Transcontinental Printing - Microsoft Project Customer Solution Case Study

“The EPM Solution is already helping us to identify those programs, who will manage them, and how to start each project within the overall deployment – it’s streamlining and simplifying a huge, complex process.”

Serge Locas, Director, Project Management Office, Transcontinental Inc.

Transcontinental Inc. began as a family-owned printing company, and has grown through acquisition to be the seventh-largest printer in North America and the fourth-largest print media group in Canada. Headquartered in Montreal, the company has more than 14,000 employees throughout North America, and had 2004 revenues of $2.05 billion. With operations distributed across three sectors and a wide geographic area, Transcontinental wanted to create a centralized project management office for its IT department to enable it to allocate resources adequately, and help ensure projects are delivered on time and on budget. Transcontinental worked with Microsoft® Project Solution Partner HMS Software to deploy a Microsoft Office Enterprise Project Management (EPM) Solution. After rolling out the solution, Transcontinental’s IT department is better able to collaborate on projects, and managers are benefiting from a single system to track 100 per cent of IT resources across the company.

As Canada’s leading printer in the flyer, book and newspaper niches, and the country’s strong second in magazines, catalogues, directories and other commercial products, Transcontinental operates across three sectors and a geographic platform that spans the North American market.

The distributed nature of the company’s workforce makes it challenging to manage resources used in multiple areas, and facilitate staff collaboration on projects. In order to ensure crucial IT projects were completed on time and on budget, Transcontinental’s 100-person IT department in particular needed a way to collaborate and allocate resources more effectively.

"Our IT resources are involved in many different projects across the company, and we needed a solution to help us understand the best way to allocate them for our overall benefit,” says Serge Locas, Director, Project Management Office, Transcontinental Inc. “We needed a central database for all projects and resources, including the ongoing operational support our team provides to the company.”

When Transcontinental began a program to deploy a new ERP system across its printing division, it triggered the immediate need for a project management solution within the IT department, with a view to extending the application to other areas of the company wherever it would prove beneficial.

Transcontinental examined a number of technology options before choosing to implement a Microsoft® Office Enterprise Project Management (EPM) Solution. Microsoft Project Solution partner HMS Software of Montreal helped the printing company install and configure the application in a test environment, before rolling it out to Transcontinental’s pilot group of users – the IT department.

“Transcontinental was already using a lot of Microsoft technology, including Microsoft Project, but the Project Server piece was missing – they needed a way to tie users together,” says Chris Vandersluis, president, HMS Software. “To help their people collaborate better, we worked on establishing the server side of Microsoft Project, and getting those project management users who already had experience to link their data directly into a centralized source.”

The Microsoft Office EPM Solution combines Project Server 2003, Project Professional 2003 and Project Web Access, bringing together client, server and Web-based technologies to enable organizations, departments and teams to manage company-wide projects and align business initiatives for better results.

To implement the EPM Solution at Transcontinental, HMS Software extended the existing technology infrastructure with newer versions of Microsoft software, including Microsoft Windows® 2003, Windows SharePoint™ Services and SQL Server™ 2000.

The roll-out of the EPM Solution pilot was a six-month process from start to finish. According to Locas, Transcontinental’s IT team will need another year to determine and implement all the necessary functions embedded in the software.

“We haven’t yet deployed everything available to us within the EPM Solution – there’s a learning curve in understanding exactly how we manage an IT project and how that is different from an operational support function,” Locas says. “The rest of 2005 will be more oriented to resource management and determining how to best allocate resources using the solution. And gradually, we will transfer all the projects we want onto the platform.”

Transcontinental deployed the Microsoft Office Enterprise Project Management Solution to track all the projects and related tasks its IT staff will do over the next few years. The solution is already proving to be beneficial in enabling Transcontinental to begin tackling its major ERP deployment within its printing division.

“We are planning to deploy our ERP solution over the next three years, and each phase of deployment will be a project with its own program or project portfolio,” says Locas.

“The EPM Solution is already helping us to identify those programs, who will manage them, and how to start each project within the overall deployment – it’s streamlining and simplifying a huge, complex process.”

Serge Locas, Director, Project Management Office, Transcontinental Inc.

With the EPM Solution, Transcontinental’s IT department can leverage its powerful resource management capabilities to help assess resource efficiency and activity across diverse projects more accurately. This enables the consistent tracking of resource use and workload, helping the company to optimize resource allocation from a central resource pool.

“Before implementing the Microsoft Office EPM Solution, Transcontinental had no single system where they could look and see 100 per cent of their resource and project data,” says Vandersluis. “Now they have a centralized system with complete visibility, which helps them better allocate where resources should go and better prioritize the workload.”

Effective communication is essential to achieve project success. With clear communication processes, Transcontinental’s IT team can share knowledge, work together smoothly to complete tasks, and respond quickly to change. The Microsoft Office EPM Solution provides an infrastructure that helps strengthen collaboration and accountability among all levels of the organization.

“The big challenge for project managers in large organizations is just getting the communication element of their projects to work,” says Vandersluis. “With Microsoft® Windows® SharePoint® Services, project team members are able to receive information about tasks over the Web, right inside Microsoft Outlook® via e-mail, and through familiar interfaces that allow them to collaborate more easily.”

With a vision to achieve more efficiency and cost savings through streamlining and automating the project management process within the IT department, Transcontinental is now positioned to extend the functionality of Microsoft Office EPM Solution to other areas of the company.

“Microsoft Office EPM Solution has given us a much needed central database of projects and resources in the IT department. This has enabled us to achieve the best allocation of resources, and helped us improve the percentage of deliveries on time, on budget, for all our projects,” says Locas.

“From here, we are focusing on moving the organization from the functional way of doing things to a project way of doing things. It’s a long process, and there’s a considerable change we need to implement to shift the way Transcontinental works within the company. But that is our long-term goal with the EPM Solution.”