Kaplan, Inc. (www.kaplan.com) is a leading international provider of educational and career services for individuals, schools and businesses. Kaplan serves students of all ages through a wide array of offerings including higher education, test preparation, professional training and programs for kids in grades K through 12. Kaplan is a subsidiary of The Washington Post Company (NYSE:WPO).
Three years ago, Kaplan Inc. selected Daptiv PPM for project management and time management within certain business units of the company. As a result, those units streamlined IT projects, managed resources more closely and achieved greater control over their investment dollars.
Recently, Kaplan restructured its IT group to a centralized model where the organization’s IT resources supported all of its business units (Kaplan Higher Education, Kaplan Test Prep and Kaplan International) under a single corporate IT umbrella. To effectively support the organization and ensure visibility across the business groups under this new model, Kaplan’s technology operations sought a way to improve efficiencies and reduce redundancies.
Further, Kaplan’s IT group needed to respond quickly to business demands across the enterprise and have greater clarity into why some projects were more successful than others and which projects were more efficient than others. This level of transparency would enable the organization to rollout additional best practices company-wide with greater confidence.
Larry Salmela, VP of program management for Kaplan Technology, recognized an opportunity for a deeper and more strategic implementation of Daptiv PPM. Typically, Daptiv PPM’s traditional entry point in an organization is around project creation, but Kaplan wanted to gain insight into investment candidates earlier in the process to better allocate resources and capacity.
Previously, employees in an individual BU looking to create a project would submit a form, and those business unit leaders would evaluate the potential costs and model the ROI, and then decide whether or not to move the project forward. While this method worked fine to support siloed business units, given Kaplan’s shift to a centralized model, it lacked visibility and transparency across the BUs and the organization as a whole. Project managers were unable to view what each of the BUs were working on and how projects in progress might affect other groups farther down the road. “We weren’t able to advise on what should be in a business unit’s portfolio given current resources and workloads,” Salmela explains. “What we looked at Daptiv to do was enable us to view our project lifecycle consistently across all business units, from investment candidates to project kick-off, to project execution and completion.”
Building upon the success of its deployment in various groups, Kaplan worked closely with Daptiv project managers to identify a set of processes and procedures that could be configured directly into the native Daptiv PPM platform that supported new phases of project planning such as operational candidates and initiatives.
These new phases are part of a comprehensive project intake planning initiative where Kaplan’s leadership evaluates project proposals at an operational level, rather than based on development expertise. The business needed to ensure that projects tie to and support broader organization objectives and have to ability to determine which projects will best meet those goals.
Implementing the investment candidates at this phase enables Kaplan IT to make a business case, develop an application kit and lay out the expected process planning phase before submitting for consideration. Corporate leadership then prioritizes the candidates before they become actual projects. With Daptiv, business leaders now have a solution where, when it’s time to graduate an investment candidate to a project, “all you have to do is push a button,” said Salmela.
Daptiv PPM gave Kaplan a full view into the entire project portfolio, from demand management evaluation and approvals to the final stages of evaluation that determine effective ROI. The biggest hurdle for the organization, especially in its new centralized model, was ensuring that IT remained focused on the projects that would provide the most value, particularly with IT’s limited capacity and resources. “Daptiv helped us clearly showcase where our efforts were going and what the end results were,” said Salmela.
With Daptiv PPM’s portfolio planning capabilities, Kaplan can accurately measure capacity to determine the accurate number of employees to take on the work. With that visibility, Kaplan was no longer “filling up capacity blindly” Salmela explains, because the organization is able to determine the true cost and capacity of a project and its impact.