The Senior Vice President of Information Technology (IT) for Kempinski Hotels directs IT initiatives for the company. He oversees the work of four regional IT directors representing teams in Eastern Europe, Western Europe, Middle East, Africa, and China.
- No centralized, company-wide view of project status
- Difficulty handling project dependencies
- Multiple copies of project files, causing version-control problems
"The regional IT director is an embedded position. That is, each is a hotel IT manager is responsible for a particular property," he said, "but they spend between 30 and 50 percent of their time on regional IT activities." At the corporate office in Geneva, Switzerland, the senior vice president said, "I have an infrastructure team, I have a hotel technology team, I have a collaboration and web services team, and I also have a hotel information systems team."
His regional IT teams are involved in many different types of projects, but most involve either taking over an existing hotel or assisting with the build of a brand new hotel. He explained, "We have to be involved in a new build at a relatively early stage, because the cabling goes in, the ceilings are down and the walls are not finished, whereas in a takeover, we take what's there. The hotel's running. We just have to make it work and we have to retrofit our systems in as much as possible. So they're two very different beasts in terms of project management and what's required." A typical project load for the Regional IT Director, who directs IT for the China region, is one very large project, which is typically the opening of a new hotel.
Currently, he's directing the IT aspects of preparing the 340 room Kempinski Hotel Huizhou to open on July 1, 2011 in Huizhou, China. "This project is huge and encompasses many subprojects, which are organized into subgroups such as front office, food and beverage, finance, sales and marketing, human resources, purchasing, and so on. We work simultaneously on parallel tasks." Prior to signing on with Project Insight, the Kempinski Hotels IT teams managed projects with a combination of tools and processes, including MS Project desktop. The senior vice president of IT said, "We also have a collaboration platform called Teaming, which is a Novell product. It's not in itself a project management tool, but it allows users to collaborate on files, such as using MS Project or Excel to work on the same document."
In addition, the regional IT director noted, "We created a critical path template in Excel as it was the only tool available at that time. The main issue was that Excel was not designed with the notion of dependencies. Therefore, it took us a great deal of time when we had to update tasks that were related to each other." Without a centralized project management system, the senior vice president relied on manual reporting from regional IT managers and his own corporate IT staff to check in on the status of projects. However, he said, "I wanted something that I could use to very easily look at the status of a project in any of the regions." With regard to the hotels his teams help set up, senior vice president of IT said, "We didn't want to be buying software licenses on behalf of our hotels; we're a management company. But we wanted to give the hotels an option that if they wanted to use a project management tool there was one that we had certified and said was our preferred solution."