Modular Project Management in the Age of Digital Transformation (Case Study Kantonsspital Aarau)

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For project and demand management in the in-house IT department, Kantonsspital Aarau has chosen modular project management with a new and advanced technology – TPG ProjectPowerPack based on the Microsoft 365 Power Platform.

Kantonsspital Aarau (KSA Group) is among the largest healthcare facilities in Switzerland. More than 5600 employees perform 33,741 inpatient and 787,199 outpatient treatments per year. This includes primary healthcare for the population as well as specialized top-quality medical services.

In addition, KSA conducts medical research with its numerous clinics, institutes and special departments. It also offers doctors the opportunity to train as specialists in numerous fields.

To ensure its excellent level of service, the Kantonsspital continues to evolve. This involves a comprehensive new construction program on the hospital grounds. Digital transformation is almost as important. It comprises e.g. digital collaboration, clinical information systems, the electronic patient record and accounting systems.

“It is important to us to be able to evaluate the data ourselves and thus keep it under control… As a user, you have the option to customize a considerable part of the tool yourself. We welcome that immensely.”

Dr. med. Martin Urban, IT Business Analyst KSA

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Quick Overview of Microsoft 365 & Power Platform Case Study

The Company
Kantonsspital Aarau (KSA Group) is a national healthcare center with top-class medical infrastructure for all requirements from primary healthcare to highly specialized medicine. It is the largest hospital in the canton of Aargau and, along with the university hospitals, one of the largest in Switzerland as a whole. The Department of Internal Medicine has the status of a university clinic. At KSA, prospective specialists have the option to train for numerous specialist titles.
The Challenge:
The IT department of the KSA needed a powerful new tool for project, portfolio and demand management. The plan is that other KSA departments can also manage their projects with the TPG ProjectPowerPack. There is a heterogeneous landscape of different IT systems in the different departments of the KSA. To standardize digital in-house collaboration, Microsoft Teams had already been rolled out on the cloud-based Microsoft 365 Platform.
The Solution
With TPG ProjectPowerPack based on the Microsoft 365 Power Platform, KSA has opted for innovative technology. The TPG proprietary development integrates Microsoft Project for the Web with Power Apps, Power Automate and Power BI. It transforms these components into a modular, versatile project portfolio management system. It is also possible to integrate TPG ProjectPowerPack with Microsoft 365 standards. For example, it offers access to the project management system directly from Microsoft Teams.
The Benefits
Kantonsspital Aarau received a quickly operational out-of-the-box solution which can be customized flexibly to meet the specific needs of the hospital. The highly advanced technology supports the KSA’s future-oriented program for digital transformation. A browser-based solution, the new PPT tool requires little training. Last but not least, TPG ProjectPowerPack provides considerable cost advantages compared to traditional solutions based on Microsoft Project Online / Project Server.

Quick, Custom-Fit, Budget-Friendly – Customization Made to Measure

Every customer has individual requirements. This is easy to say, but it has complex consequences when it comes to customizing digital portfolio and project management.

One of the specific characteristics in the case of the Kantonsspital Aarau (KSA Group) is the great significance of project lifecycle management. Especially the first steps in the lifecycle of a project are more time-consuming than usual, i.e. the creation of the project request, resource requests and approvals.

Modular Project Management for Kantonsspital Aarau

With the PPM solution TPG ProjectPowerPack, TPG has developed a tool which is much more flexible in the adaptation to such specific customer needs than had been the case with previous solutions. In the past two decades, the basis and the standard was Microsoft Project Server or Microsoft Project Online.

Yet, with the advent of Microsoft 365 and the Power Platform, Microsoft has completely revamped its entire software world. “This is the technology of the future,” says Matthias Jäger, director of TPG in Switzerland. “No one can get around that anymore.”

Packaged Solution for Professional Users

The Microsoft 365 Power Platform is completely cloud-based, based on the Dataverse database (previously CDS). The tool dedicated to project management is called Microsoft “Project for the Web” now. This solution, which has been downsized considerably compared to previous versions of Microsoft Project, enables users to plan and manage simple projects easily and quickly.

However, the tool lacks important functions for complex applications such as those required by Kantonsspital Aarau. For this reason, TPG provides its own separate packaged solution based on the Microsoft 365 Power Platform – for project portfolio management, resource and finance planning, project status reports and diverse project collaboration functions.

It integrates Project for the Web and other elements of the Power Platform: Power Apps, Power Automate and Power BI, a powerful business intelligence tool for visualizing and analyzing data. There are also interfaces to other apps, such as Teams from the Microsoft 365 package.

“The most prominent feature of the TPG ProjectPowerPack,” explains Matthias Jäger, “is that the customer can freely define each function. Almost any wish can be fulfilled.”

More Independence, Lower Costs

It is exactly this flexibility which is of high importance for the KSA, as Dr. Martin Urban, the IT business analyst of the Kantonsspital, emphasizes. “If necessary, you can quickly implement changes,” explains he. “Currently, many things are changing in our organization. Processes are undergoing change. Against this backdrop, it is important to be able to tailor our tools to new requirements quickly.”

Dr. Martin Urban observes that other IT tools were often comparatively inflexible and required complex programming in the case of modifications. “Here, we can define ourselves what we would like. This makes us less dependent on the provider.”

At electrolysis company Sunfire, they also welcomed the possibility to define changes themselves. As TPG’s Michael Nicholson points out granting customers this freedom is part of TPG’s policy as an open-content company. Read Sunfire Case Study.

This independence also entails a cost advantage. “With other providers and IT systems, changes always cost a lot of money,” says Dr. Martin Urban. “Changes to our solution, on the other hand, don’t incur huge costs.”

Matthias Jäger makes it clear that this goes not only for customizations but for the entire cost framework of the TPG ProjectPowerPack: “Compared to standard solutions based on Microsoft Project Server or Project Online, but also compared to other project management solutions, the customer only paid half as much.”

Digital Toolkit

Modular Project Management at a hospital

The high level of flexibility is possible because TPG ProjectPowerPack has been designed as a digital toolkit composed of modules representing different features and functions. These modules cover the entire project lifecycle, from project idea, request and approval workflow to budget and cost planning to resource and capacity planning through to reporting and status reports.

The combination and weighting of the modules permit many variations. “For the KSA, for instance, it was a big issue to integrate elements of resource and capacity planning already in the request and approval workflow,” illustrates Matthias Jäger. “Moreover, the platform provides good options for evaluating the data,” is another aspect added by Dr. Martin Urban. “It is important to us to be able to do that ourselves and thus keep it under our control.”

An additional advantage is the integration of the new PPM tool into Teams. The Teams interface in the browser can serve as an entry page to access higher-level structures in TPG ProjectPowerPack. “In some areas, we have already rolled out Microsoft Teams,” reports Dr. Martin Urban. The complete rollout is imminent.

“With Microsoft Teams, we were already using the Microsoft 365 Power Platform before implementing TPG ProjectPowerPack.” Matthias Jäger is aware that Teams has gained in importance due to the COVID-19 pandemic: “Many of our customers now rely on digital collaboration and require corresponding features for project communication and handling.”

The New PPM Tool Grows with the Requirements

Even in the future, flexibility and independence remain important aspects for portfolio and project management at Kantonsspital Aarau. “We will always have change requests,” Dr. Martin Urban announces. “Added to this are consistently new ideas, for example the review and prioritization of requirements or the collection of additional metadata for improved evaluation.”

“The customer has the option to define each function freely. Almost any wish can be fulfilled.”

 

Matthias Jäger, Director TPG Switzerland

For the further expansion of the PPM tool, the good collaboration with TPG is important, as Dr. Martin Urban points out. This includes the clear delineation of responsibilities. Major changes remain the responsibility of TPG, but: “many things in the tool we can also do ourselves,” explains Dr. Martin Urban. “We welcome that immensely.”

Did this modular project management solution based on Microsoft 365 and Power Platform sound interesting to you? Feel free to leave questions or comments below.

 

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