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How Sensei put RMIT on the path to Project Management Maturity

RMIT University partnered with Sensei Project Solutions to achieve a capability uplift of it’s Microsoft Project solution and enhanced user adoption for its Portfolio and Project  Management practice. Through simplification of the software implementation, improved user design, training and support, Sensei has set RMIT on the path to universal adoption among users. This is considered crucial in providing a clear view of all projects underway at any time, with accurate, up-to-date, and trusted reporting made available to the University’s governing body.

Once RMIT University rolled out Microsoft Project using Sensei’s  project portfolio and work management solution, it realised the path to value had only just begun. While the solution was ideal from a technical perspective, the new challenge was driving adoption among a diverse user group of formal and informal project managers, simplifying and maturing the software, and delivering a consistent view of all capital initiatives across a complex and dynamic organisation. To overcome this hurdle, Sensei provided the expertise, guidance and insight needed so that RMIT University can now experience growing benefits from its investments in a class-leading project, portfolio and work management solution.

Situation

RMIT is a global university of technology, design, and enterprise with more than 11,000 academic staff and a body of some 88,000 students. As one of Australia’s original tertiary institutions, RMIT University enjoys an international reputation for excellence in professional and vocational education, applied research, and engagement with the needs of industry and the community.

With a diverse project portfolio expensing in the hundreds of millions of dollars, RMIT conducts initiatives in construction, property development, the implementation of technology solutions, outfitting of colleges with equipment and facilities, and more.

James Pettitt, Director, Portfolio Governance and Performance at RMIT University says strategic work is now underway to modernise and simplify its portfolio systems.

Once RMIT University rolled out Microsoft Project, it realised there was still an opportunity present to further develop efficient and effective project and portfolio management practices around the solution to ensure successful adoption across RMIT’s varying user maturities.

As Microsoft Project and the reports it ultimately generates provide Executives with the key data insights to make decisions, the importance of ensuring user adoption across the varying maturities of users was evident within the business. “We live and die by the data. That’s why after implementation, we focused on simplifying the tool, in line with the broader strategic agenda and contemporising it.”

Pointing out that at one point in time RMIT ran more than 300 projects simultaneously with finite full time project managers, Pettitt notes that simple arithmetic demonstrated most of those initiatives didn’t have a formal project manager in charge. Therefore, the need for Sensei’s intuitive and accessible tool was key to ensure the success of the Microsoft Project solution, keeping on top of portfolio health paired with enhancing user adoption strategies for RMIT University.

Solution

Michael Beaton, Senior Manager, Enterprise Portfolio Performance at RMIT University says the decision to bring on Sensei’s senior consultants was to understand RMIT stakeholder requirements and further advance their business productivity.

While much of the work was focused on systems refinements, working with RMIT to understand gaps, potential for simplification and improvements to the configuration, a strong user focus was also taken. This reflects the reality that any system is only as good as the people using it, and the people using it must have the necessary skills, knowledge, and motivation to do so.

Beaton explains the value of the working groups and workshops. “The data clean up and optimisation created a pathway for effective user adoption strategies and we now see deeper and stronger insights into projects and portfolio performance as a whole.”

Sensei consultants are commended by Pettitt on providing strong expertise and guidance. “They are highly effective on challenging ‘why’ we might want to do anything, consistently seeking the bigger picture. And that helps us get where we need to be faster.”

Results

Beaton believes that since working closely with Sensei consultants, RMIT has been able to improve the way its operators utilise their Microsoft Project solution, along with enhancing the user adoption of RMIT’s Project and Portfolio Management practices. “Users are seeing simpler ways to capture, manage and report on project and portfolio data, resulting in enhanced reporting outcomes allowing for true visibility and efficiency.”

Pettitt says Sensei’s work has resulted in a clear boost in user confidence and adoption, as the engaged user base is now able to effectively utilise the system. “A lot has gone into simplification and standardisation. This has proven key in driving adoption, because when your users see what’s in it for them – reduced manual work, better control of their projects, time saved and ease of use –  they then recognise the true value of the system.”‎

Specialist knowledge, says Pettitt, simply makes life easier. “With Sensei, we have a single source of truth for how to do things right. That’s helped cut through barriers which were keeping things in stasis, and that means we’re getting more deliverables and real traction. When people need support or assistance with their projects, such as with timesheets or schedules, they get rapid responses from Sensei, reducing confusion and eliminating data conflict. It’s taken a massive amount of noise out of the system as people now know how to use it.”

Consistency of data, he stresses, rests on consistency of users. “Confidence in the system has gone up multiple times and that’s attributable to the knowledge Sensei has brought in terms of how other organisations are using Microsoft Project, as well as the presence of experts with good client skills and a mindset of client experience.”

Ultimately, with more projects and project managers having effectively adopted the Microsoft Project solution, Pettitt says the quality of data going into the reports for Executives has dramatically improved. “In our quest to be a specialist at project management, we don’t want to be hindered by technology. We need one tool which facilitates collection of the information that Executives need to support their decisions.” Sensei’s project, portfolio and work management solution paired with their expertise and insight into enhancing user adoption, has resulted in an intuitive and accessible work solution meeting the varying levels of maturities within the wider business.

Download the full case study in PDF here.