Coliban Water is a regional authority within the Australian state of Victoria, providing water and wastewater services to rural and urban customers across an area of over 16,000 square kilometres. The organization needed a more effective process for managing capital funds, as the manual and error-prone spreadsheet-based process they had been using was inefficient and consumed an inordinate amount of time each month.
Adding enhanced capabilities to Microsoft Project Server
To better support the capital management requirements of its large infrastructure and IT projects, Coliban established an enterprise portfolio management office (PMO) within the finance department. During the process of implementing Microsoft Project Server as their project and program management (PPM) platform, it became clear that the organization also needed enhanced capabilities to support better budgeting and cost forecasting.
The organization selected UMT360 to help them establish the business controls and governance capabilities needed to better manage their capital projects. UMT360’s solution provides the critical financial controls that are missing from Project Server. It’s also built on SharePoint so that it seamlessly integrates directly into the Microsoft Project Server user experience, making it a logical choice to help them extend and enhance the PMOs capabilities.
Looking for a streamlined process
“When we started this process, all of our capital funding decisions were being managed within spreadsheets, which were not secure and had no connection to the PPM system,” said Melissa Barras, PMO Manager for Coliban Water. “We were also spending way too much time on status reporting and cost forecasting. We clearly needed tools and a best-practice approach to eliminate time-consuming manual processes associated with consolidating all of those separate spreadsheets.”
In addition to streamlining processes, it was also important to the PMO that they increased accountability with stakeholders. By putting tools and processes in place that enable them to better manage the entire process, it was hoped they could also reduce the number of errors in the financial data by giving ownership of that data back to the project managers.
“Before implementing UMT360, it took the PMO about 5 days to complete the monthly capital reporting process. Now, it only takes a day.”
Portfolio Management Office Manager
With the addition of the UMT360 solution, the organization now has the cost forecasting capabilities that they had been missing. “With the ability to lock the budget and manage change requests from within the PPM system, the PMO is finally able to take full control of the entire PPM process.” Clearly, the new processes and tools have provided Coliban Water with the efficiency they were looking for. “Before implementing UMT360, it took the PMO about 5 days to complete the monthly capital reporting process. Now, it only takes a day.”
Capture and reporting on the right data
Now that the entire organization has access to a more efficient process, Coliban Water’s PMO continues to look for opportunities for further improvements. “We’re working to make sure that all scheduling information is captured by the PPM process within Microsoft Project Server. We can then more effectively integrate that information with cost forecasts, providing us with the control we need to better focus on the time component of all of our projects.”
Coliban Water’s PMO is also looking forward to leveraging the detailed cost forecast data now at their disposal to do a better job at portfolio prioritization. Regulations require that the organization submit five and ten year future capital projections regarding their project and program plans. With more accurate and efficient forecasting, the organization will be able to save significant time and effort in complying with these requirements. “Our organization can now decide how much of this rich portfolio data that’s now at our fingertips – and at what level of detail – is most appropriate to share and report on. That’s a great position for our PMO to be in, given that until quite recently, it took considerable effort to access even a small fraction of that data.”