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Clarity PPM

14 Posts authored by: Michael Thibault Champion

In larger CA PPM environments, that support multiple PMO's, often each PMO has their own requests for how CA PPM can be configured for their use and individual needs. Fortunately/unfortunately, I have been in many of those environments. A few have an EPMO that is quite strict with the configuration of CA PPM and others, well, not so strict. I have decided to include a few finding about these environments in this blog.  Please feel free to comment and and your experiences as no two environments are the same and there really there is no right answer since the goal is to support the business and projects.


In the more strict environments I have found that CA PPM has been configured to support their methodologies and business processes, with very few requests being implemented that do not have a business or project benefit that either reduces project risk and/or assists in the completion of the project successfully. Requests that are more to track information or to report on information that does not directly have a positive affect, then they are not implemented. Everyone, uses the same fields and this also keeps support costs down as


In the less strict environments, I have seen a plethora of reports and fields that have little or no value in the delivery of a successful project or reduces project risk. Instead they were added as fields (attributes) simply to track additional information for some report. So not only was a new field added, reports would have to be added/updated to support the use of the field. Often these new fields are already available in CA PPM in some for or another.


      For example: A manager requested a field that lets them know when the Execution Phase starts and a field that lets them know when the Execution Phase was completed.


Hmmm, A real difficult one! How about having a task called Execution Phase? Or if you are tracking a fuller schedule in CA PPM have all the phases in your methodology in the schedule as summary tasks. You can just pull the start and finish date of the "Execution Phase" summary task.  No new field required!


When you have an environment with a lot of additional fields that support individual user requirements, you not only make it difficult to support the system, keep any semblance to an updated Data Dictionary nearly impossible, but  when other users start using those other fields for their own purposes, not only does this invite increased support costs, but if the original owner wants a change to the field, it screws up the other unintended users of the field. Welcome to the hectic  world of Change Management in a difficult CA PPM environment. This also have an additional impact on training and keeping training materials updated.


Custom fields are almost always required and I for one support them. But I always ask the requester a number of questions before proceeding any further:

  •      What is the business value of the field?
  •      Will it help the project complete successfully or benefit the project in some manner?
  •      Will it reduce project risk?
  •      Are there any reporting requirements to support this change?
  •      Do you have a budget for the implementation of the field?


Lets face it, if you have been around CA PPM for a few years, how many fields have you seen that have no value, nobody uses, or nobody remembers why they had that field in the first place. To avoid this, lets just not create them in the first place.


If we are going to add a field or functionality, lets do it for the right purpose.


Have a great weekend.

I see the website is starting to take form at: CA World '16 - CA Technologies


Start planning today. I will be talking with my management this week about attending, I recommend that you do as well. I have never been disappointed and to be totally honest, this is the best conference series I have ever attended. Come with your questions and you'll be amazed at how many people are available to answer your question. Not to mention, education sessions. Event night is always a blast. I do miss the massive cheese burger they had a few years back, but I hope one day it will return.


The keynote addresses have been very well received and with past speakers like Sir Richard Branson, Magic Johnson, James Cameron, etc very informative and entertaining.


Start planning now and lets have a Great CA World 2016.


If you book your hotel and flight early, you can save a ton! Also, if you join one of the rewards programs at the resorts you can get deals as well. This can be very cost effective!


See you there!


For the majority of may professional career I have been involved in Application Performance Monitoring and PPM tools, with small stints with other technology. Even in the military (my second tour) I was involved in the acquisition, delivery, and maintenance of IT systems and networks. So over the past 3 decades one thing has remained constant......When things go wrong, blame the technology. To this I say "Whiskey Tango Foxtrot"!


When an organization acquires technology they normally do their proper research, analysis, and solution design and deploy a product(s) that meet their current and anticipated needs. But when the end users are introduced to the solution, this is where things get interesting. Wrestling a user away from a decade old MS Excel spreadsheet, or a home grown tool is problematic. They then start to complain that the new tool (solution) is too hard to use. When you start to update your solution with governance rules and start requiring your teams to follow methodology, the solution takes the blame. once again there is a chorus of "This tool is too hard to use". While there may be legitimate reasons for a company to replace a tool, this article mainly looks at dis-satisfied users.


Over the course of a few years the chorus can become very loud. Hopefully, it can be silenced with the appropriate job aids and training. From my experience, the loudest in the chorus tends to be those that managed to skip the training, or are predisposed to not accepting any new changes to how they work. This has been common in all tools that I have consulted in. But unfortunately, there are some senior managers and executives that like the song that is being sung by the dissatisfied users and they read the trade reviews so unless the tool is in the upper right quadrant, it must be a legitimate complaint. So naturally the tool is the source of all the issues and must be replaced.


So lets take a step back. The initial RFI cost money, the requirements definition cost money, the RFP cost money, the consultants cost money, the install cost money, support, initial and ongoing training, hosting/hardware, etc. So other has been a considerable investment to date. So because of a few singers in the chorus, you want to do it all over again? Whiskey Tango Foxtrot!  Do they ever expect to see any return on investment?


While there may be legitimate reasons for replacing a tool, how about starting the process by looking internally and not externally? Why are some of the users unhappy? and better yet, why are some of them happy with the existing tool? You need to understand this or you will get caught in a viscous cycles and bleed cash. I once saw a client go through the 4 major APM tools in the span of 6 years. The end result was that all the tools did what they advertised, it was the users that did not want to use them. At one point they actually sabotaged one of the tools.


If you make the unhappy users happy by replacing the tool, what happens to the existing satisfied users? interesting question, huh? Often the satisfied users are not thought of and you are back to the same chorus with a whole new set of singers.


So before spending cash on looking at a replacement, try this:

     - Document the satisfied users and the reason they are satisfied, and also ask for potential improvements.

     - Document the dis-satisfied users and why and also find out what they like about the tool. Lets face it they cannot hate everything (hopefully)

     - Review the findings and see what is actually a tool limitation, process issues, governance issues, etc

     - Are any of the issues training related? If so, then update your training materials and have those that are having difficulties attend the training (try to gear the training to these attendees to get better buy in)

     - Are any of the issues process or governance related? then work with both those teams to possibly update (if necessary) or explain to the users the reason why they need to follow process of governance. After all this is tool agnostic and if they are not happy now, they will not be happy with a new tool.

     - Are there any limitations to the tool? If so, is there an easy workaround? Upgrade? 3rd party add-on?


Lets face it, pretty much all APM tools do the same thing. Just as PPM tools pretty much do the same thing. So before undertaking a very costly replacement, really find out why you want to replace the tool first. Is there a real issue, or a perceived issue? understanding this can save your organization a lot of time, frustration, and dollars.


On a personal note, I loved these sorts of projects as I was able to learn about a lot of tools, and keep my billable hours up. Few vendors will turn away easy money, and a replacement is easy money.

Michael Thibault

Look up!

Posted by Michael Thibault Champion Mar 8, 2016

If you are driving and reading this, put it down and look up. read it later.

If you are walking and reading this, put it down and look up, read it later.

If you are standing still blocking an elevator or escalator, look up and read it later.

if you are in a meeting and the topic is not how smart phones and tablets are a distraction, put it down and look up, and pay attention to the meeting.


So what is my point? smart phone related injuries to pedestrians have soared over the past few years due to the pedestrian walking into something, tripping, or getting hit by a car.

There were 1.3 million crashes in 2014 that were caused by texting. The NSC found that cell phones are a factor in 27% of all car crashes and that stat has grown for 3 straight years.While most States have banned texting while driving, people still do it.


When you are not paying attention to the elevator or escalator because you are busy on your smart phone, you are impeding others from getting to their destination. Just like you do not like it when others are slow or blocking you, guess what? You might be doing it too.


When you are in a meeting with co-workers and you are sending a text and not paying attention to the meeting, it is highly disrespectful of everyone else's time. What is even worse (the one I hate the most) is when we are paying a contractor/consultant and are in a meeting and they are texting away. For me, they do not get renewed.


We have all seen it when we are out for dinner a couple that looks like they are on a date are spending all their time texting on their own phones. They should be spending time together. There are even some cases of divorce where the cause was too much tablet/smart phone interference.


Smart Phones are a great technological advancement, I have one, my wife has one and my 12 year old daughter has one. All 5 member of my family all have tablets as well. What we are teaching them is to put the phone or tablet down and look up. There is a whole world out there that is not on your screen. Enjoy it. Try going out for lunch or dinner or a date and leave the phone behind? Try "roughing it" and go a weekend without a cell phone or tablet. Can you live a couple of days without it?  Guess what, when I tried it the world did not end and I actually enjoyed it. I was no longer tethered to the electronic world, and I had a lot of fun!


So by all means use your smart phone, after all it is a tool. But just remember to Look Up! you might save yourself from injury and/or embarrassment and you can still experience the rest of the world.  Better yet, go out for lunch and leave the phone back on your desk and watch all those that are walking into things because they concentrated  too much on their phone and did not look up. I did that today. In 5 minutes I counted 15 people walking into posts, other people, and a garbage can because they were too busy texting.


BTW: the person who hit the garbage can, dropped their phone into it. Yuck!

In just over 8 months CA World 2016 will be in full swing. It is now time to start planing your trip and to get your management warmed up and supportive to you attending. CA World is the best training value around. The opportunity to take courses, meet your peers, met the experts, play hands on with the latest versions and possible trial out some new features.  By planning early you can save on air fare, hotel, and this makes management happier when you tell them the cost.


Start planning now! I have never been disappointed in CA World and each time I come back to my employer with a wealth of new information that supports our CA PPM implementation and our overall road map.


Now to be totally honest, I did hear some grumbling last CA World that they did not give out any backpacks. Well, fine. But I have a closet full of backpacks from conferences. My grandchildren will have backpacks for their grandchildren. I go to the conference for the education, speakers, and presentations. After working for IBM, BMC, and CA (former employee) I attended all of our conferences. CA World is by far the best I have been to.


I want to give a shout out to Disney for their presentation at the last CA World. It was awesome, and not because it had a Star Wars trailer. It was a honest telling of how Disney implemented CA PPM and the challenges they faced and overcame. This presentation alone was worth attending.


Also over the years I have had some awesome discussions with ThomasConnery Kathryn_Ellis Robert_Ensinger JeffreyBloom SamCreek J.J.Lovett . I look forward to more.



I have been fortunate to have been involved with CA PPM (Clarity) for over 11 years. During that time I have worked with some of the best and brightest consultants in the industry.  The best ones I worked with, were the ones that did not necessarily know everything about CA PPM, but knew where to look for the answers. That meant looking at the manuals, tech bulletins, calling the expert in a particular functionality, experimenting, and generally being able to do excellent research. Often, they relied on their contacts and the content on the CA PPM Community.


Regardless of where the consultants come from, i am surprised every time that I meet one that does not know the CA PPM community exists. Last week, I had a meeting with one that truly knew her stuff, but did not know that the community existed. This was strange as they worked for CA. I took the time to explain the community to her, the sandbox, the great resources available to her on the site. I believe she saw the value and will join.


All this got me thinking. For the past 7 years that i have been involved in the community we have tried to have CA promote the community. I think that we have now reached a level of maturity and participation that we (the members) can work along side CA to promote the community. We show it to anyone we work with that comes on board, so why not make sure the consultants we work with know about it? Next time that you work with a CA PPM consultant, just check with them if they are a member of the community.If they are not, introduce it to them. In the long run, we are helping them out and in turn helping our community.

Unfortunately, due to corporate budget constraints I will be unable to attend this years CA World.


So I am looking for a volunteer who would like to take over this years blogging. Any takers?


Naturally, if our budget restrictions are removed and I am allowed to attend, or win the lottery, or someone else covers the expenses, I will be more than willing to blog, photo blog, and video blog the event for our Clarity user community.



Michael Thibault

In my last blog I stated:


“While this is the community and we should not be advertising here, what I am within next is not a personal endorsement, but for informational for all those that did not attend. Anyone who is technical has a toolkit of various SQL queries that that use to help manage and troubleshoot CA PPM. We all want to put them into portlet form, but never have the time. Our own Stephen Forney  (He is the one who is managing our CA PPM Sandboxes) has made these queries into a highly impressive set of portlets. Since Stephen works for Excers, they made the decision to make a large number of the portlets available to the CA PPM customers for free. I recommend that you request a demonstration. We will also try to have the free portlets demo'd at the next CA PPM GUC meeting.“


Please accept my apology to the community and to any Clarity partners that were offended that I was promoting one vendor over another. This was never my intention. I was simply reporting on something that I saw that I was truly impressed with and wanted to share with the community. And that I wanted to give Steve Forney credit as the driving force behind the maintenance of our Community sandbox. Unfortunately, due to the concern we will be unable to present the portlets at the GUC.meeting in January.


I mentioned that Stephen works for Excers only to ensure that I was being forthcoming with his employment affiliation so not to show that I was hiding or supporting a vendor under the guise of a blog posting.


If you appreciated the blogging, please let me know. If not, I will refrain from this in the future so as to not cause anymore unintended partner issues.


Michael Thibault

Vice-President, Clarity Global User Community.

Tuesday is always a great day at CA World. We kicked of the day with the innovation Keynote address "Building Software for the application economy" by Amit Chatterjee. It highlighted how we have become dependent on software and how companies that were once in the manufacturing business are now in equally in the Software business. Nike was a great example and so was the plug for Nike looking for Software Developers. The comment of the day came from Samsung during the round table with Samsung, CA, Facebook, and Nike. "Smart phones are not smart, they are stupid. Well ours is not. Ours is dumb the reset are stupid". Sorry if I do not have it exact I have not had a chance to listen to the session again, you can it is on Live - CA Technologies


At 11:00 am the session "CA PPM: The road ahead" was a major hit. Where the theatre sat 300 well over 500 attended the session. Kurt Steinle discussed the vision forward for CA PPM and his passion in resolving long standing issues in the product was quite evident. This session alone was worth coming to CA World. With this passion behind the product I see great things coming for CA PPM. The rationale behind the change from Business Objects to Jaspersoft was also explained. While there might be some work on updating custom reports, the change is well justified and I eagerly look forward to getting my hands on Jaspersoft. The demos I took part in were very impressive.


All the other session I took part in were highly engaging and well received. Increasing value of PPM with financial management could of lasted longer after witnessing the number of questions that the audience still had after it completed. Both presenters were happy to answer the questions. This is what CA World is all about. Customers helping customers and that was visible throughout the conference floor with customers sharing their experiences and providing advice to one another.


While this is the community and we should not be advertising here, what I am within next is not a personal endorsement, but for informational for all those that did not attend. Anyone who is technical has a toolkit of various SQL queries that that use to help manage and troubleshoot CA PPM. We all want to put them into portlet form, but never have the time. Our own Stephen Forney  (He is the one who is managing our CA PPM Sandboxes) has made these queries into a highly impressive set of portlets. Since Stephen works for Excers, they made the decision to make a large number of the portlets available to the CA PPM customers for free. I recommend that you request a demonstration. We will also try to have the free portlets demo'd at the next CA PPM GUC meeting.


Finally, the day was capped off with event night. Ping, Pong tables, pool tables, shuffle board were all actively used and in some cases I witnessed how seriously people take ping pong. They were truly awesome players. The food was great and the roast turkey and stuffing reminded me of my grandmothers. Dim Sung, pot roast, vegetarian fair, and more, helped to satisfy the food cravings of all that attended.  The dinner was capped off by a performance of the Fray. Their highly charged performance had the house rocking, and this was evident by the vast number of  cell phone cameras trying to capture the performance.


I have managed to capture a large part of CA World on camera, but unfortunately the recent upgrade on my MacBook Pro interferes with download images from my camera. I will post the images when I get back to Toronto.


Until tomorrow, Have a grate day.

Michael Thibault

Monday started with a rousing keynote address by CA's own Michael Gregoire. His industry fact based speech was a nice blend of where the industry has come from to where it is going. The comment that hit home and that I have experienced first hand is that it is possible to lose a customer if they do not have a response from their application within 3 seconds of clicking on an item. Just think about how many times you have complained if Clarity takes more than three seconds when you click? 10 years ago you didn't mind waiting 3 seconds. How far our expectations have changed in 10 years. After the keynote there was a Q and A with Biz Stone, Michael Gregoire and Jennifer Hyman. I highly suggest you fins a recording of this keynote. The Q and A is quite enjoyable.


The conference floor is a major departure from those CA Worlds in the past. There is less glitz, less take aways, but higher energy. The theatre configurations makes it very easy to attend session. The less give aways goes to my comment about CA World being a more green event. Perhaps 'Blue is the new Green'. Personally I like the reduced amount of giveaways. It means less to cart back home, and we all know what happens to the glossy's once we get home.


The major players in the PPM partner space are all there, Excers, Digital Celerity, Rego Consulting, and ITROI, just to name the few, and all have some pretty cool additions to Clarity. ITROI has an excel SharePoint interface that I hope to try out today.


The hit of the day was the keynote speech with Magic Johnson. I do not think I have ever met a person who had more energy (more than my 3 year old), and such a positive outlook on life. His stories about basketball and his transition through to becoming a business man is very inspiring. He walked the entire floor meeting and posing for pictures with everyone. From what I was told the teleprompter was telling Majic to go back on stage because the lighting was not good as he walked on the floor. But he didn't listen and he did things his way, he also went quite over his allowed time. But nobody seemed to mind, he was highly engaging and I could have spent the entire night listening to him. I hope CA recorded this keynote and you all get a chance to see it. It was truly inspirational.


As for the video blogging, I tried to record an interview from the conference floor, but there was too much background noise. We will try again if we can find a quiet spot.


Until tomorrow.


Michael Thibault

After a nice relaxing flight from Toronto (I was very satisfied with Air Canada) I arrived in Las Vegas. A short cab ride got me to the hotel and was in my room in less that 45 minutes. The Mandalay Bay is as inviting as ever and the long walk to the conference facilities seems shorter each time I come to CA World. As soon as you start the walk past the Starbucks (without a line up...strange), you notice the large CA World 2014 banner across the top of the hallway. I knew I was in the right place.


The first thing that struck me was the amount of CA World staff eager to help me. They quickly directed me to the second floor registration area. This open area has a number of very friendly CA World staff with tablets that print out your badge as you register. In the past the badges were pre-printed, this year seems to be a much 'greener' CA World. No pre-printed agendas, no backpacks, no glossies, just a badge and a notification on how to download the CA World 2014 app on the back of your badge. I liked it. Less to tote around and in the end much less paper will end up in the garbage. An eco-friendly CA World. I like it. This is the first major difference, and I personally like it.


The CA World application was easy to download, but I had difficulties getting it to run. A trip to the mobile app help desk had me up and running in no time. Unfortunately if you are like me and travel with multiple devices I have to visit the mobile app help desk for each device. While the app is designed for a mobile phone, age has taken a toll on my eyesight, so a tablet is a must for me to easily read my agenda, or I have to keep popping my glasses on and off (hmmm, bifocals might be necessary). The app is awesome and has your agenda, ability to take notes, send messages, and much much more. Speaking with Sam Creek last evening, he was very impressed with the app development team. Often he was told to refresh his app even before he got off the phone asking for a change to the app. The only thing I dislike about the app is that at times it can be a bit sluggish, but anything web based can suffer performance issues due to multiple reasons.


Today (Monday) we have the keynote address and I will blog later to cover todays events. I am also going to try a video blog with a GoPro camera.


If you are not here, you still have time to come to CA World 2014

I have found a small archive of some of the blogs I posted under the old system and am re-posting them here as they did create some nice feedback.



Experience from the Trenches:  Failure, *****-ups, and Laughter


I must apologize for being a few days late for this blog.  I had a recent 8 pound, 11 ounce addition to my family so my attention has been else-where.


Failure and major *****-ups are common in life and occur all around us. When we are starting out in our career we are very much fearful of screwing up or failing completely. Lets face it, all through our life we have all been involved in failure, witnessed failure, tried to avoid failure, and have seen those that caused the failure even get promoted! (Arrrgh!) Lets be honest, life will provide the opportunity to fail or *****-up and no matter how hard we try, some things will just not go the way they are planned.


For example: About 12 years ago a client required an architecture document. This 300 page monstrosity took 4 weeks to complete. When it went to be printed the laser printer died. When the printer was repaired, then power went out due to a voltage spike. When the power was restored, it was discovered the computer was fried due to the voltage spike. The computer was fixed only to find the hard drive was now dead. We managed to recover the architecture document from the dead drive (at a significant cost) only to find that it was now corrupt. Two weeks later we have the document fixed and ready to deliver. When we delivered it to the client we were told by their manager that it was too big and to break the document down to 3, 100 page documents. So we did. Finally we delivered the document to the client CIO. His response was that the architecture document should be only one volume. Naturally we then presented the original 300 page architecture document. Two weeks later the project funding was reduced and the project shelved.


Needless to say during all the activity in the example above the stress level was getting quite high, and my vocabulary grew with new expletives. I lost a few pounds (I could use that now) and my hair started to turn grey. At the end I learned a great lesson. The business made a business decision not to continue due to lack of funding, and also, nobody at the local bar cared about my troubles or that my project was axed. We just played pool and laughed at my misfortune.


The above started me to think, “why am I getting so stressed at screwing up or at failure that I cannot control”? If I cannot control the outcome, I should just accept it and move on. I then started to look at my co-workers and those close to retirement couldn’t care less about screwing up as they would say “I am retiring next year, so why get stressed”. While my younger co-workers were getting stressed much easier. sometimes to the point of tears, or taking sick days off.


After a few nights of consuming a few cold, carbonated, barley beverages, I started to think about failure further and tried to understand it. This led me to the realization that we would not have progressed as far as we had as a species if it was not for failure. We have learned so much from failure and watching others fail, such as: not to eat certain berries, mushrooms, and that wild animals that are really cute do not want to be hugged. Castles and buildings fall down if not designed properly. Our building codes were created based upon failures. Edison, Bell, Ford all had their share of failures and from the ashes of disaster grow the roses of success (I just had to throw that in). Anyone remember the Apple Newton?......Apples huge failure, or was it just ahead of its time?


Now days if you fail, you might get a reprimand, might be told to learn from the mistake, or in the rare case even fired. Guess what, life will go on, and this can be a great opportunity to learn. Isn’t this a question during interviews “What was a recent failure you have had, and how did you deal with it?” I know I have had that question given to me a few times.


So now how about we all change how we deal with failure. Lets embrace it, especially since #$%^ happens. Let’s learn from it, lets teach others not to make the same mistakes. Lets pay it forward.  Let’s not get too stressed about it. Especially, since we have all heard that stress can kill you.


We have also heard that laughter is the best medicine. So no matter what happens on a project, if it succeeds or fails, the sun will come up the next morning, the world will carry on, and there are bigger issues in the world, and to be blunt, for the vast majority of the people in the world, they will never have heard about your project or its status. So take comfort and learn from the failure/*****-up. I still take failure seriously, but I also now laugh at it. My hair is still partially grey, but I am a lot less stressed! And I also have a lot more fun at work!


So when involved in a failure, head out with some with friends and have a great laugh. After all, didn’t we all laugh with our friends in high school when we made a major *****-up or failed a test?  We can learn a lot from our own past as to how to deal with failure.


Until next time,

Michael Thibault

I was a bit stumped coming up with this weeks blog topic. But after a visit to the CIO's office and a conversation with his executive assistant, a topic came to me. For those that follow Canadian commercials, there was one a few years ago from Molson's Brewery called "The Rant", here is my version of it.





I'm not a techie, or an executive assistant.


I do not work on the raised floor, or in a data centre, or eat only pizza.


And I do not know Jim, Sally or Suzie from tech support. Although I'm sure certain they're really, really nice.


I have a laptop, not a server.


I speak English not JAVA or .NET.


And I pronounce it 'Zog'.


I can proudly use and display my CA Technologies back pack.


I believe in supporting the process, not enforcing the process.


PMBoK! Not adhoc.


And that Clarity does work with Microsoft Project!


A project has an end date.


Service packs should be applied.


I know resource, project, and procurement management!


Clarity is the best PPM tool out there,


The Global Clarity User Community rocks and has awesome members who share,


and is the best part CA WORLD.


My name is Mike!


  And I work with Clarity and am not a Techie!

Michael Thibault

Clarity GUC Webcasts

Posted by Michael Thibault Champion Aug 11, 2014

What would the community like to see more of during our quarterly webcasts? Are there any particular topics you would like to see presented?


Please let us know.

Michael Thibault