Viewer Now Sold by Subscription

As of October 1st, 2018, we no longer sell “full” and “maintenance” licenses to our products. We only sell subscriptions.

Prior to October 1st, 2018, we sold our viewer as a perpetual license. On October 1st, 2018, we switched to a subscription model, which means that all new sales are sold as subscriptions.

For Perpetual License Holders

If you are a perpetual license holder, you may continue to use the product perpetually (as the name implies). The only change will be how you are covered under maintenance. Until your maintenance period expires, you are covered under your current maintenance period; nothing changes.

Should you choose to renew maintenance when it expires, you would be switching to a subscription license at that time.

When your maintenance expires, should you choose to not renew maintenance, you may continue to use the product but will not be eligible for technical support and new versions.

Before You Perform a Time Impact Analysis . . .

Many organizations, as they are considering the impact of a considered change to a project, perform a Time Impact Analysis (TIA).  A time impact analysis is a scheduling technique that models the change being considered and its impact (cost, time, resources) on the schedule.

Any article you read on performing a TIA stipulates as a requirement that your schedule must have a valid critical path. 

But what does “valid” mean?

In this context, “valid” means high quality.  Are the activities linked together properly?  Are constraints being used properly and only where necessary?  Are relationship types, lags, and leads being used properly?  Is there hidden trouble (e.g. negative float) that isn’t being addressed?  Does the schedule have the proper level of detail?

All of these questions help assess whether the critical path can be trusted.

As the Russian proverb made famous by President Reagan goes, trust but verify.  Large corporations are required to have a system of internal controls for their finances.  At Steelray, we believe that they are needed for project schedules as well.

Does your organization have internal controls for schedules?  Let’s talk!

IPMW 2018 Tools Talk

We are just a few days out from the start of the Integrated Program Management Workshop 2018 in Washington D.C! We are so excited to exhibit our products and demonstrate how they can improve your productivity. We will present our Tools Talk on Tuesday, November 13th from 1:30-2:15 pm in Room 307, so if you’re attending, we’d love for you to stop by our talk. If you aren’t able to make the conference or miss our presentation, continue reading for a summary (and feel free to reach out if you have any more questions about our products!)

Steelray Software Unlocks the Secrets in Your Schedule

If you think about it, a project schedule is really a large set of information that includes planned activities, assignments, and what has happened so far. On large schedules, a lot of key information is sometimes “buried.”

At Steelray, our mission is to help you make sense of your product schedules. At IPMW, we’ll be showing off new products and technologies that help you do just that. 

If you’re new to our suite of products, we’ll introduce our best-in-class suite of tools for project schedule visualization and analysis. If you’re already using our tools, you’ll see features that you probably didn’t know about that will save you a great deal of time.

Steelray Project Viewer is the leading viewer for project schedules.  At IPMW, we’ll be introducing an edition for Primavera P6 and showing how easy it is to navigate through your Primavera schedule.  With features like quick filters and a built-in search engine, we’ll show you how you can save time and make better decisions by using our viewer.

Steelray Project Analyzer is our flagship schedule analysis solution.  We introduced Analyzer at IPMW over ten years ago, and we’ll be demonstrating powerful features that no other competing solution offers.  This year, we completed an overhaul of the product that brings new levels of performance and stability to the product, and we’re excited to show this to you.

Steelray Project Exporter is an add-in for Microsoft Project that now comes in two editions:  a free version that exports to UN/CEFACT XML, and a commercial product that exports to the new IPMR2 Format 6 in JSON.  We’ve significantly improved the product, making it easier to use and more flexible, including self-correcting some common issues that break strict compliance with the standard.

Don’t forget to stop by our booth if you’re attending and keep an eye out for prizes! Looking forward to showing off our software and helping you with your project management!


IPMW 2018 Tools Talk Sneak Peek

We are officially one week out from the Integrated Program Management Workshop 2018 in Washington D.C! We’re so excited to showcase our newest product, Project Exporter (for both UN/CEFACT and IPMR2), as well as recent developments of our other products, Project Viewer and Project Analyzer. Stay tuned for more information later this week about our presentation at IPMW, and in the meanwhile, take a peek at this goofy video we made: 

If you’re attending IPMW 2018, we hope you stop by our presentation! Our talk, “Unlock the Secrets in Your Software,” will take place on Tuesday, November 13th at 1:30-2:15 pm in Room 307 of the GW Marvin Center. 

STEM vs. “Soft Skills”

Modern education places a heavy emphasis on STEM subjects: science, technology, engineering, and math. However, a project at Google set out to determine the value of so-called “soft skills” in their workplace.

Google initially set out to hire computer science students with top grades from the best science colleges upon its conception in 1998. But in 2013, they tested hiring, firing, and promotion data and found that STEM qualities actually ended up last on the list of the eight most important attributes as an employee at Google. The top seven were soft skills: the ability to be empathetic, excellent communication skills, critical thinking and problem solving, to name a few. Their findings led the company to reconfigure their hiring process and expand their focus beyond technology-based fields of study to humanities majors and MBAs.

Even at a company as technical as Google, studies continue to show the value of soft skills.  The article states:

“the company’s most important and productive new ideas came from B-teams comprised of employees who don’t always have to be the smartest people in the room.”

And that begs the question, what is smart anyway? We tend to think of people who excel in technical subjects such as math and science as the smart ones, without the same regard for those who are excellent writers or can paint a masterpiece.

Furthermore, these “soft skills” cited in the article go beyond academic subjects we learned in school. Studies noted that emotional safety, generosity, and curiosity were qualities that aren’t taught to us by teachers, but rather by peers. This shows that our socialization plays an equally important role in our contributions at work, not just our academic excellence.

As a software company, we’re focused on our technology and using fantastic software engineers to build our products to the best of our ability. But we also work to recognize that being a great team member goes beyond coding. We strive for personal and professional betterment, which makes our office a prime space to excel. As important as technology is in our set of skills, it’s equally vital not to overlook the soft skills as well.

A 4-Day Work Week?

Happy Friday everyone! Today, we’re discussing human productivity and the efficiency of an experimental four-day work week.

Earlier this year, a firm in New Zealand ran an experiment where it let its employees work four days a week while being paid for five. Employees chose which day of the week to take off, and the experiment resulted in more well-rested employees, better work-life balance, and limited distractions, with no change in productivity despite the shorter work hours.

The article begs the question as to the efficiency of a 40-hour work week. Of course, everyone is different, but this experiment showed that people were able to recognize inefficiencies and correct them to work smarter, not necessarily harder.

It’s vital for us as employees to recognize times that we’re doing quality work and times when we’re not. It’s difficult (maybe even impossible) to be 100% productive, all day, every day; and it’s also essential for us to take breaks. So what’s the perfect balance?

Honestly, there isn’t one universal answer. Everyone works differently, and this experiment ran well because employees had the ability to choose which extra day they took off, allowing them to optimize their time in the office and take well-deserved breaks when they needed it. But besides being bored or feeling sluggish, how do we know when we’re not productive?

Some may be familiar with the term “flow”: in other words, it’s the state of being in the zone, when one is fully immersed in an activity and has full focus and enjoyment in the process. There are, of course, varying stages between boredom and flow, and we often don’t work at a flow state for eight hours a day. But achieving a flow rhythm might reduce the time it takes to complete a task; for example, a task that might take four hours in a non-flow state might take two in flow.

There’s no real answer to achieving flow since everyone works differently. But the experiment of a four-day work week and the results it produced imply that individuals are able to deduce their own inefficiencies and make themselves better. At Steelray, we continually strive for personal betterment, in and out of the workplace, because we believe that the drive to learn and excel is what makes us remarkable people with really cool software.

Do you think you’d excel with a four-day work week? What day would you take off? How can we measure our productivity to know if we’re getting better or worse?

How To Have Better Conversations

At Steelray, every employee attends a seminar called “Fierce Conversations,” taught by Larry Hart and based on the book by Susan Scott. We hold all these lessons to heart and firmly believe that effective communication is a pillar to great teamwork, which in turn creates excellent products, and is a baseline for our really cool software.

This TED Talk by Celeste Headlee, a radio show host, outlines the problems that prevent us from having meaningful conversations. She puts our conversational issues in a modern-day context where the polarization of our population means that every conversation can devolve into an argument, and avoiding conversations prevents essential discussions and interpersonal connections.

She points to our lack of listening, our inherent need to talk about ourselves, and our inability to ask the right type of questions, among other issues, and maps out a plan for us to overcome these obstacles. Given that we live in a highly technological society, Headlee recognizes that a significant portion of our interactions are online via a screen, not face-to-face, and this is a primary reason as to why our in-person conversation quality has degraded. However, the points she lists to make us better conversationalists apply not only to in-person conversations but online ones as well. We often subconsciously steer exchanges to our personal experiences, both on and offline, and Headlee combats this by forcing us to recognize that experiences are all individual; we very rarely know exactly how other people feel when they undergo something, and realizing this to be a better listener makes a world of difference.

Catch the video below, and maybe learn something new about conversations that can help both your personal and professional lives.

Women’s Empowerment & Bravery

We discovered another great TED Talk, this time by Reshma Saujani, the founder of the non-profit organization Girls Who Code which supports efforts to increase the number of women in computer science. Saujani draws attention to the tough issue of the gender imbalance in the technology industry. She recognizes aspects of our socialization that affect our inclination to take risks and further describes her efforts to encourage risk-taking and the acceptance of imperfection among young girls as a form of women’s empowerment.

Without sounding too much like a sociology lecture you slept through in college, it’s important to recognize that we don’t make our behavioral decisions (including those around our careers) in a vacuum. Some argue that “there are fewer women in STEM because they choose so,” which negates early experiences where we give young boys toy cars and young girls dolls and subsequently teach that technical skills are a boy’s trait. Girls Who Code combats these early lessons with their program and encourages young girls to embrace imperfections so that the future of the tech industry includes a more balanced gender parity. Here at Steelray, we’re all too aware of the gender imbalance and hope to continue to support women in tech.

Watch the TED Talk below.

Unintended Consequences

A hunter was injured when a bear landed on top of him after he shot it on a hilltop.  I am not making light of this happening, and I hope the hunter makes a full and quick recovery, but this story is a perfect metaphor for the habit we sometimes have of shooting problems and at the same time accidentally creating bigger ones.

I think they like to call it “unintended consequences,” and I’ve had my share of them.

The only upside to making mountain-sized messes out of mole-sized problems with decisions is when we:

  1. learn from them
  2. figure out how our decision process failed us
  3. train ourselves to spend more thinking time on the potential side effects and future problems.

It’s definitely a process, and one I’m not finished with.  When was the last time a bear you shot landed on you?

Analyzer 2018.5 Release is Live

We are excited to announce the availability of Steelray Project Analyzer 2018.5, a major release of Analyzer!  This is the biggest release of Analyzer in many years.

What’s new in 2018.5?

DoD DCMA EVAS Metrics

Analyzer 2018.5 includes support for all of the latest schedule metrics that DCMA is using on their EVAS schedule assessments.

DCMA 14-Point Enhancements

Analyzer’s DCMA 14 Point Assessment is enhanced as well.  With the 2018.5 release, all 14 tests are executed without changing the source schedules, including schedules with master and subproject files.

As always, we include two versions of the report: one which runs strictly according to DCMA guidelines and one that can be customized and configured to suit your needs.  The custom report is renamed to “Configurable DCMA Assessment” in this version.

Our Entirely New Project Data Extractor for Microsoft Project

With Microsoft Project files, when you click the Analyze button, the longest part of the processing is extracting the necessary data from Project. When the extraction takes a while, the whole analysis takes a while.  There are generally two technologies used for this, and both come with technical baggage (i.e. compromises): accuracy and speed.

Speed + Accuracy

We’ve written a new project data extractor optimized for blazing speed with perfect accuracy, giving you the best of both worlds, and Analyzer is our first product to use this technology.  The extractor is called Steelray Project Add-In and (as the name implies) it installs as a very lightweight add-In to Microsoft Project.  Once installed, Steelray Project Analyzer connects to the add-in to grab the data it needs, in less time than ever before.  But that’s not all it does.

Better Error Handling

Because Analyzer and the Project Add-In can talk to each other, we’re better able to detect when something goes wrong with Project.  This allows us to better communicate and handle the issue.

Support for Future Products

Future products that Steelray will build may use Steelray Project Add-In as well, reducing their installation footprint.

Improved User Interface

In 2018.5, we addressed dozens of usability items to make for a better user experience.

Settings Where They Belong

In previous versions, some reports would have a sidebar which would allow you to change settings related to the project or the report.  You could only access those settings after running the report, which was clunky.  We’ve moved those settings out of the report to where they belong:  project settings and report settings.

The old DCMA 14 Point Assessment, with settings to the right.

The new DCMA 14 Point Assessment. Settings have been moved.

New Project Settings

There’s a stark difference between the old and new project settings.  With the new settings, you make changes in one place and the changes apply wherever used in a report.  For Microsoft Project files, there is a new link which allows you to open the project file directly from Analyzer.

The old project settings screen.

In the new project settings, you’re able to change settings for this project across all reports.

New Report Settings

Similarly, we’ve taken settings out of the output of some reports and added them to our enhanced report settings.

This is an example of the old Schedule Compare Graph report. The settings are included in the output.

In the new version, the report settings are where they belong — in Report Settings.

Direct Editing of Criteria From the Scorecard

The first generation of Analyzer had a feature where you could edit any criteria on a scorecard with one click; a great shortcut that we missed when it went away in the next version.

We’re happy to announce that it’s back in 2018.5!  Simply click on the criteria name and you’ll be in the Criteria Manager with the criteria loaded and ready to edit.  An example:

You can edit criteria in the scorecard with one click.

Enhanced Project Sets Make Comparing Schedules a Breeze

We’ve greatly enhanced project sets in Analyzer 2018.5 with a new feature called snapshot sets.  Before, to select two or more schedules for a comparison report, you had to load and select them individually.  You may have had 12 schedules, one for each reporting period, cluttering up your Projects list.

In 2018.5, a project set has a checkbox setting that tells Analyzer that the list of projects in the set are snapshots of the same schedule — a snapshot set.  For reports like Schedule Comparison that required you to select all of the projects to be compared, the process is much easier,  Select the snapshot set and you’re good.

Creating snapshot sets is easy!

Enhanced Connection Diagnostics for Microsoft Project Server, Project Online, and Oracle Primavera P6

We’ve added features to make it much easier to diagnose connection problems with Microsoft Project Server, Project Online, and Oracle Primavera P6.  For P6, we check to make sure the necessary permissions are correct after the connection.

You can download the latest version at: www.steelray.com/ProjectAnalyzer/Analyzer.php#trial