Video 2020 European Virtual Conference: How Helvetia Cleared Bottlenecks, Gained Visibility, and Optimized Decision Making with Tempus Resource

November 4, 2020 | By Greg Bailey

You can watch the replay of Tim Ruprecht’s full presentation, “Integrated Resource Management – Benefits of Tempus Resource and integrated KPI tracking,” below:

Tim Ruprecht of Helvetia Insurance presented at the Tempus Resource 2020 European Virtual Conference on October 8, 2020.

With a portfolio of 256 projects of various sizes and in all stages of completion, “resource conflicts were guaranteed, especially in the IT department” of Helvetia Insurance. Tim Ruprecht, Project Portfolio Manager at Helvetia, described one of the organization’s main problems as lack of transparency into project status, dependencies, and resource bottlenecks. In his presentation at the Tempus Resource 2020 European Virtual Conference, Ruprecht outlined Helvetia’s use of Tempus to address their transparency challenges and ensure PMs and RMs have the tools, reporting, and escalation channels needed to run projects smoothly to completion.

Integrated resource management

Helvetia selected Tempus for its capacity to track every project in their portfolio, identify conflicts early, gain visibility into project dependencies, and identify bottlenecked resources. Ruprecht found that Tempus’s dashboard and visualization capabilities were key to gaining acceptance and organization-wide use. As was Helvetia’s ability to integrate Tempus seamlessly into their software landscape.

“Within the first five months of using Tempus, we saw where there was high utilization, which is a strong indicator for bottlenecks. We started asking why. Do we need knowledge transfer? Do we need another FT? And then we could communicate those needs to management and clear the bottlenecks.”

-Tim Ruprecht, Helvetia

In terms of process changes, Helvetia began by articulating the job responsibilities for four roles, including Resource Manager, Project Manager, and Project Portfolio Manager. With clearer role definition, resource managers no longer oversee prioritization, but can focus on protecting their resources and managing allocations. One new role, the Conflict Committee, has been integral to making improvements. The Conflict Committee is a project portfolio board dedicated to addressing resource conflicts, which now have an official channel for escalation and resolution. Monthly planning cycles have also helped Helvetia manage conflicts and decisions with transparency.

Benefits of Tempus Resource and integrated KPI tracking

The benefits of PPM with Tempus are tracked via four main KPIs: Resource Request Approvals—at the resource and project levels; Plan vs. Actual Work; and Unplanned Actual Hours Ratio. All data is collected via Tempus and managed with the Tempus Sheets function, meaning they can track time data and project costs all with a single tool. Additionally, all KPI reporting is done monthly and provided to stakeholders with a monthly lookback. By focusing their reporting on stakeholder needs and even co-developing reports with stakeholders, Helvetia enables its managers to “make more sure and reliable decisions.”

Helvetia’s new PPM capabilities include easily adjusting project plans, a clear look at budget plans vs. actuals, and a set process to resolve resource conflicts. “The main benefit of Tempus has been transparency. We know every project that is running, how much money and resources they need, and what conflicts exist,” Ruprecht explains. Furthermore, he cites major improvements in project tracking, financial forecasting, budget tracking, and portfolio-level feasibility assessment. The next steps in Helvetia’s PPM roadmap include further reporting enhancements and continued project and portfolio success.

To learn more about how Resource Portfolio Management can help your organization enhance decision making through better visibility and control, contact ProSymmetry, makers of Tempus Resource. And be sure to check out all of our speakers from the Tempus Resource 2020 European Virtual Conference.

Transcript: How Helvetia Cleared Bottlenecks, Gained Visibility, and Optimized Decision Making with Tempus Resource

I’m Tim Ruprecht, Project Portfolio Manager for Helvetia Insurance Company located in Switzerland.  We have different business units around Europe in France, Germany, Spain and Austria.  We also have little divisions in Miami and Singapore.  So we’re operating globally, but our main business is located in Switzerland, just for your information.

Agenda

Next I’m going to come to my agenda.  First I’m going to tell you about project portfolio at Helvetia and give you first introduction.  Then I’m going to dive right into the first steps in the setup of Tempus and the first integration efforts we had.  On the third point I’m going to talk about the benefits of those integrations and the KPI tracking within Tempus that we implemented this year.  And for the last point I’m going to talk about the next steps that we’re going to take especially with BI and the integration.

Project Portfolio Helvetia Corporate

In total we have roughly 256 projects, including qualified demands in our portfolio.  These are separated into corporate projects, projects in Switzerland or the country or specialty market projects.  These are in different stages right now so you can see that we have roughly 56 qualified demands, so these are projects in the start-up phase so we already have all the information necessary to start up the project but they are currently in the backlog, in the pipeline.  In the planning phase we have 51 projects.  Most of them are in the corporate section.  And, as you can see, we have 120 projects in the implementation phase.  That’s a lot of projects that are run in parallel and these are split pretty evenly between the Switzerland and corporate division, and some are in the specialty markets or countries division.  We also have 11 blocked projects.  We also try to prioritize within the portfolio so it happens sometimes that we have to set back a project for something else that has a higher prioritization.  Lastly, with 18 projects that are in the finalization stage that are only doing the last deliverables of the project as giving the processes and tools into the organization.

Project Portfolio Challenges

With such a big portfolio comes a lot of challenges.  We have a large and diverse project portfolio with almost 200 active projects, it’s quite challenging keeping up with all those.  The resource conflicts are guaranteed within the portfolio just because of the amount, especially in our IT department because almost all projects have a correlation to our IT department, and our resource dependencies in the portfolio are often not really clear but have a huge impact on the deliverables within the projects.

Why we chose Tempus is just for the reasons or the problems above.  With Tempus it’s easier to keep track of all the projects and if we need a report for higher management, it is immediately accessible.  We can identify resource conflicts even before they happen and can provide data for prioritization if it’s required, and we are able to view resource dependencies on specific IT teams or bottleneck resources.  Especially the variation in project size within our portfolio is a big challenge.  Our four biggest projects consume as much as 60 percent of all change resources of the entire portfolio.

Responsibility of the Roles Implemented

So how do we combat those challenges?  First we implemented roles.  These were really key because we communicated clear responsibilities for each role and everybody knew what their task was.  So, for resource managers, they needed to plan their operative tasks.  They are responsible for displaying the change capacity of the team.  They are responsible for processing the resource requests and talking with the project managers, and they are responsible for making resource conflicts transparent to PPM.  I’m going to go into that point more deeply later.

The project managers on their side are responsible for planning their project of course, financially and the people planning, and they are responsible for making changes transparent for PPM because often they have a great impact on budgets.  And communication is key for a good project manager as well as the resource managers.  They have to constantly talk to each other and give requirements.

PPM is also a role.  It was established before but we defined the role PPM in this process another time.  PPM’s task is to provide transparency over the portfolio for the conflict committee and resolve resource conflicts with the resource managers and project managers if possible.  If it’s not possible, we have a conflict committee and it’s called Project Portfolio Board.  They are responsible for resolving resource conflicts, financial conflicts or resource conflicts with people.  These are members of top management because in this committee our prioritization of the project portfolio takes place.

Monthly Quarter-Planning with Project- and Resource Priority and Decision Process

After we implemented those roles we implemented a process for planning and it’s a monthly quarter planning process for projects and operative planning.  So the project managers need to plan their projects monthly at least for the next three to four months, and the resource managers need to update the operative planning and display their change capacity within Tempus also for the next three to four months.  That gives us, the PPM and the project portfolio board the capability to analyze, simulate and decide if you can put another project into the portfolio if that’s possible and also if there are any resource conflicts on the horizon that we need to manage.  This process, as mentioned, needs to take place monthly so that the data is sufficient.  This had a big change for our organization because before we only had Excel and only the planning of the projects was transparent there, so the resource managers came up to me and said, “Hey Tim.  Why does PPM always come to us and just want more data but doesn’t provide any benefit for us?”  I thought about that for a week and came back to the resource manager and said you’re right.  We need to provide you with a way that you can manage your resources but don’t have to do prioritization because before the process was like the wild west.  The project managers just came directly to the resource managers and reserved their resources and the resource manager needed to make a prioritization based on their knowledge.  That’s often not in the best interest of the company.  So, with the implementation of the project portfolio board we gave the resource managers a tool to escalate their resource conflicts and protect their people from over utilization.  That was a key part in the acceptance of the tool.

Software Landscape

For the benefits to be possible, we needed some data within Tempus.  In our case it’s a bit special.  Tempus has our own time tracking capability within but we already had a time tracking tool in JIRA so we needed to integrate that data into Tempus to display what the resource managers’ people are working on compared to what they were planned for.  On the other side, the project managers were also not very happy with the implementation because it meant that they had to update their project plan more frequently.  Before they only had to plan the project at the beginning, so once a year and the resources were set for that year.  Now it’s different.  The project managers needed more resources to input the data so we needed a benefit for them as well.  So we went on including the project costs out of SAP, and that was the first step.  Making all the necessary data for project managers available in one tool and that was a big benefit for our project managers because before they had to go into SAP if they wanted to look at the project costs and had to go into JIRA and look at the time tracking data.  Now they can just view it one tool and it’s easily accessible.

Another main benefit for our project managers was that they had committed resources on their projects.  So if a resource request goes through our approval process within Tempus, you’re guaranteed to have these persons on your projects.  It’s not like before when there were quick shifts within maybe one or two days.   You don’t have special people that you need for the projects in your project anymore, so now you have a good commitment so that the projects can work more consistently.

As you see, we also have a project status reporting tool.  As of now it is not integrated; it’s a standalone application and there the project managers are inputting their project status and delivery object tracking.

What did we do with the data?  We made several dashboards, reports for resource managers and project managers to visualize the data within Tempus.  That really helped with the acceptance of the tool, but it has its limits.  Sometimes we need something more special, especially in the case of PPM.  It’s not really true for the resource managers and project managers.  They’re just fine with the reports within Tempus but sometimes for a special PPM case we need something more.  That’s why we are going to evaluate the BI tool in the future.  I’m going to speak about that later.  As you can see here, we’re doing things like comparing plan data to actual data in comparison to the capacities of teams or divisions.  We can simulate within Tempus and look if certain projects can be input into the portfolio now or to a certain time.  And we can have a look at what our people are working on.  So are they working mostly on run or are they really working on the change of the company?

The last display on the bottom right is just an input view map.  It made the input for our resource managers a lot easier and they can have the utilization directly displayed in the planning view

Benefits of the First Integration Effort

So, what were the benefits of the first integration and what are we doing with the KPI tracking?  Benefits of the first integration is for project managers that we can track time data and project costs within one tool so every project manager has a view on their plan and actuals.  Their project plan can be easily adjusted within Tempus and they can compare their project budget to the actual data.

Benefit for resource managers is transparency of all project requirements for my team.  Before it was difficult for all the resource managers to have transparency over all the requests that were coming from different projects and if they were going to fit.  Now it’s pretty easy to see what a project wants from a team.  Workload transparency is another thing even a workload transparency over the team or even individual members.  That was especially for bottleneck resources.  It’s especially important to have a look to see if people are over utilized.  They can easily adjust their operative planning, business as usual for their teams and they have a tool to escalate resource conflicts directly via PPM.

For PPM the benefits were better overall project tracking and monitoring, better financial forecasting and better tracking of strategic budgets.  Also we had a better feasibility assessment on project and portfolio level.

KPI Tracking

Our KPIs are focused on data quality improvement so we have four different KPIs.  The first one is resource request approval for the line.  The data viewed there is always viewed on the next three months.  So we are looking here at all the resource request data and calculate a quote of all the approved resource requests and the not-yet approved requests.  This gives us an indication of how much the resource managers are working on their resource requests.

The same KPI is displayed in the resource request approval quote for projects.  There we can see if project managers are working on their resource requests and are communicating with resource managers.

Then we have the classical plan versus actuals, so are the people working on the tasks that are planned or are they working on different thigs that they are not supposed to?

And for the last KPI we have unplanned actual hours ratio.  That’s the case if somebody’s working on a project that is not planned on and that gives an indication that the project manager is not actualizing his planning for his project.

All the KPIs are created monthly.  They are provided to our stakeholders monthly so our stakeholders are the resource managers and the project managers.  The ongoing month is not taken into account because the plan data is not sufficient for that month and the actual data isn’t as well and the development over time of the KPIs can be seen in the Tempus dashboard.

Data Collection Via Tempus

So how is the process of developing these KPIs?  First we are going to do data collection by Tempus.  All the data needed can be gathered within Tempus resource management so we get our actual demand man days, our planned man days and get a ratio.

Data Collection Via Excel

Then we have some manual processing of the data within Excel.  That’s because some of the functions that need to be done, especially for the approval rates can right now not be done in Tempus, but Mark maybe has a way.  So I’ll get back to you if I get another resolution for the issue, but right now we are doing some manual processing of the data in Excel and send these Excels to our stakeholders.

Data Input Via Tempus Sheets

After that we input the data into Tempus Sheets.  Tempus Sheets is a separate function within Tempus where we can input additional data.

Data Display in Tempus Dashboard

Finally, we can display the data in Tempus Dashboard.  You can see we have the four KPIs right there.  As you also can see, it’s not very clean.  It’s a lot of variation inside so you can clearly see that we still have some data quality issues within the tool.  For example, you can see that our plan/actual ratio in the bottom left, there we have in September last month we have a pretty high pitch from one of the strategic programs, but that gives us an indication where, like Daniel said, the hurdles are.  So where do we have to look deeper and find the bottlenecks.  This dashboard is also provided to our stakeholders and can be viewed at any time.  With the use of that data we go to our resource managers, project managers and try to up the data quality within Tempus.

Next Steps of the Integration

So what are our next steps?  First of all, our next steps for the integration are the new PPM reporting.  For that we are using all the Tempus data that we have and also all the JIRO data and SAP data we have and combining them within a BI application.

BI Application and Reporting

This BI application is ready right now in another project and we will use that solution in the future.  Proper data integration is key for a successful reporting, so we need to make sure that all the data is there and correctly transferred.  Important to us is that our reporting is built around our stakeholders so what kind of reporting do they need?  What information do they need to make good decisions?  As of now, we will start developing the reports with our stakeholders.  We start next week within the project I am currently running.

The expected rollout for the new PPM reporting will be in Q2 of 2021.  As you saw, we still have some data quality issues.  A colleague of mine is writing a concept right now for PI planning within Helvetia and we are planning to use Tempus Resource in combination with the PI planning so resource managers and project managers are coming together and planning together for the next quarter.  This will start approximately in 2021.

So, in conclusion, I think the main benefits for our organization were first of all, transparency.  We know all the projects that are running, we know how much money and resources they need and can see if there’s any conflicts between projects within the portfolio.

Secondly, we can identify bottleneck resources.  That is pretty important because within the first five months of using Tempus we saw certain people having really, really high utilization and that’s a strong indicator for there being bottleneck resources.  Then we can start asking the questions why there are bottleneck resources.  So, is there a knowledge transfer needed or is there another FTE needed and we can communicate that to the management.

Lastly, it helped us with the prioritization process.  It is easier for the management to decide with the sufficient data provided from Tempus and it is a surer decision that they can make, so it’s more reliable.

In conclusion, that was my presentation.  I hope you enjoyed.  If you have any questions, just type them right in.  Thank you.

Questions

Q:  Is the resource manager a specific role or is it the line managers of the resources themselves?

A:  That’s a great question.  It’s different not in every division, but it depends on the division.  For example, in our IT department the line managers are the resource managers just because the skills are very, very different within the IT department.  So, we couldn’t find one single person that can have an overview over all the skills within the IT.  In our non-IT department, for example, it’s a bit easier so we have one person there managing all the resources so it varies from department to department, but we are trying to get to the stage that we have only one single resource manager for every department.

Q:  What were you using before Tempus?

A:  We used Excel and that was pretty much it so all the resource planning was made within the business case so all project managers had to input their needed resources in the business case before the project even started.  So, often when the project finally started the planning wasn’t accurate at all so they had to do a re-planning directly after, but that was often not displayed within the business case.

 

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