The faster track to success:

new project management system for IT at Apleona

The spread of digitalization is also changing the standards for future-ready project management. Faced by the need to implement increasingly complex IT projects efficiently and on budget, Apleona turned to the experts from Lufthansa Industry Solutions’ Project Management Excellence (PMX) division to help it develop a new project management system.

The customer

Based in the Frankfurt-area city of Neu-Isenburg, Apleona is one of Europe’s leading real estate service providers. Over 20,000 employees at some 210 locations operate and manage properties of all asset classes for a variety of clients from the manufacturing, retail, logistics and finance industries, as well as from the public sector. Apleona assists users, owners and investors in over 30 countries with a wide range of production support services.

LHIND’s services for Apleona at a glance:
  • Conceptualizing and developing a new project management system
  • Establishing a dedicated project management office (PMO) for IT
  • Providing a project management (PM) manual with an extensive set of methods and tools in accordance with PMI standards
  • Training all IT staff on the use of the new project management system
  • Comprehensive project planning, project management and reporting for the implementation project

In order to make optimal use of the technological possibilities offered by the digital transformation, Apleona operates its own IT systems. The systems were originally set up and managed by Bilfinger Global IT, but are currently overseen by a dedicated department within the company. As one of Europe’s leading real estate and facility management companies, Apleona and its IT department also play a pioneering role in the development of digital solutions, such as faster and higher-quality options for controlling and security or for process management and optimization. In doing so, Apleona is laying the foundation for greater efficiency at consistent or lower prices, giving the company and its clients a decisive competitive edge.

The challenge

Apleona’s IT team manages a wide range of projects with different schedules and volumes. Those projects include access management using single sign-on (SSO) solutions and multi-tiered public key infrastructures (PKIs), large-scale software and system rollouts, the introduction of application road maps, the harmonization of server environments, and the development and expansion of comprehensive IT service management (ITSM).

To expand its own IT service management portfolio, Apleona launched a program covering more than 30 projects, along with 20 additional projects to meet the mounting demands of customers and lawmakers. At the same time, the company also faced a string of hard-to-manage ad hoc projects that challenged the planning skills and capacities of Apleona’s IT department. With time for structuring, priority setting and proper monitoring in scarce supply, IT too often found itself running on autopilot and solving problems on the fly. A new project management system (PM system) and the establishment of a dedicated project management office (PMO) for IT were the next logical steps in making processes more efficient and optimizing the overall approach to management. Due to the need to create a new structure and simplify processes in order to lead IT out of autopilot as quickly as possible, the greatest challenge faced by Apleona was time. The company only had some two months to conceptualize the new PM system and the new PMO. At the same time, the first urgent projects were already underway without the appropriate methods, tools and approval processes. The PM system had to be rolled out at warp speed, without disturbing the flow of business, and staff had to be trained quickly to adapt all projects to the new processes at short notice, manage them accordingly and provide comprehensive reports.

Frequent training sessions were held, with the goal of educating approximately 70 internal and external stakeholders in order to get all staff up to the same level of knowledge and ensure acceptance within the company. The professional backgrounds and prior qualifications of staff also had to be taken into account when developing the PM manual, the tools and the training concept. Today, many developers and IT specialists without prior experience in project management are also in charge of IT projects within Apleona. To provide staff with a fast and positive introduction, it was especially important to structure the set of methods and tools in a logical, efficient and easy-to-use manner.

Still, a structured and efficient approach to training users was not the only objective. It was just as essential to maintain an overview of the project and file regular reports with senior management. Centralized, comprehensive and detailed general IT progress and expense reports were introduced and prepared on a monthly basis to support reliable monitoring and compliance with the approved IT budget.

The solution

Speed, security, flexibility and quality were of the essence when developing Apleona’s PM system. Lufthansa Industry Solutions supported successful implementation with its PM specialists from the Project Management Excellence (PMX) division. The methods and approaches used by PMX to assist its customers are based on the international standard promulgated by the Project Management Institute (PMI), which focuses on processes and practice-oriented knowledge. Choosing the PMI standard, which is widely accepted around the world across a variety of sectors, was a logical step for Apleona due to the company’s global footprint. The new PM system is initially slated for rollout solely in Germany, Switzerland and Austria. However, the new PM system will also be introduced for international IT projects at Apleona at a later stage.

Apleona and LHIND joined forces to set up the system at lightning speed. The PMX methodology and templates, along with the proven PM manual structure from Lufthansa Industry Solutions, offered a valuable basis for the project. Thanks to the wide range of proven templates, methods and tools, LHIND was able to provide Apleona’s IT team with a complete and fully ready-to-use PM manual with all of the necessary elements in no time flat. In the end, only slight changes to comply with corporate identity requirements and additional minor adjustments in line with Apleona’s standards were necessary. Apleona received tools and templates for project proposals, project planning approval by management, activity and resource plans, risk registers, regular status reports, change requests, standard project completion reports and much more.

Training for all IT staff that was built around the methods and tools paved the way to acceptance within the company. At the same time, the training sessions – which were also designed and provided by the LHIND PMX project manager – encouraged employees to start using the new PM system right away. The continued support of IT staff at Apleona during the establishment of the new structures and systems and with regard to project planning, project management and reporting helped make the rollout a success.

The customer benefit

In its partnership with Apleona’s IT department, Lufthansa Industry Solutions focused on building a close link between PMI standards, proven tools and customer-specific business processes to ensure fast and smooth development and implementation. Early and comprehensive training by the experienced LHIND PMX project manager helped the new PM system gain a high level of acceptance and encouraged staff to start using it quickly. The systematic gathering and evaluation of direct feedback from initial users also contributed to success and acceptance, with the valuable information inspiring the continuous enhancement of the system.

Completing training prepared Apleona’s IT project managers optimally to identify changes and challenges at an early stage and to take the appropriate measures. In the future, they will be capable of planning, executing and comprehensively managing their projects using the new set of methods and tools. As a result, the foundation has been laid for strategic project management to ensure focused and optimal supervision and monitoring of all IT projects and programs at Apleona.

The successful partnership between Apleona and Lufthansa Industry Solutions continued immediately after completion, with LHIND overseeing the project management office and supporting the Head of IT PMO on an interim basis until a member of staff at Apleona was ready to take over the position. At the same time, LHIND supervised the Windows 10 rollout IT project in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, as well as the conceptualization and implementation of IT service catalog management, the latter of which was also handed over to a member of staff at Apleona upon completion.

“With its extensive methods and tools, the new PM system, which was developed and rolled out in close cooperation between Lufthansa Industry Solutions and Apleona, enables us to provide our project managers with structured support. That way, they can plan, execute and, most importantly, manage their projects. We can say with pride that we only needed a few months to set up a PM system that takes us from completing projects on the fly to a higher level of professional program and project management.”

Daniel Dumke
Head of IT Project Management Office & Governance, Apleona