Nov 11, 2012

New CIO: “Let’s Change Everything, Fast.” First Horizon’s PMO Says, “Can Do!”

Posted by Jeannette Cabanis-Brewin in Culture & Change Management, Project & Program Management, Portfolio Management, Project Management Office (PMO), Site News | 0 Comments

First Horizon is a bank that “knows how to get things done.”

The financial services sector has seen more than its share of disruptive change. Since 2008, many financial services IT divisions have tried to shrink expenses and wait out the storm. But at First Horizon, second runner-up in this year's PMO of the Year Award competition, the arrival of a CIO with a very different vision sent the organization leaping ahead.

In early July 2009 First Horizon’s Enterprise Project Services unit was formed to lead the successful delivery of over 114 large, complex projects touching every aspect of the business. With an initial capital outlay of US$110 million, the five-year expense projection for the total portfolio was nearly half a billion dollars. The offsetting benefit would be a combination of direct cost savings and growth in revenue through increased capability. The objective was to equip bankers with cutting-edge tools and customer-centric products to assist customers and investors with navigating the turmoil in the markets. The roadmap included building a new data center and migration of 190 offices and 3,115 employees to Voice over IP, all while benchmarking expenses to industry standards … in under three years.

With a strong focus on change management, First Horizon’s EPS set out to implement structure and controls that were meaningful, but not disruptive. The business needed better tools and they needed them fast, without adding more obstacles than they were already faced with externally.

A cross-functional team of banking professionals, including communications, training, LOB field representatives, human resources and technology, was formed to focus on the impact and timing of the often dramatic changes to be implemented. The team was charged with coordinating messaging, timing of training, and overall fatigue of the field at large. This focus on change management was critical to the success of the portfolio and was branded as GOPower — Growth and Opportunity through change. Through GOPower, the organization was kept abreast of all plans, as well as recognition for individual heroes and high-performance teams.

The impact of the new EPS organization was immediate and dramatic: over a two-year period, the total expense of the PMO decreased by over 52% while the total value of the projects managed increased tenfold. Change management and the customer’s view of change is now an integral part of every plan. Responding to a question from a presentation webinar attendee, PMO leader Robin Markle described some of the software choices that made it all work: "The organization had a version of Clarity PPM, and we chose to upgrade the existing system rather than migrate to something else.  As of today, we use the system as our data repository for all of our tracking, reporting, timekeeping and collaboration.  There are many solutions on the market today that are designed to fit any organization, and some are easier to work with than others.  The real lift is in keeping all information, plans, deliverables and updates in one place so that the organization can access any information on any project at any time.  So it isn’t necessary to use the more expensive or complex software solutions to achieve the same results." This approach to software jived with the overall theme of introducing no more change than necessary to move forward.

First Horizon’s successes have been featured in CIO Magazine, Bank Technology News, and American Banker. Even Jim Cramer, a well-known financial analyst and critic, applauds First Horizon as a bank that “knows how to get things done.” How do they do it?, CIO Bruce Livesay offers this advice:

“Establish an enterprise project office.”

Read more about this award-winning PMO in the 2012 PMO of the Year ebook.

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