How JLL’s ePMO optimized project operations for 11,000+ users

A home office set up with a laptop open to Workfront work management application

“The pandemic has shown us all that folks can work effectively remotely, and also that when a lot of people do work remotely, they need to be able to trust the systems and the data that’s behind them,” says Andrey Popov, Technical Lead at JLL, a global professional services and investment management firm specializing in real estate.

In the webinar, “3 Ways to Better Optimize Project Operations and Deliver Real Results,” Andrey and Elizabeth Volini, the Executive Director of JLL’s enterprise project management office (ePMO), recently joined Steven King, Workfront’s Head of Program Management, to discuss their three-year effort to improve project operations and deliver real results using Workfront as their work management solution. This was no small feat at a company where more than 11,000 employees—nearly a tenth of the total workforce—use Workfront.

Elizabeth and Andrey’s insights center around three key efforts: data standardization, automation and integration, and change management.

1. Data standardization and a system of record for work.

Elizabeth says, “Given the changes and the digital transformation, especially over the last year, I don’t know how anybody could operate without a system of record, without creating those shared perspectives to enable the rapid decision-making that we need to make. As things pivot so quickly, we have to be able to centralize our perspective and our work.”

Governance and data standardization have been huge pieces of that puzzle, which had to happen across over a dozen different PMO groups. In other words, all parts of the business needed to speak the same language. Elizabeth’s team organized governance teams and created a working group to figure out what the standards needed to look like, what shared perspectives they needed to create, and other ways to adapt and empower their end users.

“How can you possibly think about scoping an automation or integration out to a larger organization or department if their processes and data standards don’t line up?” asks Andrey. “They only make sense if you have data governance and data controls in place. The same goes for reporting.”

2. Integrated solutions and automated processes.

With data standardization in place, efficiency and cost-savings become the goal of every automation to reduce manual data entry and make the data easier to read and act upon. “We have a lot of work processes that we have adapted to create efficiencies and enable our stakeholders to be successful, to allow that change management to happen more efficiently across our stakeholder groups,” says Elizabeth.

One example is automation that pulls data from multiple sub-projects (across projects that span different countries) into a summary project that enables solid decision-making company wide. “This one alone is a huge benefit to JLL that helped us when the pandemic started, and we had to quickly roll up our data into making really quick decisions about the work that was happening,” Elizabeth says. “This automation enabled us to do that.”

3. Change management and user engagement.

With any change, there are politics and personalities to navigate. Elizabeth strongly advises investing in change management to create true partnerships and build relationships that encourage everybody’s voice to be heard. “The reason we’ve been as successful we have been is that we have worked to engage our stakeholders and add value to their work,” she says. “I don’t have a super-secret sauce for how that happens. We have had slow, incremental successes that have built upon themselves.”

Some of those successes include creating a steering committee that includes strategic, high-level leaders that report into the CIO and proliferate changes out into their stakeholder groups. There’s also a transformation team of mostly PMO leads who help aggregate shared business processes and then train others to ensure the processes they come up with are adopted throughout the groups. On top of that, Elizabeth and Andrey make sure all processes are fully documented on a PMO Sharepoint site.

“We’ve done a mix of pages with text and gifs to illustrate how something works as training, we’ve developed short, easily digestible training videos on various processes,” says Andrey. “We’ve developed longer videos to do a deep dive. We have a dedicated page for integrations and automations as well.” Elizabeth adds, “They’re really an amazing resource that helps our team consume the changes and integrations and automations and what they need to do to be successful.”

For more detail on how JLL’s ePMO has been able to optimize project operations on such a massive, global scale, watch the full webinar on demand.