Johannesburg, 29 May 2023
Mondi, which positions itself as a leader in packaging and paper, has successfully used Project Portfolio Office’s cloud-based project management software, PPO, at its mills based in Richards Bay and Merebank, KwaZulu-Natal, to deliver close to 2 500 capex projects.
A multinational packaging and paper group with around 100 production sites across more than 30 countries, Mondi’s Richards Bay mill produces two key products: Baycel, a premier grade bleached hardwood pulp made from 100% eucalyptus fibre, and Baywhite, a white top kraft linerboard. The organisation’s Merebank mill produces a range of office paper products including the premium local brand, Mondi Rotatrim, as well as a range of uncoated wood-free reels for the South African and sub-Saharan African markets.
Mondi’s head of project control, Denish Naidoo, explains that in 2011, the company wanted to implement the right project management software in order to create a one-stop shop for project managers at the two mills, which would centralise all of its capex processes, guidelines and information into one place.
“At the time, although we had systems in place, they were older and very dispersed. So our project managers had to deal with project-related information sitting in one place and budgets in another, then link this data to engineering standards kept on a separate platform, with document control also found in a different folder.
“The main driver for us was thus to find a project management software that would allow our project managers to access everything they needed for a project in one place. In addition, it was critical that the lengthy manual document control and reporting processes be automated for improved productivity and management.”
Looking at project management software 11 years ago...
In 2011, once Mondi had kicked off its research on available project management software offerings within the marketplace, the organisation received a recommendation on the PPO cloud-based project and portfolio management software through its global referral network.
“Following reference site visits at existing clients, we decided to implement PPO,” says Naidoo. “Our experience was that both end-users – one a major local brewery and the other a large financial institution – were very impressed with PPO and shared with us how they had each made the project management software tool their own.
“These visits also allayed any queries we had around security of information, as it was proven that, to be used by organisations of this type and calibre, the right security measures were definitely in place. It was clear from these visits that PPO would definitely make our lives much easier too. This was very important to ensure user adoption, as we didn’t want to implement project management software that would end up creating more work for our project managers.”
Today, PPO completely integrates Mondi’s capex investment approval process, and all approved capex items are seamlessly added as projects into the project management software, states Guy Jelley, CEO and co-founder of Project Portfolio Office. “This facilitates the capex approval process, including documents, governance and project changes; manages the process of recording and tracking of end-to-end engineering and business-related activities associated with the delivery of capex investments, including drawings, master data, expediting and engineering capacity; and automates the necessary project controls governing the capex delivery process.”
In 2011, Mondi’s roll-out of PPO and its integration of the capex process started with the introduction of automated project status reporting. “These allowed our project managers to see everything related to their projects at a glance, from projects statuses to budgets and so on. We started with a first-line filter, essentially a system used to prioritise and manage capex investment requests. Through its integration with PPO, any capex investment concept or idea that was taken forward as a formal project would then be released into PPO, and this would automatically pull through all related data to the project management software.”
This has been very helpful to Mondi in terms of eliminating duplication of work and other errors, Naidoo continues, as the same data that the originator envisaged for the capex investment is transferred into PPO, meaning that the project manager works with original data in PPO and outlines the project charter at that stage.
Furthermore, PPO‘s pre-configured solution based on project management best practice is designed to make navigation intuitive for both project manager and non-project manager resources alike. “Mondi has several different audiences involved with projects, aside from our project managers, including engineering resources and construction managers. From a management perspective, a business manager would be able to view his portfolio for a specific area of the plant in PPO, for instance, with the right permissions and restrictions in place.
“PPO most definitely ticked our centralisation requirement box. Having everything in one project management system has eased our project managers’ lives and, from a reporting side, has allowed us to manage the full portfolio.”
Why PPO today?
Now, 11 years later, Mondi is still using PPO, with the project management software supporting changes and developments within the environment over these years. This has included newer add-ons to further facilitate key capex management processes, such as master data expediting and the management of engineering resources capacity.
Says Naidoo: “PPO has assisted with the delivery of almost 2 500 capex projects, an incredible achievement. We simply couldn’t imagine doing this manually and on paper. Working out how our project management productivity has improved over the past decade, the number is quite significant, with a very conservative estimate of at least 20%.
“Over this time, we’ve aligned PPO even more closely to our community’s way of working, consistently proving the tool’s continued validity and looking for improvement opportunities at all times.”
A real enhancement that Mondi has seen over the years, as reflected in audit findings, has been how the environment addresses scope change approvals. “When we implemented the system 11 years ago, we didn’t have workflow built in, and now we’ve included project change approval, which has helped improve the processes when there are changes on a project. Our governance has really improved and this has also been highlighted from an auditing perspective. It was a really good governance control mechanism to have in place.”
Naidoo notes that, in his view, PPO is far superior to any other project management software he has come across. “The user friendliness, the information we have access to and the speedy reporting are all examples of this. The fundamental difference with PPO is that you can make the system work for you, and vice versa. It is far less rigid than competitive solutions.”
Looking into the future, Naidoo would like to see PPO integrated even further into Mondi systems. “We’ve started this process with its integration into our new CAR (capex approval request) system. And while PPO is integrated with our ERP system to provide a single source of the capex investment portfolio, we would also like to investigate deeper integration of PPO here as a further development, as well as with Mondi’s group project portfolio management (PPM) system,” he concludes.
Project Portfolio Office
Project Portfolio Office helps organisations achieve greater project success by assisting at every level of the project and portfolio management (PPM) process. From consulting to businesses on how to build a successful Project Management Office (PMO), to delivering the capabilities needed for effective project delivery, Project Portfolio Office can provide the services and solutions needed for companies to improve execution within a competitive business environment. This includes its PPM tool, PPO, which is used to plan, manage, collaborate, execute and report on their projects, programmes and portfolios.
Project Portfolio Office (PPO) is committed to advancing the project management profession through support of the Project Management South Africa’s (PMSA) invitation only PMO Forum. The PMO Forum, aimed at senior PMO practitioners, is part of a series of forums presented by industry thought leaders. The forum hosted by Project Portfolio Office offers a quarterly opportunity for discussion and knowledge transfer by means of case studies, best practices, research outcomes and lessons learned presented.
As an active player in growing the project portfolio management profession Project Portfolio Office manages and coordinates the South African PMO Awards competition. This annual competition identifies and recognises PMOs that are delivering value to their organisations. The winners get to suit up and tango with the best on the global stage through the annual PMO Global Awards.