Project Management Discipline
Project management software helps fujitsu consulting stay competitive in a tough market.
by Karen J. Bannan, November 2008
Fujitsu Consulting’s strategic goal is to help clients achieve true business value from their IT investments—being able to do that efficiently and reliably is key to Fujitsu’s success as a consulting partner. For example, one of the projects Fujitsu Consulting is working on this year is for GES Exposition Services, an exhibition and event services provider based in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The engagement, launched in April 2007, will replace the company’s current show services legacy system—used to manage and produce trade shows and events—with 20 Oracle applications including Oracle Projects, Oracle Bills of Material, Oracle Work In Process, Oracle iReceivables, Oracle’s PeopleSoft Receivables, and Oracle’s Siebel Credit Management.
While this is a fixed-fee project, GES requested additional flexibility in the way that Fujitsu is managing the engagement. For instance, Fujitsu is measuring hours spent on particular deliverables so that any hours not consumed may be applied to future deliverables. As Kevin Sullivan, Fujitsu Consulting vice president and managing director, notes, “The ability to offer creativity and flexibility in contract terms is central to the Fujitsu approach.”
In addition to fixed-fee projects, Fujitsu Consulting offers shared-risk, value-based, and traditional time/material models; however, this degree of flexibility definitely makes project management more complex. According to Sullivan, “Over the last few years, our 200-plus project managers have used a variety of methods and formats to keep track of their engagements. While this mixture has been able to fulfill our clients’ requirements, our project management team has sometimes been challenged to develop suitable tracking mechanisms.”
With the rollout of Oracle Project Management software, however, Fujitsu Consulting is now empowering its project managers with new capabilities. Fujitsu selected Oracle Project Management for its flexibility in managing different contract vehicles and its ability to help Fujitsu’s project managers address financial and project management needs through a single application suite. Project managers, executives, and clients will not only be able to keep track of hours logged and milestones reached but also be able to determine what each piece of data means to the scope and success of a particular project. “What’s nice about this new approach is that consistent, efficient, and effective project execution generates cost savings, which can be factored into our pricing model and, ultimately, benefit our clients,” says Sullivan.
An Integrated Approach
Sullivan notes that Fujitsu Consulting is now fielding a best-of-all-worlds software solution that combines Oracle Project Management with Oracle Financials, including general ledger, payables, and accounts receivable applications, and PeopleSoft Human Resources. Indeed, Sullivan says that being able to integrate budgeting, forecasting, and accounting data into its project management planning was one of the main reasons the company made the decision to go with Oracle Project Management. As Sullivan explains, “Our project managers have historically created budgets outside the accounting system and have performed their earned-value analysis using Microsoft Excel spreadsheets. With this new project management solution, we can take care of all these activities in the same application.”
Change order management provides a good example of this type of integrated approach. The process of formally changing the scope of a project—something that often affects cost—was typically administered outside the system at Fujitsu Consulting. However, as Sullivan says, “We can now administer change order management within the system. We’re also integrating the process with our opportunity-management toolset so that as we track change orders, we generate opportunities to grow existing accounts. By leveraging Oracle Application Integration Architecture, we can integrate our entire opportunity-to-project process. Such a tight integration between our sales systems and our ERP [enterprise resource planning] system will save us tremendous time and effort.”
Historically, when the company got started with a new contract, it was tracked in the sales system. When a new opportunity was closed, a project control form was manually filled out by the salesperson and sent to the project leader to be updated with execution and resource details. The form was then forwarded to the finance department to be entered into the system.
“We’ve got multiple touchpoints, multiple manual entries. The manual nature of the process is prone to mistakes and delays,” says Sullivan. “This may result in errors or delays in revenue or invoicing.”
“Oracle’s PPM [project portfolio management] software automates all of this so that everyone is adding his or her input online, and the project can be created directly from the sales system. This will dramatically cut down on the workload associated with setting up and administering a project—we expect it to reduce our account executives’ setup times by upwards of 20 to 30 percent, which means they can be out selling rather than administering.”