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Program Resource Planning, Part 3: Process and Functional Map of a PRP Case Study

  Article published in DM Direct Newsletter
May 21, 2004 Issue
  By John Onder and Don Arendarczyk and Chris Ford and John G. Harmann

The first two articles in this series examined the program resource planning (PRP) concepts, practices and guidelines to get started. In this installment, we'll decompose a project into its process and functional components. The purpose at a high level is to paint a picture of a PRP project.

Several things for the reader to understand when reading the series and specifically this article: First, not all PRP projects will use all the components of a full PRP program or do they need to. In the example presented in this article, while we had to summarize the project for space reasons, it was not necessary or possible to implement the entire program to achieve the end goal. What we were able to do was to focus on key aspects of the entire program to ensure the successful launch of the whole program. The PRP team zeroed in on the customer keys - too many concurrent planned and active projects that were known to have similar needs but weren't properly leveraging process, technology or people. It was clear that a structure program needed to be implemented. Secondly, we attempted to explain both the process and functional components of the program with commentary around the business intelligence (BI) and data warehouse (DW) applications targeted for short-term success. Lastly, in the diagrams you'll see, "process" is defined as the activities and tasks performed; and "functional" is the project tools and deliverables used or created to execute the PRP program.

The customer, a large manufacturer with many divisions, had multiple BI applications either active or planned across the divisions - all with inconsistent technology tools and approaches. What were similar were business functions and goals of many of the BI applications and a very knowledgeable and skilled staff.

This PRP project started with known low-hanging fruit. The team's roles at the beginning was not to uncover new opportunities, but to confirm the known and explore if others within the identified high value areas could also be included in the engagement. The first area of focus was financial reporting - specifically, profitability. Two divisions of the business were both going down a similar path. One had already implemented the first iteration of the application; the second was still in the planning stages. The second area of focus was the capability to deploy a BI application within the business departments of the division. Various divisions of the company were at different levels of implementation with varying levels of success.

The first phase of the project presented in the diagram shown in Figure 1 surprised the PRP team. The recognition of an organizational structure and process as a critical component of the BI application success is often overlooked or an afterthought. The customer and PRP team quickly identified this competency as a key failure point in multiple other projects. While some areas of the company had gotten pieces of the puzzle correct, none had put the entire picture together.

Areas covered in the analysis included:

  • Education of the business deployment organization team
  • Realization that early involvement in the project is critical
  • Ensuring the training was tied directly to the business goals of the project
  • Mapping out a rollout plan to take advantage of momentum as more users are trained and productive
  • Beginning to identify KPIs and ROI measures
  • Staff composition: users, executives and technology
  • Change management: roles, workflow and departmental structure
  • Repeatable and documented processes
  • Closed loop feedback: Users<->Data<->Source

Figure 1: Phase 1

As stated the introduction, the functional components under the processes are the building blocks of the PRP program. These tools were either developed or used and adopted from past projects to be used on the current and future projects. Many other components can and would join the list as PRP program continues to mature and are absolutely key to automate for a successful long-term PRP program (for more - see the conclusion).

The next step in the PRP program was to both drive the identified projects to completion using the PRP programs process and tools, and to continue to flesh out the PRP programs' capabilities. Figure 2 shows how the functional components of the PRP programs begin to expand and include components to manage and deliver BI and DW projects.

Figure 2: Phase 2

Unlike the organizational set up and process, the financial area was more traditional - same type of business need in a similar business type, similar reporting requirements and user audiences. Characteristics of the financial opportunity:

  • The capability to use architecture components deployed in one for the other: OLAP tool, source to target mappings and data models.
  • Security needs on the two projects unique to financial data can be reused across the enterprise.
  • Future reporting needs common to both areas identified and planned for: compliance and risk management.
  • Project was using differing methodologies.
  • Project management and measurement was scattered across functions with no accountability.
  • Best practice project workflow was not being utilized causing a disconnect in the business requirements and planned technology decisions.

In concluding the project, two key success metrics were both met. One, reducing the development budget for the financial application by 30 percent. Secondly, increasing the acceptance rate and the speed of the BI application deployment by 20 percent over previous projects.

The second major finding and recommendation presented during the post project review was that it was clearly evident that for the PRP program to prosper and be effective the project and functional components had to become automated. That is - the process and functional components must exist under a software architecture that integrates all aspects of PRP. The ability to have one source, one place where the PRP team, developers, users, managers, etc., could go to review a best practice methodology or review a data model used on a project oversees or to store all their project data ... is the key to long-term PRP capability.

A sound process without the proper tools is like trying to build a house from architectural blueprints with just a hammer and a saw by yourself. You'll get the job done eventually, but it won't be close to the most efficient or effective way of operating. Just like when building BI and DW applications, PRP is most effective when the right process is supported by the right people and an integrated PRP software capability.


For more information on related topics visit the following related portals...
Business Intelligence and Project Management / Development.

John Onder, partner in Chicago Business Intelligence Group, has extensive experience in all facets of providing information technology services, business reengineering, system assessment and planning services. He has in-depth expertise in business planning and practical implementation of data warehouse applications across many industries. Onder can be reached at jonder@chicagobigroup.com.

Don Arendarczyk, partner in Chicago Business Intelligence Group, has nine years of experience in business technology consulting focused on business intelligence and strategic reporting applications. He has managed many projects utilizing and enforcing proven development methodologies. Arendarczyk can be reached at don.arendarczyk@chicagobigroup.com.

Chris Ford, partner in Chicago Business Intelligence Group, has eleven years of consulting experience in information technology, strategy and process with a strong background in client delivery. Ford has deep expertise in data architecture, technical architecture planning, business intelligence technology delivery and integration, business intelligence life cycle project management and rapid value delivery. He can be reached at chris.ford@chicagobigroup.com.

John G. Harmann, partner in Chicago Business Intelligence Group, has ten years of client experience managing technical teams, designing system architectures and performing technical development. His key areas of focus are business intelligence technical design, including ETL interfaces, database and security design, and application development. Harmann can be reached at john.harmann@chicagobigroup.com.

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