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10:38 AM
Phil Britt
Phil Britt
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A Structured Approach

Amerisure installs Web-based solution to drive faster, more-effective and more-efficient project management.

When Ed Cullari was hired in March 2004 to run the project management office for Amerisure (Farmington Hills, Mich.; $650 million in annual premiums), the goal was to achieve more-efficient project implementation. "We wanted a structured approach that was built around a methodology," Cullari relates.

Cullari says he brought to the job a methodology that breaks projects into five distinct phases - origination, initiation, planning, execution and close. According to Cullari, each stage includes a set of defined deliverables - items that must be completed or reported. After determining the deliverables for each phase of all projects, he reviews and approves each deliverable before projects can move to the next step. This helps ensure projects stay on schedule and protects against cost creep, Cullari notes. "With a phased approach, there's more focus on planning up front," he asserts.

Previously, Amerisure used Microsoft (Redmond, Wash.) Project and Excel to produce progress reports, and users often created vastly different reports, forcing Cullari to search for the appropriate information, he relates. So, he began looking for technology that would enable him to automate the project management process in a uniform manner.

Cullari needed a solution that would enable project stakeholders to maintain updated records at each stage of all IT projects and relate progress in a unified report. Since Amerisure provides workers' compensation, contractor and manufacturer insurance programs, commercial property, and coverage enhancements through offices across a large region, the solution needed to involve remote locations as well as the home office, Cullari explains. The insurer typically has 20 to 30 projects running simultaneously.

Based on a Gartner (Stamford, Conn.) report that evaluated project management software, Cullari narrowed the list of potential vendors to Microsoft, Niku (Redwood City, Calif.; now Computer Associates), Primavera Systems (Bala Cynwyd, Pa.) and eProject (Seattle). Amerisure invited the companies to demonstrate their solutions in summer 2004.

Cullari's team determined that eProject's Web-based product - which was available both as a hosted solution or as licensed software - was the easiest to use, and it also had the lowest price, according to Cullari. So, in August 2004, Amerisure decided to go with the eProject. Because there were concerns about permitting data to be hosted on another company's servers, the insurer opted to install the software in-house, Cullari notes. Installation took about six weeks and involved adding Web and SQL servers, he relates.

Because project managers are dispersed throughout the organization, the ability to manage projects via the Web was important, Cullari stresses. The Web interface centralizes project information and "gives everyone a chance to see where we are, and allows us to move forward with the next phase" in a timely manner, he says, adding that no time is lost playing e-mail or phone tag. Further, "This gives senior management the ability to look at all of the projects and see where we are."

The eProject solution, coupled with Cullari's phased methodology, has cut project completion times by 15 percent to 20 percent, according to Cullari. Such benefits, he adds, are behind Amerisure's plan to extend eProject to the company's HR, marketing and other nontechnical departments.


Case Study Profile


Amerisure (Farmington Hills, Mich.; $650 million in annual premiums).


Workers' compensation, contractor and manufacturer insurance programs, and commercial property.


EProject project management software from Seattle-based eProject.


Streamline project management.

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