A leading company from the retail industry improves project management

Géant Poland, a company operating in the retail industry, has simplified and streamlined its project portfolio management system based on Microsoft Enterprise Project Management (EPM). Thus the company has eliminated problems arising from the lack of comparability of project data. Deciding on Microsoft Géant Poland has unified set of project documentation and assured their standardization and conformity with the used PRINCE2® methodology. Thanks to EPM project managers have a single, common place to store all documentation, project team members report the progress of the work in one tool, IT staff appreciate the ease of using the system and management has new analytical and reporting tools.

The situation

Casino Group in Poland
Casino Group has been present in Poland since 1996. Currently it employs over 8,500 employees. The company develops two shopping formats: Géant hypermarkets and Leader Price supermarkets. 18 hypermarkets of Géant are located in major Polish cities. Each of them has an average sales area of over 10,000 sq meters and is surrounded by a shopping center – an elegant arcade where dozens of stores offering branded merchandise and service outlets and restaurant are located. Casino Group’s net sales totaled over 3.6 billion in 2004.

The assortment
More than 90% of Géant’s offer is produced by Polish producers. Each Géant hypermarket has about 40,000 food, industrial, textile and electronics products. The offer also includes a wide selection of food and industrial assortments of Géant’s own brand – Leader Price, and also Tattoo – own brand of textiles.
Paying utmost importance to the quality of the sold products Géant has implemented the HACCP system. It ensures maintenance of adequate standards of hygiene and food safety.

Casino Group in the world
Casino Group employs over 200,000 employees in 15 countries on four continents. Over the past eight years, Casino Group has expanded its activities both in France, where its leadership is unquestioned, and in the world – opening 181 hypermarkets outside of its native country, including 16 consecutive ones in Poland.

Project management
The responsibility for project management is delegated to 5 project managers who work with twenty members of project teams. To implement projects the company uses the PRINCE2 methodology – knowledge of this methodology was one of the criteria when selecting suppliers.

Géant uses Windows XP as an operating system for personal computers in the company. The operating system is constantly updated via the Internet. – “The IT environment of Géant Poland is homogeneous – all computerized workstations are running under the control of Microsoft software. The use of Word and Excel is natural and extends the analytical capabilities of the system”- says Herve Riocreux, IT Director of Géant Poland.

Problems
Problems of managing a portfolio of projects began at the stage of initialization. Each project team member held the project documentation in his own way – in his own folders and in his own templates and formats. As there was no common templates used in the project documents it was difficult to analyze and compare information.
Keeping information in different formats and locations made it difficult to plan a new initiative, because the information was dispersed.
A project manager had data on his own projects but there was no common pool of resources. So if something has changed in a single project or there was a new project planned, the impact of the amended or new project on the other projects was not visible.
For those reasons it was difficult to communicate and share data, and it resulted in the need for additional work – tells Mariusz Leszczynski: “While planning a project it was necessary to ask all workers and project leaders about their availability”. Not seeing the effects of changes right away it was difficult to coordinate planning activities.

The solution

Microsoft Enterprise Project Management (EPM) has facilitated reporting for all project participants – team members, a project manager and a steering committee. Views of reporting, as defined in the course of implementation, are available for persons with one click and all project documents (as defined templates) are collected in one place.

One of the main requirements of the project was that it had to be “up & running” in 1 month.
Therefore, the key was to coordinate the project in such a way to achive this deadline. Finishing the project within 1 month was also possible due to obtaining a common vision of a solution fast, what has allowed quick transition to the phase of implementation and testing. As Robert Rosłon, Project Manager of Fild.NET, puts it: – “Experience of Fild.NET with the PRINCE2® methodology from previous projects, combined with the flexibility of the Microsoft EPM platform allowed us to design a solution that would significantly increase the ergonomics of work.”

The created Enterprise Project Management system is based on Windows 2003 Server and Microsoft SQL Server 2000. The system has custom Project Web Access views defined for executives of Géant Poland. These views are grouped by type of projects or project status – in accordance with the existing way of working in Géant Poland.
Each project, apart from the standard indicators of data calculated automatically, is also described using graphical indicators, divided into three groups depending on the level of deviations that occur in a project.

The structure of the documents in the project management system is based on the standards of PRINCE2 ® and adapted to project work according to this methodology.
Functional workspace of projects has been extended significantly in the new system. It has been adapted to the specific requirements of Géant Poland including supporting the work of the project team working in accordance with PRINCE2 ®.
In the last stage of work there has been created a user manual divided into sections for each role defined in the project management system. There were also conducted workshops for project managers, on which they got familiar with the functionality of the Enterprise Project Management solution.

Users as well as project managers have access to the system by a browser. For this reasons it is possible to work remotely with the system if an employee has access to the intranet.

Benefits

Géant Poland has realized how important factors are comfort and habits of users and compliance with standards.

“You can like or dislike Microsoft programs but Office has become such a strong standard that other solutions seem to be artificial and awkward. Users take advantage of Microsoft software proficiently and intuitively, even without having IT knowledge. Also, from our point of view – as IT professionals – it is a better solution for us, because it ensures that we maintain a homogeneous computing environment in the company “- says Marcin Krasowski.

Simple project portfolio management
By creating a set of views in accordance with the requirements of the management of the company, an overview of projects according to the most important criteria is available instantly. It is possible as the projects contain a set of required indicators (external and total costs, project type, project status, deviation from the schedule, the person responsible), which were previously scattered in separate reports. The grouping of data in the most watched formats allows you to find out quickly what is the status of work and to take corrective steps if necessary.
The use of EPM has made it easier for IT department to manage the IT infrastructure in the company. Through the use of Microsoft licenses it was possible to both solve a specific business need and maintain a homogeneous computing environment.

Simple reporting
The project management system saves at least 2 days per month of a project manager, who until now dedicated it to the consolidation of data and reducing it to a common denominator. Currently, when there is no need to enter data on implementation of working time (members of teams do it themselves), the project manager can focus on analyzing and planning of activities instead of fighting with technology and data conversion. Consequently, the expected effect of the new solution is to uncover new opportunities and increase efficiency in the projects.

Easy management of project documentation
The project documentation, especially when a formal method is used in an organization, is a very important element in ensuring high quality products of the projects. Having collected the used templates in one place in a form of Document Library, a project manager has access not only to the current version of each document but also knows which document and when should be used.

More efficient risk management
With the scale and scope of the projects in Géant Poland, appropriate risk management is a necessary component of the decision-making process. EPM mechanisms allow the company to find out quickly the status of the risks and take appropriate actions.

Secure planning
In the old “manual” solution there was a danger of missing important data or making a wrong decision because of a lack of data when planning new projects. With Microsoft EPM this risk is very limited as the system allows for reviewing all projects in one place and analyzing the impact of one project to another.

Minimum training
Thanks to the already well-known technology there was required only a short training course for project managers. For each of the roles (Project Manager, team member, director) there was prepared and conducted customized training. Start of work in the new environment was easy as both Project 2003 and the intranet environment of Project Web Access are very easy to adapt to the needs of each of the mentioned groups of users.

Microsoft Office Enterprise Project Management (EPM)

Microsoft Project Server is a platform that supports project management processes and resources, and also provides the possibility of cooperation in the framework of the EPM solution.
Users connect to Project Server using Project Professional software or Project Web Access in order to save the data on Project Server, and to collect or collaborate on the data. To benefit from the opportunities offered by the Microsoft Windows SharePoint Services ™ environment such as document management and project issue tracking and assessing their risk, Project Server 2003 must be installed on Microsoft Windows Server 2003. Windows SharePoint Services is a component of Windows Server 2003, which allows users to create Web sites designed to share information and work together on documents.