Gloria Keating knows good project and process management when she sees it. She lives it every day in her role as CFO of P1 Group, one of the largest multi-specialty contractors in the Midwest. With over a thousand projects open in any given month at P1, Keating has seen both the positive effects of seamless systems as well as the cascading complications that occur in poorly-designed and executed technology solutions.
When Keating and her colleagues first embarked on their plan to automate more project tasks, forms and controls the assignment seemed daunting since it needed to be a custom solution.
“We did our homework and we were thorough in our initial vendor selection process, but we still had problems,” said Keating. “We found ourselves with underpowered technology that wasn’t properly designed for us or our needs. It was frustrating and expensive.”
Productivity suffered, problems lingered and finally the decision was made to research alternatives. P1 Group eventually found PSC Group and decided to test them with a small project that turned out okay.
Keating and her P1 executive colleagues then hired PSC Group to overhaul The Link, P1’s internal project management site that sits on the Microsoft SharePoint platform. It was too slow and wasn’t optimized for P1’s email or workflow.
With P1’s project management and support divisions combined, total users add up to about 110. Internal hosting wasn’t keeping up with the demand.
“Step one was to successfully move our SharePoint platform from a 2010 to 2013 version which has greatly improved performance,” said Keating.
As for workflow, there seemed to be way too many steps needed to accomplish basic tasks. Sarah Garcia is a trainer and workflow specialist at P1 and has over 15 years of experience.
“We’re always looking for the shortest distance between two points,” said Garcia. “That means designing systems that require fewer keystrokes, mouse-clicks and processing time.”
Garcia and Keating asked PSC Group to simplify some of the highest volume and most critical tasks:
1. Requests for Information (RFI)
2. Change Orders and Response Tracking – Audit trails of delivery, approvals, pricing and changes.
3. Submittals – Approval process for materials, products, parts, supplies, etc. that P1 will install on projects.
“RFIs occur on the majority of our projects,” said Garcia. “We are seeking clarification that requires a timely response. It is important that we can track the status of all RFIs.”
PSC Group created email-based wizards that automatically connect with SharePoint and produce RFI forms that can be instantly emailed to all project stakeholders, including contractors, building owners, and the field staff.
Garcia estimates the new PSC Group-designed Link is three times faster than the previous version. “We can now create an RFI in just a few minutes instead of 10. The simplified process makes life easier on our Project Managers,” said Garcia.
Additionally, the email integration capability of The Link now means important project documents are no longer stored in individual Outlook accounts but rather in the project folder in The Link, where other team members can access them.
Garcia’s own productivity has also increased. There’s been very little troubleshooting after the launch of the new Link.
“When we went live, we didn’t think people were using the system because my phone wasn’t ringing and I wasn’t getting emails asking for help,” said Garcia. “Then we quickly realized that people were indeed generating the new forms, but because PSC made them so intuitive and user friendly, no one was calling me for help.”
Based on the success of the initial project with PSC Group, Keating and Garcia are already planning for the next set of The Link upgrades. They want PSC to deploy the Link on iPads and mobile devices so employees in the field can use the system in real time on the job.
“We’re excited to engage PSC on new projects,” said Keating. “They do great work and the upgrades have helped us tremendously as a company.”
View the .pdf: Building a Better Link Between Projects and Processes