Ontic’s complex business model, therefore, carries unique challenges, requiring an adaptable approach to project, programme, and portfolio management, according to Javier. “We occupy a niche industry position,” he explains. “We only deal in legacy products, either by licencing manufacturing rights or fully acquiring product lines. Every project represents a licensed transition of some sort, but no two projects are the same. We walk an interesting line between maintaining structure and process whilst responding dynamically to different project parameters.”
I don’t think I have ever worked with another consultancy firm that has proven their commitment to a long-term partnership in the way that Emma and the Wellingtone team have.
Scoping, Designing and Resourcing the PMO
Launching and resourcing a PMO with the capability to flex to these conditions has been an exciting process, Chad says. “Our skilled people are experts in their fields. But, before 2018, there was no dedicated PMO capacity to drive the visibility, tools and processes needed to support that expertise. At that time, we were also being acquired by a private equity firm. Naturally, we wanted to be prepared for the anticipated growth. So, in discussion with our CEO, we decided to establish a formal PMO. Javier and I embarked on that path together.”
The initial steps (spanning January 2019 to July 2020) were to scope the PMO’s role and framework, secure approval for the business case, build the PMO team and identify a supporting PPM tool. “We reviewed five or six top tier project management solutions including Project Online” Javier recalls. “Then Dave – who began heading up the UK PMO in February 2019 – attended Wellingtone’s annual conference, FuturePMO. There, he observed Wellingtone’s expertise in configuring Microsoft’s capabilities to provide what we were looking for.”
At Future PMO, Dave also met Emma Arnaz-Pemberton, Director of Consultancy Services at Wellingtone. It was the beginning of a value-adding relationship. “At the beginning of 2020, we organised an internal PMO conference to define our requirements for Project Online,” says Chad. “Emma attended and facilitated the production of the scoping document. By mid-2020, Wellingtone had built the solution and helped us to roll it out and onboard users. At the same time, we began work on our governance framework. By September 2020, we had established a dynamic PMO framework, built the team, rolled out a powerful solution with Project Online and built robust governance processes. We felt extremely proud of our progress! But we also recognised that an independent review would help us to benchmark our achievements and clarify priorities for the road ahead. So, we asked Emma to perform that review at the end of 2020.”
A Strategic Partner on the Path to PMO Maturity
Emma engaged with Ontic’s business partners, teams at each PMO site, and key players in the customer/supplier ecosystem, before producing a comprehensive report. “That report was a key input into our maturity roadmap,” Chad continues. “Emma helped us to understand our position at that point and target strategic areas to step us up to level four maturity – our overarching achievement for 2021. Emma’s extensive PMO knowledge has been invaluable. My general experience of consultants is that, often, they don’t take the time to understand the bigger picture. They execute on their contracted task and then move on. Emma takes a different approach. She comes with the credentials and background that really inspire confidence. Because she has got to know us so well, she is ideally placed not just to support our maturity roadmap, but also to pinpoint strategic solutions to specific challenges. For example, we are currently running a global business improvement initiative. Those projects are led by people who really know their stuff but do not have formal project management training and so are not equipped to easily utilise Project Online’s full capabilities. Because Emma knows our business and knows what we are trying to achieve, she was quickly able to identify Project for the Web as an appropriate, lighter touch solution. For Emma, and for Wellingtone as a company, it’s not about dollars and cents. It’s about travelling the road with you. I don’t think I have ever worked with another consultancy firm that has proven their commitment to a long-term partnership in the way that Emma and the Wellingtone team have.”
Javier agrees. “Our partnership with Emma and Wellingtone has been two years in the making, but because they have taken the time to understand our business model and requirements, we enjoy a much better product. I don’t think Wellingtone have ever simply said ‘no’. Their response to any request, no matter how challenging, is ‘let’s figure out a solution that works for you and gets you where you need to go’.”
Dave, meanwhile, finds Emma’s upfront approach refreshing. “I enjoy the fact that, when we make a request, Emma challenges us to reflect on our thinking and whether we are actually looking at the best solution. She is educating us by encouraging us to think about the issue from different angles. I have learned a lot from Emma, and I appreciate that process and the benefits our dialogue generates.”
Looking ahead, the Ontic team is geared up to continue delivering further PMO improvement in 2022 and beyond. “We have come a long way,” says Javier, “we are delighted to have reached maturity level four, supported by a powerful PPM tool that provides us with a single source of truth. A critical priority for 2022 will be configuring Power BI to help us manage our capacity planning, so that we make fast, informed decisions about pipeline capacity when we consider new M&A and licensing deals.”
Chad agrees, and he is looking forward to further developing the roadmap in 2022.
In just three years, we have travelled from manual project management to a PMO that we consider fit to put its name forward for a globally recognised award. That’s a huge achievement, and it is a journey that would not have been possible without the support of Emma and the Wellingtone team.