Acquisitions are a key driver for our client’s growth strategy, with high expectations that the deals will deliver greater efficiency and shareholder value. Successful integration requires executing a large number of technology projects, from digital asset management to cloud ERP migration.
RGP’s Ken Taylor, VP, Program and Project Management, led the engagement. He says there were two key drivers for developing a better approach to managing their entire portfolio of technology projects:
1. The new executive management team wanted a way to understand everything that was going on and how effectively projects were being executed.
2. Projects, including acquisitions, were becoming much more complex. They needed to manage all the different components via common communication and tools.
“These are enormous, complex projects that are fundamental to our client being able to effectively and efficiently get their job done,” he says. “How do we ensure the value promised to the market via the acquisition is actually going to come true? Without the enabling technology it just doesn’t happen.”
Navigating Growth Without a Compass
This new drive for centralized visibility and control pushed against the company’s culture of full autonomy, creating internal pressure. Because our client’s organization had never managed their project portfolio centrally, different business domains all had their own standards and processes. That made it difficult for the global business and IT leadership to know how well their technology projects were performing or predict delivery and benefits realization from these key growth initiatives.
It was like a Tower of Babel, where even program and project managers struggled to make sense of what was going on. But the bigger issue was their stakeholders had no idea what was going on.Ken Taylor, RGP VP, Program and Project Management
“Everybody was managing projects in their own way—and none of it was consolidated. So you had different projects within the same program using different processes and tools,” Ken says. “It was like a Tower of Babel, where even program and project managers struggled to make sense of what was going on. But the bigger issue was their stakeholders had no idea what was going on. They would ask, ‘Is this healthy? Is this going to be done on time?’”
Our client knew they needed to improve their reporting and capabilities, but without a common framework, they had difficulty articulating it. And with no central project management platform or tool, it was hard to provide consistent visibility of project, program and portfolio metrics and overall performance.
Finally, there was not an effective way to communicate their project status or outcomes. “The new IT leadership had committed to provide the business with a view of how well they are doing against commitments,” Ken says. “But that was impossible with everyone doing things differently and reporting differently.”
The organization’s global CIO charged IT leaders with transforming and standardizing all project management-related processes, metrics and tool sets. The goal was to become leaner and more agile as well as to provide a trustworthy, single source of technology project portfolio performance.
What We Did:
Enabling Digital Program and Project Management
RGP brought deep program and project management expertise as well as an Agile mindset and digital tools to transform the organization’s project execution capabilities. Working jointly with our client’s global PMO team, we redesigned and redefined the end-to-end project lifecycle, including associated artifacts and metrics, from ideation and intake to execution and benefits realization.
Instilling standards across enterprise technology is a new thing—the Agile teams have enjoyed a lot of autonomy and have really developed processes organically within each of the teams. “We had to strike a balance between process and metrics standardization vs giving project teams the right level of autonomy to effectively manage and deliver their projects,” Ken says.
In addition, our client’s enterprise technology management is just starting to understand Agile, and the metrics for project performance are different than the traditional measures they’re accustomed to seeing. We helped the leadership team understand why they were appropriate for Agile projects— and how to interpret them to get a sense of overall project health.
In parallel, we digitally enabled the end-to-end project lifecycle on Smartsheet, leveraging our technical platform expertise as well as our templates and accelerators to rapidly configure and deploy a centralized, digital solution. To ensure adoption, we also developed and delivered end-user training.
The initial proof of concept (POC) consisted of 20 active projects and was extended to 50 additional projects and, eventually, to 150 of the most-critical-projects globally.
On successful global rollout and adoption of this initial work, our client expanded the scope of the engagement to include portfolio and program lifecycle management and reporting as well as their Agile-delivered projects.
Creating a Single Source of Truth for Project Portfolio Performance
Each of the IT portfolios are bringing their projects onto the common tools at different paces, but all are committed to do so. And once Agile is implemented, all project activity will be incorporated into standard reporting at both the project and portfolio levels, with visibility (and drill-down) for every approved project effort within the company.
“This is huge for our client—this is their critical commitment to the business — that they will make all of their efforts transparent,” Ken says.
Implementing a digital, scalable Smartsheet platform has provided our client with a common set of processes and tools that enables them to ensure their mission-critical projects are delivering the value they expect to power their continued growth.
Our team built what has become the enterprise standard for technology project execution and has delivered a positive impact in three key ways:
- Transformed our client’s project, program and portfolio management capability, reducing time and effort across all stakeholders, from project teams to leadership, in managing and delivering projects.
- Enhanced their ability to provide consistent delivery predictability and near real-time data and insights to leadership on the overall health and performance of their technology investments.
- Supported effective user adoption of the new processes and platform globally across all IT functions.
Even though everyone was working remotely—including both RGP and our client’s internal team members around the globe—we were able to successfully execute this mission-critical initiative because of strong project leadership and our human-first approach.
“We became trusted members of the team by bringing deep domain expertise and living with the same pressures as the client,” Ken says. “The key client on the engagement was under incredible pressure to put together a common process and approach, and he felt like we were in the foxhole with him.”
Overcoming the Execution Challenges of Mission-Critical Projects
This type of mission-critical transformation initiative has become dramatically more challenging to successfully execute since 2020—our latest research found that only 15% of companies have achieved key goals. To better understand the challenges, we surveyed senior executives across North America, Europe and Asia Pacific in four global industries.
Download the report to learn what project execution leaders are doing differently—and how your organization can join their ranks. And subscribe to our Now of Work newsletter to stay on top of future research, insights and success stories.