One of the key business enabling units is the professionally managed Programme and Project Management Office (PPMO). PPMO possesses skills of project execution and control, employing a globally recognised project management practices and methodologies − including initiation, planning, execution, monitoring and control and closure. PPMO utilises these skills in successfully delivering projects and assignments across VFS Global’s business landscape. The highly skilled, professionally qualified and experienced professionals of the PPMO team are responsible for a wide range of activities spanning the project execution spectrum, ranging from:
Experienced resources have handled a variety of projects ranging from setting up single office for a business to launching a business for a new client government across multiple geographies, with sometimes over 40 sites as part of the programme. Besides, the team is very well experienced in rolling out new businesses and offices across a wide swath of geographies – all the way from Bolivia in Latin America to Philippines in South East Asia.
To put the effort in perspective, the Projects team has accumulated about 110 person-years (or 1320 person-months) equivalent of experience in rolling out more than 300 offices in about 40 countries, with over 20 major solutions and software applications, many in complex business environments and geographies, in the last five years.
While some of these projects have been delivered successfully in as little time as four weeks, some of the larger programmes and engagements have been delivered successfully over an 18 month period due to the complex nature of the solution and delivery.
With certifications like PMP and Prince 2 to back their skills and expertise gained from project executions, the PMO personnel are not only adept in translating theory into practice for successful implementations but also seek to build upon the knowledge base of the organisation continuously. PMO is proficiently structured so that the optimal utilisation of the knowledge and expertise is available at VFS Global’s disposal. The key management layer of PMO is centralised in India and is responsible for monitoring and controlling all project activities including the standard metrics around schedule, cost, scope, quality and resources.
The execution of projects is carried out by a virtual pool of resources in a decentralised manner ensuring speedy implementations, yet delivering uniform quality since the guidelines and methodologies are managed centrally. The wisdom and experience gained while project implementation in one region is successfully transferred to other regions seamlessly, often with the same resources executing the assignments in multiple geographies. This ensures that the learning curve is shortened. PMO employs additional tools such as the Microsoft Office Project 2007 or later version of the software, an enterprise wide EPM (Enterprise Project Management software) Tool, Visio and other Microsoft Office products.
All new projects managed by the PMO team are meticulously planned and divided into five major phases:
The PMO team operates with two “cells” which are structured according to expertise required during implementations.
The ‘Global Project Management Cell’ assists project managers (execution team) and teams by organising project data, providing statistical information to all stakeholders (internal and external), controlling budgets and schedule, and ensuring compliance to VFS Global policies and procedures. This sub-unit of the team manages the project initiation, planning and monitoring, and control phases of all new projects and is the largest and heaviest user of the MPP and the EPM tools. Another part of this sub-unit is responsible for co-ordination of website deployment including first time content management. The content and site map are prepared by the team, which then obtains approvals from the client and internal stakeholders, before sending it to the Corporate Communications team of VFS Global for website development. The entire activity is project managed by this unit.
A third part of this unit comprises business process analysts who specialise in process design and requirements elaboration. These specialists not only provide in-depth functional knowledge of the applications and business processes, but are also able to translate the requirements into functional specifications that the IT team can use to develop applications. This team also charts the various flows and scenarios in a given process using flow-chart techniques such as cross functional process flow design and tools such as MS Visio. Due to the fact that this team is involved in the solution-development exercise at very early stage of the project and also considering its functional knowledge, the team is also responsible for carrying out testing activities on the developed solution before delivering to UAT. The testing is carried out on functional dimensions and may sometimes involve GUI (Graphical User Interface) testing, besides integration testing. Information Security testing and Performance & Load testing are however out-of-scope for this team.
This cell comprises experienced project managers who may travel onsite to implement various solutions including setting up of offices, recruiting and training personnel and procurement. Sometimes, the Project Execution cell may draw upon experienced Operations personnel in the given region rather than sending its own resources on-site. While these Operations personnel execute the project and are responsible for all physical deliverables; all guidance, monitoring and control are exercised by the Project Execution cell. Hence, a virtual pool of resources is then made available which also leverages the presence of personnel across multiple time zones and other colleagues from enabling units such as IT, Info Services, Finance, HR, etc.
This cell retains overall control of the project and is responsible for updating both internal and external stakeholders through regular status briefings and also co-ordinates with other PMO cells to produce a 360 degree view of the project. Again, this team employs MPP and EPM extensively for managing its projects portfolio.