To achieve the economies of scale needed to keep healthcare costs in check,
WellPoint had to do more than just win a handful of new state and federal contracts. It needed to ramp up rapidly by acquiring another insurance company,
so in mid-2012 it bought Amerigroup to create the largest Medicaid managed
care company in the United States. WellPoint executives charged the PMO with
quickly integrating the organizations’ government business once the acquisition
closed in December 2012.
“The PMO was looked at as the place for integrating the existing WellPoint
Medicaid business into Amerigroup’s systems, processes, people and tools,
because we had the established expertise in the marketplace,” Ms. Arcari says.
The PMO team also had expertise with large-scale integration projects, having completed Amerigroup’s acquisition of a competitor in New York, New
York, in the first half of 2012. For that project, the PMO was tasked with combining two organizations as quickly as possible while ensuring continuity of care
for nearly 500,000 people, with zero erosion of membership and 100 percent
service integration. Raising the stakes further, local, state and federal regulators
closely watched the 500-person project team. The project was completed within
budget in less than six months.
“We were told by the state that it was one of the most seamless integrations
they had ever witnessed,” says Melissa Biancardi, PMP, director, PMO, GBD,
WellPoint, Chesapeake, Virginia.
From there, the PMO integrated several of the WellPoint-Amerigroup lines of
business in 2013—and then faced its biggest challenge yet. It had anticipated that
its 2013 portfolio would comprise 15 projects, but GBD executives brought in an
additional 15 from WellPoint’s Medicaid line of business, doubling the portfolio
overnight. On top of this, the scope of several ACA-related projects increased.
The PMO quickly grew its roster of practitioners to 45—and relied on the
scalable, repeatable project frameworks it established years earlier. “The biggest challenge we had with the rapid growth was being able to staff projects
appropriately. Having the standardized processes in place really helped to
bring everybody together and allowed us to get through all of the projects on
time and within budget,” says Pam Piekney, PMP, director, project improvement and management, PMO, GBD, WellPoint, Chesapeake, Virginia.
At the Core
Today, the PMO’s nearly 60 practitioners manage a US$4 billion portfolio of
Looking back on four years of immense change, Ms. Arcari sees a direct
connection between the PMO and the organization’s competitive edge. Every
proposal the organization submits for new government business highlights the
PMO’s implementation expertise as a core competency. In 2013, it won every
Medicaid contract it bid on.
“Our project management philosophy allows us to get to market ahead of our
competitors, and to develop tailored solutions to meet the needs of our customers, no matter how diverse they might be,” she says. PM
challenge we had
with the rapid
growth was being
able to staff projects
processes in place
really helped to bring
and allowed us to
get through all of the
projects on time and
—Pam Piekney, PMP, WellPoint,
Chesapeake, Virginia, USA