Hi, I’m Mike Taylor with Innovative-e, a Gold Portals and Collaboration, and Silver Project and Portfolio Management Partner. Anyone who has attempted partnering as a strategy for driving sales and client success knows that building meaningful partnerships can be time consuming and involves hard work. On the other hand, sometimes the right ingredients come together to create a great partnering experience. We recently had such an experience and can share what made it a win-win-win for all parties.

 
We were asked if we could assist the U.S. EPA Office of Water with a relatively complex project management solution that involved a lot of different technologies including Microsoft Project Server, Project Professional, SharePoint, and SQL Server Reporting Services. The EPA task had high-level executive visibility, and we were asked to complete it in less than eight weeks.
 
Project Hosts, a Gold Project and Portfolio Management partner, and Microsoft Project Server hosting company, was already on the scene. They had configured the base infrastructure, following best practices for installation and multiple environment configurations (development, staging/QA, and production).
 
Innovative-e was asked to help finalize requirements, develop the various components, facilitate a user acceptance test (UAT), and go live with the solution. We were also asked to help with the business case for future phases. Needless to say, doing all of this in eight weeks was a daunting task and would not have been possible without the following key elements:

 
  1. Client Support

    We were fortunate that the EPA had a clearly defined vision and key objectives. However, with such a short delivery timeline and incomplete requirements, we suggested applying an agile, iterative approach. The EPA understood the need for this approach, and also understood that some functionality might have to be deferred to future stages. The client’s flexibility allowed us to focus collectively on core features that would deliver the highest value. The EPA also embraced the concept of Project Hosts and Innovative-e working together to deliver components of the solution around each company’s respective strengths. I would be remiss if I didn’t also give a shout-out to our government partner, Indus Corporation, who helped make all this possible with their fantastic contract and client facilitation skills.

  2. Complementary Offerings

    First and foremost, partners must have strong capability to deliver their part of the solution, and this was certainly the case with Project Hosts. They are very proficient and were able work seamlessly with our project team. In addition, we found that their collective knowledge areas were complementary to ours and had good overlap, so we enjoyed efficient communication at the technical and management levels.  

  3. Microsoft Partner Network Framework

    It might not appear obvious, but the MPN partner program helped standardize the way we partners operate. Partners that take the time to do all of the things required to reach the higher competencies (Sliver and Gold), have attained a level of proficiency and expertise that makes it easier to develop better solutions, and helps streamline the process for more solid solutions.

 
Besides technical competence, working as a Microsoft partner empowers partners with a common language and basic operating principles, providing a foundation for more seamless interaction and communication that’s critical for positive outcomes.
 
With the solution that Innovative-e and Project Hosts helped the client implement, the EPA was able to demonstrate key functionality to executive management—on time! Management, in turn, was excited about the solution’s success and supportive of future investment.
 
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In fact, the client presented the solution at last week’s Microsoft Project Conference in Phoenix, Arizona; additionally, a Microsoft case study about the project was also released, and we produced a short video.
 
This project is an example of how great partnering results in a true win-win-win!
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