|Telstra's multi-billion dollar network and IT transformation project is being driven by the successful implementation of an enterprise program management application that even has the marketing department using it for campaign management, according to the company.
Having spent the past 10 years working on developing standard company processes and the past five on IT systems to support it, Telstra's enterprise program management, or EPM, began to flourish only 18 months ago when CA's Clarity project management application was selected to manage projects over the web.
EPM is managed by the Telstra Program Office, which was established two years ago to drive the company's transformation.
Telstra Program Office lead Carolyn Smart says the office not only drives the transformation of IT work but also how programs and projects are managed across the company.
"EPM is a set of processes supported by a tool and we use EPM for all investment, and that's billions including construction, product development, and marketing," Smart says.
Telstra's EPM journey may have started as far back as the mid 1990s, but now, 18 months after its installation, 3700 people in the organisation are using Clarity to manage about 6500 projects.
"We do not see Clarity as a tool that starts in IT and grows, but see it as a tool across the enterprise," Smart says.
In 2002, before Clarity was installed, IT was asked to help the EPM initiative and built an in-house application called BIMS, which had a workflow engine and automated the approvals process. But the world of project management tended to still live separately at Telstra and most project managers continued to use Microsoft Project, Excel and the occasional Access database.
The decision to purchase Clarity was motivated by the "plethora of projects around the company" and a desire to use an "out of the box" system.
"Clarity has brought EPM to the project level and we have deployed it across all project management levels to find out the truth and health about a project," Smart says. "We had no centralised company resource management at all. We also use Clarity for benefits realisation."
In a presentation on how to effectively govern business initiatives across the enterprise at the 2008 CA Expo in Sydney earlier this month, Smart spoke about how projects at Telstra are executed using a standardised business initiative management framework with four "gating points", and there are some standardised activities for tracking and reporting.
With this methodology, whether it's a marketing or IT project, the business case is the same. The project and program status reports have a dashboard view for graphical representation of spending and other metrics.
Other parts of the business process performed in Clarity include parts of sales process, business improvement and baseline programs. It takes people through governance activities and provides project lifecycles.
"Compliance activities are done in Clarity workflow that cover legal, disability, usability," Smart says. "Even lawyers do their approvals online."
The EPM framework is also "financially enabled", so every dollar of Capital and Project expenditure can be seen.
"The financial part of Clarity is a big thing for us," Smart says. "We have had to do a fair bit of building around this. We plan at the project level, approve those, and we track dollars in the SAP financial and HR core."
The other big for Telstra is how it manages marketing and the "go to market" process.
Anything that touches the customers, such as online, TV, print, telemarketing and mailing lists, has to go through the same approval process as IT projects.
"It was a challenge to get marketing people to view campaigns as projects," Smart says. "We added extra activities in the marketing workflow as price plans are very complex and we also built in advertising copy approval. The users are non-project managers in marketing and Clarity doesn't seem too project 'managey' and we actally had a better deployment in marketing, so we are learning," she says.
Looking back over Telstra's whirlwind 18 months, Smart says the company learned a lot about implementing Clarity, stakeholder management and the right level of management in decision-making. It is now using the application completely for its 2008-2009 planning phase.
"Clarity is very configurable and some applications Telstra has purchased as part of the transformation project are not," Smart says, adding there is a paradox between configurability and complexity, and that prototyping is critical to getting users involved.
As for the desktop application users, Clarity is integrated with Microsoft Project so all core project information is reported through Clarity.
Smart says Excel is "another challenge", as planning has always been run with spreadsheets.
"We now use Clarity as single source of truth as finance is starting to understand the data more," she says.