Guest Post by Ahmad M. Almuslami and team (identified below)
Saudi Telecom Company – STC.
Within the Shared Services Sector of the Saudi Telecom Company, the senior management established an initiative to create an internal PMO unit and roll out our very own version of a PMO tool. We adopted HP Project and Portfolio Management (PPM) because of its proven capabilities in other sectors of the company, also its inherent flexibility to cater to our special needs in the sector as recommended by the Strategic PMO in the company. The first project in our initiative of establishing a PMO in the Shared Services Sector addressed methodology, processes and procedures, set automation direction and created an overall PMO implementation plan. Our second project was the HP PPM implementation. In just four short months we have been able to see the crucial benefits of the PMO tool implementation. These include:
- Having a central repository for our project data.
Reporting with a higher degree of accuracy, supporting our role to:
- Monitor projects in the sector using HP PPM system.
- Provide guidance for project managers based on project records.
- Support our project managers with technical advice.
Our HP (PPM) implementation journey started with an orientation and a quick walkthrough on the existing system implementation that has been applied in other parts of the company. We used this exercise to build our customization requirements:
- The application of a very basic and simple project lifecycle workflow.
- The localization of the key pages in the project information screens which added Arabic labels that matched the naming conventions we currently use in our internal projects environment.
After a few weeks, once the implementation was established, key tool customizations were applied by our internal HP team in Information Technology, led by Raheel Hussain. Mr. Hussain was able to understand our requirements and offer advice based on previous implementations he has delivered using HP PPM. Soon, our customized version of HP PPM was deployed on the testing environment. Our team implemented the basic test-cases we had prepared and provided notes back to IT. With just a few iterations, major issues were resolved and the product was ready for the User Acceptance Test (UAT), which was carried out smoothly within a week time.
Deployment and Training
Our main focus in the production stage was the new system users; such as project managers, project sponsors, and coordinators and, of course, the PMO team itself. After deploying the finalized version of HP PPM, we began to plan with our training facility Human Resources Development department for the training and user orientation for all of our users in a series of light-weight training sessions. Training sessions were structured to combine an overview of the project management methodology (theory) with hands-on system training. During the training, all of our project managers logged into the system and performed a complete project lifecycle simulation of entering real project cases of their own. Training hand-outs, the process playbook and pocket reference cards were given to each project manager. Training was conducted in the span of one week, with over a 35 project managers, across a broad array of sectors, in attendance. All training sessions were completed by February 2013.
PMO Methodology and HP PPM Training for Project Managers– STC Shared Services Sector Feb, 2013.
Production and Go-live
As with the release of any other application, ‘go-live’ is always considered a critical point, the moment of truth. Approaching the go-live date, we had to keep our routine health tests of the production environment systems going. We made sure that the department names and all needed system setup data was entered, and that the names of all users were created and provided to project managers and other system stakeholders. We also sent many pre-go-live messages to top management and department managers informing them of the date and needed action required of their project managers and sponsors. We provided the PMO support team with the necessary contacts to assist with the HP PPM system and the newly set project management methodology. We also sat with the IT team and made sure that we were getting their full support of the starting date. We wanted to ensure that any unplanned issues that may arise would be dealt with by the IT team immediately.
The go-live took place as planned on May 4th, 2013. Project managers started to contact the PMO support team to confirm that they were using the system properly. Many project managers consulted with the PMO and performed the first steps of project entry with the close supervision and guidance of PMO team members (we later referred to this initial support activity as “Project Entry Sessions”).
In the first month following the go-live date, we were able to record more than 30 projects. With every passing week, we came closer to reaching our goal to have the complete set of our projects there on the system. By end of June, we had almost 75 percent of our projects on the system. By mid-September, we exceeded the scope of entered projects that we had forecasted in the original plan.
Project Entry Sessions – HP PPM – STC Shared Services Sector Feb, 2013.
As of today, we look back on four months of continuous effort to change the way people do things by automating more of the project reporting and control activities. Our working environment is much easier today, but, of course, with more reliance on our PMO tool comes more responsibility. We must continue to focus on the quality of information and to support our internal clients. PMs are on one side of this initiative and upper management is on the other. Tool availability has also become a critical factor for PMO service success. Getting all active projects in our sector entered in the HP PPM was one of our top project goals; as well as the need to report properly and produce a comprehensive dashboard on project status (a tough job without having a tool in place).
Today, we are able to produce our periodic (e.g., weekly) reports with almost no effort, and have a high confidence in its content. We’re able to spot any delays across more than 70 entered projects worth hundreds of millions of Saudi Riyals. Most importantly, we are able to communicate effectively with our project managers by immediately accessing the same web-based project information, available to all from one place.
The routine job of data collection is now in place, enabling visibility, control and reporting that results in informed corporate decisions. The next step will be to focus more on the qualitative role of the PMO. We’re looking forward to taking this exciting step with our project managers towards more advanced project management skills and practices.
Project Lessons Learned and Shared:
- Secure Management’s Buy-In Right From the Beginning
During our HP Project and Portfolio Management journey, there were many obstacles that would never have been overcome without a strong management sponsorship for the process improvement program and the enforcement of the new PMO tool adoption.
- The Biggest Resistance Comes at the Beginning
As we started our HP Project and Portfolio Management implementation, there were doubts among the PMs about the way the workflow should be and the justification of the benefits from applying such a tool. We listened to what they had to say with genuine openness, and then helped them to understand our reasoning. Afterwards, things became smoother with every step.
- Changing Minds and Not Just the Software
As with any software implementation project, there are both technical difficulties and other cultural and human-related ones (the latter is known to be the hardest to deal with). People get used to working in a certain way and prefer to keep the same method out of habit. This becomes their comfort-zone despite all its existing troubles. During our implementation we had to change the way people do their work, and even worse, they felt we were putting more work on their shoulder. We faced resistance beginning on the first day. Of course, we had to find new ways to deal with resistance with the resources we had available to foster positive change. Every day, to apply the new Project Management policies and practices, we had to juggle many tools for motivation, starting from the formal agreement with the GMs and direct managers. Soon, Project Managers felt it was a win-win opportunity for themselves and the PMO.
- Language is the First Barrier
We have noticed that users give more of their attention to, and acceptance of, pages on the system that have been customized with Arabic labels and guides. This results in users who are able to better relate to their current project data and enter information more smoothly with minimal help.
- Focus on the Quick Wins
By the end of the first month we started to extract information from the dashboard of HP Project and Portfolio Management, even though it was not showing the complete set of projects. Gradually, it became an efficient tool to share our progress on project entry with upper management and to get their support to enforce entry.
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Article source: HP PPM Blog