The Pick n Pay Group, one of Africa’s largest retailers of food, general merchandise and clothing, has seen a vast improvement in the quality of data within its project management team, providing enhanced project visibility for management and, ultimately, allowing for better decision making and strategic alignment.
These and other benefits, including a decrease in the duplication of effort of its project managers, are thanks to its rollout of Project Portfolio Office (PPO), an online project portfolio management (PPM) and collaboration application.

The Pick n Pay Group has a total of 775 stores, made up of hypermarkets, supermarkets and family stores (which are franchised), employs more than 42 000 people and generates an annual turnover of R55,3-billion.

According to Fransie Hausbrand, the IT PM Team manager at Pick n Pay, the company’s close to 40 project managers and project administrators have been successfully using PPO for the past year.

“Previously, we had found that the Pick n Pay project staff was wasting time reproducing information that should already have been easily available and we needed a tool that would allow us to better manage this issue.”

Hausbrand explains that PPO quickly enabled the IT department to significantly improve its project visibility.

“The increased visibility has allowed us to share information with a broader audience but it has also meant that, for the first time, we have educated the executive layer on the data element definitions.

“Additionally, from a reporting perspective, we have made it clear that our focus is to continue to provide quality project information in a real time, drill-down fashion. In fact, we have agreed with the executive layer that only PPO reports and dashboards will be accepted.”

This step alone has decreased the project managers’ duplication of effort, as information does not need to be entered more than once for different report formats, explains Guy Jelley, Project Portfolio Office CEO.

“Once the executive team is committed to using only PPO reporting, not only do the project managers and administrators have a clear responsibility to keep this information accurate but, more importantly, they know that they are only required to focus on one data set. This means that the outputs are provided for executives without additional effort from the project managers and administrators.”

It was from a governance perspective however, that Hausbrand maintains PPO really came into its own. “In the fast-paced retail environment, it is difficult to hold formal governance reviews.

“Now we are able to use PPO to introduce different levels of governance for different sized projects, providing us with the agility needed to manage, monitor and track the required governance. Our governance is fully automated in PPO allowing it be a simple and very effective process, something that was impossible before our rollout.”

The Pick n Pay implementation of PPO has been such a resounding success that the company has opted to apply the lessons learned to other software implementations. To this end, Hausbrand and her team are providing insight into the organisation’s current enterprise content management rollout.

“One of the most valuable lessons of our PPO experience has been gaining the understanding of our processes prior to the project execution. This allowed us to customise PPO and establish rules as needs were realised, assisting in user digestion and acceptance.

“PPO is intuitive and practical, that is, it is easy to deploy and use, and its integration with other applications will see Pick n Pay’s use of the tool growing beyond our project team members to increasing numbers of employees,” she concludes.

The Pick n Pay implementation was completed by Cape Town-based PPO partner, Corporate Project Management, (CPM), a company that has rolled out a number of local PPO installations.