Extending Project and Portfolio Management into Infrastructure Life-Cycle Management

April 3, 2006
This process is imperative for scheduling work, tracking progress, allocating resources, and overseeing project initiatives

Ever feel as if your specialized software systems for project management and facilities management are just too specialized - disparate systems with silos of information trapped within each system? “That information that doesn't get shared across software products adds up to more than $15 billion in inefficiencies, of which the majority (or two-thirds of that cost) is borne by the building owner,” says Sue Watkins, director of marketing at Meridian Systems (www.meridiansystems.com), based in Folsom, CA. Extending Project and Portfolio Management (PPM) into Infrastructure Life-Cycle Management (ILM) is not only possible today, it’s imperative - particularly as building owners realize how adaptable such systems are in being able to scope, plan, and schedule work; track progress; allocate resources; oversee project initiatives; and integrate with other enterprise-wide applications like financials and human resources before, during, and after a facility has been built.

For facilities professionals who apply a plan-build-operate life-cycle philosophy toward their new construction and maintenance responsibilities, Watkins cites the following advantages:

Gain insight and grow smarter over time. Lessons learned from both development and maintenance projects allow owners to evaluate and build a framework to apply consistent business practices over their entire portfolio.

Save money and time on training and education. Consistent business processes, as well as a familiar, single interface (software system and program), help individuals work more effectively.

Gain the ability to strategically manage real estate and facility assets and align them with corporate objectives. By having visibility across an organization’s capital project portfolio, building professionals can achieve competitive advantage in getting new facilities online sooner.

Reduce costs associated with hardware, software, and licensing fees. One automation application throughout the plan-build-operate process saves money on software licenses and maintenance fees. By single-sourcing their solution for development and maintenance project and portfolio management, facilities professionals can save on both the initial outlay costs for hardware, network, storage, and peripherals, as well as the dollars associated with operations and upgrades.

Simplify compliance information. Auditors and compliance officers like one application that can generate the required compliance information across all phases of an organization’s product and/or services innovation for both development and operations.

When asked if there is a recommended portfolio size in which an enterprise mentality is most beneficial, Watkins replies that organizations that have a vested interest in owning and managing real estate assets over their life-cycle generally see the most compelling need for an enterprise type of system. She indicates that companies with real estate and building portfolios starting at $100 million and larger in project volume meet the demographic for such a need.

Although business drivers such as business visibility (i.e. How can I strategically manage my entire real estate portfolio when that information is stored within different departments or different systems?) and improving the collaboration and efficiency of project teams point to the viability of extending PPM into infrastructure life-cycle management, Watkins offers the following caveat: “People need to be realistic, because this is a paradigm shift. They can’t just assume that technology is going to make it all happen. It really takes this being a strategic initiative from the executive suite to be successful.”

Linda K. Monroe ([email protected]) is editorial director at Buildings magazine.

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