How Sensei is helping transform project delivery at Aurecon
Aurecon, a global engineering and advisory consulting firm, has boosted its ability to track, analyse and amend-on-the-go its various projects across the globe with the implementation of Sensei’s Jumpstart Project Portfolio Management (PPM) solution. After an initial pilot proved Jumpstart’s potential for transforming the way project leaders work, the solution rolled out to some 450 users in regions including Africa, the Middle East and Australasia.
With multi-disciplinary major projects being delivered across the globe, Aurecon’s aim is to empower its team to connect across economies, businesses and communities. By improving a fundamental aspect of its business – project management – Aurecon is transforming how it does business today in order to compete tomorrow.
Aurecon has a client-centric business model that gives them the agility to deliver a full range of services globally including, engineering, management, design, planning, project management and consulting, delivering project design and management in industries including built environment, construction, data and telecommunications, defence, energy, government, international development assistance, manufacturing, resources, transport and water.
Melissa Ellul, IT Global Leader – Enterprise & Future Initiatives at Aurecon, says everything the company does is project-driven. “Projects are the centre of our business, so anything that helps us do projects better is highly attractive,” she notes.
Recognising shortcomings in the way in which projects were being run in a distributed organisation, Aurecon instituted a programme of work called ‘Future Ready’ with a view to uplift project delivery and maturity, and then examining opportunities for process and activity automation, and accelerating digital ways of working explains Ms Ellul.
“However, at the very start, we realised that we needed standard tools to support our Project Managers to plan, schedule, resource and monitor projects in order to ultimately facilitate better management of individual projects.”
With hundreds of projects underway across the globe, with a myriad of tools at play, the time taken to gain a view of project delivery performance was inefficient. It is also challenging to know which projects are going well, and which might need additional attention or resources in order to deliver on time and within budget.
Recognising the need to uplift the maturity around project planning and scheduling through standardising project management ways of working, Aurecon sought specialist support for rapid improvement. It engaged Sensei Project Solutions (Sensei) to implement its Jumpstart pre-configured Project Portfolio Management (PPM) solution that leverages Microsoft Project Online.
Microsoft Project Online and Jumpstart delivers a fully functional PPM environment with projects and resources loaded within a matter of weeks. This reduces both cost and complexity; incorporating best practices and an iterative build-out process, it means additional functionality can be introduced “as required”. And the inclusion of Sensei’s Report Packs (utilising PowerBI) for automated reporting, including pending engagements and active projects, means advanced visibility is rapidly available.
“We liked the promise of a rapidly-deployable solution which Sensei was offering with Jumpstart, but we did need to be sure this was going to work for us and we were keeping things simple,” says Ms Ellul. “We started with a small upfront investment and ran a cross-region early adopter pilot of the Jumpstart solution in order to gain feedback that identified a few additional features. This initial engagement quickly confirmed the value of dealing with a responsive independent software vendor: they configured and delivered the additional capability without issue.”
One of the early adopter groups selected to assess Jumpstart and Project Online capability was Aurecon’s IT department. With the subsequent digitisation of the IT Project Delivery Framework, which was previously undertaken via manually updated workbooks, Jumpstart and Project Online quickly became day-to-day “business as usual” for all IT projects.
The value of the solution was quickly confirmed which led to a rapid global roll-out which has resulted in Jumpstart and Project Online being delivered to some 450 users across the business within just 6 months. “And through our community of champions forum, we continuously develop, test and implement value-add functionalities which builds on the initial “Early Adopters” platform first delivered,” Ms Ellul adds.
From a situation where project planning and scheduling was not consistently being done across all projects and tedious and time-consuming manual information gathering was carried out, Aurecon today enjoys substantially improved visibility and project team collaboration across the organisation. Using Jumpstart and Project Online, project managers accurately track the progress of individual projects, assess resource needs and utilisation, perform scheduling (and allocate workloads to the best teams within the company), forecast key milestones, and gauge progress against delivery dates.
What that means for Aurecon as a whole is more effective project delivery tracking, standardised reporting, improved governance and increased visibility of projects. Further, it now enables project managers to flag issues, risks, variances, potential delays and potential project cross-overs much earlier and more effectively by using the insights provided on the associated ‘real-time’ dashboards.
As a cloud based solution, users can keep an eye on their projects with any device, at any time; a data model powered by PowerBI and Excel visually present key performance indices tracking projects, programs and portfolio. And with a distinct ‘Aurecon way’, Ms Ellul further credits Jumpstart and Project Online for ushering in a consistent and disciplined approach to project management everywhere the company does business. That consistency has an internal component, too: reporting today is both automated and in a standard format, delivering unprecedented companywide visibility (through Power BI).
“Ultimately, this is about being able to understand all the activities required for any one project, being able to map and understand the dependencies and track progress. Through better scheduling and planning up front, we now have consistency across the company in terms of how we work, and thanks to the cloud configuration, we’re better equipped to collaborate across the globe,” Ms Ellul concludes
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