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Nicky ClarkeMay 10 20236 min read

Unlocking the Power of Alignment, with David Bullard, Oracle

Our recent roadmapping webinar focused on alignment and our guest speaker, David Bullard, Senior Director, Industry Innovation at Oracle gave us some insights as to why alignment throughout a business is so important.   

Our Guest Speaker

David works with Construction & Engineering teams focused on industry innovation and has a huge amount of experience with Project & Portfolio Management, Project Controls, and in particular using Oracle products, such as P6/Primavera. He’s been with Oracle for 4.5 years with a focus on capital planning and long-range planning. But it was with regards to strategic planning, that David thought there had to be a more elegant, efficient way of doing this other than using excel and spreadsheets to enable better outcomes. 

SharpCloud became an Oracle partner in October 2022 and is helping companies align their project work to business goals. At the time, David said “As an OPN member, SharpCloud adds the benefit of visualizing business goals that provide a natural strategic extension to the Oracle product suite. Being able to dynamically see the relationships across the different layers of a business, such as organizational goals and risks, etc., allows customers to analyze the different perspectives they need to consider in order to discuss alignment and make the right decisions.” 

We want to be the go-to tool when businesses discuss alignment questions such as: Are we delivering against our organizational goals? Are we doing the right work? Do we know our major risks and are we dealing with them? That visibility alone is worth millions of dollars for large enterprise where projects can be worth tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars.

Q&A with David Bullard, Oracle

So why is alignment important? 

Engineering, operation, and project managers need to be on the same page as the executive leadership team creating the strategy, otherwise no matter how well you execute with P6, your outcomes aren’t going to be what you want, there will be no long term health. 

People are the most important thing. It’s about highest and best use. If you’re at the bottom, spending all your time copying and pasting, updating complex Excel spreadsheets, then you’re not spending your time doing the important stuff and you don’t feel like you’re adding the right value.

When you get the alignment, you know you’re working on the right thing with the right tool, and instead of copying/pasting/checking, you’re now looking for and scrutinizing better investment opportunities and building a bridge and credibility between the business side of the company and operations and project management. 

The Construction Industry Institute (CII), who are all about project delivery acknowledge after 40 years, that it’s not just about doing the projects right, it’s about doing the right projects. (2)

Switch employees up a gear! 

If you have an individual contributor who thinks I’m just an analyst or a button pusher, giving them the type of capability SharpCloud has to offer can help them to develop a long-term plan, present it, and come up with visualizations and relationships using SharpCloud that you just can’t get with Excel or PowerPoint. They’re no longer a number cruncher but they’re putting together a 5-year plan and contributing to the long-term health of the business. It’s about improving employee contribution and engagement. 

Telling a story 

Anyone that’s presented are told to tell a story…people can relate to stories. When you can tell your business story in a way that engineers, finance, strategic planners and operations can understand it, you’re showing that you know your business, which give you credibility. One of the biggest problems is a financial group not understanding how, where, and why operations and/or engineering teams are spending the money they say they need to fulfill projects, because they’re not telling the right story. If you can show everything you’re doing, how it ties to your strategy, and how it will grow your revenue and reduce lost depreciation, then that is the right story. 

How do we use roadmapping to ensure we’re having the right conversations around the right projects?  

Alignment is the one-word answer. If leaders are coming up with the right strategy, long term goals, and initiatives, we need to be able to associate every dollar we spend with the strategy. Once the decisions have been made at a high level, and you’re fighting for money, you can use tools like P6 and SharpCloud to show how you align and quantify why your projects are better or the way that your investments add value to the bottom line e.g. total shareholder return, safety, sustainability. 

COVID shone a big light on project management and capital planning. As revenue goes down so does free cash, and so does capital. When times get rough, you need to get proactive and forward looking. While you can go fight for more money, you can see where you can make the necessary cuts. Visibility enables you to see which projects align and which projects should be stopped. 

Biggest lesson learnt at Oracle 

Be okay with little wins. When you really get into organizational change of the discipline in your schedule system, the discipline in assigning the right strategic code or description to projects and then getting it set up in SharpCloud in a way to make it meaningful for different audiences, it can be a challenge.  

People want to go from spreadsheets and paper to Buck Rogers in the 25th century in 6 months which becomes frustrating! Rather than try to turn the ship 180 degrees, try and find one willing group with a lot of pain and try to define a quick win. Be willing to start small and rather than ramming change down people throats, they will come to you as they start to hear about the success you’re having. 

How do you find the early adopters for change? 

I’m always looking for someone who knows their stuff and can articulate their problem…why reporting is tough, why capital planning is hard. You need people or someone who really knows and understands the process using only spreadsheets and paper, in order for a new software to fix the problem….and they need an appetite for change. Otherwise, this just becomes another software application to learn and you’re going to have a hard time. I look for the sharp people who push back on me and who have a willingness to embark on a change journey. 

What keeps you moving forward? 

It’s always about the people. Work is getting done but what excites me is when it’s getting done more efficiently. Meetings go from 2 days to 2 hours because of how we’re able to present the information so we’re all aligned on the decisions to be made. I like it when our work is right.  

Do more with less 

In a recent commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Airtable, Forrester surveyed 1,000+ knowledge workers and discovered hundreds of software tools and manual processes are making silos at enterprises even worse than before. 

According to the report, data silos, manual workflows, and tools like email and spreadsheets are hamstringing organizations as they hide critical data, encourage multiple sources of truth, and make it harder than ever to get work done. 

Key findings include: 

  • Large organizations use an average of 367 different software tools, creating data silos and disrupting processes between teams  
  • 80% of respondents say reducing silos are a top priority for their organization 
  • 46% of respondents say poor business processes increase the risk of manual errors 

Unlock Smarter Collaboration and Alignment Today