Using Virtual Project Office (VPO) on a Public Infrastructure Project

by Laura Nee | Oct 15 2013 |

Contributor Laura Nee, Simplex President/CEO, shares some exciting news.

This week we're rolling out VPO on a project located in Nassau, Bahamas. This is when we wish we did have to go on site to implement VPO! It's a design/build project, and our client will be using VPO as an online project management system, for controlling the project documentation centrally, and allowing all team members to access information securely--like the contract documents, design drawings and specifications, etc. This is particularly important because the team members are geographically dispersed across the States and the Bahamas.

The Program Manager is providing VPO as a platform for team members from the various organizations involved with the project--including the Owner, Owner’s representative, contractor, and design firm. They will be capturing information electronically from the contractor that will be automatically routed to the team for review and approval--like RFIs, submittals, change order requests, applications for payment, and more.

Because project information is inevitably going to come in through e-mail, they will have a project-specific e-mail inbox for dragging and dropping e-mail messages from their own personal inboxes into the project’s inbox. They can also CC the project’s e-mail address when conducting project-related messages. This gives the team the ability to search the project’s inbox for keywords, and find information quickly. This project mailbox is right next to the other information being managed on the documentation site.

The Program Manager uses Lync Online to improve communications among members of the project team. Project participants can see each other’s online presence and know whether or not a team member is available, in a meeting, or out of the office. When you have a situation in which there are actually a few different people who could answer a question, and you can tell which one is the most available and accessible for you, it saves a great deal of time--rather than leaving voicemail messages, walking down the hall, calling cell phones, etc., just to track down the answer to that question. You can ping your team member using instant messaging, and then initiate an online video conference, share your screen, and work on a presentation or document together. This is especially useful when your team member is working in another state or even another country like on this project!

And lastly, they are going to be using Project Online, Microsoft’s newest project planning and scheduling platform, to collect and review the contractor’s schedule in real time. The contractor can use Microsoft Project Professional and import the project into Project Online so the Program Manager can review the schedule online--and not just a static, PDF version of the schedule. The Program Manager will be able to do some what-if scenarios and real-time analysis of the project schedule right through a Web browser, without needing any project management software installed on the desktop. This is what Project Online looks like:

[frame src="http://www.simplexgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/Project-Online.png" width="700" height="400" linkstyle="normal" title="Project Online"]

So what we have here is a true deployment of VPO, leveraging the full functionality we've created it in order to offer. I love it!

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