Comments /2614 Views / Friday, 16 March 2012 00:01
By Anton Canisious
With the economic boom in Asia, companies are investing in building capacity and initiating projects that run into millions of dollars. These projects, if not managed carefully, will lead to time and cost overruns that will prevent from delivering the desired economic returns that were envisaged at the outset of business impact analysis.
To ensure that projects are carefully planned, executed and monitored, a project governance framework is required. This must then be supported by both, people and tools that enable monitoring and managing of projects.
A well-managed project has a high probability of adhering to time and budget constraints while providing sufficient insights early to help identify potential risks. Understanding the factors contributing to these risks and identifying options to mitigate them, help organisations to navigate troubled waters and steer projects in the right direction.
Enterprise Project Management is a governance framework and a discipline that can be used not only to plan and track existing individual projects but for managing/monitoring an entire portfolio of projects. This covers analysis per budget size, per calendar year, per budget year, per business line etc., and monitoring resources across all projects.
Goodhope Asia Holdings Ltd., a subsidiary of Carson Cumberbatch PLC, a company registered in Singapore has over 100,000 hectares under oil palm cultivation and development in Indonesia and Malaysia, with advanced specialty fats manufacturing operations in Malaysia and India.
The company, which is moving along the value chain to become an integrated player in the edible oils and fats market, recognised the strategic importance of a mechanism to track projects from concept to completion. In order to implement this framework and practice, the Company set up a Project Management Office (PMO) in Colombo.
Goodhope Asia Holdings Ltd. Director IT Kevin de Silva said: “Today the company is at a crucial investment juncture. We are investing in upstream plantation business and venturing into value addition to our base product – palm oil. We need to ensure our investments provide the best yield and that our investment projects are on course. Time and cost overruns mean that we will not be competitive and erode both market opportunity and profits. Hence, adoption of project management governance and practice is crucial to ensure our projects stay on course and we reach our objectives. The team at Goodhope has selected Microsoft Project Server 2010 to build and deliver an enterprise project management solution that will help us to practice good governance, track projects and ensure risks are mitigated, in order to achieve the desired objectives.”
Typically, when multiple projects are run by different project managers, there is a tendency where these projects may be competing for the same resources. Often resources, especially people, may be working across multiple projects, making it difficult for a project manager to identify if a particular resource is under or over utilised, the dependency of different resources across projects and the impact of a task in one project affecting other projects within the organisation.
From a management perspective, getting a helicopter view of all business projects means that someone will have to consolidate project information and present it from time to time. With dynamic projects and constantly changing situations, the consolidation process becomes quite tedious and if consolidated information is not current, then it becomes harder to make a good decision, which leaves room for guess work on what the situation might have evolved into since the last update.
This was a situation Goodhope needed to avoid. This is why they began a pilot run on Enterprise Project Management (EPM) and selected Microsoft Project Server 2010, which provides a complete set of capabilities for managing projects from concept to completion, while enabling several value adding features to projects spanning multiple departments and geographies.
Regional Manager IT Strategy & Governance Nalin Manchanayaka, commenting on the implementation, said: “The adoption of a structured project management approach based on a project management governance framework, has helped the organisation define business outcome of every project and gauge their impact at the outset of project formulation. We started the EPM initiative with a few IT projects initially, and explored what tools were available to help us in this process. Microsoft Project Server 2010 and the EPM solution were selected as they provide the required set of functionalities to address the requirements of the entire project lifecycle including the reporting aspect.”
He added that Project Server 2010 and the collaboration platform – Microsoft SharePoint 2010, provide extensibility of the EPM solution. “As we roll-out the EPM solution across the business to manage other non-IT projects, there will be the need for document collaboration, team sites, reporting dashboards and use of specific templates for project work. All of these can be addressed with the solution we have selected.”
The EPM solution implemented at Goodhope provides nine key benefits to the business.
A unified project portfolio management tool to address requirements of the entire project life cycle that allows both, top-down portfolio management techniques and bottom-up project management capabilities, which help identify optimal portfolios and ensure projects are delivered successfully to realise business results.
Workflow capabilities of the solution have enabled Goodhope to implement a governance process where project evaluations, approvals and decisions are made with ability to track status and audit capability.
A streamlined process for project initiation from concept stage to completion across the business.
Link between value optimisation i.e. alignment with strategy and resource utilisation, through best-practice portfolio selection techniques available in Project Server 2010. This allows the company to adopt a rational rather than an emotional approach to investment selection.
Empowering a mobile workforce by bringing power to the browser with Web-based project scheduling. Project managers can now take advantage of powerful web based capabilities, giving them the flexibility to quickly build simple and complex schedules online, and conveniently edit the plan from any location over the Internet.
A simplified method to update project status and tasks via a web-based interface or by using Microsoft Project Professional. Team members can also update status of tasks or activities via SharePoint web interface.
A powerful reporting infrastructure coupled with flexible business intelligence tools to help ensure the organisation to proactively gain visibility across their project portfolios, enabling quick reaction and generation of customised reports.
Simplified administration through an improved console that consolidates both project and portfolio management capabilities. New features, including user delegation and project permissions, reduce the burden on the administrator by empowering user action. This means that PMOs and administrators spend less time managing the system, and focus more on project and portfolio delivery and performance.
SharePoint 2010, which is an integral part of the entire EPM solution, provides an extensible platform that can address a number of business requirements of the organisation without the need for additional software investments for building collaborative workspaces, project analyses, reporting, dashboards and decision making, while making it easier to quickly configure and launch Intranet sites for projects, integrate with other Microsoft Office solutions and provide a cohesive productivity environment.
Goodhope is an excellent example of how organisations should go about implementing an Enterprise Project Management solution. The Team started with getting the basics right and implementing a project governance framework which is the foundation for good project governance and management.
We worked with the team at Goodhope to showcase how Microsoft Project Server 2010, Project Professional and Microsoft SharePoint 2010 can deliver the functionalities required by the business and help implement an EPM solution that not only addresses the present requirements, but also provides the platform to address future business needs on project management and governance.
The solution takes advantage of existing investments made by Goodhope on Microsoft Office productivity tools via the Enterprise Agreement and enables the organisation to get more out of the investments made. The extensibility of the SharePoint platform to address other requirements within the business, not limiting to EPM, is another plus factor in this implementation.
The implementation experience and the skills gained by the Goodhope team has encouraged them to explore the possibility of providing consulting services to other customers who are keen to adopt Microsoft EPM 2010.
(The Writer is a Business Productivity Solutions Specialist for Microsoft Sri Lanka with over twenty years of experience in the IT industry spanning across software development, IT management, ERP implementation and IT consultancy. He specialises in creating solutions based on a Microsoft application platform covering SharePoint, SQL Server, Project Server and Collaboration tools.)
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