As a steel products manufacturer for some of the biggest names in industry, Samuel, Son & Co. manages scores of projects that span business units and sites across North America. But with more than a dozen enterprise resource planning systems, aging on-premises infrastructure, and too many manual processes, project management had to cope with unnecessary complexity. Since it adopted Microsoft Power Automate, the Samuel IT team has created workflows that simplified processes for accepting, managing, and completing project requests from any anywhere in the business.
The Samuel IT project management office (PMO) is a small team with a large number of IT projects always on the go across the organization. In the past, the PMO has used several versions of Microsoft Project Server and a recent Nintex implementation to help streamline the IT project life cycle, but the PMO still struggled to achieve start-to-end visibility. With too many manual processes across systems and groups, it needed to modernize project management just to keep up with its workload.
“We’ve used Project Server for many years,” says Neeta Manghnani, IT PMO Manager at Samuel. “But to cope with so many systems, we had to manually create projects, so there was a lot of manual effort.”
Using Microsoft Power Automate—formerly known as Microsoft Flow—the Samuel PMO built out project intake process and a dynamic approvals process, which eliminates a huge amount of manual effort. It offers a centralized, automated way for project and account managers to get approvals from stakeholders and sponsors anywhere in the business. It also means that they no longer need to use other third-party tools to handle the approvals process.
With the new workflow, project managers can easily assign tasks to the personnel involved, so they get reminders to approve a statement of work or change request, or to provide a digital signature. It’s faster, simpler and—most importantly—completely digitized.
“Before we deployed Power Automate, approvals required a physical signature,” says Jill Todoschuk, Director of Business Solutions Management at Samuel. “Now it’s all automated and digitally stored on SharePoint”.
ServiceNow is Samuel’s IT ticketing system for helpdesk and project intake. All Samuel employees have access to this tool to request anything, including IT projects. The PMO used Power Automate to connect ServiceNow to Project Online, where employees create project requests. It uses Microsoft Power BI to give project managers unprecedented insight into their resources, how they’re allocated, and how that affects project timelines. In a business that demands constant shuffling of projects to meet deadlines and maintain regulatory compliance, this is critical.
“Before, we didn’t have any real visibility into our resources,” says Cheryl Rogers, Account Manager (Applications) at Samuel. “We always had a lot of projects in our queue, but we couldn’t be sure if we had the resources to fulfill them.”
The PMO uses detailed dashboards and customizable reports in Power BI to better understand resource allocation, and to visualize that for the rest of the business, too. “If we don’t have the resources for a project, we need to discuss with the business which projects to prioritize, or what to outsource,” says Rogers. “With Project Online and Microsoft Power Platform, we have the tools to make that conversation much easier.”