As a non-technical consultant with CA’s PPM practice, I typically defer to technical colleagues who know how to use XML Open Gateway (XOG) to upload customer data to CA PPM.
The customer provides the data in an Excel spreadsheet, and the data must be converted to XML data before being uploaded. Usually, my job is to show the customer how to populate the spreadsheet and provide guidelines on required values.
Pre-Work and Process Can Delay Outcomes
One reason customers implement CA PPM is to get visibility of all their projects and resource utilisation. However, some customers don’t have one of the necessary starting points: a list of all the projects they are running.
The time required to populate the spreadsheet varies enormously from customer to customer. It also depends on several factors, including the amount of data and its accessibility and completeness.
In my experience, it can be a challenge for customers to get the spreadsheet right on the first try, even with a lot of guidance. For that reason, when we get the spreadsheet from the customer, we expect a certain amount of data cleansing. Once we have the necessary data, we hand the spreadsheet over to a technical resource who uses various techniques to prepare the data for upload to CA PPM, depending on his or her XOG method—and yes, there are several ways to XOG data into CA PPM. Each technical resource I’ve worked with—internally and externally—has a preferred way of doing it.
CA PPM Core New Data Loader Changes All That
With the new data loader for CA PPM Core, I no longer have to rely on technical resources to upload customer data into CA PPM.
True, I still need to show the customer how to use the spreadsheet and provide guidelines on required values, and I still perform data cleansing on the completed spreadsheet. However, the code required to upload data to CA PPM is now embedded in the spreadsheet and is executed when I press buttons on each worksheet.
One possible downside with the new spreadsheet, which is macro-enabled: Some customers don’t allow macro-enabled spreadsheets. (I know at least one government department that would require several weeks for their technical teams to analyse spreadsheet code to ensure it had no security vulnerabilities.)
One potential solution: The customer could provide the data in a normal spreadsheet, and a non-technical consultant like me can transfer it into PPM’s data loader spreadsheet. Because the data loader spreadsheet connects to the customer’s CA PPM system, this may still cause concern to some customers; my colleagues and I work closely with those customers to determine the best way forward based on their needs and potential risks.
Because CA PPM Core focuses on rapid implementation of base functionality, the data initially required is limited to the minimum number of fields for roles, resources and projects along with financial location, department OBSs and a base security model.
Even though the data load is semi-automated, the non-technical consultant still needs to upload data to CA PPM in the right sequence and adhere to CA PPM business rules.
After the upload, CA PPM Core relies on project and resource managers to fill in the blanks, including creating the required work breakdown structure and populating project teams.
I must say I’m stoked about not having to rely on technical resources for this process. I’m also stoked about seeing the look on my customers’ faces when they view their data in CA PPM for the first time after this simplified process.
In the end, the real benefit goes to customers. CA PPM Core lets them get up and running quickly, capture required data to turn up the service and realise benefits much faster. And the fact that customers need to work with only one consultant is bound to add to customer satisfaction.
About the author: Steve Robinson has over 20 years’ experience in designing and implementing portfolio management projects and training customers to leverage solutions, especially CA PPM, to meet business requirements and achieve business goals. As a thought leader in the PPM space, Steve leverages his real work experience to share his unique perspective and insights with CA PPM customers so that they gain maximum value from their CA PPM investment.