The Nagra IT department needed more transparency in making decisions about a growing number of project requests. To that end, it implemented Microsoft Project Server 2010, which integrates portfolio planning with project management. With Project Server 2010, Nagra now can manage projects from request to benefits tracking, has improved the quality of data collected in proposals, and has increased project managers’ productivity.
Nagra, a division of the Kudelski Group, provides digital security and convergent media solutions for digital television. Based in Cheseaux, Switzerland, the Kudelski Group employs about 3,000 people. Its 2010 revenues were 1 billion Swiss francs (U.S.$1.2 billion).
||With Project Server 2010, we can manage the entire life cycle of the project, from the project request all the way through to tracking benefits.
Head of the IT Project Office
The Nagra IT department supports digital television activities with a variety of projects, some infrastructure or integration projects sponsored by IT itself and others sponsored by departments such as Research & Development (R&D) or Sales. Nagra has long used Microsoft Office Project Server 2007 to manage 1,100 projects, 100 of which were in IT.
However, Nagra was concerned about its processes for choosing new projects. “The way that IT made decisions about which projects to pursue lacked transparency,” says Pascal Paltz, Head of the IT Project Office at Nagra. Thus, other departments struggled to understand why their projects would get selected or rejected.
Indeed, the department’s portfolio management processes were vague and cumbersome. The Nagra IT staff logged and tracked project requests using a custom-designed spreadsheet in Microsoft Office Excel 2003 spreadsheet software and a template in Microsoft Office Word 2003. “It was difficult, with a single template, to validate that we had all the required information at a sufficient level of quality,” Paltz says. Such poor information hampered decision making.
Nagra sought a way to improve its project selection and the tracking of its project portfolio.
In July 2008, Nagra investigated Microsoft Office Project Portfolio Server 2007. “Our proof of concept showed that the tool corresponded to our needs for portfolio management,” says Paltz. “But we were concerned about its integration with Office Project Server 2007.” As a result, the company decided against the software.
In October 2009, Nagra IT decided to redesign its project portfolio management processes. Over the next year and a half, the company worked with the Kennebec Group, a Microsoft partner specializing in project and portfolio management and governance solutions. To support those new processes, in March 2011 Nagra IT implemented Project Server 2010 and Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010. The software runs on a virtualized server farm of Dell PowerEdge R905 and HP ProLiant BL685c G7 server computers. The solution was initially deployed to about 100 IT users, although it is configured to support up to 3,000 users to accommodate growth.
Project Server 2010 is built on SharePoint Server 2010, and Nagra takes advantage of that interoperation. Each project is linked to a SharePoint site. The project type determines which SharePoint template is used to set up schedules, workflows, reports, issue registers, risk registers, and other project documents.
Projects proposed to Nagra IT now go through formalized stage gates in Project Server 2010, including one to consider developing a business case and another to evaluate that business case. A project sponsor and project manager develop the business case using customized templates that collect specific information about expected project resource requirements, timelines, and benefits. Projects that are selected can then be compared with the business case throughout their life cycles.
Paltz has eliminated the spreadsheets and Microsoft Office Word templates formerly used in project evaluations. He and project managers can evaluate and report on projects directly from either the full client, Microsoft Project Professional 2010, or the web client, Microsoft Project Web App. Next year, Nagra will compile the IT department project budget using Project Server 2010 rather than spreadsheets.
Paltz also uses data on the skills needed for proposed projects to manage long-term organizational capacity. “With Project Server 2010 we can have more confidence in our longer-term road map,” Paltz says.
Two other departments at Nagra are now in the process of implementing Project Server 2010 for both project and portfolio management. “I’m pleased that our example convinced them to use the same approach and tool,” Paltz says.
Nagra is using Project Server 2010 to support the entire project life cycle, improve the quality of data on proposed projects, and increase project staff productivity through better use of templates and efficient procedures.
Manage Entire Project Life Cycle
“With Project Server 2010, we can manage the entire life cycle of the project, from the project request all the way through to tracking benefits,” Paltz says. The integration of portfolio management and project management overcame the company’s initial concern about Office Project Portfolio Server 2007. Increased transparency automatically provides executives and other departments with valuable information on portfolio selections and ongoing projects.
Improve Data Quality for Proposed Projects
With refined and standardized processes, formalized gates, and templates customized to its business needs, Nagra can make more informed decisions about proposed projects. “With Project Server 2010, we have improved the quality of data collected in the business case when projects are proposed,” Paltz says. “And by formalizing the process of defining the business case with Project Server 2010, we can create a more consistent long-term project road map.”
Raise Productivity of Project Staff
Nagra has used Project Server 2010 to improve the productivity of project managers. Paltz says, “To take one example, in developing the budget, Project Server 2010 is saving us a month’s worth of effort on the part of two people.” The most significant productivity enhancement is the link between Project Server 2010 and SharePoint Server 2010. “Because Project Server 2010 is built on SharePoint Server 2010, we can design schedules, workflows, and other SharePoint templates for each project type, rather than having one set of templates for all project types,” Paltz says.
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