Momentum Metropolitan Africa, a South African-based financial services group, has successfully implemented Project Portfolio Office’s project and portfolio management (PPM) solution, across five African countries, including Namibia, Botswana, Ghana, Lesotho and Mozambique, and the South African base office.
Importantly, the rollout was completed using Project Portfolio Office’s agile approach. This approach was critical to its smooth completion, says Victor Chidongo, head of Momentum Metropolitan’s Africa Portfolio Management Office (PMO).
“When it comes to the very nature of projects, a ‘big bang’ approach tends to see people get lost in the details, without sight of the bigger picture they are working towards. For Momentum Metropolitan Africa’s PMO, we wanted to be able to properly bed down each phase – or sprint – of our journey before moving on, ensuring that our team members were happy and comfortable after each iteration and, importantly, that it was still clear we were building the foundations of what was going to be a ‘castle’ at the end.”
Standardisation critical to success
When Chidongo joined Momentum Metropolitan Africa at the end of 2022, it was immediately apparent that the organisation had insufficient visibility around the project management environment across the various countries.
“It would take time to find any details pertaining to projects – what we are working on, when it would be completed, what the budget was, and so on – as we needed to sift through documents, PowerPoints, spreadsheets, and more. The ripple effect was that the organisation was making project decisions based on outdated information.
“In addition, we needed to improve cohesion within the Africa PMO team, as we were all trying to work on the same actions, but pulling with un-coordinated efforts. By the same token, from a delivery and methodology aspect, there were too many different approaches and templates in place.
“For an organisation the size and nature of Momentum Metropolitan Africa, this was untenable and needed to be standardised.”
How an agile approach boosts user adoption
In a previous position, Chidongo had assisted with an investigation around several PPM tools available within the marketplace, which had concluded that PPO was the superior option.
“On joining Momentum Metropolitan Africa, this meant that I’d already had explored these tools and was able to confidently put forward PPO as the answer to these specific challenges. Further to this, Project Portfolio Office’s existing experience in implementations spanning multiple countries, and in some cases continents, made for a watertight decision.
“However, this time around, instead of a face-to-face implementation, where discussions can be held and people are able to remind and nudge one another in person, we were undertaking a rollout that would also be completed remotely. The agile rollout was extremely important here as we needed to ensure that each cycle was properly bedded down and appropriately adopted.”
This was especially essential due to the differing levels of maturity across each of the countries involved. Some countries would have a PMO lead and project manager in place, for instance, while others would have to rely on employees within different lines of business who had been coached and trained to be able to deliver on projects.
“The agile and standardised approach meant that it was easier for our users, regardless of skills level, to see how the rollout was building and shaping up over time and pinpoint exactly where they are gaining value.
“In our scenario, where there was no tool in place prior to PPO, exposing users to a large amount of functionality at one time would have been a real ‘shock to the system’, which can lead to user resistance to the use of the system. In this particular case, we made sure that each sprint was, in its individual form, of value.”
Says Guy Jelley, CEO and co-founder of Project Portfolio Office: “Usually when implementing a tool, configuration and set up is done for the full solution and it is only after this that users receive training. This means that users must learn how to adopt a large spectrum of functionality in a concentrated amount of time, which can be extremely challenging in itself.”
As has been experienced by the Momentum Metropolitan Africa PMO, an agile approach starts with the identification of the capabilities that the client wants to introduce, which are then broken down into sprints (or cycles).
Because the project teams are continually involved with the PPM tool configuration, tweaks, changes and decisions can be made quickly and easily without affecting overall delivery. The PMO team also gains a stronger sense of ownership due to their involvement from the beginning, with the added benefit of value being present from the end of the first sprint for the same reason.
Visibility, multi-currency reporting wins
One of the country’s CEOs mentioned that one enduring aspect for which she’ll remember the organisation’s PMO is that it is highly visible and its impact is felt throughout the organisation.
“For instance, seeing the reduction in time to compile reports down from around two weeks to the simple click of a button, shows the significant improvement in efficiencies within our PMO,” Chidongo comments.
“Furthermore, as a business that spans many countries with different currencies, we’ve found that our employees want to see their own local currencies reflected in reports.
“PPO’s ability to report in multi-currency at any given time has been a major success story for our PMO. This contributes to the very positive turnaround in its perception within the organisation, from being a cost centre to now being considered as a partner that is there to help the business succeed.”
Chidongo refers to another benefit seen by Momentum Metropolitan Africa’s PMO as being ‘confidence through documentation’. “We’ve found that the documentation being created is instilling real confidence in our PMO team members, and it’s no longer seen merely as a tick box exercise. This clearer understanding then leads to smoother sign-offs, especially in terms of governance-related matters.”
According to Chidongo, the PMO has also achieved a ‘collaboration triumph’. “Instead of lengthy, potentially chaotic email chains, we are now able to have more organised, efficient, collaborative conversations within PPO itself,” he explains.
Methodologies incorporated, resource allocation clarity
“At the same time as our rollout of PPO, Momentum Metropolitan Africa’s PMO was implementing its Africa Change Delivery Framework (ACDF) methodology in tandem. The methodology looks at our project implementation lifecycle, right from the time an idea is initiated to the point at which it is delivered and the targeted outcomes and benefits are realised.. This allows us to visually see at any time where any project is within its lifecycle and the approach being taken to get it to the end, which underscores our disciplined execution drive.”
At the beginning point of his journey with Momentum Metropolitan Africa, Chidongo received multiple versions of resource allocation visibility. “With PPO, we use planning dashboards to see what capacity we have, and how we are using it across our projects. When we make decisions that affect people, it is very helpful to see where money and time resources are being spent. PPO has greatly enhanced resource visibility, so that can quickly reference a one-pager showing where all our resources are allocated.”
This not only benefits the PMO, but also the greater business. The PMO does not operate in a vacuum, it functions with people who are sitting across the various business lines that have been seconded to the PMO for certain work. This means that it is important to understand how much of their time is being spent on projects and easily account for this.
Moving forward, Chidongo adds that he intends to put a monetary value to every effort put into the PMO in order to quantify what is being generated, not just from a monetary perspective, but also the value being created.
“Our entire experience with Project Portfolio Office has been exceptional. The fact that the team does not complete the rollout and leave you to your own devices is very rare in a supplier. The Project Portfolio Office team has forged a strong partnership with Momentum Metropolitan Africa, treating us as much more than a customer,” he concludes.