Ascend Performance Materials Increases Work Visibility by 40% using BrightWork


Ascend Performance Materials


Construction and Manufacturing, Energy

Organization Size

Large Enterprise



The CIO at Ascend Performance Materials was challenged with building a Project Management Office (PMO) and introducing a project management culture to the IT Department. Historically, only IT projects with significant capital investment were being formally managed and there was no visibility across functions for project status, issues or progress. During the RFP process, a need was identified for a collaboration-based project management tool that could be implemented quickly and also incorporate the IT Governance process and PMI-based project methodology.

Two people were tasked with building this framework from the ground-up – Dennis Conley and Mohan Motupalli, recently-hired PMO managers.

In The End Every Project Is An Investment

The defining moment came in early 2014 when the CIO of Ascend Performance Materials, Melissa Scheppele, decided the organization needed a clearer view of all projects regardless of the level of investment.

“In the end every project is an investment“, says Dennis Conley, “so we needed a way to track even the small projects people were working on and measure the benefits of those projects.”

Melissa wanted to instil a “project culture” within the IT department to improve consistency, collaboration and project success.

Since the majority of project managers would be seasoned professionals wearing many hats, it was vital that the selected application have an exceptional user experience that would encourage adoption. For similar reasons, it was also crucial that the chosen application would not create a lot of unnecessary overhead commonly associated with many PPM applications.

It was after discussing these requirements with their SharePoint Administrator, Jessica Hardy, that Dennis and Mohan were pointed in the direction of the BrightWork Free Templates.  After about 6 months of configuring and using the free templates and other home-grown SharePoint solutions for demand management, project management and portfolio management, the PMO began to look outside for a commercially-available project management tool based on SharePoint.

BrightWork is an integrated collaborative project and portfolio management SharePoint application. Even if you do not have a project management office background, with BrightWork you can run a suitable level of project discipline and governance out-of-the-box.
Dennis Conley and Mohan Motupalli
PMO Managers, Ascend Performance Materials


Decision & Implementation

Dennis and Mohan both knew that they wanted an application that seamlessly integrated with SharePoint. This instantly eliminated many vendors. They were very pleased with the features of BrightWork from the outset and were able to take the out-of-the-box templates and configure them to match many of the requirements set by the IT Leadership team, thus ensuring IT departmental adoption.

They then purchased BrightWork Project Office Deployment Services and worked with Scott Footlik – a BrightWork Customer Success Architect, to carefully map out the rest of the requirements and functional deployments. Using an agile approach to deploying BrightWork, the team planned their requirements and built them, tested the results, made improvements and then moved on to the next function.

This approach resulted in a three-phase deployment; starting with demand management, then project collaboration sites and finally portfolio and reporting management.

Over approximately six months the functional deployments were completed in the cloud, and after a two month pilot period, the application was running in APM’s production environment.


ROI is Evident

Deploying BrightWork has given Ascend Performance Materials visibility into projects that they didn’t have before. For example, they are able to track metrics across projects that project $26 million in hard dollar benefits.

They have also exceeded expectations from a consistency and accountability perspective; both the number of project requests and active projects have more than doubled since deployment and they have eliminated approximately 40% of work that was historically being done off to the side.

Executive championing has been vital to the success of the BrightWork application within Ascend Performance Materials. For instance, rather than create PowerPoints and Excel sheets, IT and business leadership can now log into the BrightWork application to demonstrate and answer questions in real time at executive meetings.

This has helped to raise visibility of the application across the organization. Other departments are now investigating their own BrightWork deployment.

Ascend Performance Materials is a global premium provider of high-quality chemicals, fibers and plastics. Its mission is to provide primary products and services that inspire the success of the company, team members, customers and communities.

The company is nearing its seven-year anniversary and is headquartered in Houston, Texas with five plant locations across the southeastern United States.

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