Oerlikon achieves greater agility and complete portfolio visibility with Smartsheet
To enhance the efficiency of its project and portfolio management, Oerlikon used Smartsheet to implement new workflows. The change resulted in better project prioritisation, faster reporting, and smarter planning.
“All information around a project status and budget is consolidated from start to finish in Smartsheet. This gives us a comprehensive view and maximum transparency across all IT-based initiatives and projects globally.”
Head of Global SAP Management & SAP IT Program Manager, Oerlikon IT Solutions
Headquartered in Switzerland, global technology group Oerlikon provides world-leading coating technology for advanced industries like automotive, medical, tooling, textiles, and aerospace. Its solutions encompass materials, coating equipment, coating services, and the engineering of entire integrated polymer plants. The company employs over 11,000 people to deliver its products and services across 37 countries.
In 2018, Oerlikon started rapidly expanding its client portfolio. This move created a need for better project prioritisation and management. Previously, decision-making on projects was based on “who screams the loudest”. Oerlikon wanted to shift to a transparent and objective process for evaluating projects based on their business value. The company then made incremental improvements to fill these gaps, the first of which was a demand management process introduced in late 2018. By 2019, Oerlikon’s first Project Management Office (PMO) was established.
The project management transition overlapped with a lot of other key transformations in the company. “The global SAP roll-out absorbed all IT and business capacity for projects, creating an internal struggle for resources. Frustration in business appeared, because people couldn’t get the IT support they needed or deserved,” confesses Aeschlimann. This solidified the need for a more structured and transparent way of prioritising and managing projects.
After establishing the PMO, Oerlikon realised that more needed to be done. “The next step for the company was the implementation of a global time tracking system for IT services and projects which analysed real-time data to assess time spent on projects and tasks. With this, all the projects could be prioritised based on KPIs, an important aspect of Oerlikon’s overall strategy,” says Mandy Aeschlimann, Head of Global SAP Management & SAP IT Program Manager at Oerlikon IT Solutions. The team chose to collaborate with Agile Management Experts (AMX), a Smartsheet Platinum Partner based in Europe.
The new time tracking system was rolled out using Smart Grid, linking all services and projects globally. To accelerate the change, Oerlikon needed a data aggregation platform that they could easily adapt and customise on their own. “Smartsheet’s flexibility was such a winning point that we decided to use it. We can now make modifications without having to reach for a consultant every time, and that’s important to us,” says Aeschlimann.
Better decision making and prioritising
To ensure better alignment with the company’s strategy, IT and business projects were categorised under three pillars: organic growth, efficiency and people, and inorganic growth (Mergers & Acquisitions). This shed light on the way projects could be prioritised based on data.
“We used Smartsheet to build our new processes for project review, approvals, and prioritisation in a way that’s user-friendly and convenient for the teams,” says Julia Gummert-Loellke, Head of IT Project & Portfolio Management, Oerlikon IT Solutions. The standardised templates are the same for any project manager, so all requests can be unified and reviewed using similar criteria.
Projects go through a demand process that is the same for everyone, no matter where they come from. “We don't make any exceptions and prioritisation can’t be manipulated. It’s based on KPIs that indicate how efficiently the project supports the Oerlikon strategy,” says Gummert-Loellke.
Maximum transparency with real-time dashboards
“We manage our reports via real-time dashboards in Smartsheet. That means we don’t need to sit down and prepare reports manually every month for presenting at our IT Steering Committee,” adds Aeschlimann This enables teams to focus on more added-value tasks.
“All information around project status and budget is consolidated from start to finish in Smartsheet. This gives us a comprehensive view and maximum transparency across all IT-based initiatives and projects globally,” says Aeschlimann. As a result, every business line knows where their projects stand in relation to the overall portfolio, while the leadership team can track progress and spending in real-time to inform their decisions. All the collected data also helps controllers make accurate budget estimations for the upcoming year.
The project’s success is something all stakeholders celebrate, including technology partners. “We are happy to have helped Oerlikon transform the way their projects are managed by increasing transparency, reshaping collaboration for the better, and offering all stakeholders a single source of truth for any type of information” shares Vlera Hetemi, Senior Solutions Consultant at AMX Germany GmbH. “The AMX team has worked side-by-side at Oerlikon offices in Pfäffikon, Switzerland, several times to brainstorm, meet with different stakeholders and build the solutions together with the Smartsheet Champions from Oerlikon's side.”
Templates to expand usability
As Smartsheet power users, Aeschlimann and Gummert-Loellke helped other users get the most value from the platform. “We use templates for our projects, so we can easily steer a portfolio or pull out reports. When we build new solutions, we get support from consultants. Anybody who's done a project with us before will be very familiar with the process and they can start a project in Smartsheet on their own,” says Aeschlimann.
“A template dashboard takes about half a day to set up, it’s very intuitive. All the elements are in Smartsheet already, you just need to add them. After that, the data gets populated just once and the projects are rolled out automatically. This process speeds up onboarding of people hired externally,” adds Gummert-Loellke.
With Smartsheet, Oerlikon not only simplified project and portfolio management and gained complete visibility across multiple projects, but has also introduced a collaborative and agile approach to project management. “The methodology needs an adaptable environment that welcomes feedback and participation, and with Smartsheet I think we’ll achieve just that,” concludes Aeschlimann.