Case Study: Allied Bakeries
Equipping Allied Bakeries with the Right Tools to Complement Existing Best Practice Standards
As part of Associated British Foods plc. Allied Bakeries is a large national company producing a diverse range of popular brands of baked goods. Ensuring that systems are streamlined and that the right tools are used to achieve goals and meet deliverables is paramount in an organisation of this size and scope. This is why Allied Bakeries engaged Wellingtone Project Management to provide training at various levels. The aim was to enhance team performance with updated tools designed to complement the company’s already stringent project management systems, whilst pound for pound, maximising the value to the business. Michelle Lynch, Programme Management Office Analyst at Allied Bakeries, tells us more.
The Scenario: Identifying a Gap between Skills and Tools
Allied Bakeries already had advanced project management methodologies and processes in place – but the outdated technology was hindering their ability to achieve the visibility they needed for their Executive Board and stakeholders.
“We were using EPM 2007 and Project Pro 2007 but we didn’t feel we were getting the best from the system.” Michelle says. “We considered going with the 2010 version as we were looking to achieve greater reporting capabilities on project status and clearer visibility for our stakeholders. What we needed was a ‘one stop shop’ for all our project needs. But we recognized that it would be prudent to explore all the options and define exactly which tool was ideal for us before pushing ahead with a technology upgrade.”
After a transparent tender process, Allied Bakeries selected Wellingtone Project Management to assist with the decision to upgrade to the latest version of Project Server.
“They were really impressed with the organisational set up we had – all of the things a Programme Management Office (PMO) should be doing, we were doing, and doing well” explains Michelle. “We had an established Project Management Methodology, and were on top of issue management, risk management, resource management and planning. We just didn’t have the right tools to give us the visibility we needed to make the right decisions.”
The Challenge: Incorporating a Bespoke System
Having confirmed the strategy, it was decided that Wellingtone would upgrade and customise the system so that Allied Bakeries could implement a fresh new capacity for reporting, visibility, decision-making and stakeholder engagement. Taking into account the company’s strategic needs and Wellingtone’s input, the decision was made to start with a clean slate by making the move to MS Project Server 2010. After that, it was a case of determining exactly what Allied Bakeries wanted out of the package.
“We had a two-day planning session with PMO members and the Wellingtone Consultant, during which we mapped out what we needed to achieve” Michelle recalls. “He took our current processes and capabilities which are already considerably mature, and matched them to our new EPM requirements.”
The Crucial Issue: Maintaining Clear Visibility & Prioritisation
For the new rollout to successfully complement Allied Bakeries’ level of project management sophistication, it was vital that PMO members had the knowledge that they needed to use the system. Wellingtone designed and conducted a short Project Server training course to ensure that everyone was starting from the same place.
“We wanted everything centralised – at that time we were storing documents separately which lacked visibility” says Michelle. “Once the customisation was designed and in place Wellingtone performed the installation on site working with our technical team.”
Another key aim of the PMO was to integrate its internally developed project prioritisation methodology into MS Project Server 2010. This was to serve two purposes; increase the visibility of prioritisation within the Allied Bakeries’ IT Steering Group and manage stakeholder expectations on project delivery
“We needed to have clear tools to understand the ‘health’ of our project portfolio. Wellingtone guaranteed that with the new PWA (Project Web Access) it would be a lot easier to get hold of the pertinent issues and risks. Extracting the information out of the previous system was a clumsy process and took a lot of time, but the new report Wellingtone have developed is fast and efficient. It’s set up so that you simply press a button and all your information’s there.”
The Outcome: Embracing the New Framework
Overall, the new toolkit has helped Allied Bakeries’ people to gain a new skill as well as giving the team the ability to centralise documents and have access to workflow. This was even more important as some vital stakeholders in the team do not work on site. Moreover, the increased visibility has positively influenced the behaviors exhibited by project managers in terms of conformance to the methodology.
“The team has really embraced the new system and training” Michelle confirms. “Apart from me, the other PMO team members are all new so we decided to wait and train them on the new system. Across the business we have 15 key people who use PWA and don’t work onsite. Now they can monitor their workflow quickly and easily and check everything’s been done and all deliverables have been met.”
The Lessons Learned: The Importance of Planning
The initial days of planning and research ahead of the implementation were vital to ensure that the package could be tailored exactly to Allied Bakeries’ requirements. According to the Wellingtone Consultant:
“We spent two days delivering workshops to examine how Allied Bakeries wanted to use Project Server to help select, plan, and manage projects. We looked at all their existing processes and defined how we wanted to configure Project Server to match their needs going forward.”
The Bottom Line: A Successful Resolution
On Wellingtone’s role in the process, Michelle says;
“The Wellingtone consultant was very knowledgeable, he clearly knew what he was talking about. You could ask him a question and he knew the answer straight away and if he didn’t he would ask another member of his team. Wellingtone’s technical team were experts in the reporting capabilities, which complemented the primary consultants in-depth strategic and practical knowledge.
We’ve got a support package with them that will cover the next 12 months and we’d definitely use Wellingtone again if the right project arose.”
According to Wellingtone:
“This was a real success story because Allied Bakeries already had experience with 2007 as well as advanced processes in place and a detailed understanding of their organizational needs. That meant that they could be really pro-active and they understood the language we used. Their Project Management procedures and processes are exemplary. It was really satisfying to complete the project knowing that they could now have full visibility across those procedures and show the Board and stakeholders the positive impact of their stringent and well managed practices at the touch of a button.”