Hess Corporation, a Fortune 500 Company, is an American global independent energy organization engaged in the exploration and production of crude oil and natural gas. Given that its primary mission is predicated on energy, Hess at any given time has approximately 300+ projects in various geographic locations around the world to extract oil and natural gas reserves.
For several years, the Project Management Office (PMO) in Houston, Texas charged with managing these exploration and production projects had been successfully using Microsoft PPM technology in the form of Project Server 2007 (on premise) to house all essential data related to projects, resources, and assignments. A typical project managed by this office could easily have 200-300 tasks and a life cycle of up to 3 years and beyond.
As would be expected, with its continued use and adoption, the PMO had grown increasingly reliant on Microsoft’s enterprise project portfolio management tool as a critical piece for overseeing its ongoing energy operations involving 50 project managers and hundreds of human resources.
As much value as this system had already been providing Hess, there had also been an accumulation of challenges to its performance, robustness, and reliability from a technical standpoint. By this time, Project Server 2007 had already reached the end of its life and Microsoft was no longer supporting it because they had already released a substantially improved version several years earlier—Project Server 2010. Tim Zhang, an IT Administrator at Hess, was then tapped by his superiors to get ahead of the curve by spearheading the move to the new Microsoft software and platform.
Another compelling reason for Hess to upgrade was also to take advantage of the many new features available that had been included with the Project Server 2010 release such as Excel Power Pivot Reports for visualized business intelligence, project life cycle workflows, and newly incorporated portfolio analysis and selection tools.
While taking the helm, Tim quickly discovered it was going to be a much more complex operation to upgrade and migrate all existing project data than initially thought. There were also custom web parts in the 2007 version that were going to have to be significantly reworked for 2010. He also uncovered lingering bugs within the system because many of the prior updates and service patches released by Microsoft had not been properly installed over the years.
As if this were not enough, Tim had been mandated to complete the upgrade in a month without a single minute of downtime or disruption to business operations.
Solution & Results
Realizing that going at it alone was not a feasible option, Hess quickly issued a request for proposal and awarded the project in record time to EPM Solutions of San Ramon, California partially based on the highly detailed estimate and step-by-step upgrade plan. Tim was also impressed: “EPM Solutions and its employees were very flexible. They were willing to work around the schedule of the Hess IT team to make the upgrade and migration happen on the extremely tight timeline required by our leadership.”
With the clock ticking, EPM Solutions, as a first measure, immediately set up a complex test environment to begin executing the tedious upgrade and migration plan so no byte of data would be lost and Hess operations would not be interrupted for even a nanosecond. Greg Winterhalter, Senior Director, equated the time-sensitive operation to the “IT and project management version of performing a heart transplant.” The multi-step and iterative process involved many migrations of data to the test environment where it had to be manipulated and cleansed based on multiple error logs.
Some complications arose during the operation including a variety of data corruption errors in SharePoint 2007—the platform that Microsoft Project Server is built on—that had to be isolated, analyzed, and fixed for the test environment. Some of these errors included a top-level site not being available and many missing pages of data. While making use of automated tools to perform the bulk of the migration, EPM Solutions had to resolve the errors and exceptions manually.
Once the test environment was in perfect condition, it was time to perform the most delicate operation—a full migration to the production environment. EPM Solutions was given one weekend by Hess to make this happen. Everything had to be completed by the open of business on Monday morning. Working around the clock that weekend, EPM Solutions team performed a full upgrade and migration to the Hess production server without even the slightest hiccup.
Tim, who now works as an Economic and Decision Analysis Specialist, noted, “EPM employees were very knowledgeable, dedicated, and professional. They made the production cut-over seamless to the end users.” He further added, “Management was very happy with the results and quality of their work.” As evidenced by the Hess experience, delivering what you promise along with providing consistent transparency and trust are the hallmarks of an EPM Solutions client engagement.
Project Server Migration
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