The project management office (PMO) of Sun International, a business with a proud legacy in the gaming, hospitality and entertainment sector, is using Project Portfolio Office’s cloud-based project and portfolio management (PPM) tool, PPO, to build maturity within its project environment, providing gentle guardrails to establish best practice, while efficiently managing projects.
On joining the organisation in 2021, Garth Claasen, head of the Sun International PMO, found that there was no formal PMO in place and quickly identified the need to establish proper governance oversight of all projects within the portfolio. In addition, there was an urgent requirement for the centralisation of all documentation and processes.
The search for a PPM tool
After researching PPM tools, Claasen contacted Project Portfolio Office and requested a demo of PPO. “We decided it was what we needed and opted for PPO’s agile and incremental approach to the rollout. Today, all projects in the portfolio are loaded on PPO, along with all documentation and status reporting.
“The PPO team’s guidance was instrumental during implementation,” says Claasen. “We were consistently steered in the right direction, and PPO has helped us keep accountable to our goal of ensuring all our documents and processes are in one place. It has been a great journey so far, and while we still have a lot to learn about the software, it has already proven its value to our PMO.”
The process was smooth, adds Janine Pearson, Sun International IT programme manager. “The PPM tool implementation ran like a well-oiled machine. PPO’s implementation processes are practical and logical, and the team ensured everyone was on the same level before moving to the next stage, which was key to the adoption of the PPM tool across the enterprise portfolio. It was a pleasure to be part of the implementation.”
The team manages business projects, many of which include software implementations. PPO also assists from a process management point of view with the design and creation of new processes and standard operating procedures for project managers across the organisation. There is an element of IT within many of the projects – for example, provision of or access to servers.
Pearson explains further: “Initially, the PMO was situated within the IT department and was informal and immature. This was not optimal, as it meant that IT tended to drive the business, instead of the other way around. Sun International made some structural changes recently and the PMO was established within business. However, there is still a component of project management in IT with the establishment of the IT Programme Office, which follows the PMO standards and processes. The two are in alignment.”
Simple, yet effective
Thus far, PPO has helped the Sun International PMO tremendously with a solid framework for projects and project reporting, according to Classen. Previously, this had to be completed manually, with documentation gathered for each stage of the project – from initiation to closing reports – and signed off, he explains.
“Steerco meetings are held for every project, as stakeholders differ on the various projects. The PMO team also holds weekly catch-up meetings, which require a combined report on all current projects and their statuses. Furthermore, governance documentation, like closure reports, are being generated from PPO, using data captured in PPO, and meeting minutes. Project administrators are finding this useful, as they save time on typing up minutes and no longer have multiple versions of minutes in various places.
“With our PPM tool in place, all the right documentation is now centralised, making it much easier to generate these reports, so a major benefit is saving on time spent here. Previously, it could take up to three weeks to complete a monthly steerco meeting report. With PPO, once the data is captured correctly, it can be done as quickly as the click of a button.
“We have configured PPO in a simple manner so that non-PMO Project Managers – those who sometimes have projects to manage at a departmental level for a brief period despite not being official project managers – will easily be able to use the system,” he adds.
The PMO is now able to generate the project initiation document scope of project and closure certificate directly out of PPO, making governance easier for these non-PMO Project Managers.
According to Pearson, it’s not just the saved time that has benefitted the PMO, but also the professional look and feel, and standardisation of reporting. “The reports are neat and concise, containing just the information needed for the stakeholders. The best part is that they are all standardised, so whether they come from the PMO or the IT Programme Office, the stakeholders see the same format. They are easy to read and even easier to prepare.
“PPO has ensured that we focus on our governance, and, in fact, we’ve set it up to not let us proceed past certain gates without adhering to the correct guidelines. Governance is sometimes forgotten during the pressure of a project implementation, but PPO’s automated reporting, real-time alerts and governance requirements made this task much easier. Our PMO is still relatively new, and the PPM tool has helped highlight gaps in our process and show us what still needs to be implemented to ensure the team and PMO grow in maturity.”
Both Classen and Pearson agree that PPO is easy to use, and that the adoption has been great. “I love PPO. It has made my life so much easier. Everything for all my projects is in one space and information is easily accessible. Little training is required, as the PPM tool is well structured and thought-out,” says Pearson.
Claasen advises PMOs seeking to build maturity to try out a PPM tool – even if only on a trial basis. “Our experience is that it will lessen the burden of having many manual documents processes and allow for PMOs to derive great value from the information captured.”
Guy Jelley, CEO and co-founder of Project Portfolio Office, says: “Project Portfolio Office committed to Sun International that we would keep the rollout and subsequent use of PPO as simple as possible, avoiding bringing the company overcomplicated processes because of the PMO’s level of maturity.
“This approach has worked well, and we look forward to continuing the journey to maturity together, so that we are well-attuned to the PMO’s changing requirements.”