About the Customer
Alberta Investment Management Corporation (AIMCo) is one of Canada’s largest and most diversified institutional investment managers with more than $100 billion of assets under management. Headquartered in Edmonton, Alberta, with satellite offices in Toronto, the United Kingdom, and Luxembourg, AIMCo relies on Microsoft Project Online to enhance collaboration and increase transparency. Just one year after implementation, it delivers 23 percent more projects on budget and 32 percent more projects on time.
Scope and Challenges
The AIMCo Business Technology Delivery Team (BDT) provides investment strategies and efficiencies to their business partners through a multitude of projects, collaborating across the organization to optimize resources and help minimize risk. Reporting to stakeholders - AIMCo executives, board, and internal clients - is critical to those goals. Their work underpins the tactical lifeline of the corporation: making strategic plans a reality, and streaming information back to executives to fine-tune investment decisions. AIMCo is responsible for building prosperity, security, and opportunity for its clients by delivering excellent returns. Meeting its investment goals and regulatory reporting hinge on one thing: quality data.
Bruno Freitas, Senior Manager for the Project Management Office, a group that is part of the AIMCo BDT, clearly recalls the pain points that inspired him to seek an automated project management solution. “There were four things on our list,” he says. “Lack of communication across the organization about our project workload and progress was the biggest issue. Next came our need to consistently deliver projects using a uniform methodology. We also wanted to optimize our resource utilization and provide better estimates for timing project milestones and budgets.” Regulatory reporting was at the top of the BDT information pyramid, but day-to-day management consumed management’s immediate attention.
Without resource allocation reporting, project managers and other staff often found themselves in the middle of colleagues’ struggles to “claim” them for completing assignments. Having just taken over the project management office (PMO) function of the AIMCo BDT, Freitas was understandably keen to avoid situations where his team had to explain to internal clients that their projects would be delayed. Most importantly, the BDT team was determined to prevent budget overruns. The BDT team decided to address its pain points by adopting a project management software solution. After evaluating several options, it selected Microsoft Project Online as the clear front-runner. Partnering with Arbutus Solutions, the AIMCo team met an aggressive target of a two-month implementation.
One year later, senior executives and staff alike appreciate the transformation to a more forward-looking, proactive PMO that provides project status information tailored to every audience level. “Implementing Microsoft Project Online has been a game-changer for us,” says Freitas.
Outcome and Implications
Now that the BDT team has a shared solution for consistently planning and reporting on all its projects, it can deliver successful projects time after time. AIMCo has developed its own delivery methodology based on best practices drawn from industry standards for project management. This uniform approach makes it easy for project managers to cover for each other as necessary. Team members function at optimal effectiveness when they have a common system for executing. With Project Online, the team has found it easy not only to maintain its standard methodology for most projects but also to capitalize on more agile methodologies for smaller projects.
Because AIMCo also uses the Microsoft Office suite and Microsoft SharePoint Online, people throughout the organization collaborate on projects more easily. Workers around the globe now access a range of project documentation from wherever and whenever they need it.
Success is contagious in the best possible way at AIMCo, where other departments are adopting Project Online. They also seek the flexible, detailed reporting that provides both the transparency that the organization promises its clients and insights for critical decisions—investment-related and operational. The BDT team will soon evaluate replacing its on-premises version of Team Foundation Server with Microsoft Visual Studio Team Foundation Server (Visual Studio Online) to use for traceability. “We plan to use Visual Studio Online in the cloud and have it work closely with our Project Online implementation,” says Freitas. His team plans to use both solutions to track financials, time sheets, resource allocation, and other information.
Freitas is gratified by the progress made by the BDT team in a scant 12 months. He credits the enhanced collaboration made possible by shared information. “We have more transparency on all projects across the board,” he says. “We are making sure that we are using our resources more effectively to deliver the most critical, value-added initiatives to the business. It’s the best of all worlds, for us—and for our stakeholders.”
"Because comments on overall project status and issues are tracked directly in Project Online, stakeholders and executives now have a clear line of sight into overall project health." Said - Meghna Singh Director, Business Technology Delivery at Alberta Investment Management Corporation
"Using Project Online, we now track how we’re doing against our estimates. Even with just one year of history … we show a 23 percent improvement in projects delivered on budget and a 32 percent increase in projects delivered on time." Said - Bruno Freitas Senior Manager, Project Management Office at Alberta Investment Management Corporation.
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