When Pittsburgh-based Mellon Financial wanted to improve its project management techniques, it was only natural that it embrace the softwaredevelopment framework of its crosstown neighbor, Carnegie-Mellon University (CMU).
For two years, Mellon has been focused on building a top-flight project management capability based on the Capability Maturity Model (CMM), a five-step evolutionary framework developed by CMU's Software Engineering Institute. The collaboration between Mellon and CMU-institutional descendants of two giants of American finance-is founded on a shared vision of 21st-century software development techniques.
"We wanted to be able to say that with any project being done at Mellon, there is a certain level of confidence in how we gather business requirements, design, code, test, and roll out," said Andrew Wasser, vice president and director at Mellon's Project Office.
Comprising 1,200 people at offices in Pittsburgh, Boston, and London, Mellon's Software Engineering Group maintains some 200 active projects, not including ongoing maintenance. "Unlike just about any other profession, anyone can call themselves a consultant or software developer," Wasser said. "There's a real distinction between companies that practice professional software engineering approaches and those that are just winging it."
So far, the bank's retail and trust technology divisions have achieved Level 2 CMM certification. Certification for seven other lines of business is expected by the end of the year.
Yet for all its progress, the project management tools at Mellon's disposal were relatively primitive. An in-house data extraction system captured project data, which was then passed to desktop products like Word, Excel and Microsoft Project for manipulation.
"There's a lot of manual effort going on now to manage the project management practice," said Todd Veness, vice president and manager of the project tracking and metrics group at the Mellon Project Office. "We were looking for something where we can schedule in one place, and report on the project off that one spot instead of doing work in a bunch of different places."
What was needed was a resource management and scheduling tool capable of measuring and benchmarking each project's success. The group began looking at a class of software products called service process optimization (SPO). Originally developed for professional services firms, SPO products are quickly spreading to internal IT organizations, especially within financial institutions. "IT is so critical to the nature of their business, they realize they need more sophisticated systems to help manage and make sure their people are very productive," said R. David Hofferberth, research director, professional services automation at Aberdeen Group.
After a six-month search, Mellon licensed the eServices solution from Novient, Anaheim, Calif., which met the long-term objectives of predictability, time-to-market and business functionality, said Veness. "We believe the Novient tool can support all three of those drivers. It also provided the advantage of being Web based, so we didn't have to deal with server issues." The cost to purchase and install the software was about $250,000.
Novient's eServices enables organizations to gain visibility into future service projects, match available people and skills to project requirements, and automate service delivery. Modules include time management, resource management, knowledge management, demand management, performance management, and Web collaboration.
A 200-user pilot of the Novient system is scheduled to begin in July and run six weeks. Afterwards, the product will be rolled out to the entire Software Engineering Group and possibly beyond that. "Our interest in spreading out throughout the organization will depend on the success of the initial 200 licenses," said Wasser. "It could move to the infrastructure group. It could also move to the business side as well."
"When you look at most major projects, they have interactions from legal to marketing to product management, software engineering and infrastructure. More and more of our projects are crossing silos and geographic boundaries. As that occurs, the need for this type of tool will increase."
INSTITUTION: Mellon Financial Corp.
ASSETS: $530 billion
BUSINESS CHALLENGE: To install a tool for resource management and scheduling that would support business processes and provide a mechanism for tracking project success.
SOLUTION: Novient eServices
KEY QUOTE: "More and more of our projects are crossing silos and geographic boundaries. As that occurs, the need for this type of tool will increase." - ANDREW WASSER, vp and director, Mellon Project Office