Tuesday Mar 25, 2014

Delivering Consistent Project and Portfolio Management Success

As the business impact of project portfolios grows, organizations worldwide are challenged to deliver operational excellence, maintain financial discipline, and mitigate risks.
Watch a series of short videos from the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU)
, and download EIU reports to get unique insights into how enterprise project portfolio management (EPPM) can help. Listen to senior executives at global organizations as they discuss how to plan, resource, execute, and assess projects—and what to do if things go wrong. 

Listen to the following experts:

  • Wells Fargo, Vice President of Project Management Office Manager

  • NASA, Chief Knowledge Officer

  • Conoco-Phillips, Senior Vice President of Project Development and Procurement

  • DuPont Vice, President of Corporate Supply Chains and Central Competency

  • US Department of Energy’s Office of Project Management and Evaluation

  • Fluor Corporation, Senior Vice President

  • CH2M Hill, Senior Vice President and Programme Manager

  • American Water Company, Vice President of Operations

  • Voltaix, LLC - Executive Vice President of Operations and Technology

  • Gates Corporation, President and COO

Monday Mar 03, 2014

Keeping the Lights On: Transform your business today to meet the challenges of tomorrow

Written by: Iain Graham, Director, Process Manufacturing Strategy, Oracle Primavera

In all the years I’ve worked with the energy and utilities sector, it seems that two things remain constant: the need to replace or repair ageing infrastructure and the apparent low level of funds available to many organizations to do so. In many instances, the infrastructure that these organizations rely on is ageing faster than it is being replaced. I suspect those tasked with keeping these assets up and running might recognize the phrases “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it” and “out of sight, out of mind” when seeking more investment for preventative work. Yet failure to adequately address ageing infrastructure can cause a big headache for many companies, diverting resources and funds to remedial action and possibly impeding growth.

Customers don’t always fully understand the issues energy and utility companies face and expect a reliable yet lowest-cost service. The result is that, pushed to keep costs down, companies continue to sweat their infrastructure assets beyond their original intended life so as to maximize operational value, while even further demands are placed on those assets through growth. This approach brings increased risk of an infrastructure failure and no one wants to be to blame when the lights go out.

A new report by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), based on a global survey of executives in the oil & gas, utility, chemical and natural resource industries, examines the impact of ageing infrastructure. A key finding in the report is that one of the biggest perceived obstacles for organizations is meeting infrastructure maintenance schedule and budget goals, resulting in poor project planning, regulatory interference and a lack of resources. In addressing those obstacles, there are things some companies may do to ease the problem of aging infrastructure, without necessarily requiring large-scale additional funding. The report found that many organizations believed they could overcome obstacles, meet budget and expansion goals through better planning processes. Deploying enterprise project portfolio management (EPPM) could help to optimize use of key resources, improve planning and project execution, and prioritize the right projects, amongst other benefits.

You can read the full report here.

Friday Feb 07, 2014

University of Utah Uses Oracle’s Primavera Unifier to Save US$11.5 Million in Budgeted Construction Project Costs

Maintaining and constructing new facilities to support a modern education and research institution requires a commitment to continuous improvements and tight management of complex project portfolios. So to improve project visibility and implement better financial controls for capital projects totaling US$900 million, the University of Utah in Salt Lake City replaced its in-house database for tracking construction projects with the cloud-based Oracle’s Primavera Unifier project management system. The result: the university recently completed two large-scale projects on or before their deadlines at a total of US$11.5 million under budget. Paul Bender, Oracle’s director of public administration strategy, explains how the university achieved these impressive outcomes. University of Utah Uses Oracle's Prrimavera Unifier

Q: One of the projects was the 156,000 square foot Huntsman Cancer Center Phase IIB expansion. What was the impact on that project of having improved financial controls and better collaboration?
A: That project came in two months early and US$9 million under budget. The university attributes a good portion of the savings in time and cost to the project management system. The solution helped school officials reduce the number of electronic RFIs required. It also shortened workflow response times among project team members from a previous maximum of eight weeks to a few hours. In addition, officials benefitted from the elimination of a significant volume of paperwork. The system also helped external partners, including more than 90 consultants and contractors, collaborate more effectively through access to the system for day-to-day project management.

Read the full Q&A here and discover how organizations using Primavera Unifier have the tools necessary to maintain fiscal discipline in day-to-day activities.

Read a complete case study of the University of Utah in Salt Lake City on page six of Construction Connection and download an in-depth white paper about Oracle’s Primavera Unifier.

Thursday Jan 30, 2014

The EPPM Board Weighs In on Top Industry Controversies

A new report from Oracle’s Enterprise Project Portfolio Management (EPPM) Board in North America directly tackles two critical issues that have divided the project portfolio community for years. The first is whether organizations are best served by a central project management office (PMO) or by a decentralized approach that distributes project management responsibilities among individual business units. The second flashpoint is the rise of mobility among EPPM professionals and whether senior executives should encourage this trend. The EPPM Board Weighs In on Top Industry Controversies

Discussions of these issues are included in the report, “The Changing Face of Enterprise Project Portfolio Management,” by the Oracle EPPM Board, a prestigious international steering group of senior executives, academics, and industry experts.

Read the full report and learn how a balanced approach to mobility can help organizations address both the benefits and risks of this important issue. “A failure to embrace [mobility] could have serious consequences for the delivery of successful projects,” Board members say. They added that evidence shows that when projects fail, many people know well in advance but are worried by what the disclosure could do to their careers. “Smart devices, apps that deliver real-time data straight to the C-level, and dashboard analysis were all viewed as positive ways in which to combat such cognitive, but very human, behavior,” the report explains.

Monday Dec 23, 2013

Unlock the cash trapped in your contingency budgets

It is generally accepted that more companies fail due to lack of cash flow than for want of profit. This is an inevitable position because whilst profit is a vital indicator of performance, its generation does not necessarily guarantee an organization’s growth, development, or even in some cases, survival. For the C-level executive, cash flow also has a particular impact in the planning of short or long-term investment strategies, where decisions are more often focused on anticipated funding requirements rather than projecting levels of profitability. Capital budgeting is the process for managing cash flow, where the basic unit of analysis is the investment project. From a finance perspective, projects and programs represent a series of contingent cash flows over time, whose amount and timing are only partially under the control of the executive. The amount of expenditure these consume directly influences the level of available working capital, which is the primary benchmark for measuring a company’s operational liquidity. The eternal challenge for organizations is keeping this liquidity in the positive position needed to support day-to-day operations – i.e., to service both maturing short-term debt and upcoming operational expenses – and for maintaining the flexibility to respond to emerging opportunities. 

Read this complimentary paper and explore the ability of organizations to augment cash flow in their operations by addressing a key area of stagnant cash reserves – contingency budgets. It will argue that the collective pot of contingency monies is conservatively estimated at between 5-10% of total project operating costs across the portfolio. To free up even a small portion of these budgets can therefore enable organizations to expand their portfolios to decisive effect. Finally, it will also detail the way forward, and how a more flexible approach to setting contingency budgets requires the adoption of a portfolio approach to risk management.

Monday Nov 11, 2013

EPPM Is a Must-Have Capability as Global Energy and Power Industries Eye US$38 Trillion in New Investments

“The process manufacturing industry is facing an unprecedented challenge: from now until 2035, cumulative worldwide investments of US$38 trillion will be required for drilling, power generation, and other energy projects,” Iain Graham, director of energy and process manufacturing for Oracle’s Primavera, said in a recent webcast. He adds that process manufacturing organizations such as oil and gas, utilities, and chemicals must manage this level of investment in an environment of constrained capital markets, erratic supply and demand, aging infrastructure, heightened regulations, and declining global skills. In the following interview, Graham explains how the right enterprise project portfolio management (EPPM) technology can help the industry meet these imperatives. Project Portfolio Management Solutions for Capital Projects

Q: Why is EPPM so important for today’s process manufacturers?
A: If the industry invests US$38 trillion without proper cost controls in place, a huge amount of resources will be put at risk, especially when it comes to cost overruns that may occur in large capital projects. Process manufacturing companies must not only control costs, but also monitor all the various contractors that will be involved in each project. If you’re not managing your own workers and all the interdependencies among the different contractors, then you’ve got problems.

Q: What else should process manufacturers look for?
A: It’s also important that an EPPM solution has the ability to manage more than just capital projects. For example, it’s best to manage maintenance and capital projects in the same system. Say you’re due to install a new transformer in a power station as part of a capital project, but routine maintenance in that area of the facility is scheduled for that morning. The lack of coordination could lead to unforeseen delays. There are also IT considerations that impact capital projects, such as adding servers and network cable for a control system in a power station. What organizations need is a true EPPM system that’s not just for capital projects, maintenance, or IT activities, but instead an enterprisewide solution that provides visibility into all types of projects.

Read the complete Q&A here and discover the practical framework for successfully managing this massive capital spending.

Wednesday Oct 30, 2013

How Important is Project Team Communication in the Public Sector?

By Paul Bender, Director of Public Administration Strategy, Oracle Primavera

It goes without saying that communication between project team members is a core competency that connects every member of a project team to a common set of strategies, goals and actions. If these components are not effectively shared by project leads and understood by stakeholders, project outcomes can be jeopardized and budgets may incur unnecessary risk.Project and portfolio management best practices for federal agencies

As reported by PMI’s 2013 Pulse of the Profession, an organization’s ability to meet project timelines, budgets and especially goals significantly impacts its ability to survive—and even thrive. The Pulse study revealed that the most crucial success factor in project management is effective communication to all stakeholders—a critical core competency for public agencies. PMI’s 2013 Pulse of the Profession report revealed that US$135 million is at risk for every US$1 billion spent on a project. Further research on the importance of effective project team communication uncovers that a startling 56 percent (US$75 million of that US$135 million) is at risk due to ineffective communication. Simply stated: public agencies cannot execute strategic initiatives unless they can effectively communicate their strategic alignment and business benefits.

Executives and project managers around the world agree that poor communication between project team members contributes to project failure. A Forbes Insights 2010 Strategic Initiatives Study “Adapting Corporate Strategy to the Changing Economy,” found that nine out of ten CEOs believe that communication is critical to the success of their strategic initiatives, and nearly half of respondents cite communication as an integral and active component of their strategic planning and execution process. Project managers see it similarly from their side as well. According to PMI’s Pulse research, 55 percent of project managers agree that effective communication to all stakeholders is the most critical success factor in project management.

As we all know, not all projects succeed. On average, two in five projects do not meet their original goals and business intent, and one-half of those unsuccessful projects are related to ineffective communication. Results reveal that while all aspects of project communication can be challenging to public agencies, the biggest problem areas are:

  1. A gap in understanding the business benefits.
  2. Challenges surrounding the language used to deliver project-related information, which is often unclear and peppered with project management jargon.

Public agencies -- federal, state, and local -- have difficulty communicating with the appropriate levels with clarity and detail. This difficulty is likely exacerbated by the divide between each key audience and its understanding of project-specific, technical language. For those involved in public sector project and portfolio management, I would be interested to hear your thoughts and please visit Primavera EPPM solutions for public sector.

Monday Oct 21, 2013

In the Firing Line: The impact of project and portfolio performance on the CEO

What are the primary measurements for rating CEO performance?

For corporate boards, business analysts, investors, and the trade press the metrics they deploy are relatively binary in nature; what is being done to generate earnings, and what is being done to build and sustain high performance?

As for the market, interest is primarily aroused when operational and financial performance falls outside planned commitments for the year. When organizations announce better than predicted results, they usually experience an immediate increase in share price. Likewise, poor results have an obviously negative impact on the share price and impact the role and tenure of the incumbent CEO.The impact of project and portfolio performance on the CEO

The danger for the CEO is that the risk of failure is ever present, ranging from manufacturing delays and supply chain issues to labor shortages and scope creep. This risk is enhanced by the involvement of secondary suppliers providing services critical to overall work schedules, and magnified further across a portfolio of programs and projects underway at any one time – and all set within a global context. All can impact planned return on investment and have an inevitable impact on the share price – the primary empirical measure of day-to-day performance.

Read this complete complementary report, In the Firing Line and explore what is the direct link between the health of the portfolio and CEO performance. This report will provide an overview of the responsibility the CEO has for implementing and maintaining a culture of accountability, offer examples of some of the higher profile project failings in recent years, and detail the capabilities available to the CEO to mitigate the risks residing in their own portfolios.

Friday Oct 18, 2013

Exclusive Webcast Series Explains How Project Success Drives Business Success

In the wake of the global financial crisis, organizations throughout the world are redoubling their efforts to enhance financial discipline, achieve operational excellence, and mitigate risk. How can they address all these areas with one comprehensive strategy? With enterprise project portfolio management solutions that provide greater transparency and visibility across all projects and portfolios, says Guy Barlow, OProject success drives business successracle director of industry strategy. In the following interview and in an exclusive, three-part webcast series, Barlow examines today’s new management realities and explains how organizations can succeed in this environment.

Q: Financial discipline has always been important, what’s different today?

A: A number of organizations are showing that by fiscally aligning projects with the business goals of their organizations, they can shave off hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars in inefficiency and waste. For example, one Oracle customer, the Columbus Regional Airport Authority, reduced its unbudgeted costs from US$24.4 million to US$3.5 million, for an 88 percent improvement.

Q: How do organizations achieve results like this?
A: First, they need to have the vision to see project management as part of a broad and critical element in their overall enterprise strategy. That means using a single solution, such as
Oracle‘s Primavera, to manage multiple projects across multiple functions within a company. So someone in corporate mergers and acquisitions as well as a capital projects team can standardize on the same technology. By doing so they all gain greater efficiency in planning and execution—because the technology can be configured for their specific roles and needs—and the IT organization really benefits from lower maintenance.

Second, enterprises must give executive leaders—CFOs, COOs, and CEOs—visibility across the entire business to easily see what projects are on track and which ones are falling behind. In fact, once executives see the power of enterprise project portfolio management, uptake is very quick across the organization.

Read the full interview here.


Wednesday Oct 16, 2013

RWE IT Updates Project Schedules with 10,000 Activities in Less Than One Minute

RWE IT GmbH is the internal IT service provider for the RWE Group, by revenue the second-largest German utility company, which supplies electricity to more than 20 million Project Portfolio Management software for Utilitiesconsumers and gas to more than 10 million consumers, mainly in Europe. Through technological expertise and extensive knowledge of business and processes, RWE IT helps RWE Group companies meet their challenges. The company’s competencies, aligned toward the processes of RWE Group’s value-creation chain, include the rollout of standardized systems for acquisitions, new business segments, and regions; flexible integration or expansion for acquisitions, new business segments, and regions; and optimized use and expansion of the group’s IT infrastructure.

 Challenges

  • Enable three group companies—RWE Technology, RWE Power, and RWE Innogy—to efficiently manage multiple power construction projects at the same time and optimize resource use across those projects.
  • Provide schedulers with the ability to effectively open and modify projects with thousands of activities—to ensure on-time and on-budget delivery of major capital projects

Read full list of challenges here

Solutions

  • Deployed Oracle’s Primavera P6 Enterprise Project Portfolio Management to optimize project scheduling for power station construction while reducing costs for project management and operations.
  • Enabled 80 internal and external schedulers to leverage information from a dozen databases, including country-specific and test databases, and perform multiproject management—including opening and comparing projects with thousands of activities—to drive more cost-effective and on-time projects
  • Enabled RWE Technology, RWE Power, and RWE Innogy to ensure construction quality and better meet project deadlines with optimized power station construction planning and monitoring.

Read full list of solutions here

Why Oracle

Oracle’s Primavera P6 Enterprise Project Portfolio Management is the only project management software capable of handling tens of thousands of simultaneous activities in multiple projects without using excessive computing time. It offers complete security and has the industry’s most advanced scheduling functionality. With the next Primavera release, we anticipate the introduction of advanced scheduling features, such as taking meteorological information into account when planning construction activities,” said Carsten Jung, applications corporate solutions, RWE IT GmbH.

Tuesday Oct 08, 2013

Explore the Fundamental Connections Between Stock Value and Project Management

Senior executives are today more accountable, even vulnerable, than ever before to poor share price performance. There are numerous reasons for this, but the increasing negative impact for organizations means that senior executives need to take a more active role in making the right decisions throughout business operations. According to research conducted by the global consulting firm Booz & Co.1, over the last decade the average tenure of a global chief executive has dropped from 8.1 years to 6.3 years. This analysis of the world’s top 2,500 publicly listed companies found that executive turnover had increased from around 12% in 2000 to 14.3% in 2009, with more than a third (36.7%) of departures in 2009 being dismissals rather than part of a planned succession.