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Baltimore Life Manages Multiple Projects

Between changing their legacy system to Web-based and converting their policy administration system, members of theIT department at the Baltimore Life Companies (Owings Mills, MD, $750 million in assets) were feeling burned out. Loose control over project inventory left the life insurer's IT resources over-allocated, hurting undertakings in the way of efficiency. But with so many competing priorities and so little in the way of project management tools what's a company to do?

"We would have IT employees who were working on too many projects at once," says Tim Bauer, assistant vice president, director project office. "We did the best we could with respect to managing IT projects and resources with little or nothing in the way of project management tools."

Bauer, with a team of five, set out to find a solution that could meet the department's need for a multiple-project managerial tool. "We were looking for a tool that was totally resource-centric," says Bauer. "We wanted a centralized repository for all of our projects."

The group invited four vendors on site to demonstrate their products. Austin-TX-based PlanView's Enterprise Project Management Solution was one of them. "After an initial encounter with PlanView our interest was high enough that a group of us went down to PlanView's Texas headquarters for a day," says Bauer. "We wanted a tool that would help us to manage all of our projects and people and we realized that this was the tool that could do that."

Baltimore Life launched the enterprise project management solution pilot in late summer 2000. No platform changes were necessary for the installation of the Web-based solution, which runs on Baltimore Life's existing LAN, WAN and AS/400-based network and Novell (Provo, UT) servers. "Because it is Internet-based, members of our department can be anywhere in the world and report their time and manage their projects," says Bauer. PlanView provided a training course in preparation for the launch. "All of the people holding management positions in IT and a couple of IT project managers went through a day-and-a-half training process," says Bauer. The students learned how to develop a work breakdown structure, establish project duration, assign resources to tasks and develop relationships among tasks. "When we purchased the management solution we also purchased a number of days' consulting. Included in that were classes and manuals for the training that was conducted here." Training for the remainder of the IT staff took place during the testing of the pilot. "One of our unanticipated challenges was providing all of the IT staff with basic project management training," concedes Bauer.

Today the management solution is being utilized by Baltimore Life's entire IT staff. "We are now able to schedule specific people to specific tasks, for specific periods of time that are truly attainable," says John Paterson, acting vice president, information services. "This system allows us to strategically staff and plan how to do the work. We know when we set a goal whether or not it is realistic."

PlanView's product is also saving managerial planning time. "A year ago used a lot of manual effort to build spreadsheets and crunch the numbers manually to plan projects," says Bauer. "With PlanView you just have to utilize this tool and all of the information is there."

Baltimore Life plans to roll out PlanView's management solution to the entire company during the coming year. "The ultimate objective is for us to manage most, if not all, of our corporate projects and resources via PlanView," says Bauer.



COMPANY NAME: The Baltimore Life Companies, Owings Mills, MD, $750 million in assets.

LINES OF BUSINESS: Traditional life, universal life, annuities.

VENDOR/TECHNOLOGY: Novell (Provo, UT) servers; PlanView's (Austin, TX) Enterprise Project Management Solution.

THE CHALLENGE: Organize multiple IT projects.

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