Office 365, Program Framework, Project Management Practice, Project Online

Microsoft Customer Stories: Arup and Program Framework

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We are delighted to announce that Microsoft have recently published a Customer Story based on our work with Arup, the global design and engineering firm. We’re really pleased that Microsoft have recognised not only the hard work that went into this project, on both sides, but also the excellent solution and benefits that Arup have been able to realise.

Arup was founded in 1946 and offers engineering, design, planning, project management and consulting services for all aspects of the built environment. They have a varied workforce of designers, planners, engineers, consultants and technical specialists. We have been speaking with them for some time about how we can help improve their project governance, in particular working with their Global IT Portfolio Management Office (PMO). The end results, using Project Online in some really interesting ways, has transformed how Arup approach Project and Portfolio Management.

A unified view of IT projects

Arup made a name for itself on projects such as the Sydney Opera House, the Pompidou Center in Paris, the High Speed 1 railway between London and Paris, the National Aquatics Center for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, venues for the 2012 London Olympics, and many others.

They’ve grown into a multidisciplinary organisation that is present in Africa, the Americas, Australasia, East Asia, Europe, and the Middle East, and it has more than 11,500 staff members working in 90 offices across 38 countries.

As a result technology is absolutely critical to everything that Arup does. Carolyn Bundey, Manager of the Global IT Portfolio Management Office at Arup, sums it up:

“Our IT systems have to be modern, stable, and available at all times, and employees have to be able to access information anytime, anywhere”

The Global IT Portfolio Management Office (PMO), run by Bundey, has been tasked with improving the visibility of project delivery across all regions and provide consistency in the way projects are delivered and reported on. There was a desire, and clear need, to move away from Microsoft Excel or Microsoft Word-based project status reporting. This approach offered no consistency in project delivery styles, sporadic reporting in diverse formats, limited collaboration, and there was no clear, central visibility into what was happening. A better solution was needed.

Harnessing the power of the cloud

After extensive work with Arup, our consultants determined that Project Online, part of Microsoft’s enterprise cloud offering, would be a great fit for the company. Key is the fact that it would provide the firm’s global workforce with easy access to project data anytime, from any location.

“Our strategy is cloud first wherever possible,” says Bundey. “With an online project management solution, we can report on projects using live data with a system that ties into other processes, such as service and change management”

Effective insights across global projects

By using Project Online Arup has instant views into the status of all their IT projects. Bundey’s team no longer spends 40 hours every month compiling reports manually.

“By the time we created a status report, it was already out of date,” Bundey says. “With Project Online, my team is saving 40 hours a month creating reports, and management is making decisions using up-to-date data. We already consider this tool essential in supporting a common approach to project initiation and governance across the world. We’ve seen significant benefits in terms of avoiding duplication of effort and increasing the strategic value of our overall project portfolio.”

Project Online is also home to the Arup IT Project Pipeline, a central “holding pen” of ideas for future development. Each idea logged requires that the initiator provide complete information, including project description, budget, resource needs, and other elements. Bundey’s team sends these page-links to the management committee members so that they can review, prioritize, and agree on initiation of ideas. It also aids in the collection of future project initiatives for the business planning.

Continuous improvement

Because Project Online is a core part of Office 365, it is designed to work seamlessly with other productivity and communication solutions such as Microsoft Exchange Server, Microsoft Outlook 2013 and OneDrive for Business.

The next step for Arup is to have Project Online interoperate with tools such as Outlook, Skype for Business, and Visual Studio Team Foundation Server, which the company uses for software development projects. Upcoming Project Online features that Arup plans to implement include demand and capacity planning, portfolio prioritisation, and portfolio balancing. We look forward to helping Arup realise these additional benefits.

Carolyn Bundey is excited about the future:

“It’s an exciting time in Arup IT. The business depends on technology more than ever before, and we’re keen to use Project Online to handle more projects efficiently and professionally.”

You can find the original account on the Microsoft Customer Stories page. You can find out more about our Project Online services here, and more success stories from our customers here.