LandCorp swaps out in-house system

Western Australian land and infrastructure project manager LandCorp is in the process of overhauling its core project portfolio management (PPM) system, with an aim for completion by the end of this year.

Western Australian land and infrastructure project manager LandCorp is in the process of overhauling its core project portfolio management (PPM) system, aiming to complete the project by the end of this year.

Speaking at the CA World Expo 2011 in Sydney yesterday, LandCorp chief financial officer Frank Marra provided an overview of how the company is transitioning its IT systems to CA Technologies' Clarity PPM.

The company's existing Landinfo system was created in-house in 1995 and modified extensively to add functionality. LandCorp currently uses the system to provide forecasting on financials, undertake contract reviews and procurement, as well as store information on projects, among other functions.

Although the system has served the company well, Marra said that it is text and numerical based, so not very intuitive. He said that staff were reluctant to use it and in some instances had created their own Microsoft Excel and Access databases to achieve what they wanted. Furthermore, Marra said that the system was hard to update, especially as business logic was hard-coded into the software.

In order to determine what it would need in a new system, LandCorp brought on a consultant in late 2007 to examine how well the company's existing system fit its business needs. The consultant found that the company's existing solution met only 26 per cent of its business needs.

The review also found that the company's existing systems were out of date and were at risk of being discontinued, its storage capacity was too small to support future growth and its reporting functions were limited.

However, the company didn't feel comfortable to proceed with an update of its systems as it wasn't confident that all of its needs could be met. Instead, it delayed the project by a year, employing an experienced executive who had been through a similar process for advice. Additionally, LandCorp spent seven months to establish a business case, then a further six-month review of the recommendations from the business case, and then finally spent five months mapping its current business processes to determine what it needed from a new system.

"We did all of this pre-work well before we even started talking about what sort of IT system we were going to have," Marra said.

Once the company selected a system, it spent 25 per cent of its total budget on developing a pilot, and employed a full-time change manager to assist with the transition.

It also undertook gateway reviews at significant points of the project, such as the business case stage, design documentation stage, or at the award of the tenders, bringing in an external audit team to review activities and ensure the company was coming in on budget and on time.

Now that the project is in the delivery phase, Marra said the company had to be mindful not to let the project get too far off track.

"We have a very strong focus on scope management, both to manage cost, but also time. We understand very clearly that once a project is in the delivery phase, you want to stick to its time frame otherwise it can cook too long and the scope can get very much blown out."

He expects configuration of the PPM to occur in September this year and user acceptance testing to happen in October. Staff training will occur shortly after in November.

Marra expects new staff to be trained within a week on the new system. Massa also said that the new system would provide the company with greater capacity to manage its projects, including being able to represent data graphically, while also providing its users with configurable dashboards to present data as they need it rather than resorting to creating their own spreadsheets and databases.

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