”I should have moved on from manual reporting a long time ago”
Given the chance, Lassila & Tikanoja’s Development Manager Kim Jokilahti would do only one thing differently when it comes to the portfolio management application used by the company today. He would adopt it much earlier.
Lassila & Tikanoja is a highly diversified listed company that adopted project portfolio thinking last year. After producing portfolio reports manually from various files for a year, Development Manager Kim Jokilahti had had enough. He decided the company needed a purpose-built application for portfolio management.
– I knew that there was a product for this on the market. I got in touch with Thinking Business to find out if they could ease the pain of manual reporting, he explains.
Simplicity is the key
The company has now implemented the Thinking Portfolio platform for portfolio management, with all company projects organised in project portfolios.
Development Manager Kim Jokilahti is pleased with the application.
– One of the key advantages of this application is its ease of use. It required very little training for the personnel who use it. The feedback from project managers has been positive all around.
According to Jokilahti, the portfolio management application has fulfilled the original need, which was to eliminate manual reporting. The new application has also opened up opportunities for better reporting quality.
– The system has a number of excellent built-in reports, but we also plan to create new customised reports for our needs. The reports give us new perspectives on our project portfolio, which directly contributes to the improved quality of our strategic management.
Achieving the expected benefits
Jokilahti says the most significant benefit the company enjoys from portfolio management is having everyone be fully aware of what projects are currently underway, also in the Development Unit.
– In terms of developing our business operations, many of our projects are IT-related but they were previously not included in the project portfolio. Now that we have all our projects in the portfolio, the senior management can easily assess the monetary value of each project.
Project management thinking has also contributed to better prioritisation of projects. Jokilahti feels that decision-making now happens at the optimal place. As a result, project managers can focus on their projects better and project execution is improved.
– Now everyone knows the priorities and the order in which projects are carried out. This was one of the main aspects we sought to improve. It was a clear expected benefit that we have since achieved.
Senior management satisfaction
The portfolio management approach often gets off to a good start in a company, only to be compromised by the senior management not adopting portfolio thinking as a genuine instrument for strategic management.
Fortunately, this is not the case with Lassila & Tikanoja. According to Jokilahti, the shift to portfolio management thinking began with the senior management and they are committed to this new way of working.
– The senior management here is the biggest proponent of portfolio thinking we have! Group executives now have a much more accurate view of what is going on. Portfolio management has increased awareness of how corporate strategy can be implemented through projects.
Jokilahti adds that senior management has been particularly satisfied with the quality and clarity of the new portfolio management reports.
– They have already become so accustomed to the new system that if I were to miss one month of reporting, they would immediately wonder what is wrong.
A carrot for project managers
In Jokilahti’s view, the key challenges facing portfolio thinking lies in motivating project managers with full workloads to actively update the portfolio.
– I am a project manager myself, so I am well aware of this perennial problem. When we implemented the new application, we promised the project managers they would not need to spend more time on reporting than before.
So far, this promise has been kept. Jokilahti also envisions further incentives for project managers in the form of new types of reports produced by the portfolio management application to make their work easier.
And what would Development Manager Jokilahti do differently if he had the chance to go back to the pilot phase of the portfolio management application?
– I would start using this application earlier! I spent nearly a full year doing reporting manually. I might also devote more of my own time to the proof of concept phase. Had I spent more time on that, we would have reached this point faster.
Text: Meri Eskola
Photo: Lassila & Tikanoja
Development Manager, Lassila & Tikanoja Plc
“Lassila & Tikanoja specialises in environmental management and property and plant support services and is a leading supplier of wood-based biofuels, recovered fuels and recycled raw materials. With operations in Finland, Sweden, Latvia and Russia, L&T employs 10,000 persons. Net sales in 2010 amounted to EUR 598 million. L&T is listed on NASDAQ OMX Helsinki.”