Project Management Case Study: Comcare Australia and PMO365 – pmo365 | Project Portfolio Management Solution pmo365
PMO365 was a game changer for Comcare, Australia’s Work Health and Safety body. According to EPMO Assistant Director, Jaryd Larter, Comcare’s project funding is currently around $10-15 million per year, with a regular workforce of about 650. But the federal agency’s project portfolio management (PPM) suffered from a lack of coordination and consistency. So, when its executive decided to restructure the Project Management Office, PMO365 stood out as the leading solution from a host of alternatives.
PMO365, he says, filled a gap in Comcare’s systems, where executives were eager to improve portfolio visibility and managers were looking for a method to implement consistent project delivery practice.
Stakeholders needed to know where to find info relevant to each project stage or task, and executive managers needed reliable and accurate reporting to support their decision making. In this respect, PMO365’s ‘Single Source of Truth’ was invaluable.
Yet, according to Jaryd, perhaps the most fundamental shift has been the structure its PPM tools have imposed on the new EPMO. Now, the team’s strategic role is much clearer, and all project divisions are working from the same page.
‘Days to Hours’: How Comcare’s Data Gathering Got Smarter
The time it takes to produce quarterly reports to the executive, says Jaryd, has gone from “days” to “hours”. Instead of having to gather local data from any number of locations – and trying to match up different formats and methodologies – all of Comcare’s enterprise level data is now updated in real-time across the entire portfolio.
Furthermore, the use of Microsoft’s Power BI’s (business intelligence) features for reporting and dashboards has made the presentation of data much simpler, with global views and a variety of search and filter options available for every purpose.
Reports can also be directly imported into any other format, like MS Word, to give contextual support and related information. With this facility, Jaryd feels analysis is now much easier to communicate to the executive. Self-explanatory graphics and up-to-date snapshots of information provide powerful assessments on whether projects are hitting targets, or perhaps need to be doing things differently. For senior management, charged with approving budgets and monitoring performance, reporting must supply “access to only the most relevant information – without unnecessary spin”.
Comcare: A Project Management Case Study in Detail
In the past, Comcare’s problem was that new project managers did not always have access to the best historical data when managing (or taking over) new initiatives. The team also had a relatively basic reporting system and the quality of data coming in varied significantly. MS Jumpstart provided a degree of project management, but there was very little integration. PMO365 quickly addressed a number of issues, including:
Inconsistency Across Project Delivery
Comcare’s primary grievance was the disjointed approach to project delivery. For technological initiatives, only the I.T. department had a defined project methodology; all other departments operated independently. Comcare’s PMO couldn’t really consider project portfolio outcomes as there were no defined delivery methods or standards, and there was little strategic focus other than solving logistical problems in project delivery as they emerged.
Stakeholders Unclear on Project Progress and Outcomes
Inconsistent delivery practices meant that Comcare’s stakeholders and executive team didn’t have access to clear information on the status of current projects. Limited visibility meant organisational decisions about project approvals and the optimum allocation of its resources relied on uncertain data, with no objective way to measure returns on investment.
Scattered Data and Varying Levels of Quality
Within Comcare’s systems, data was frequently spread across numerous apps on local drives. This meant long email chains, problems with attachments, inconsistencies in formatting, and different levels of data quality and accuracy. Naturally, it had an effect on the overall quality of work produced, and the administrative burden added many hours to the PMO’s workload.
Institutional Knowledge: Key Features of Comcare’s PMO365 Solution
Adoption of the new platform was strong (though not universal), but it rapidly integrated all of Comcare’s organisational data on to one platform and imposed a workable structure on the way all projects were delivered, which allowed the entire portfolio to be managed.
With a centralised database, every department had instant access to the most current and reliable project information, and every stakeholder knew exactly where to find the documentation, tasks, and tools pertinent to their role.
Clearly Defined and Consistent Delivery Practices
Prior to the implementation of PMO365, departments within Comcare worked independently to complete project-related tasks. Deployment of PMO365 helped project managers build collaboration and guide the process of delivery with a single integrated system for all activities. Timelines, gates and stages managed the process of delivery, and automations (rather than email chains) alerted managers to any new information, requests, and approvals. The PMO also developed a clear in-house system guide and user glossary that was accessible to all stakeholders.
Increased Visibility and Control for Comcare’s Executive
Comcare’s Execs needed data in a format that they could absorb on demand, so key decisions could be informed by as much knowledge as possible. PMO365 Heatmaps and Power BI Reports have been utilised to supply this information on a project by project level, helping to increase the visibility of bottlenecks and emerging issues with sufficient time to make important calls.
A Single Source of ‘Truth‘
At the heart of the PMO365 solution is the Dataverse – a centralised data exchange which securely stores all organisational data, information, logs, and metrics. It’s the single source of truth which allows the EPMO and other stakeholders to find relevant information quickly. Integrating all of Comcare’s information on to one platform meant that every project’s data was recorded correctly and up-to-the-minute so managers could take an accurate ‘snapshot’ of progress at any stage.
Detailed Benefits Management
A major focus for Comcare has been in the development of its Benefits Management. The EPMO’s portfolio maturity assessment has been greatly improved with practices for defining, agreeing, tracking, and realising benefits. The development of these practices, using PMO365, has significantly enhanced the value of the EPMO to Comcare and the quality of its project management overall. Today, all benefits are listed in a single repository, and each is assigned a benefit ‘owner’ who is responsible for the regular review of progress. It also contains a ‘lessons learnt’ and risk registry, so new PMs benefit from the institutional knowledge held by the organisation. Benefits management now gives Comcare the ‘why’ for each of their projects, and it has become a useful tool for key stakeholders when revising project portfolios.
Future Directions: PMO365 in Government
Comcare, like many large government agencies, has a broad scope of responsibility. It acts to minimise workplace injuries, provides expert advice around workplace safety, rehabilitation and compensation, and publishes guidelines on job safety. Moreover, the agency handles claims and recovery requests, conducts research, drafts asbestos legislation, provides training, and develops long-term plans to improve workplace safety in Australia.
Next, Comcare is looking to exploit more of the capabilities of PMO365 by looking into the integration of financials within project management, and perhaps managing its human resources using some of the solution’s resource allocation tools. For the moment, benefits management is providing a major focus and is yielding excellent results.
How every organisation tailors the PMO365 solution is unique to their circumstances and objectives. PMO365 has a ‘base project’ solution suitable for most government organisations which expedites the deployment for large agencies and makes an enormous difference to visibility and control across complex portfolios. Many, like Comcare, are loving the structure provided by PMO365 and continuing to build on the possibilities it offers.
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