Alexander Forbes to Implement Microsoft’s Latest Enterprise Project Management Solution
Financial organisations are relying on software tools to make fast decisions as market conditions change rapidly. Looking for ways to optimise management of its project and programme portfolios, Alexander Forbes Group IT has decided to deploy Microsoft EPM 2010, an end-to-end Project, Programme and Portfolio Management platform.
- PPPM helps organisations:
- improve visibility and control across varied portfolios
- align spending with strategic prioritiesan
- drive team collaboration to deliver projects on time and within budget
Head of the Alexander Forbes Group IT EPM Office, Steven Skolnic, says advancements in EPM software allows them to embrace programme and project management in a more aggressive manner than ever before. “Having an integrated and workflow enhanced system for Project and Portfolio Management is a huge advantage, especially on executive level.”
Skolnic says Alexander Forbes looked at Microsoft’s Enterprise Project Management (EPM) 2010 as the ideal solution. “EPM helps us collect and make sense of data to assess the status of programmes and projects in the business and it also helps us to stay on track with their overarching business objectives by associating projects with the corporate themes they support – like increasing market share, optimising profitability or operational effectiveness.”
Working with local project management specialists UMT Consulting SA, Alexander Forbes implemented EPM 2010 as a proof of concept to align and integrate its project management system with its programme and project delivery framework, processes and templates.
“While many organisations get work done by way of programmes and projects, we are always looking for new ways to optimise management of our project and programme portfolios. Although there are many EPM solutions available today, there are only a few on the market that contain all the functionality to support the full arena of project management, resource management, portfolio management and are capable to provide full insight in project and portfolio data,” he explains.
UMT Consulting managing director Dries van der Colff says many organisations have complex projects, happening in diverse locations, with varying demands on available resources. “And this demand for more integrated planning has resulted in the arrival of a new breed of enterprise solutions.”
“They are not only able to collaborate with distributed project teams and track resource utilisation, but they are seeing improved project communication and the ability to manage risks, issues and knowledge about projects in a centralised location. The demand by senior managers to have a holistic view of operations increases all the time,” says Van der Colff.
The architectural improvements implemented in Microsoft Office Project 2007 provided a foundation for further improvements in EPM 2010, specifically in the following investment areas: Unified Project and Portfolio Management; simple and intuitive user experience; enhanced collaboration and reporting and scalable and connected platform.
“Step-by-step implementation of functional areas such as resource capacity management, schedule management or Time and task management – once the envisioning of the near future is established in advance – can be done more easily than with previous versions,” adds Skolnic.
Project Server 2010 integrates more functionality of the Project Portfolio management processes within Project Server and SharePoint. In EPM 2007, strategic portfolio management and project management functionality were handled by separate applications. In EPM 2010 the following capabilities are included in a single, integrated platform:
- Project Portfolio Management
- Project Initiation & Business case development including workflows
- Business strategy prioritisation
- Portfolio selection, prioritisation and optimisation
- Capacity planning
- Single entry mode timesheet reporting
- Easy to implement Business Intelligence based using the underlying SQL Server and SharePoint Server BI capabilities
Skolnic says Project Server 2010 provides a demand management capability to capture all proposed projects, varying from simple collections of tasks to complex projects and programmes which can be managed by governance workflows throughout their lifecycle.
Van der Colff points to Unified Project and Portfolio Management as undoubtedly one of the key improvements that is realised by Microsoft. “The portfolio management functionality of Microsoft Office Project Portfolio Server 2007 is now integrated into Project Server 2010, providing a single-server platform with end-to-end PPPM capabilities to support strategic planning and project execution.”
“We believe that the portfolio management process incorporated in EPM 2010 is really a best-in-class solution because it provides all of the following essential capabilities: centralised proposal capture and project initiation; support for business unit specific business drivers and for consensus on priorities; objective prioritisation of competing projects from multiple dimensions; portfolio optimisation and what if analysis under varying budgetary constraints; and portfolio optimisation based on resource availability and headcount scenarios.”
“The timesheet architecture changed from EPM version 2003 to 2007, allowing different processes and data collection for Timesheeting and Task Status updates. In Project Server 2010, time reporting capabilities have been further enhanced by a new Single Entry Mode to unify time and task status updates”
“Project Server 2010 provides a new approval centre for managing approvals for timesheets, project updates, and administrative approvals. The information captured in the timesheet and task management process can be shared with LOB applications that use time and progress information for processing. We believe the single entry timesheet mode and the improved user interface are great enhancements that will certainly contribute to better user acceptance in comparison with previous EPM versions.”
“Using easy to use BI tools such as Excel Services to create attractive and sophisticated Web based dashboards, offers a familiar interface for most users and creation of custom reports and dashboards can easily be realised by PMO personnel with limited technical background,” says Skolnic.