The Distribution division of Nedbank, one of South Africa’s largest banks, recently implemented PPO, Project Portfolio Office’s cloud-based, immediately available project portfolio management (PPM) application to ease management of its numerous repeatable projects.
Reedwan Samsoodeen, senior manager of operations, design and governance, Integrated Channel Enablement at Nedbank Distribution, explains that the division is responsible for the building infrastructure for the organisation, including the setting up of both new and refurbished branches and other points of presence for the bank, such as ATMs.
“This incorporates the planning and delivery of everything needed, from lease agreements and IT to furnishings, until the site is handed over to the branch manager,” he explains. “The nature of our business means that we work with many different external suppliers, including electricians, signage providers, landlords, security and so on. Even post hand-over to Branch Networks, Distribution plays a support role for an additional month on each project to ensure that everything is running smoothly.
“By nature, our projects are fairly repeatable,” Samsoodeen continues, “encompassing a number of service delivery milestones that navigate the design, build and support phases of each project. This of course means that they are characterised by tight deadlines.”
The journey toward PPO
Up until two years ago, the division’s project management was handled manually. And, because each project manager ran their projects in their own way, without conformity or consistency, it had become a major challenge for another staff member to pick up on existing projects should one of the project managers not be available.
Having realised that using an established PPM tool would make more sense after investigating the use of a completely bespoke system, the Distribution division looked within Nedbank itself late last year, to see how other sections within the organisation were managing their project management needs. Several areas within the bank were already using PPO, a PPM tool, including Global Property Services and Digital, and a recommendation was put forward to Distribution.
“We opted to roll out PPO for our project management team early this year to align with the kick-off of our new project cycle at the beginning of February,” says Samsoodeen. “Over the past few months, we’ve found that the PPM tool is saving us time, with the creation of a standardised project template, meaning that the same points don’t need to be recreated from scratch for each project. This has proven to be a critical advantage, as every project must meet key milestone dates within the timeframes specified, for instance the submission of drawings, or the finalisation of landlord agreements.
“PPO has not only assisted us in meeting these deadlines, but tied in with this is also the improved visibility and reporting delivered by the PPM tool.”
Ease of use, improved governance
The tool is easy to use, allowing even those with little PPM knowledge to get up-to-speed quickly and being cloud-based is an advantage, adds Lucia van Wyngaardt, manager: project compliance and process for Nedbank Distribution. “Another major benefit of using PPO is the fact that all of the information pertaining to our projects, including the approval of the business case, signed off layouts, cost quantifications and bid approvals, is retained centrally within the PPM tool. This has been critical from a governance point of view,” she states.
Nedbank Distribution project managers use PPO to track and save approvals, prepare project plans, confirm rollout dates, and track projects once they commence. “Plans are updated within PPO every week, with weekly reports created for senior portfolio management. This has allowed us to mitigate delays and fast-track delivery, as any potential interruptions are conveyed upfront and not at the final hour.
“This has been a breakthrough as it allows for improved communication internally, as reporting was previously very subjective,” says Van Wyngaardt. “Now, all team members receive updates, meaning that project managers must keep their entries updated at all times. It also means that any project manager can be assigned to any project, at any time, which was a real challenge previously.”
“Since the implementation of PPO’s PPM tool, Distribution projects have been delivered on time,” Samsoodeen adds.
The PPO approach provides the necessary structure for project managers to work more efficiently and effectively, he clarifies. “The PPM tool provides a better understanding of each project and where it stands, meaning that delivery is less haphazard. This has had a very positive effect on the amount of re-work done on projects, with snag reports from clients dropping 80%, from 50 to 60 items to around 10 insignificant items at most, none of which would impact on a bank opening for instance.
Working with PPO
“The Project Portfolio Office team has been highly efficient,” says Samsoodeen. “Through their collective knowledge and experience, they’ve really helped us to find better ways of doing things. A valuable lesson learned in this implementation has been that not everything can be automated; it is still necessary to have someone to use the tool effectively. The importance of proper change management must also be highlighted.”
According to Guy Jelley, CEO and co-founder of Project Portfolio Office, the basis of successful project management is solid planning and effective task management. “PPO easily meets Nedbank Distribution’s requirements for a PPM tool that allows tasks, deliverables and milestones to be created, standardised and allocated to resources. It also enables team members to update tasks and provide immediate progress updates.
“As highlighted previously, from a governance perspective, PPO is providing Nedbank Distribution users with a visual, interactive view of its project and governance framework, allowing the team to manage, monitor and track the required governance. Not only this, but the PPM tool allows the division to also understand project-related issues and risk, as well as managing and tracking, allowing for greater project success.”