Struggling with minimal visibility of projects and a lack of consistency, the national service body for dairy farmers and industry, Dairy Australia (DA), identified a need to upgrade its project management and financial systems.
The organisation, funded by a combination of the Federal Government, a levy and leveraged funds, invests in projects that are often unreachable for independent farmers.
With many research and development projects outsourced to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and universities, the organisation needed visibility not only to track the deliverables of each project but also the milestones, budgeting, forecasting and reporting on subcontracts when required.
Speaking to Computerworld Australia, DA program manager, John Steer, said there were constant struggles with duplicated workloads, a lack of conformity between different departments and having to manually migrate information was time consuming, costly and prone to errors.
“We needed to not only address the project and subcontract issues in the organisation, but also create consistency across the organisation,” said DA program manager, John Steer.
In September last year, the organisation conducted a feasibility study in order to identify requirements, following which a number of vendors were considered including Computer Associates’ Clarity Project Portfolio Management and IFS’ project management applications.
The latter was chosen as it was cheaper to implement and required less training for staff.
In-depth: How to create a clear project plan.
A pilot system was built by December and ran in parallel to the existing system until January 2011 by which time the system had undergone extensive testing and debugging.
“By February all we had to do was flick the switch over, without any disruptions to the day-to-day activities,” Steer said.
“Everything went smoothly without any major mishaps.”
According to Steer, since implementing the project management system, the organisation has much better visibility or the entire organisation and all of the projects on the go, including the subcontracts.
“Being able to forecast and track budgets against a project has allowed for much better utilisation of resources,” Steer said.
“It has allowed the executive team to make more informed choices when making investments in projects to support the dairy industry.
“Processes and reporting are now standardised, clear and concise, where everyone has access to the information in one database,” he said.
“We have removed duplication in workloads, and consequently the quality of information has improved dramatically.”
One of the main challenges, Steer said, was being clear about what the organisation wants from the beginning.
“IFS were very good at meeting our requirements and could do anything we wanted, but we had to be sure about the outcomes we required from the beginning,” he said.
“I’d also recommend that you ensure your consulting team is highly competent and knowledgeable.”
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