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Planview - Software For UK MoD Directorate


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Planview
: 20 July, 2007  (Application Story)
PlanView helps a strategic MOD Directorate to implement commercial standards of project portfolio management
A strategic and joint Armed Services Defence planning organisation, the Development, Concepts and Doctrine Centre (DCDC), has streamlined its project portfolio management, processes and related resources by adopting best practice based on commercial business principles. To support the initiative, the DCDC has also purchased and implemented an advanced IT portfolio management system from a world leading supplier in this field, PlanView.

Instead of commissioning a bespoke system, with all the attendant risks of late delivery, cost overruns and other complications, the DCDC invested in a commercial IT portfolio management system to help achieve its goals.

An important reason for preferring PlanView's solution was that it had been independently accredited with conformance to Office of Government Commerce (OGC) guidelines at Silver level (and has since been awarded Gold status). The solution worked 'straight out of the box', it was implemented within weeks, and delivered immediate and significant return on investment to the customer.

The tangible benefits being gained from the DCDC's investment in portfolio management represent significant potential to the wider Defence community and the Public Sector: 'If portfolio management is adopted as a formal business model it will overcome the silo culture, without the need for organisational change,' said Lieutenant Commander JH Reed, Royal Navy, Staff Officer Plans at the DCDC.

According to Reed, the benefits matrix-based portfolio management has introduced to the Centre and its external network, include: effective visibility and co-ordination; an increase in staff utilisation efficiency; an increase in scheduled output; a reduction in process overhead; a more focused workforce; accurate traceability, accountability, auditing and risk management; and better value for money.

By the year 2010 the high level of co-ordination and coherence the new business model is currently delivering to over 100 staff at the DCDC will become available across a considerably larger network. Over 300,000 users in other parts of the Armed Services and related departments will be connected via the fully integrated Defence Information Infrastructure (Future), or DII(F).

To others in the Public Sector considering the adoption of portfolio management, the DCDC's vision and initiative are evidence that a value-for-money, off-the-shelf solution, together with disciplined, leading-edge business practice, can make a significant contribution to efficient output delivery and best use of taxpayers' money.

Meeting the needs of the DCDC

A truly joint organisation based at Shrivenham, Wiltshire, the DCDC is a key Defence centre of excellence comprising staff from all three Armed Services and the Civil Service. It provides the intellectual bases that inform coherent decisions in UK Defence policy, capability development and operations, both now and in the future.

Intellectual capital is drawn from the DCDC's own resources, academia and open source material in the public domain both inside and outside Defence. The Centre's staff apply general skills and specialist subject matter expertise in a proven matrix management structure.

James Reed said that before thinking about what kind of IT system would be needed to support a new approach: 'DCDC needed a new business model that would facilitate effective, high-level planning, scheduling and resourcing to optimise output and afford flexibility to adjust to changing priorities and risks.'

In defining the DCDC vision, Reed said: 'We needed a body of best practice that would bring real coherence across the Defence Concept-to-Capability process, from start to finish; we needed clear visibility of issues at a programme level and be able to manage risk effectively to avoid time and cost overruns; and we needed to capitalise on the work ethic of those charged with delivering the intellectual and scientific rigour in our future military capability that the UK taxpayer rightly expects'.

The DCDC manages a great number of diverse activities and projects across a complex organisation. In a fast-changing world, improvement was needed to make all these tasks and processes more visible and coherent, and strengthen coordination and integration. Matters were further complicated by associated data and information being located in different IT systems and networks. After thorough investigation, analysis and specification, a new business model emerged, based on a fully-developed, matrix-managed portfolio management approach.

Regarding a strategic IT resource to support all these activities, the demands were clearly outside the scope of a project management system: a more robust and overarching approach would be essential.

Office of Government Commerce (OGC) compliance

PlanView was selected, not just because its integrated suite of products best met functional requirements and it was highly rated by a leading market analyst, but its track record included much work in the public sector.

In particular, the company and its solution had been put through a rigorous evaluation process by an independent, non-government quality and performance assessor, the APM Group, and been awarded Office of Government Commerce Bronze and Silver Status standards. The awards signify that a supplier and its products and services conform to the principles of OGC operational guidance.

The OGC guidelines were set up to encourage best practice in public sector programmes and projects and so improve the quality, success rate and value for money they deliver. In short, this important recognition can ease public sector decision making and speed up the procurement and implementation process so that the resultant benefits are realised much more quickly.

Since implementing its Enterprise solution at the DCDC PlanView has been awarded Gold status by the APM Group. The supplier is the first one to gain this high level of accreditation in all seven areas of assessment for its product, based on the Office of Government Commerce (OGC) guidelines for business change management.

To gain Gold accreditation, representatives from APM Group carried out comprehensive interviews with two Planview customers - one of whom was the MOD's DCDC - to check that the functionality and usability of the solution matched the claims made for it.

Besides OGC compliance, 'We chose PlanView because the solution did everything we needed straight out of the box,' said Lieutenant Commander Reed. 'Another factor singled the company out above others - it keenly understood the cultural challenges underlying Defence business, not just the technological issues.'

In addition to organisational change and new IT, Reed said that visionary leadership is also essential. He attributes much of the project's success to sponsorship from top management, where the committed interest and influence of the Director General of the DCDC, Rear Admiral Chris Parry CBE, enabled the cultural adoption challenges to be overcome, an important issue often associated with such ventures.
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