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Carl Zeiss sees clear vision in Project 2010

Lens manufacturer Carl Zeiss Vision is looking to Project 2010 for a "consistent approach" to enterprise project and portfolio management.

Seth Patton, director of Project at Microsoft

Seth Patton, director of Project at Microsoft

Lens manufacturer Carl Zeiss Vision is moving off internally developed systems to become an early adopter of Microsoft Project 2010 in a bid to facilitate its collaborative project management requirements.

Founded in 2005, Carl Zeiss Vision produces consumer and professional lenses and diagnostic tools, and operates a sizable services and support business around its products.

The company’s director of IT demand management, Harald Rünz, said the company used many different tools to manage projects, including Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Project (standalone and Enterprise Project Management 2007) and Primavera, as well as proprietary in-house developed solutions.

"None provided a consistent enterprise approach to project management and portfolio management that Carl Zeiss Vision requires to more effectively operate in a global, fast paced environment," Rünz said.

Carl Zeiss Vision actually halted its internal testing and implementation program for Enterprise Project Management (EPM) 2007 when it saw the 2010 release’s reporting enhancements and integrated project and portfolio functionality.

"It was clear to us that EPM 2010 offered a more integrated solution that fitted with CZV’s needs, which is why we were happy to participate in the beta," he said.

Rünz is based in Aalen, Germany and travels to the Australian office regularly. The company has a long history with project management software and has been using Microsoft Project since the 98 release, which was typically used for generating Gantt charts and for reporting progress against agreed timelines.

"Some project managers took greater advantage of the extensive features offered by the various versions of Microsoft Project for both project management and reporting activities," Rünz said. "Our early in-house solutions made use of Project as a kernel with custom developed, Web-based input and reporting functions. The enterprise versions of Project offered a richer feature set at a lower cost than the in-house solutions."

With experience in using both a proprietary in-house client-server collaborative project management solution and EPM 2007, Carl Zeiss Vision adopted EPM to also cut down on broad use of the standalone Project application.

In addition to the integrated project portfolio management and enterprise project management capabilities, Rünz said the company will upgrade to Project 2010 for the improved Web-based features and collaborative tools [which] will make a "consistent brand of project management available to the organisation".

Carl Zeiss Vision is now in the process of implementing Project 2010. "So far things have gone smoothly and we are preparing for roll out commencing mid-2010," Rünz said.

The company is working with solution implementation partner i-PMO for the 2010 deployment and plans to add SAP and Exchange integration.

"For project managers, we will be looking to integrate mind mapping tools," Rünz said.

Seth Patton, director of Project at Microsoft, said much of the development for Project 2010 was based on user requests, including a simpler and easier interface and integration with standard office tools.

"We’ve changed the UI to 'ribbon' to bring more commands to the surface and added free-form scheduling so you can start using the tools even if you don’t have all the scheduling information," Patton said, adding it is possible to default to the classic interface.

Other enhancements include the ability to visualise how work is assigned to people and better SharePoint integration to allow small teams to collaborate as a “stepping stone” to enterprise features.

Project Server now integrates with Exchange without the need for an add-on and the Web client no longer requires ActiveX.

Microsoft Project 2010 is slated for general availability in mid-2010.

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