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Archive for the ‘Frank La Rocca’ tag

How do you create a strong Enterprise PMO?

Written by Ben Chamberlain on May 19th, 2014 at 1:37 pm

Consolidated Edison’s Frank La Rocca did such a great job setting up an enterprise PMO to handle a $200 million portfolio that the energy company has asked him to do the same for $2 billion of spend.  What made him so successful?  La Rocca understood early on that he had to have the portfolio transparency to know what projects were underway and the financial metrics to gauge their performance.  He had to make changes to ensure he had the information he needed to make smarter portfolio decisions from selection forward.

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Changing the PMO Status Quo with Frank La Rocca – May 13th

Written by Ben Chamberlain on April 15th, 2014 at 11:02 am

Today, many businesses are questioning the effectiveness of their traditional Project Portfolio Management (PPM).  What does the PMO need to do to position themselves as leaders with the ability to optimize the spend and maximize ROI across the portfolio?

Join Con Edison’s Director of Financial Governance Frank La Rocca for a look at how he built an Enterprise PMO and established complete financial transparency across a $2 billion capital portfolio.  He’ll talk about the governance framework for increased financial intelligence, how to gain “buy in” from the top, setting baseline metrics, establishing a dynamical reallocation process to drive greater ROI and more.

Click here to register today for this webinar opportunity then plan to join Frank on Tuesday, May 13th at 2pm/ET.

UMT360 Gives Utility Financial Intelligence

Written by Ben Chamberlain on January 27th, 2014 at 8:00 am

Frank La RoccaCon Edison’s Director of Financial Governance Frank La Rocca is using Microsoft Project Server and UMT360 to provide financial intelligence across the company’s $2 billion portfolio.    He discussed how UMT360 is helping him optimize the capital spend and drive results during the Microsoft Project Conference in Anaheim earlier this year.  He also shared his governance framework for increasing financial intelligence, building a credible PMO, establishing a ‘sweep process’ to dynamically reallocate capital spend and more.

La Rocca has a sharp understanding of the importance of Portfolio Financial Intelligence.  When he was named VP at a major northeastern utility company, he says the CFO and COO told him they wanted to ensure IT spending was aligned with corporate strategy.  To answer strategic alignment questions, he went in search of information about the total portfolio spend and value but says that information was difficult to come by.

“The answers had to be culled from many different systems and spreadsheets and from interviewing the right people.”

La Rocca says having financial transparency was key to his being able to achieve his team’s goals and support the organization’s overall strategy.  At the Project Conference, Frank discussed financial intelligence, his experience identifying the software that would best help him achieve his goals, and how it is working for him today.

Click the links below to view the series of complimentary UMT360 webinars presented by Frank La Rocca.

Portfolio Financial Intelligence Boosts ROI 
Build a Dynamic Sweep Process to Reallocate Funds 
Benefits Realization – Unleash the Power of the PMO 

How PFI helps align IT spending with corporate strategy.

Written by Ben Chamberlain on December 4th, 2013 at 1:54 pm

When Frank La Rocca was named VP at a major northeastern utility company, the CFO and COO told him they wanted to ensure that IT spending was aligned with corporate strategy.  It’s a goal that has stayed in the back of his mind ever since – the need to understand or measure the alignment factor.  This driver is at the core of what’s becoming known as Portfolio Financial Intelligence (PFI).

La Rocca quickly learned that the answers to the bigger questions on portfolio strategic alignment, total portfolio spend and value were not as readily available as one might expect.  “The answers had to be culled from many different systems and spreadsheets and from interviewing the right people,” he explained.

La Rocca sought out solutions to provide the financial transparency he needed to have the right conversations and ultimately make smarter decisions about the portfolio’s management and investments.  Incorporating this Portfolio Financial Intelligence (PFI) was essential to achieving the goals within his department and supporting the organization’s overall strategy.

To institute PFI, La Rocca identified four main challenges that the organization had to address.

  • The Demand Management and Selection Process – Projects selected were not always the most strategic or had the best financial return.  “Often times, the funding would go to the project with the strongest sales pitch and slideware.”
  • Improved Financial Governance – Standardizing the workflow, cost/benefit analysis and authorization associated with business cases.
  • Annual Planning, Poor Forecasting and Inaccurate Cost/Benefits Estimates – People overestimated benefits to get projects approved and were rarely held accountable.  There were very few standards around the process.
  • Siloed Financial Data and Spreadsheets – Spreadsheets required manual intervention to get at data when time may be better spent on analytical rather than tactical spreadsheet work.

He recommends that organizations begin by building a financial management foundation so they’re able to access the financial data even if initially in spreadsheets.  La Rocca created a standard repository and required that any business case being considered go through the new process.  “Ensuring you have only one method of accepting a project proposal levels the playing field,” he explained.  “There can be no back door to financial governance.”

In order to effectively compare the wide array of capital projects, he helped establish a ‘strategic value currency’ which enabled his company to quantifiably compare the benefit of doing one project over another.  “The strategic value currency helped ensure that strategic alignment and removed the subject nature from the business case development.”   To do this, La Rocca and his team looked at the strategic development within the company, mined corporate statements to identify business drivers, prioritized the drivers through a pairwise analysis with the company leadership, then used those to rank the project proposals before them.

He also spent a significant amount of time defining key metrics, determining how to develop trends and analytics to improve metrics, and establishing the base line so that they could set and communicate targets to improve.  He found success in publishing those metrics and data internally to ensure people were accountable.

Perhaps most impactful was his decision in 2012 to institute a ‘sweep process’ to allow for dynamic budget reallocation.  “It allows project managers to release funds dynamically during the year and secure those funds for other projects.  Once we know a project is not going to use that money, we take it, we sweep it away and we invest it strategically in another project.”  He says that allowed the utility to increase its utilization though it required a culture change early on.  “The sweep process is really where we get a lot of bang for our buck and if I were to describe the process, it’s really breaking the annual budgeting planning mold.  We had so many project managers say ‘that estimate you’re holding me accountable for , we did that so early on when we didn’t really know a lot about the project yet, now that the project is executing, you’re still holding me accountable and that’s not fair.’  What we allow them to do is literally reforecast on a quarterly basis and give up money that we can use for other projects.”

For more on Frank La Rocca’s PFI experiences at Con Edison, view his webinar series by clicking here.

PPM & Benefits Realization

Written by Ben Chamberlain on November 20th, 2013 at 4:48 pm

In his recent UMT360 webinar, Benefits Realization:  Unleashing the Power of the PMO, Frank La Rocca, the Director of Business Improvement Services in Con Edison’s Finance Organization, shared a benefits realization framework to effectively track the actual value delivered across the investment portfolio.  To ensure you’re realizing planned benefits, La Rocca said organizations should have a dynamic reallocation process in play.  In a poll conducted during the webinar, 52% of attendees said they currently do not have a reallocation process allowing them to re-evaluate projects during the year and recapture funds which can then be reallocated to new initiatives.   “If you’re finding that you’re leaving money on the table, this is a good way to move money around and perhaps squeeze more juice from the portfolio,” he explained.   La Rocca also said it’s important that organizations be aware of their churn rate, something that 69% of attendees did not know.  His company takes the original portfolio and subtracts the give backs and under-runs, then adds approved increases, over-runs and new projects to come up with a sense of the churn or project work that didn’t happen.   For more on creating a benefits realization framework to improve business results, view Frank La Rocca’s webinar available here.