Thomas Cook Online launched in 2010 as part of the Thomas Cook Group, which traces its origin to 1841. It is the web-based division of the holiday company— the first United Kingdom (U.K.) travel agency to offer consumers a way to buy holidays, currency, and travellers cheques on the Internet.
To meet future growth and support business change, Thomas Cook needed to improve delivery and clarity across its IT projects, programmes, and portfolios. In 2009, the company centralised its email messaging system for its offices in Germany, France, and the U.K., and during the past 18 months has increased the number of employees from around 40 to more than 200.
Andreas Ernst, Head of Change Portfolio, Thomas Cook Online, says: “We needed a more integrated enterprise project management (EPM) approach to support our evolving process framework and project delivery. We wanted to provide a common EPM platform that would create a strong foundation for the future.”
The company wanted to give its employees better access to information—for example, being able to compare the performance of different suppliers—aiding the decision-making process and ultimately helping to define the company’s portfolio roadmap. Ernst says: “With such insight we can learn lessons for future project performance. For example, we’ll introduce strategic modelling to improve alignment with organisational strategy.”
Working with Microsoft Partner Program Framework, the company chose an EPM solution using Project Server 2010 and Microsoft Project Professional 2010 built on Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010. These technologies offer Thomas Cook Online flexible work management solutions by combining collaboration platform services and structured execution capabilities.
Project Server 2010 is the engine of the solution, which simplifies time and status reporting by intuitively creating reports and building powerful dashboards. Users can choose from preconfigured and localised best practice report templates. In addition, Project Server 2010 uses Excel Services in Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 and other business intelligence (BI) features included in SharePoint Server 2010.
Around 60 account holders at Thomas Cook Online use the new system. Poor access to information and lack of consistency are now a thing of the past with the unified project and portfolio management system.
Active engagement by Program Framework helped reduce the complexity and time to deploy the solution, and manage culture change within the business. And, having changed the way they manage projects, they’re now more productive.
“Program Framework was proactive in its approach. It embedded the new processes and ensured that all users were comfortable with the solution, while minimising the cost to the company.”
“Microsoft Project Server 2010 has provided us with stronger project governance, improved prioritising, and centralised document storage. All staff now have visibility of projects.”
Andreas Ernst, Head of Change Portfolio, Thomas Cook Online