Managing a team spread across the globe using Planisware Orchestra

The mode of operation at Essilor is transversal, meaning it requires collaboration between a large number of users.

About Essilor Group

Essilor is the world leader in corrective lenses. The success of the group, which is present in more than 100 countries, is the result of a strategy that has been driven by innovation for more than 160 years. From design to manufacture, the group develops a wide range of lenses to correct and protect eyesight.

Its mission is to "improve lives by improving sight" of everyone in the world, by developing lenses tailored to their needs. The group therefore devotes more than 150 million euros a year to research and innovation so that they can offer increasingly efficient products. The group has around 60 000 employees and over 6.5 billion euros in revenue, as well as a production capacity of approximately 500 million lenses per year.

The group combines three key success factors: the strength of its purpose, a clear strategy and a unique growth model based on innovation and partnership. To succeed in this mission and ensure the Group's long-term development, Essilor has established a growth strategy based on four main pillars: innovation, targeting of the mid-market, international growth via acquisitions, and demand generation to increase the market size.

- Interview with Vincent Godot, Head of PMO, Essilor -

More than five years ago, Essilor discovered Orchestra PPM. Recently we interviewed Vincent Godot, Head of PMO at Essilor to discuss how they leveraged Orchestra PPM to create synergies, synchronize and collaborate with teams based across different locations. Here are some takeaways from our interview:


Context & Challenges

Searching for a project management tool

The mode of operation at Essilor (especially in the R & D sector) is transversal, meaning it requires collaboration between a large number of users and external resources (such as subcontractors, industrial partners, universities and academic partnerships).
This involves the sharing of knowledge, and required exchanges between individuals who are rarely located in the same geographical area. These multi-site teams had the same end goal, hence the need for a common platform so that they could collaborate on tasks together. This is what prompted Essilor to search for a collaborative project management tool in July, 2015.

Multiple requirements, dispersed geographically

Today, Essilor operates in four geographic regions (Europe, Asia, North America, and South America). The fact that the group is spread over four continents requires them to communicate information quickly, directly or indirectly, while also overcoming the challenge of varying time zones.

The Group also has many factories dispersed geographically all over the world (over 400 plants). It is therefore essential for the organization to make sure that all the factories are able to adopt any required new modes of operating. To ensure this, the group is trying to introduce their new processes rather early on in the projects, but also wants to set up a powerful tool which will help to ensure this adoption and encourage good practice.
Finally, the project management function within Essilor consists of around 1200 project stakeholders (not including all the external stakeholders), 480 ongoing projects with differing levels of complexity, a hundred draft projects, and more than 300 associate project managers. They have experts who work on multiple projects in parallel and therefore, there is a need to mobilize and synchronize significant resources.

Collaboration issues and the complexity of projects

Internally, the organization was using several collaborative tools such as Google apps to share files. It was therefore imperative for Essilor to acquire a project management software capable of maintaining the same level of collaboration between users that Google apps allowed at the time.
What’s more, their ongoing projects (which at the time numbered around 500) were of varying sizes and complexities, and all with different scopes. The stakes were high for Essilor to keep all of these projects in continuation and performing financially.
To meet these challenges, the group started searching for a collaborative project management solution in July, 2015.

Why Planisware Orchestra ?

One of the major goals of the new project management solution was to bring together the R&D, Engineering and Quality departments, uniting them around a single tool. However, these departments all have different requirements. From a strategic point of view, they wanted to be able to manage their project portfolio according to the Group's strategic priorities, using the Stage-Gate process.

The aim was also to expand the resource management functionality to the entire engineering department, and to have a complete 360° view of resource allocations for all projects and associated tasks.

Finally, they wanted to structure their projects on a roadmap, to assign resources at the right time for more effective planning. Orchestra PPM could rise to the challenge!

Essilor’s requirements for the Orchestra solution

With the Orchestra platform, Essilor wanted to adapt and structure project operations according to their levels of maturity and complexity:

  • At the strategic level, they were looking for a tool to conduct go/no-go decisions, arbitrate projects, make tactical choices, and monitor project ROI (return on investment).
  • From an operational point of view, they wanted to be able to support, train and provide the right tools for project managers and resource managers, and implement real-time activity indicators (alerts) to prevent diversions or digressions.
  • At the portfolio level, they wanted to centralize all requests onto a single platform, and process the objectives, issues and deliverables of each project systematically.

They wanted a collaborative tool capable of interfacing with other software, so that it could be integrated with their existing process and tools, and one that could also ensure collaboration with their geographically dispersed teams.

Finally, they wanted to improve visibility of their activities to more effectively optimize resource management. Their goal was efficiency and simplification to facilitate the adoption of the Orchestra solution by all users within the Group.


Planisware Orchestra response to the challenges

Firstly, Orchestra was chosen because it is fully customizable, and it fit their organizational needs. They even changed the visual graphics and renamed it “Atlas” to make it their own.
Secondly, when the Orchestra solution was deployed as SaaS at Essilor, there was the constraint of multidisciplinary teams spread over different geographical sites. Since one of the initial requirements was to connect Orchestra to other online tools, Orchestra was integrated with Google apps.

Planisware Orchestra was chosen by the group because it is full customizable, and it fits their organizational needs.

Thirdly, with regards to the Document Management System (DMS), on one hand Orchestra had its own document management system in its standard version. On the other hand, Essilor had an internal system of managing and sharing documents using Google apps. So, Orchestra (Atlas) was successfully integrated with the existing systems so that all the documents are managed directly via Orchestra (Atlas).

Finally, for Essilor cooperation is the ability to exchange information with all project stakeholders (internal and external parties). Orchestra allows them to:

  • Comment and share directly through the platform,
  • Delegate tasks, organize group tasks, optimize resource allocation,
  • Connect portfolios, projects and tasks (milestones, documentation, risks),
  • Receive alerts over possible errors and financial risks (such as budget forecast vs. actual budget)
  • And finally to promote best practices.

The Benefits

From Essilor:

Having a fully integrated PPM tool enables us to manage our projects at all levels, from simple demand management to a full-fledged dashboard; including planning, resource management, comprehensive document management. So, it is our ambition to be efficient that made us choose the collaborative solution Orchestra.

The feedback is very positive, in particular with reference to the user interface. After a few months of use the tool managed to bring together all of its users. They adapted to the tool very quickly and have understood its real added value.

Finally, implementing an efficient tool helps to promote best practice and good methodologies. With Orchestra PPM, Essilor was able to share a proper schedule and the right processes with users. This also contributed to the growing maturity of all the projects in the company.

What's next?

One of the challenges for Essilor is to continue to promote best practice, cooperation and exchange between its different teams. Ambassadors by geographical area have been nominated to ensure the dissemination of best procedures in order to adapt to changing times.
Another of their future goals is to continue Orchestra PPM’s (Atlas) integration with other Google apps and to promote its adoption among other Essilor entities.