of each task for your Detail / Sub Tasks.
    Never key in duration to any of the Summary Tasks. This will affect rolling up of duration of Detail Tasks to Summary Tasks.
  9. Indent the Sub Tasks / Detail Tasks under appropriate Summary Tasks
  10. Set the Dependencies
    Stay away from setting Dependencies for any of the Summary task.
  11. Assign the Resources
    Stay away from assigning resources to any of the Summary task.
  12. Set the Project and Resource Calendar.
  13. Review the Plan so that it aligns with your Project Schedule agreed.
  14. Validate the Value in Work field for Project Summary Task against the Total Estimated Effort for the Project.
    If all the other tasks are either the child of this task or any other task coming under the task, then MS Project will roll-up the efforts of individual tasks to the Project Summary Task.
  15. Level your resources.
    Some of the resource’s total assigned effort for a day may exceed standard hours or their availability.  These cases can be identified in the Resource Sheet View. Over-allocated resources will appear in “RED”.   The main reason for over allocation would be due to assignment of a resource to multiple tasks whose schedule overlaps.
  16. Create a Baseline for the Project for tracking when the project is running.

* If you change the Working Times in Project Options, then you need to explicitly match the new timings by changing them in the “Change Working Time” dialog box. Select the “Work Weeks” tab, while the Default entry in this tab selected, click on “Details”. In the “Details” dialog box, multi-select your work days and select the “Set day(s) to this specific working times” radio button and then key in your Project specific work times.

See Also : More articles on MS Project


Estimating Resource Requirements using Microsoft Project


This post will help you in Estimating the Resources needed to complete a given task with in a prescribed Schedule using MS Project..

I assume, Human resources here. One Full-Time-Effort(FTE) is taken as 8hrs / Day. If the Effort for 1 FTE is different in your case, for eg:9hrs/Day then change “Hours Per Day” option under “Schedule” in Tools –> Options on MS Project. On Project 2010 this option is available under File –> Options –> Schedule.

Let’s have a scenario first.

Here is the schedule given

Task Duration
Technical Design 20 Days
Code/Build/Test 18 Days

Listed below are the efforts arrived by your team for the above tasks in the Project.

Task Effort(Hours)</td>
Technical Design 600 Hours
Code/Build/Test 500 Hours

Now let us see using MS Project, how many Full Time resources(FTE) do we need to fit our efforts within the schedule given.

Steps required on MS Project

1) Set up MS Project

  • Go to “Tools” –> “Options”. On Project 2010, you need to go to File –> Options
    • Select tab “Schedule”
    • On the “Default task type” drop down select “Fixed Duration”
    • Select tab “View”. On Project 2010, Go to File–> Options. Select “Advanced” tab
    • On the “Outline Options for <projectname>” check the Option “Show project summary task”. This option is available under “Display Options for Project” in Project 2010
    • Click “Ok” to finish the Definition
  • Open a new Project in MS Project
  • If the default Gant Chart View doesn’t have the “Work Column”, do the following steps to insert the same
    • Right Click on the Column heading
    • Select the “Insert Column” menu item
    • On the “Column Definition” dialog opened, select “Work” from the “Field Name” drop down.
    • Click “Ok” to finish the Definition

2) Task Definition

  • Add a milestone task to denote our start date , On Row 2 enter the following
    • Enter “Start” on the “Task Definition Column”
    • “0 days” on the “Duration Column”
    • “0 hrs” on the “Work” Column
    • Now set the anticipated start date for our “Technical Design”, by entering the date on the “Start” column(either enter the date in the default date format or select the drop down to view the calendar)
  • Add our first task in the Project – i.e., “Technical Design”. Go to the next row(3rd) enter the following
    • “Technical Design” on the Task Definition Column
    • “20 Days” on the “Duration” Column
    • “600 Hrs” on the “Work” Column
    • Now MS Project will populate the “Start” and “Finish” column based on our effort and duration.
    • Go to the “Predecessors” column of our “Technical Design” Task and set the dependency to our “Start” milestone
    • Enter the id displayed on the “Id” column of our “Start” task in this column. You can see that MS Project updates the Start date based on the date set for our “Start” milestone
  • Add our third task – i.e. ,”Code/Build/Test”. Go to the next row(4th) enter the following
    • “Code/Build/Test” on the Task Definition Column
    • “18 Days” on the “Duration” Column
    • “500 Hrs” on the “Work” Column
    • Now MS Project will populate the “Start” and “Finish” column based on our effort and duration.
    • Go to the “Predecessors” column of our “Code/Build/Test” Task and set the dependency, “Technical Design” finish to start “Code/Build/Test”
    • Enter the id displayed on the “Id” column of our “Technical Design” task in this column. You can see that MS Project updates the Start date based on the finish  date displayed for our “Code/Build/Test” Task

3) Arrive at the Full Time Effort(FTE)

  • Enter a value, for eg: Developer on the “Resource Names” column for all of our non-milestone tasks. I.e., “Technical Design” & “Code/Build/Test”
  • You can see that MS Project appends a % value to the value we entered. The “Technical Design” task, “Resource Names” will display “Developer[375%], means you need 3.75 FTEs to complete 600hrs of Technical Design in 20 Days.
  • After completing the “Resource Names” entry on all our tasks – Technical Design and Code/Build/Test and from the values appearing on the Resource Names column, we can infer that the Technical Design task needs 3.75 FTE and Code/Build/Test  needs 3.47 FTE.

4)   Now what if, we don’t have the MS Project calculated FTE in hand?

  • Adjust the value on the “Duration” column of our tasks to arrive at the required FTE. Please note that when you change the value of the duration, MS Project adjusts the value in the work column. Please reset it to the original effort for the task (This Is the Default Behaviour For MS Project)

Once you arrive at the required FTEs, the Start and Finish columns should show the workable schedule

See Also : More articles on MS Project


Give me a QIF file from a CSV file


You will find here a simple script to convert a delimited CSV file to QIF format. This will come handy if you need to import your bank or credit card statement available in CSV format.

Note : This script is not customized to process investment transactions

The script is developed as a vbscript file. Your Windows desktop should be able to run this script on a command prompt.

The script expects your CSV file to be in a particular format. This is limited to how your columns are named and the delimiter used. The delimiter expected is semicolon. You can customize the script to use a different delimiter. The columns can be in any order. Captured below are the expectations on the column headings.

Colum Heading Notes
Date Transaction date
Payee Payee Name
Narration Memo or Narration about the transaction
Amount Transaction Amount
Cheque Ref Cheque Number. This field can be blank also.
CR_OR_DR The transaction is a credit or debit. If this field is not present in your CSV, you need to add the column and capture CR or DR for Credit or Debit respectively

Follow the below steps to get setup.

  • Copy the below lines beginning with REM Script Begins and save it to a file with extension .vbs . For eg : QifFromCsv.vbs
  • To make it easy for running the script copy the .vbs file to the same folder where your CSV file is located.
  • Make a copy of your csv file and name it input.csv .
  • Fire up the command prompt and run the following on the command prompt. I assume the script file is named QifFromCsv.vbs .

cscript QifFromCsv.vbs

  • The script creates a file named output.qif , which you can use to import into your Personal Finance application.


REM Script Begins
REM Feel free to Customize or alter the code
REM
REM Define the Titles expected in the CSV file. Alter the text between double quotes to match yours

Const cDateColTitle = "Date"
Const cPayeeColTitle = "Payee"
Const cNarrationColTitle = "Narration"
Const cAmountColTitle = "Amount"
Const cChequeColTitle = "Cheque Ref"
Const cCRDRColTitle = "CR_OR_DR"
REM
REM Define the delimiter used in the csv file. Change the text between double quotes to match yours

Const cDelimiter = ";"
Dim QIFCodesApplicable(10)
Dim FieldsRecognized(10)
Dim fso, f2, ts, ts2, line, records, linesRead
Const ForReading = 1, ForWriting = 2, ForAppending = 8
linesRead = 0

Set fso = CreateObject("Scripting.FileSystemObject")
Set tf1 = fso.OpenTextFile("input.csv", ForReading, false)
Set tf2 = fso.OpenTextFile("output.qif", ForWriting, true)
Do While Not tf1.AtEndOfStream
line = tf1.ReadLine
linesRead = linesRead + 1

REM Parse Header for applicable fields
if linesRead = 1 then
fieldsInHeader=Split(line,";")
if UBound(fieldsInHeader) = 0 then
Wscript.echo " "
Wscript.echo "Please verify whether the Delimiter used in your file is consistent "
Wscript.echo "and is " + cDelimiter
Wscript.echo "if consistent then try running the script by editing the line "
Wscript.echo "Const cDelimiter=""your delimiter"" "
Wscript.quit
end if

Wscript.echo "Parsing Header for Predefined Fields"
for i = 0 to UBound(fieldsInHeader)
select Case fieldsInHeader(i)
case "Date"
QIFCodesApplicable(i) ="D"
FieldsRecognized(i) = cDateColTitle
case "Payee"
QIFCodesApplicable(i) = "P"
FieldsRecognized(i) = cPayeeColTitle
case "Narration"
QIFCodesApplicable(i) = "M"
FieldsRecognized(i) = cNarrationColTitle
case "Amount"
QIFCodesApplicable(i)= "T"
FieldsRecognized(i) = cAmountColTitle
case "Cheque Ref"
QIFCodesApplicable(i) = "N"
FieldsRecognized(i) = cChequeColTitle
case "CR_OR_DR"
CR_DR_FieldNumber = i
FieldsRecognized(i) = cCRDRColTitle
end select
next
Wscript.echo "Found " + Cstr(Ubound(FieldsRecognized,1)) + " Predefined Fields"
tf2.WriteLine "!Type:Bank"
end if

if linesRead > 1 then
records=Split(line,";")
if UBound(records) = 0 then
Wscript.echo " "
Wscript.echo "Please verify whether the Delimiter used in your file is consistent "
Wscript.echo "and is " + cDelimiter
Wscript.echo "if consistent then try running the script by editing the line "
Wscript.echo "Const cDelimiter=""your delimiter"" "
Wscript.quit
end if
for i=0 to UBound(records)

REM
REM If the current field is amount field check whether its a debit or credit
if QIFCodesApplicable(i) = "T" then
if records(CR_DR_FieldNumber) = "CR" then
lQifLine=QIFCodesApplicable(i) + "-" + records(i)
else
lQifLine=QIFCodesApplicable(i) + records(i)
end if
else
lQifLine = QIFCodesApplicable(i) + records(i)
end if

if i <> CR_DR_FieldNumber then
tf2.WriteLine lQifLine
end if
next
end if

tf2.WriteLine "^"

Loop
tf1.Close
tf2.Close
Wscript.echo " "
Wscript.echo " Processed " +cStr(linesRead) + " transactions "
if (linesRead > 1 ) then
Wscript.echo " Output file is output.qif"
end if


Should I buy Office 365 Home Premium or Office Home & Student 2013


This post will give you inputs  on choosing the version of MS Office from  a Value for Money point of view.

 Microsoft released the new iteration of its highly successful Office Suite to general Public last week.  The trend of embracing Cloud adopted by Microsoft is visible in this product line also.

What’s the best flavour from a Value for Money point of view for a Home user?  Read on….

I’ll make the following assumption for the rest of the post.

1) Average time frame for which a normal Home user uses a particular version of Office suite is assumed min 5 Years

2) Word and Excel will suffice for a normal Home user. Outlook will always be a Bonus for him.

Now the pricing offered for these two variants is as follows

a) Office 365 Home Premium -    Rs 4199/- (approximately $ 77)

b) Office Home & Student 2013 – Rs 5499/- (approximately $ 101)

Variant (a) looks like reasonable. But its subscription based. The price mentioned is the yearly fee you pay for using the following Products – Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook + few others. You can have the Suite installed in 5 Desktops (PCs / Macs).

Whereas variant (b) is a onetime payment you pay for using the product for the life time. But limited to only ONE desktop. And you are limited to Word, Excel, PowerPoint & OneNote.

Let us look at two scenarios based on the number of installation with in the family

Scenario 1 – Only one Desktop/Laptop

 

Office Home & Student 2013

Office 365 Home Premium

Cost for using the Product for 5 Years

Rs. 5499/-

Rs. 20, 995/- (Rs. 4199 x 5 )

Products available

Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote

Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook + others

For only one installation in a house hold, it’s cost-effective to go with Office Home & Student variant.

Even if you want Outlook also for your mail chores, a one-time Payment of Rs 6,749 + Rs 5499 for Office Home & Student will still be cost-effective compared to Office 365 Home Premium in the long run.

Scenario 2 – More than one Desktop/Laptop

Let’s use two tables to get a clear picture.

Cost Per Year for the number of Installations

Variant

Cost Per Unit

No of   Installations

 

 

2

3

4

5

 

 

Cost

Office   Home & Student 2013

 4,199.00

    4,199.00

 4,199.00

  4,199.00

 4,199.00

Office   365 Home Premium

         5,499.00

 10,998.00

 16,497.00

 21,996.00

 27,495.00

Savings   for choosing Office 365 Home Premium

 

    6,799.00

 12,298.00

 17,797.00

 23,296.00

What you end up paying at the end of 5th Year?

 

No of   Installations

 

Variants / Combinations

2

3

4

5

Comments

 

Cost at the end of 5 Years

 

Office   365 Home Premium

 20,995.00

 20,995.00

 20,995.00

 20,995.00

Cost remains the same irrespective of Installations

Office   Home & Student 2013

 10,998.00

 16,497.00

 21,996.00

 27,495.00

 

Office   Home & Student 2013 + Outlook

 17,743.00

 23,242.00

 28,741.00

 34,240.00

 

 Office 365 Home premium is cost-effective only if you have 4 to 5 installation in the long run. Other wise, Office Home & Student is the best option.

For choice of other products than what’s covered in Home & Student Variant , it’s better to go with Office 365 Home Premium for 3 and above installations.

 Hope this post will help you in choosing the appropriate variant of MS Office for your needs.

Related articles

Restore Ubuntu Boot Menu after Windows 8 Install


Read on to get back your Ubuntu Boot Menu which disappeared after your Windows 8 install.

Most of us would like to utilize our Desktops for running multiple Operating Systems, which co-exist on our Hard Disk.  Each OS has its own boot-manager to help us in booting to our OS of choice during start-up.  Windows 8 also has the same, but some what partial in allowing us to use our favorite Ubuntu after Windows 8 install. Windows 8 hijack the boot record and puts its own boot manager. Its tidy compared to earlier versions and recognizes existing Windows install. But it never recognizes (purposefully ? ) any Linux-based installations.  So after your Windows 8 install, you will not have any option to get to your Ubuntu.

Ubuntu / Linux communities knows this and they have long back put up a solution to fix this. The utility in lime light is “boot-repair”.  It has a basic and advanced mode to repair or get back your grub  boot manager back. When this is restored, grub will be updated to include your newly installed Windows 8 also in the boot menu.

Ubuntu has a detailed help page on how to achieve this. So I’m not going to explain this in detail and leave you to visit the following url to go ahead.  You will need a Ubuntu Live CD to start with.

Boot-Repair : Community Ubuntu Documentation


Tip: How To play media available on Windows 8 FROM connected Entertainment Devices


Windows 8 can serve media available on it to connected Entertainment Devices. This makes it possible to enjoy your Videos or Photos on your living room wide-screen TV or play music on your networked AV Receiver. The technology that makes this possible is DLNA in disguise. Microsoft hardly mentions this anywhere.

For this to work, your Entertainment Devices should be DLNA enabled and in particular supporting DLNA Media Player profile.

This is the basic functionality supported by all DLNA enabled TV, Blu-ray Players, PS3, XBox, AV Receivers and other Media Players.

Setup your Media Library.

Follow the following steps to add media stored on your local hard disk to Media libraries on Windows 8.

  1. Launch Windows 8 Desktop App by clicking on the “Desktop” tile on your Start Screen
  2. Once on the Desktop, fire up “File Browser”(look for the Folder icon on your task bar on the Desktop)
  3. File Browser by default show your libraries in the window opened
  4. Double Click the library to which you want to add media files. For eg Music
  5. By default your My Music (in this eg) folder and C:\Users\Public\Public Music (in this eg) are available on the Library
  6. To add a different Folder to your library, Click on “Manage” menu from the File Browser menu bar
  7. Click on “Manage Library”
  8. A dialog box will open to add your folders containing media to the Library
  9. The “Library locations” section will list your existing folders available on the library
  10. To add a new folder location, Click on Add and then navigate to your folder of interest and click on “Include Folder”
  11. Repeat step 10 for additional folders if required
  12. Click OK to close the “Music Library Locations” (in this eg) dialog box
  13. Windows will scan and list the media files in the File Browser. You will see that it also displays the Meta data  in the listing
  14. Continue steps 4 to 12 for other media types as appropriate

Once the library is step up, you can find media files on newly added locations on Windows 8 built-in media apps like Music, Videos and Photos

Share your Media with in your network

Follow the following steps

  1. Invoke the Charms Bar
  2. Click on “Settings” then select “Change PC Settings”
  3. On the “PC Settings” column select “HomeGroup”
  4. Once selected you will see the “Libraries and Devices” settings on the left side
  5. Switch the toggle to “ON” for the Media types you want to share. Windows 8 may throw up a message that File Sharing needs to be enabled on your network if it’s currently disabled. Accept and continue.
  6. Under “Media Devices” section , enable the option for allowing your media devices to play the content

Your Media is ready for playback from your connected devices. On your Entertainment device’s respective menu, you will find your Windows 8 Machine name along with the user who is sharing listed under servers. You can navigate to the media folders and starts playing on your Entertainment Device.

Currently Windows 8 doesn’t do any media transcoding, so you will be only able to play media types supported by your Entertainment Device.

If your media is available on a network folder or NAS, the steps captured under “Setup your Media Library” will not work. In that case use Windows Media Center if available, to add your network location to the respective library.


How To : Setup @me.com or @iCloud.com email account on Windows 8


Follow the following steps to connect @me.com or @iCloud.com email accounts to Windows 8 Mail App

Updated on 2 Oct 2013.  iCloud SMTP doesn’t authenticate if the username contains @iCloud.com also. If your existing iCloud mail account already registered in Mail App on Windows 8 stopped working, then create a new account with the following instructions. If you are doing so, please ensure, on the Wizard which starts , you key in your @iCloud.com email id instead of @me.com id.  If you continue the wizard with @me.com id, email sending will fail. Also, the SMTP port  has changed , instead of 25 use 587. Also SSL needs to be enabled for SMTP.

  1. Start Mail App
  2. Invoke Charms Bar by moving your cursor to the right edge of the Screen
  3. Select “Settings” then select “Accounts”
  4. Select “Add an account”, then select “Other Account”
  5. Select “IMAP”, Click “Connect”
  6. Key in your @iCloud email address and password on the respective fields
  7. Then click on “Show more details”
  8. On “Email User Name” field enter the iCloud id without the @icloud.com part. For e.g. if your id is abc@iCloud.com, enter just abc . iCloud SMTP server fails authentication, if you enter the username with the @iCloud.com part.
  9. On “Incoming (IMAP) email server” field key in imap.mail.me.com
  10. Leave “Port” field entry  at 993
  11. Leave “Incoming server requires SSL” selected
  12. On “Outgoing (SMTP) email server” field key in p07-smtp.mail.me.com
  13. Change “Port” field entry to 587
  14. Leave “Outgoing server requires SSL” selected .
  15. Leave “Outgoing server requires authentication” selected
  16. Leave “Use the same username and password to send and receive email” selected
  17. Click on Connect

Mail App will now complete the setup and sync your emails from your account

Once you see your mails from me.com or iCloud.com, few more settings needs to be changed.

While you are in the newly setup account mail box in the App

  1. Invoke Charms Bar by moving your cursor to the right edge of the Screen
  2. Select “Settings” then select “Accounts”
  3. Click on your @me.com or @iCloud.com from the list of accounts
  4. Scroll down to “Special Folders” section
  5. For “Sent Items” select “Sent Messages” from the drop down list
  6. For “Deleted Items” select “Deleted Messages” from the drop down list
  7. For “Junk” select “Junk” from the drop down list

That’s it. If you wish you can adjust the mail download interval and the timeline for which mails to be downloaded locally.


Windows Phone 8: How its going to penetrate the Enterprises?


Windows 8, both Desktop and Phone versions of the OS have been out for a while. Overall, the acceptance of the same has been favorable from the tech world. One area where Windows Phone 8 can shine is the Enterprise, due to multiple factors.

We will use the following three key sections to analyse and find whether Windows Phone 8 can make an impact on the Enterprise landscape or not.

The Present

The current enterprise mobile solutions are heavily dominated by Blackberry and iOS Devices to some extend.

Blackberry

Blackberry still remains the Enterprise IT Department’s favoured mobile work force solution, highly contributed by the secure framework for email delivery and reliability. There is nothing at this moment which can excel the security and reliability of Blackberry.

But over the few years, compared to other Phone manufacturers Blackberry have failed to raise any enthusiasm on the Consumer front. Also the infrastructure solution from Blackberry haven’t seen any major innovation or upgrade from what they have started. They have been trying hard to push ahead, but the time horizon that has been projected by them to come up with something new has been longer compared to competitors, who have a recycle period of 6 months on an average. All these factors have triggered a shift in continuing with Blackberry solutions among the current users. On another note, my honest view is Blackberry OS 10 has very promising Enterprise features baked in.

Also Blackberry doesn’t have anything to offer for the current Enterprise users demand on working on Office documents and instant messaging. Their BBM solution is more of peer-to-peer messaging solution which will not work for Enterprises, who would like these to be integrated with their Corporate Directories.

iPhones and iPads

iOS devices currently enjoys a favourable position in Enterprise space. This is mainly attributed by the push or acceptance from top executives, who were either bored by the crude Blackberry handsets or who liked to use their shiny iDevices also at work. This acceptance at the top management and the pressure put on IT departments by the top decision makers started the trend in penetration of these devices with in the enterprise. Still, iOS devices in Enterprise are limited to a creamy layer with-in the hierarchy.

Another landscape where Apple dominates are the startups and technology based organizations who doesn’t want to invest heavily on Enterprise Infrastructure or use their own implementations and want to have a loosely coupled work environment. Over a period of time Apple also supported this trend by improving their support for Microsoft Exchange Active Sync and device security aspects.

Still IT departments are skeptical in accepting iDevices as a replacement for their existing infrastructure on security aspects and control on these devices.

The Future

Another not so significant player is Android. Due to Open source nature and lack of native support of Enterprise exchange policies , they never were in the radar of Enterprise IT. Companies like Samsung and LG have tweaked the OS to in-corporate the same. But on Nexus versions, which offered pure Android experience, this was not supported. So the users have to depend on third-party applications from NitroDesk and RoadSync for this. Haven’t heard any large-scale implementation of these tools at Enterprise level. The usage was limited on the Consumer space, where users like to have access to MS Exchange on their personal phones. Windows Mobile (predecessor of Windows Phone OS) did have these build in but, the lack of acceptance on the Consumer Space and continued support of Blackberry solutions saw hardly any adaptation.

But, this is gone change with the presence of Windows Phone 8. This new revamped mobile OS from Microsoft has started seeing acceptance from Consumers mainly due to the new virgin UI and social media integration. Unlike Apple who hardly had any Enterprise integration other than ActiveSync support, this new OS has the Enterprise Core built-in like its Desktop counterparts.

How?

Now why this could be a threat to iOS and Blackberry on Enterprises?

  • Blackberry is at the verge of being written off by Enterprises soon. To have a blackberry based messaging solution, the overhead is more for IT Department. You need to have a tie up with the Mobile Service Provider, license cost and maintenance of additional servers for this solution.
  • iDevices are still consumer devices at the core. Other than ActiveSync, device encryption and support for Exchange policies, it is still lagging in surviving on Enterprises. Joining a Domain, accessing files server with in the Enterprise etc. are not native to the OS or missing.

Another key factor which cannot be ignored is most of the Enterprises run Microsoft based Enterprise solutions at their organizations. Hardly seen any major shift in this trend.

The lacking from the existing players is where Windows Phone 8 have a niche.

  • To support a messaging solution on Windows Phone 8, IT doesn’t need any extra infrastructure. Your existing Exchange server is more than enough. ActiveSync licenses are part of the deal
  • No dependency on Mobile Service Provider
  • Support for Device Encryption and Security as per Enterprise Policies
  • Tight integration with Microsoft based Enterprise components in the OS. SharePoint for example.
  • Native support of MS Office applications on Windows Phone 8 is another nail in the coffin for the current players on Enterprises.
  • Device Management and Provisioning
  • Can have an Enterprise hosted App Store

The acceptance on Windows Phone or tablets on the consumer front is skeptical. One factor highlighted by analysts is the low App penetration in Windows App Store. But there are other plus points which can influence consumer adaptation. iOS has started getting bored for users.

A fresh UI from Windows Phone till it ages would pull in consumers. Unlike iDevices, you are not locked into an ecosystem.

On the Enterprise it’s a different story. IT doesn’t take decisions on WOW factor and usability.

Their key decision-making parameters are cost and how well they can have integration with their existing infrastructure, which is dominated by Microsoft solutions.

Security and native MS Office are another enablers for voting for Windows Phone or tablets. VOIP solution based on Skype which gives a transparent experience, also cannot be ignored. Enterprises will be slow on migrating to Windows 8 based Desktop and laptops, but there is nothing holding Enterprises from adopting Windows Phone 8, who want to replace the aging Blackberry Devices.

So until Apple comes with its own infrastructure solutions for enterprise and Blackberry speeding up their upgrade process – Windows 8, both Desktop and Mobile will be a threat to both on the Enterprise.


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