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The case study described here was inspired by a consulting project undertaken for an international multi-brand group. Initially aimed at the conceptualization and implementation of systematized reporting processes in the organization, it provides insight into how using Radar can help tackle challenges associated with project status reporting, improve the work of the PMO and enhance performance of the company as a whole.
The client on whose experience this case study is based is a corporation from the automotive industry with a classic organizational structure consisting of a head office, specialist functions, national and international production sites with business units and departments.
An enterprise-wide project steering committee, comprised of board members, heads of departments and individual project and program sponsors, is responsible for monitoring the status of the entire project portfolio, ensuring projects are in line with the company’s strategic goals, and deciding whether an intervention in a particular case is required. The task of the PMO within this structure, in addition to other duties, is delivering a consolidated report on the status of all projects and programs and any other decision-relevant information in time for the meetings of the steering committee. In this regard, the PMO is responsible for preparing analyses, commentary and forecasts and proposing potential alternative courses of action to assist the steering committee.
A multitude of stakeholders from various business units, production sites and hierarchy levels of the same company all take part in project status reporting – but do so at different stages of the process, which often makes it difficult to reconcile their interests. As the excerpts from interviews conducted with different parties clearly demonstrate, they each have their own point of view on the matter.
It appears that all actors involved in reporting are dissatisfied because their expectations regarding project status reporting are currently being met either insufficiently or not at all.
„Filling out status reports is too complicated and time consuming. My project is under control and I don’t see how I would benefit from reporting the process of my project all the time. If something is the matter, I will notify the people who need to know about it.”
„I have to remind people all the time to hand in their status reports or to fill in the missing information – the result is that I can never submit my reports to the board on time and the data is never 100% accurate.”
“Three days before the deadline for sending the consolidated status report to the board, the PMO is basically shut down.”
Member of Steering Committee:
„We don’t know what is happening in the projects and we have no idea where to intervene – we’re basically flying blind.”
Member of Management Board:
„Could you please provide the missing data on page 278 and comment on it? It would be helpful if a comprehensible status report would be available after the summer break.”
Project managers complain about the amount of effort it takes to fill out status reports and the need to do so regularly, all the while the PMO expresses discontent with poor reporting discipline, late submissions and the low quality of collected data.
Members of the steering committee, in turn, feel that they are not being adequately informed. Not only are the reports that they receive excessively long and generally inconsistent, but their preparation is so laborious that by the time they reach key decision makers, project status information has already lost its relevance. Instead, senior managers wish to be able to access reports at any time and regardless of their own whereabouts, preferably via a self-service tool on their mobile devices.
All in all, it is evident that inefficient and complex information flows not only hinder effective communication and cooperation but also negatively affect the development of projects. This points to an urgent need to improve the quality of reporting by increasing efficiency of existing processes, introducing some degree of standardization and automation, reducing the share of the time-consuming ad hoc reporting, and simplifying distribution of project information.
Radar was employed by the client’s PMO as a supporting tool for both regular and ad hoc project status reporting. As a result of implementation and subsequent use, the client has reported to have derived the following benefits:
The process of adapting Radar to internal structures of the project-oriented organization requires careful consideration, clear definition as well as documentation of company reporting responsibilities, goals and schedules. This alone sets a strong foundation for a stable reporting framework, where everyone knows what is required and when. Additionally, by formalizing various elements of reporting it becomes possible to instill some degree of standardization, thereby allowing to automate at least part of reporting tasks.
Intuitive understanding and handling of Radar combined with explicitly structured report templates that clearly convey what precise information is expected of the reporter make reporting processes fast and straightforward, and thus eliminate unnecessary obstructions that may prevent reporters from fulfilling their duties. Furthermore, automated notifications help ensure that project managers fill out and submit their reports in time, while overdue or incomplete reports are marked in a distinct way that draws attention and thus fosters even better adherence to the set schedule.
Another consequence of systematically defining goals and specific requirements in the course of setting up Radar is that information requested and subsequently included in reports becomes consistent and, therefore, comparable. It can be filtered, sorted and visualized in different ways, allowing to find answers to the posed questions. And improved reporting discipline ensures that that it also up-to-date.
By automating reporting processes that would normally require a lot of time and effort, Radar leaves the PMO with more time to contextualize and comment on the received project information. Various filtering, analysis and visualization functionalities, automatic data importing capabilities from Excel and a number of upstream systems are all available to assist the reporting function.
With the Radar system available on any platform and device, senior managers do not have to wait for scheduled reports and can instead access it anytime via the web browser of their choice. Up-to-date information on current project or program status always at hand in an easily comprehensible format of the main Radar view enables them to make informed management decisions wherever they are.
This case study was based on a consulting project for an international multi-brand company, which aimed to streamline reporting processes. The study illustrates how utilizing Radar can improve the PMO's efficiency and enhance overall corporate performance.read more