Agora and Microsoft were pleased to host a panel discussion on Oct 20, 2010 of PMO leaders from the Ontario public sector including the Community Services Cluster, LCBO and the Labour and Transportation Cluster. These leaders fielded questions about using Project Management tools within their organization and provided insightful discussion on what worked, what didn’t and what they would do differently. Below is a summary of the various themes that bubbled up from the discussion.
Why EPM Tools? The panel was asked “why did you embark on an EPM tool deployment in the first place?”. The common answer was “single source of project information”. Prior to EPM being deployed there was no easy way of even knowing which projects were ongoing – let alone calibrating and reporting on the status of each. By deploying EPM not only did it result in consistency of project information but also forced the organizations to align their project processes (which was not easy – more on that later).
Resource Management. Many questions from the audience centred around using Project Server to plan and manage resource allocation. Each member of the panel had different levels of maturity in their organization for resource management. One member of the panel had reached the point where resource allocation was fully implemented within the organization. This has led to team members proactively being able to raise awareness of being overbooked based on facts from the project system. As well, it also enabled managers to secure additional resources to meet project delivery deadlines by demonstrating resource gaps highlighted by Project Server.
Adoption of the Platform
Adoption of the EPM platform by impacted users is key to the long term success of the solution. Not only is it a new tool but there will be process changes as well. Some tips from the panel included:
- Ensure you have Executive commitment
- Ensure impacted users understand what is in it for them
- Word of mouth is a powerful to spread the EPM message – use it to your advantage
Difficulties Along the Journey
The open and honest approach of the panel members was revealed when they were asked “what were the difficulties you encountered with the EPM deployment?”. There was overwhelming agreement that the people change management portion of the equation was the most difficult – the technical implementation went smoothly. Each panel member mentioned they underestimated the people change management effort. Continued diligence and pressure to ensure adoption must be kept up. As one panel member said, “you can’t just implement it and walk away”. Some other lessons learned from various panel members included:
- Would have been more forceful and assertive up front about the EPM initiative
- Didn’t always engage stakeholders early enough
- Would have had more resources and focus on the project up front
In summary, the panel had the following recommendations:
- Get people excited about the system, use white papers and demonstrations to educate them on how it can improve their work
- Keep up the pressure and have patience from the Executive on down to continue through the difficult portions of the journey
- Leverage other organizations using EPM. Not only can you learn from them but it helps socialization within your organization by showing proof points from other organizations.
Interested in learning more? Please Contact Paul Estabrooks, VP Sales and EPM Practice Lead to learn about Project Server and the work we are doing in the Ontario Public Sector.