Computer Aid, Inc.

Computer Aid, Inc.

Computer Aid, Inc.
World Headquarters
1390 Ridgeview Dr.
Allentown, PA 18104 USA
(610)530-5000
www.compaid.com

Information

Computer Aid, Inc. is a worldwide computer services company established in 1981 with more than 3,000 technical and managerial professionals on five continents.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Answers to some frequently asked questions.

Categories


Value

What does the "automated" in "Automated Project Office" (APO) mean?
Automated is meant to describe the fact that APO is a fully hands off and repeatable Project Office capability. Once a project is defined (10 minutes setup), the system performs the full functionality of a world-class project office. It performs stage reviews, expert level analysis, gathers hard data and consultant level "interview information", and publishes complete dashboards and analytics for each project stage. Back to the top
What will be the expected financial and management "return" one should expect from implementing APO?
First of all, and perhaps most importantly, the early stage identification of future project problems will immediately become apparent. In the case of a key project, this could be crucial.

Secondly, team communication will immediately improve. Out of alignment issue identification and better coordination will occur immediately and lead to efficiency and reduced rework.

Management feedback and visibility into the reality of projects will improve. Surprises will decrease dramatically.

Best practices implementation, compliance, and learning will accelerate.

A complete, trustworthy repository of project performance will begin to build immediately and provide great analytical value for improvement within one year.

APO will become the backbone system replacing many costly, manually intensive, and time consuming current efforts.
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Upon which management theory is APO based?
APO is primarily based on the cycle of analysis, visibility, review, and communication that has been well documented with best of breed practices such as Six Sigma, Total Quality Analysis, The Learning Organization, Visibility-Control-and Optimization, Management by Walking Around, Total Team Communications, Team Alignment, Project and Program Office Best Practices, as well as the best documented software development practices of the past decade.
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How does APO affect best practices learning and implementation?
APO ships with a very large repository of best practices that is customized for many specific development environments. It contains thousands of consultant level questions, as well as evaluative and grading systems.

APO is easily modifiable to add any specialized or desired evaluation system. One week is the max it would take to customize APO for any customer- or project-specific environment.

As powerful as APO is, it has amazingly comprehensible knowledge repository and can be customized and increased in power to best fit each customer.
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How does APO compete with Clarity™?
APO doesn't compete with Clarity™. APO is a PMO tool that enables the PMO to manage aspects of projects not addressed by any other application. APO's concentration is on: Control, Communications and Visibility. It gives consistent QA Oversight of every IT Project. APO is a Software as a Service (SaaS) and can be fully deployed within a month with no programming at a cost of only 5K a month. While Clarity™ costs hundreds of thousands of dollars and can be challenging to set up. It can take a year or more to implement. Clarity™ does improve visibility into key initiatives by prioritizing people, projects and programs through a portfolio view.
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Implementation

Can I interface with your web services?
Yes, any client that can access the internet and communicate over HTTP, can use our web services.
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Can I import my projects from existing spreadsheets or Microsoft Project™?
Yes, as long as you can get your project data into an Excel™ spreadsheet, you can import it into Advanced Management Insight (AMI).
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Is there a client footprint?
There is no client footprint, the application is SAAS and can be used with most any browser (IE, FireFox).
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How long does it take to fully deploy APO?
APO can be fully deployed within a month. There is no hardware or software for you to install. APO rides on top of any software you already have in place. Thus, it doesn't require replacement of existing operations.
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What if I want to have a new dashboard with a new set of report metrics?
As a separate service we can work with you to define requirements and then customize your dashboard.
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Functionality

Can you integrate with other systems like Microsoft Project™?
Absolutely, we can do this very easily by either linking to your Microsoft Project Server™ or by receiving a Microsoft Project File™. In fact any electronic data can be fed in through an API facility.
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Are the answers to the questions in the assessments 100% anonymous?
Yes, we can change the default setting so that the answers are in fact 100% anonymous.
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How can I ensure that my people are answering the questions truthfully?
Like status reports and even verbal updates, you have to have an established level of trust with your people. You can also tell them that their answers are 100% anonymous.
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Is there programming that needs to occur when I want to add, delete, modify a question?
There is no programming that needs to occur to allow you to add, delete, or modify a question. You are able to do this on your screen. It is seamless and takes only a couple of minutes.
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Do I have to display all the dashboards?
No we can customize your dashboards so that you see what you want to see.
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How long does it take to answer the weekly assessment?
Only about 5-15 minutes.
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Can the questions to the assessments be automatically populated with the prior week's answers?
Yes, we can set APO up so that the assessments automatically populates with the prior week's answers.
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How does this system compare per functionality and cost to portfolio management systems such as Clarity™?
First of all, this system is a pro active, actively engaged project office review and reporting system rather than a "cost analysis and past performance system." APO will tell you what is happening systematically within the project and what is in front of the project, i.e., risk analysis, future project time-line assessments, and whether the project structurally sound or if it is in danger of drifting off course.

APO is meant to tell you what will happen in the future, not what happened last month. APO is a full-time consultant monitoring your projects and providing 360 degree and best practice reporting and communications. Additionally the cost of Portfolio management systems on average is in the $500,000+ range and the implementation costs average more than $300,000, as documented by independent sources such as Gartner.
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Which standard reports or "dashboards" does the system provide?
Standard status dashboards will be immediately available for all projects. The dashboards are automatically updated with every new review cycle (as often as weekly). Additionally a full, easy to use business intelligence "drill down and reporting system" is 100% available for all projects.
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Architecture

What is the base application architecture?
The base application architecture is made up by a set of common interfaces implemented as web services.
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How is the application implemented?
The application is implemented in C# and .NET framework 4.0.
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Where does the application reside?
Typically the application is hosted for you on CAI's internal hosted network, however if you wish to deploy the application on your own servers that can be easily accommodated.
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How is my data secured?
The transmission is over HTTPS and your application instance is a proprietary instance, data is not shared across engagements.
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PMO

What are the responsibilities of an effective PMO?
  • Establish project management standards and best practices
  • Monitor projects to validate compliance with standards
  • Assume a lead role in defining new projects and linking them into related programs to optimize benefits to the organization
  • Monitor the health of in-flight projects to identify risks or issues and prevent problems
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How does APO automate and support my PMO functions?
Automates the oversight and monitoring of projects to ensure the project is on-schedule, on-budget, and scope is being managed. Additionally, APO monitors ongoing compliance with standards and customer satisfaction.
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What information does APO collect in order to provide this capability?
APO gathers project performance data from project management tools such as MS-Project and also uses role-based surveys (collected via an E-mail interface) to gather information from stakeholders and participants. The survey responses provide the insight required to analyze the performance data.
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How are Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) calculated by APO?
APO is configured to collect operational data and survey responses. APO is configured with baseline information for evaluating the data and calculating a KPI. Finally, APO is also configured to report KPI calculation on reports and dashboards along with color-coded risk indicators (red, yellow, green) to highlight areas that may need attention.
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What are common KPIs for project management?
The most common KPIs that are related to projects track performance in the following areas:
  • Financial
  • Quality
  • Scope Management
  • Schedule
  • Process Compliance
  • Customer Satisfaction
Other less common KPI's measure the "Professionalism" and "Morale" of the staff and the overall "Value" delivered by the project.
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How does APO monitor/ensure process compliance?
  • Process compliance is monitored through role-based survey responses. APO is configured to ask process compliance questions. (e.g. The project manager is asked if there is an up-to-date project plan since this is a required artifact). APO is configured to interpret any answer other than "Yes" as a risk. In order to guard against misinformation, this same question is asked of other lead roles on the project.
  • APO can be re-configured to reflect changes to standards or best practices. By asking role-based compliance questions, the system is also reminding project participants of the approved standards and helps to prevent deviations.
  • APO can be configured to require the respondent to attach the required artifact for review to ensure compliance.
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Cost

What is the end to end cost of operating the system monthly?
The system is fully operational via a full Software as a Service implementation.

For $5,000 per month all hardware and software are included; there are no additional outside charges or costs. Inside personnel costs are minimal for set-up and execution. Within 30 days with 1/3 a person's month the total system will be operational. Ongoing personnel time will be measured in less than 10 hours per month.
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How do I license APO?
APO is hosted on secure servers by CAI and access is provided using the SaaS (Software as a Service) approach. Clients access APO capabilities through the internet similar to many cloud applications.
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Who uses APO and how many user licenses will I require?
Survey responders are not users. Users would include project managers, PMO staff, and executives who wish to access dashboards.
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© 2013 Computer Aid, Inc.