As part of a global drive to standardise its systems and applications, Dimension Data has deployed the Microsoft Office Enterprise Project Management (EPM) solution.
Microsoft EPM is an end-to-end collaborative project and portfolio management solution, composed of Microsoft’s Project Server, Project Professional and SharePoint.
Dimension Data approached local EPM specialists, UMT Consulting SA, to perform a migration from an earlier version of the solution, and to assist in an enterprise-wide deployment of Microsoft EPM.
Microsoft EPM helps organisations gain visibility, insight and control across all work, enhances decision-making, improves alignment with business strategy, optimises resource utilisation, and measures and helps increase operational efficiency.
Dimension Data invested a substantial amount of time in understanding all the systems that it uses within its day-to-day operational environment, and how the systems that relate to project management interface and integrate with various applications.
David de Bruyn, manager for innovation, projects and applications in the C-Bits business unit, says a comprehensive investigation was done and it was decided, at a global level, that Microsoft EPM would be used, with an integration component into SAP for the financial management via the PS Link gateway from TheProjectGroup.
“We conducted a pilot on Microsoft EPM in Europe to ensure that the business requirements, as per our global study, could be applied and implemented successfully throughout the organisation. Project management maturity had to be increased throughout the organisation.”
He says that two earlier versions of Microsoft EPM were being utilised by different divisions within the local operation. These systems differed in configuration, as well as in the way they were being applied.
“The configuration, as performed within the Europe pilot, would form the base configuration for Microsoft EPM across all regions, including South Africa.
“As the decision was made on a global level that all regions would use the configuration from the pilot in Europe as a base configuration, the South African migration had to follow the same approach.
"The two separate instances of Microsoft EPM would have to be merged into a single instance, to be utilised by all within the local operation.”
UMT Consulting CEO, Pieter Meyer, says the aim of the investigation was to obtain strategic insight into Dimension Data’s project management environment, its processes, strengths and weaknesses.
“This was critical in order to ensure that the envisaged solution aligned with its strategic intent, and that it supports their strengths and eliminates their weaknesses as far as possible.”
Not only was there an urgent need for accurate information and full synchronisation between EPM and SAP, but the efficiency of exchanging data between EPM and SAP needed to improve dramatically.
Previously, project managers spent up to three hours per day on administration, manually replicating information on various systems. Today, it takes them less than 30 minutes to complete, and moreover, it is considerably more accurate, with very few errors.
Furthermore, the latest versions of Microsoft EPM have better report generation and offer standard formats of reporting.
Users can easily create custom views, such as dashboards or scorecards and reports to gain transparency across all projects, programs and application portfolios.
Information can then be analysed and used in predefined reports or in newly created custom reports to expose project-related information. With Microsoft EPM, project-related financial reporting is done nearly in real time.
Previously, similar data reports were generated from different systems by preference of the project manager. There was no consistency as to which data was used, and no guarantee that the data was accurate.
“Overruns on projects are now immediately identified on SAP, this was never possible before. More importantly, Microsoft EPM has helped us understand the profitability of what we deliver.
"Improved resource management ensures that we can easily move resources to other projects across the company. Standardising our processes has improved our professional services offering.
“Microsoft EPM allows us to consolidate essential data in a centralised repository and improve visibility and insight, which ultimately enhances decision-making. We can also now proactively predict cost, resource, and schedule overruns through key performance indicators (KPIs),” he concludes.