Through the Microsoft Project platform, we made it easier for PMO professionals and business managers to extract data, monitor project life cycles, and track results, which yields a more unified team focused on delivering results for the licensor, end customer, and broader Ontic team.
Chad Robson: Vice President of Strategy and Operational Optimisation, Ontic
A complex web
When a company maintains a portfolio of more than 6,500 products and 1 million component parts—and serves the highly safety-conscious aviation industry—it has to know exactly where things stand at all times. Ontic, an industry leader in supporting and sustaining legacy aviation products and platforms, maintains a wide range of aircraft technology and aims to extend the life of legacy aircraft.
Ontic’s OEM partners include major companies like Honeywell, GE Aviation, Curtiss-Wright, Woodward, Moog, and Collins Aerospace, and it wants to continue to grow while still meeting its complex web of business, production, and safety requirements. So, the company used the Microsoft Project & Portfolio Management platform to build a fully integrated project management solution to streamline data tracking and boost the transparency and visibility of its projects.
PMO and beyond
In 2019, Ontic branched off from BBA Aviation and was purchased by CVC, a private equity firm, leaving Ontic without a formal project portfolio management solution across the business. Historically, it used Planview for managing projects. This web-based software lacked the customisation options Ontic needed, and it wasn’t built to transition product lines. The company wanted a solution with fewer limits in terms of scheduling and interdependencies between tasks. Ideally, the solution would be flexible, easy to use, and interoperable with Ontic’s data and other systems.
With an ever-increasing number of acquisitions and license transitions to manage and a focus on long-term growth, the company knew it needed to go beyond traditional project management software. In addition to compatibility with Ontic’s current systems, the solution had to support better transitioning of legacy product lines from their original equipment manufacturers to support its customers worldwide. The company not only wanted to streamline the transition process but also to infuse efficiency throughout Ontic and its other projects and initiatives.
Ontic needed an out-of-the-box solution that it could also customise around its processes and goals. It wanted to create a standard process with each transition, easily incorporate lessons learned, and demonstrate that to licensors. Ontic needed a fully integrated tool that it could use for managing resource capacity, finance tracking, and risks.
Some of Ontic’s long-term growth goals are supported by initiatives run predominantly by non–project managers. The company needed a low-touch solution that would empower employees in various job roles to streamline data reporting and collaborate with the company at large. It wanted to better monitor day-to-day progress on these initiatives and create a structured process that involved simplified reporting and benefit tracking.
An intuitive, user-friendly solution
Ontic decision-makers selected the Microsoft Project solutions because they satisfied all the business requirements they had gathered. For help with the implementation, Ontic brought in Wellingtone, a project management consultancy and member of the Microsoft Partner Network with Gold competencies in Project and Portfolio Management.
Ontic first adopted Project Online, the original Microsoft cloud service for project portfolio management, which is used to create a new product transition process, improving its strategy for moving equipment, technical data and drawings, and customer and supplier innovation. To support the project management office (PMO) and non–project managers, Ontic subsequently worked with Wellingtone to deploy Project for the web, the latest Project offering for the cloud, built on Microsoft Power Platform.
Project for the web is now the backbone of Ontic’s value creation plan—a long-term strategy for growth. With this service in place, Ontic professionals across the company can exercise more autonomy over initiative planning, including dynamic scheduling based on effort needed, project duration, and allotted team members. Whether teams are working on facility enhancements or improving time scales on other projects, non–project managers can add creativity into their strategy. But with a basic structure and governance in place, the broader company can see where those projects are in their life cycle.
“Project for the web is intuitive to use and incredibly user friendly,” says Sean Thomas, Senior Project Manager at Ontic. “Using it, the initiative owners can focus on the delivery of the tasks rather than on the bureaucracy of managing system updates.”
Integrated for the future
With its combined Project environment, Ontic promotes efficiency with web resource management capabilities. The company uses Power Apps and Power BI, also built on Microsoft Power Platform, to make it easy for teams to automate data extraction and create interactive dashboards that viewers use to drill down to the details most relevant to them. Employees can see the original goal of any project and quickly determine the results to date. And with Microsoft Teams, Ontic’s global teams have visibility into projects, strengthening collaboration and teamwork.
“Using Project for the web, we can just run some quick reports and click a few buttons, and we’ve got all of the data we need to quantify results quickly and easily to see if what we’re working on is giving us the benefits that we’re expecting,” says Chad Robson, Vice President of Strategy and Operational Optimisation at Ontic. “We distribute monthly reports to local site leaders and our global leaders so we can keep everyone involved as we complete our projects.”
With Power Apps, Ontic built a PMO portal to help with adoption—a one-stop-shop for everything related to Project. Portal users aggregate training information, news, and information on future updates to the tools. The portal not only provides resources to help non–project managers better understand the project management systems, but it also promotes a new culture of organisation and structure within teams spread across seven facilities worldwide.
Project for the web offers a repository for employees, integrating systems across the company. And its appealing, intuitive interface entices people to want to use it, breaking down the first barrier to engage the tool. PMO employees make full use of the project management solution, and its use is also spreading across the organisation as more business units ask to adopt it too. Moving forward, Ontic intends to distribute Project for the web beyond the PMO to business units across the company to help them manage all types of functional responsibilities, while Ontic leadership promotes adoption and standardisation of all project management on Project for the web.
“With Project for the web, we all speak a common language and find data in exactly the same place across multiple projects,” says Thomas. “That facilitates problem solving and awareness from a coherence perspective within the PMO and the wider business. Having a central repository for our data enables our teams around the world to easily find common challenges and lessons learned from both past and open projects.”
Today, Ontic has a strong foundation in place for growth. The company is using both Project for the web and Project Online in a hybrid setup to improve its processes and better support the business. Through integration with Power BI and Power Apps, employees across the company now have clear visibility into initiatives and their progress, with teams easily creating shareable dashboards on finances, risks, and project summaries. Having ready access to identify and extract project data means that teams spend less time on reporting and more time on meaningful work to advance the business with captured insights.
“With Project for the web, we could help Ontic build something that could track the overall aim of any activity and its expected benefit,” says Emma Arnaz-Pemberton, Director of Consulting Services at Wellingtone. “Teams can see if what they are investing in and working on is actually giving the benefits they were expecting. That’s a really hard thing to do—not just from an Ontic perspective but from an overall project management industry perspective.”
Ontic’s new product transition process has created such improved visibility into ongoing projects that project teams and leaders now collaborate regularly with the wider business, creating momentum for growth.
“Product line transitions are the bread and butter of what we do,” says Javier Hernandez, Director of Integration and Transformation at Ontic. “With the level of detail we can generate in Project Online and Project for the web, we’re more thorough than we ever have been, which sets us up for future success.”