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GlobalConnect has reduced the hours spend on project management by 84 percent with a modern Microsoft-based Project and Portfolio Management solution.

GlobalConnect is a leading European technology provider, offering IT infrastructure and telecommunications services to customers in Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, and Germany. The company has an entrepreneurial and innovative workforce that strives to create cutting-edge digital product offerings for its customers. GlobalConnect has experienced impressive success in recent years, grossing USD620 million with only 1,700 staff. Wanting to build on this success, it set out a two-year digital transformation plan that would involve 30 large projects running in parallel.

Peter Kjaer Sørensen, Head of Project and Portfolio Management at GlobalConnect, was unsure if the company was ready.

 

”I realized that our leadership couldn’t effectively watch our projects,” he recalls. “I needed to engage conversations at all levels of the company to improve collaboration and get projects delivered faster.” 

Peter Kjær Sørensen, Head of Project and Portfolio Management, GlobalConnect

 

Searching for better ways to collaborate

GlobalConnect began assessing how to pick up the pace of its IT projects. The company had previously relied on a project management method called PRINCE2, and Sørensen identified this as an opportunity for improvement. “The company was having trouble using PRINCE2 fully,” recalls Sørensen.

 

“Many of our decisions were based on who had authority inside the company, so we weren’t fully working as a team. Some projects were taking a long time because we weren’t defining them correctly, while we were scoping other projects properly but not executing them as we expected.”

 

Sørensen believed that GlobalConnect would benefit from a groundbreaking project management methodology called Half Double. The methodology is based on academic research from two major universities in Denmark, and previously won the 2018 Innovation in Project Management award at the Dubai International Project Management Forum.

The main focus of Half Double is to ensure high stakeholder satisfaction rather than simply following procedures, aiming to deliver double the impact in half the time. Sørensen hoped that it would enable the company’s IT teams to collaborate quickly from four different countries while also making project progress more transparent.

A fresh focus on speed and strategy

The company began using Half Double methodology, but it soon encountered a stumbling block. “After two months of working with Half Double, I noticed that everything was on paper,” recalls Sørensen. “Converting the paperwork into PowerPoint and into an approval document could take up to two weeks.”

With fast delivery being one of Sørensen’s priorities, the team had to work more efficiently. GlobalConnect engaged ProActive A/S, a Gold competency member of the Microsoft Partner Network, for help creating a digital solution.

GlobalConnect’s next goal was to build a solution that could digitize project management processes and support long-term strategy.

 

“In two years, we should be a different company. But getting there with normal portfolio management would be too complex. We needed a solution that would ensure we followed our strategy to the point.”

Peter Kjær Sørensen: Head of Project and Portfolio Management, GlobalConnect

 

Innovative technologies for innovative methods

GlobalConnnect decided to use the redesigned Microsoft Project, built on Microsoft Power Platform, and included workflows from Power Automate and data visualizations from Power BI. The idea was to support Half Double methodology while giving GlobalConnect the flexibility to evolve as a business. Over the next four months, the two companies completed their plan to implement the solution and began to see results shortly thereafter.

The redesigned Project supports GlobalConnect’s adoption of Half Double methodology. For example, Half Double outlines a gate method for project approval. When users create a new project in Project, it automatically triggers an approval flow in Power Automate. This approval provides guidance for project managers, and also acts as a blocker when something is missing, because users must add a description before they can push the project through the first gate. This gate structure continues throughout the project, as users are unable to progress without following Half Double and adhering to GlobalConnect’s governance procedures.

To ensure Project met GlobalConnect’s business needs, the company tested its functionality along the way.

“It was, and always needs to be a dynamic process. We had this innovative methodology called Half Double as our foundation, but we also had discipline-oriented workshops where we discussed the overall solution. Because of the flexibility of Microsoft Power Platform, we could make changes on the fly based on the customer’s feedback and direct input from the minds behind the Half Double methodology.”

Allan Rocha, Director of Project Services at ProActive A/S.

 

Making informed decisions in record time

The gated system allows GlobalConnect to accurately measure the progress of its projects by using metrics set out by the Half Double methodology. These measures include leadership, impact, and flow, the last of which loosely translates to project speed. If the metrics don’t match up to agreed standards, the company can easily identify that there’s a problem.

Additionally, because of Project, also known as Project for the web, the company’s processes are digital from the beginning. When the company creates a project, it can use Project for the web’s scheduling engine to set movable dates and milestones, which can be presented on a visual timeline or board views. Portfolio managers and executives can then use a feature of Project called Roadmap to aggregate projects into a single view and then share that view out to other users.

The redesigned Project supports this requirement with a custom resource pool feature, which allows Sørensen and his colleagues to check which employees are available at a given time. As a result, the team can quickly make informed decisions about adjusting project timelines.

“The solution is so dynamic that you can actually make decisions on the fly,” explains Sørensen. “For example, if we have to move a project from today because we don't have the resources to execute it, we can actually move it into the future and see if we will have available resources by then. You can actually see the resource pool split up into percentage allocations.”

Peter Kjaer Sørensen: Head of Project and Portfolio Management, GlobalConnect

 

Getting a clearer view of staff sentiment

Making smart adjustments quickly is vital for GlobalConnect because its strategy involves introducing major innovations to its IT infrastructure. For example, the company plans to deploy a communication system that will automatically notify customers when IT engineers are carrying out preventative maintenance.

To complete these complex initiatives, it’s important that the company’s teams are well aligned. Accordingly, GlobalConnect wanted to monitor how stakeholders and project managers feel about their projects. To accomplish this, the company added functionality for gathering feedback through Microsoft Outlook.

When a GlobalConnect project leader creates a new project, they can share it with relevant users through Microsoft 365 Groups. Every two weeks, a scheduled flow in Power Automate generates a survey that appears in users’ inboxes as Outlook Actionable Messages. The survey, known as a Pulse Check in the Half Double methodology, asks recipients to evaluate their satisfaction with their projects and add comments.

Next, Power Automate anonymously collates the feedback data that will be exposed in Power BI to run a trend analysis. Project leaders can view the data directly in Power Apps or in reports inside Power BI, and if there’s too much negative feedback, they know they need to reassess the situation.

GlobalConnect has also started to enhance its business with artificial intelligence by performing a sentiment analysis upon this feedback. The analysis looks at positive/negative sentiment in the comments to evaluate how people feel about their projects.

Seeing project progress on demand

This solution gives the project manager clear visibility over these reports along with other project data through Microsoft Teams. When an employee creates a new project, Project for the web automatically generates a Microsoft 365 Group, and employees then can add team members to the group. Everybody in the group has access to project documentation and can use Teams to view custom tabs showing the project’s summary and schedule. Group members can also access their project plans, reports, and other artifacts directly from inside Teams.

In addition, portfolio managers have a team dedicated to portfolio overview and topics related to the entire portfolio. The portfolio managers have access to custom tabs called Portfolio hub and Power BI reporting, which give them detailed insights over project progress and potential risks.

As Project is hosted in the cloud, employees can access project information from anywhere. They also benefit from the co-authoring capability, which allows multiple users to make changes to a project at the same time.

Working smarter, delivering faster

Because the solution accurately measures project progress and stakeholder engagement, GlobalConnect can always gauge if it’s following its overall strategy. Team members can easily view helpful visualizations of data, thanks to Power BI dashboards that integrate with Project. This improved visibility has been so helpful that GlobalConnect has begun cancelling its monthly project evaluation meetings.

 

“We can now measure what’s going on deep down in the organization so that we can react to it. We understand how stakeholder management is developed and contained in a specific project and across the entire project pool. It’s beautiful because we can take decisions in portfolio meetings and action them the next morning.”

Peter Kjær Sørensen: Head of Project and Portfolio Management, GlobalConnect

 

Now that GlobalConnect can build projects in minutes and get complete visibility over their progress, it has streamlined many of its project processes. The company’s 25 project managers now have a reduced need to do tasks such as creating project documentation or preparing for governance meetings. As a result, GlobalConnect has reduced the hours its teams spend on project management by 84 percent.

This improvement has allowed GlobalConnect to take on an increased number of projects overall. Where project managers were previously limited to a maximum two projects each, they can now manage three without going over capacity.

Looking forward to future efficiencies

Having successfully piloted the solution and methodology in internal IT projects, Sørensen has gained the attention of the company’s senior management. As a result, GlobalConnect has already begun to use the same solution in other departments, such as marketing.

GlobalConnect is already improving the solution by adding Universal Resource Scheduling, a feature of Dynamics 365. With this functionality, the company will be able to evaluate and solve resource demands more efficiently and track how managers are allocating high-caliber employees throughout the projects.

Most importantly, Sørensen is optimistic that the solution and methodology will help GlobalConnect achieve its two-year plan.

“This is really game changing for us, I've never been in a company with this kind of solution before. Half a year ago, I couldn’t promise anything about how our projects were going to be executed. But in three months from now, I’ll be able to predict 90 percent of the result in generating projects with this solution, so I can actually predict that we’re going to execute correctly.”

Peter Kjaer Sørensen: Head of Project and Portfolio Management, GlobalConnect

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