Motorola-GEMS Case Study

As published in PDMA Visions magazine:

The Government and Enterprise Mobility Solutions (GEMS) business unit of Motorola is a multi-billion dollar per year business with 6000 to 8000 resources in locations throughout the world. GEMS has well-defined product and project life cycle management processes that apply to all product development projects. Motorola standardized Primavera TeamPlay as their corporate enterprise project management system. All product delivery projects are represented by a project plan in TeamPlay, after initial approval. Projects tend to be large, long, and complex; and TeamPlay is well-suited to handle a large number of such projects.

However, many departmental and nonproduct projects are not represented in TeamPlay. As a result, there was no easy way to assess resource availability for proposed projects. According to Matt Vlasaty, a department manager in GEMS Engineering, “The rolled up resource demand from the project scheduling system is highly inaccurate and extremely difficult to reconcile.” As a result, GEMS developed a home-grown resource planning tool (Integrated Resource Management System or IRMS) some years ago to address this problem of forward resource planning and management for new projects.

While IRMS was reasonably successful at gathering and presenting resource planning data, there were many problems with it. Perhaps the most serious according to Brian Pohlman, GEMS Program Office Director, was that “resource managers hated it and its user interface.” The GEMS management team wisely pulled together a working group to define requirements for a replacement. The working group included a representative sample of highly experienced and credible mid-level resource managers as well as very capable members of the engineering organization tools support team.

After many months of meetings and work, the team specified a set of requirements for an effective resource planning and management solution. The key requirements were as follows:

  • Accountability: The solution must have clear roles and responsibilities for the key stakeholders in this process – the project managers, the resource managers, and the senior (portfolio) management team. It is especially important to leverage the knowledge of the resource managers and put them at the heart of the resource planning solution.
  • Accuracy and Consistency: All resource managers must use the system to enter or validate their resource plans; as standard practice, resource managers forecast resource demand for the upcoming two to six months on a weekly, biweekly, or monthly basis.
  • Timeliness and Flexibility: An organization-wide resource forecast update must be completed in days rather than weeks (or months). The tools and process must be flexible, easy to use, and designed for resource management. The tool must have low overhead for the resource managers and project managers who supply the data.
  • Actionable analysis : The tool must provide consolidati on and interactive, actionable analysis at the portfolio level.


The GEMS team specified a grid-style data entry and presentation interface with Microsoft Excel-type application functionality. But something more than Excel was needed to get consolidation and actionable analysis of resource supply-demand conflicts in a prioritized project portfolio.

They purchased and deployed PDWare, a commercially available system designed for resource planning and management. The system allows the resource managers to easily enter and update resource information on a project basis. The project-level data is then automatically consolidated and presented in an actionable format at the portfolio level. GEMS trained 300+ managers in a period of about two months from the deployment go decision and held portfolio management team meetings that were based on resource manager data within a few months of the final training sessions.

After several portfolio review meetings, GEMS executive, strategic, and financial management and portfolio, and resource department directors all agreed that they have actionable analysis that is helping them make better and more timely portfolio decisions. One GEMS manager in Europe said, “If I had had this tool and process in December last year, I could have completed the planning exercise in one week instead of the three months it took.”