Boasting a population of nearly 270,000, Espoo is the second largest city in Finland, consisting of five tightly-knit urban areas surrounded by idyllic Finnish nature. This urban network city provides excellent access to services via well-developed infrastructure.
The Espoo Story is Espoo’s strategy for 2013-2017. The City Council decided on the matter on 10 June 2013. The Espoo Story is aimed at focusing the city’s operations in a more efficient and clear way to pursue common objectives.
The sectors and units derive individual stories and objectives through the Espoo Story and common objectives of the council term. Implementation of the Story in everyday work has already begun.
Project portfolio is part of common project practices
In 2013, the City of Espoo began development on the project model for the implementation of the Espoo Story. The development is aimed at creating a common model which contributes to the implementation of the Espoo Story across all sectors and units of the city. Espoo’s EsPro model features processes and guidelines for the implementation of programs and projects. Project portfolio management processes are also included in the project model.
Some of the city’s units have had project guidelines in place before this development project. The city-wide development spearheaded by the Espoo Story combines previous experiences with good practices from other cities. The result is a universally applicable and beneficial common model. The common model facilitates project comparison, yielding information on a project and portfolio level within and between organizational units.
Hundreds of city employees, including project managers, management teams and other project members, have already participated in training on the new project model. It takes time to permeate change within a large organization, which is why the implementation of a project of this magnitude should be approached with patience.
As a part of this development, the City of Espoo decided to pilot a Thinking Portfolio project portfolio in the spring of 2015. Program Director Päivi Hoverfält, who is responsible for the development of the project model, has been a part of the Thinking Portfolio definition and implementation project. The help of the additional information provided by the project portfolio application has been welcome. Hoverfält says that the city had tried to implement a project portfolio application in the beginning of last decade. At the time, however, the application was not sufficiently compatible with the city’s needs, and the project culture in general was not ripe for systematic project portfolio management. With development over the recent years, the need for a project portfolio has become topical once again. Certain programs and units were utilizing Excel-based project lists. This, however, did not provide the desired visibility across projects.
Thinking Portfolio won the tendering process with quality and cost-efficiency
With the help of previous experience, and getting to know various applications, the City of Espoo prepared the criteria
for scoring project portfolio application tenders for the tendering process. In addition to quality, another criterion was life cycle costs.
“Thinking Portfolio won the tendering process on both criteria. In addition to quality, we value cost-efficiency, a requirement which Thinking Portfolio meets with ease.”
Thinking Portfolio has already proven itself useful during the pilot stage, and other city units are eagerly anticipating the portfolio’s implementation. The application has been received positively among the users, who appreciate its user-friendliness and intuitiveness. Adopting the portfolio has required very little orientation. The tool provides flexibility that allows variations in the approach of each organizational unit. This, in turn, improves the flow of information, as each unit will always have access to the same information within the application, regardless of their individual procedures.
Use expanding thanks to positive user feedback
Espoo’s Thinking Portfolio project portfolio contains currently over 300 projects, programs or measures. The figure is due to grow with the implementation of the tool in other organizational units from this year’s fall onwards.
“Naturally, the first step was to implement Thinking Portfolio in units and programs that had previous experience in project portfolio processes. The pilot phase was launched in the Social and health services department, and the implementation continued in the economic balancing and productivity program TATU. Projects featuring IT solutions are currently being added to the project portfolio.
“We receive requests for expanding the use of Thinking Portfolio constantly. Next up will be research and construction projects. The tool will also be made available for all employees, as the city has discovered its benefits as a channel for communicating the city’s project and program activities.
Thinking Portfolio praised for solid collaboration
Thinking Portfolio has been acknowledged for flexibility and smooth collaboration. According to Päivi Hoverfält, the next step is to further enhance features on the program level. For example, there will likely be a need for a wider range of report types as user experience accumulates.
Government Administration, City of Espoo