Canadian power generation and wholesale marketing company, TransAlta, had been looking for a better way to do business. With more than 70 power plants in Canada, the US and Australia and operating geothermal, wind, hydro, natural gas and coal power generation facilities, the company wanted to find a less complicated way to compare and select projects.
Since the company generates electricity via five different fuel types, comparing 'apples to apples' was virtually impossible. TransAlta's executives felt they were spending too much time debating capital investments during annual budgeting sessions and were frustrated knowing that better decisions would be possible if their data sources could cut through the complexity and provide objective criteria.
After looking at all of the options, TransAlta selected UMT360 which allows them to accomplish the same amount of work with smaller capital expenses and executives discovered that the amount of time saved in performing capital reviews actually paid for the solution.
Today, TransAlta has a single place to go for up-to-date information about projects; they have saved significant time in the annual capital budgeting process; they're able to dynamically make decisions to address under-performing projects; and they've standardized methodologies and improved capital stewardship.
TransAlta Corporation, a Canadian power generation and wholesaling company, needed to better 'compare apples to apples' when selecting its portfolio of capital projects across fuel types and investment streams. It wanted to make better decisions and reduce time spent searching for information. The company selected a solution based on UMT360 and Microsoft Project Server and reports that the solution has allowed them to accomplish the same amount of work with smaller capital expenses. Additionally, the amount of time saved in top executives performing capital reviews has paid for the solutions.
TransAlta, the largest power generation and wholesale marketing company in Canada, was looking for a mechanism to compare apples to apples when choosing projects. 'What makes our situation particularly complex', says Carl Souchereau, Director of TransAlta's Enterprise Project Management Office, 'is that we generate electricity through five different fuel types: coal, natural gas, hydro, wind, and geothermal.' High-level executives thus spent a great deal of time debating capital investments during their annual budgeting sessions and found the process frustrating because they knew they could make better decisions if their data sources could cut through complexity to provide objective criteria. 'We didn't yet know what we needed,' Souchereau says, 'but we knew that some sort of project portfolio management was foundational for our future competitiveness in the marketplace.'
With its new project portfolio management system, TransAlta is saving time for both high-level executives and
project managers. By providing a single source of the truth, TransAlta can more effectively choose projects,
which results in reduced capital spending.
1. A single source of the truth: Souchereau says the top benefit of PPMS is that it provides a single place
for up-to-date information about projects. "If somebody has a question about the portfolio, they don’t have
to ask ten different people and get ten different answers—they can look it up in PPMS," he says.
2. Time savings: In the fall of 2012, top executives went through the annual capital budgeting process
using PPMS, not SAP, for the first time. Souchereau said the process took less than 25% of the time
previously spent. "This was a huge benefit, because these executives’ time is so valuable. Our improved
efficiency in capital reviews, by itself, paid for the cost of the solution." Project teams also save time
throughout the year by using the system’s reporting functions. "If project sponsors or reviewers want an
update, they don’t need a custom report—all they have to do is refresh the software to get the most current
3. Improved decision making: Souchereau is already seeing benefits in earlier flagging of projects
ripe for deferral. "Where under the old system we might not decide to defer a project until the fourth
quarter, now we have the data and the comprehensive view to make that decision earlier, often in the
second quarter." By choosing projects of higher value, and more quickly eliminating lower-value projects,
Souchereau says they will have accomplished the same amount of work with reduced capital expenses.
4. Better capital stewardship: Because TransAlta is using a single project management system, it is
moving diverse sectors into more standard methodologies. "We now have our hydro projects and gas
projects, for example, using the same reports," says Souchereau. "Our teams are using the same templates
and workflows. Because our project managers are always planning, scheduling, and executing projects the
same way, they can more easily move among sectors."