Project portfolio management with Excel was too labour-intensive

When Elo was established in 2014 through the merger of two pension insurance companies, the objective was to build processes that best serve the new company’s needs. This also required the creation of a project office and the development of a project management model. First, the project portfolio was compiled in Excel and used for supporting long-term planning and operative portfolio management. However, maintaining the portfolio in Excel was labour-intensive, and there was an overall lack of transparency. “Creating portfolio reports with Excel required too much work and inventiveness,” laughs Elo’s Development Manager, Jari Torppa.

Resourcing bottlenecks exposed

When Elo began searching the markets for a suitable project portfolio solution, the goal was to improve reporting and transparency. Elo was looking for better transparency in development work, and a tool that would make resource planning easier and resources more visible. This was based on the need to have a better understanding of where development resources were allocated. Prior project-specific resource planning did not provide a sufficient overview. Thinking Portfolio has enabled Elo to plan and allocate resources more comprehensively. This provides transparency on allocated development resources while exposing any resourcing bottlenecks.

“Not only have we been able to improve the efficiency and transparency of resourcing, but having a quick overview is definitely one of the best short-term benefits we have had since implementing Thinking Portfolio. Our project portfolio status is visible to all Elo employees.”

Thinking Portfolio facilitates documentation

Jari Torppa also says that the implementation of Thinking Portfolio has helped standardise project management and steering. Various project reports, including a final report or project plan documentation, are no longer necessary, as Thinking Portfolio creates the data based on data entered into the system.

“It is great that we do not have to create separate reports everywhere. If documentation is not your forte, Thinking Portfolio will make your life a lot easier.”

Thinking Portfolio makes data easier to read

At Elo, the portfolio’s user-friendly views that provide clear views of projects have been seen as a plus in terms of communication. The management and steering groups have commented on the improved transparency and praised the improved readability. Finding all data in one place in standardised form facilitates a lot of other processes.

Elo considers Thinking Portfolio  a solid foundation for future operational planning and the monitoring of its progress. For example, in terms of resource allocation, it might be beneficial to view different sets of tasks allocated to employees by operational planning. This would help improve the overview of the resource allocation view to cover resources that fall outside the actual project operations. The company is also considering implementing a so-called agile model for development resource planning as a part of Thinking Portfolio.

Project models can also be developed with Thinking Portfolio

The implementation of Thinking Portfolio went smoothly at Elo. Elo already had a project model, but Jari Torppa does not find it impossible to implement the portfolio without an in-house model. The model could be designed during the implementation as the tool itself along with Thinking Portfolio consultants helping develop the model during workshops.

“Project portfolio implementation with Thinking Portfolio’s consultants was easy and straightforward. We have seen how easy development work is with agile methods, even during production. Furthermore, the cloud service has proven to be very reliable.”

Interviewee: Jari Torppa, Development Manager, Elo