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How do I find

the right project management tool

 

Gruner Berchtold Eicher AG
Stefan Aufdermauer, Civil Engineer (ETH) 
Stefan[punkt]Aufdermauer [ät] gruner[punkt]ch

...that meets all of my company’s needs?

The Gruner Group’s vision “Inspiring for outstanding achievements. Innovative for the world of tomorrow” makes an essential demand of a company’s project management: What is needed is a software solution that meets the various requirements within the Gruner Group in a wide-ranging and risk-oriented way in the project process and enables a comprehensive and quality-oriented project management. Both small and large projects are to be managed in a structured and economical manner, and the user is to be supported efficiently and sustainably in his work.

The success of the PM tool is not only reflected in the preferably straightforward integration of the software into the existing system environment, but above all in the benefits and validity of the information maintained in the system for project, business and corporate management.

Where is a project management software needed?
The project management software should generally be used everywhere where the Gruner Group provides planning and consulting services.

The decisive factor is how well the software supports these services. Since almost all activities in the company are directly or indirectly connected with the execution of projects, it is not only a matter of supporting a limited number of project managers, but rather a company-wide solution for all stakeholders of the Gruner Group.

The company is in an expansion phase. It currently has around 1000 employees. More than 80% of the workforce will work with the project management software, depending on the scope of services. This includes project, department and management employees as well as employees in the administrative area. The area of application of the PM tool will range from local company offices to the project location on construction sites around the world.

What must the software solution be capable of providing?
We look after everything from very small orders, such as for consulting services with an order value of less than 1000 Swiss francs, to major projects such as the planning of a dam with an order value of several million Swiss francs. In order to manage all project sizes, the software solution should offer the possibility to flexibly adapt process barriers and workflows depending on the project scope.

The Gruner Group’s project management process can basically be divided into eight categories.

Phases 1 to 3

Phase 1: Market observation
During the market observation phase, the responsible employees record and review the potential acquisition opportunities. The observation process and the contact with potential customers must be transparent. The aim is to record the entire customer and partner network as well as the presentation of all customer-related activities. Based on an analysis of the market situation in connection with the market observation data gained in the system, new acquisition potential is to be tapped.

Phase 2: Offer 
All promising market observations flow into the offer phase. We check the offers and the associated offer preparation for their opportunities and risks and, if the result is positive, we submit an offer. It is of particular importance that document templates can be integrated and documents created can be checked, saved and revised. The status of a submitted offer must be up to date and visible at all times. A short evaluation follows upon a won or lost offer, which enables a continuous improvement process within the offer phase.

Phase 3: Project kick-off
As soon as an order confirmation is received, the project kicks off. The primary focus is on:

  • administrative maintenance of the central project and client information
  • planning and initial allocation of resources and responsibilities as well as the
  • formation of schedules and milestones

Contracts and other project documentation such as organigrams will be created, checked, distributed and stored in connection with the project or revised during the further course of the project.

Phases 4 to 6

Phase 4: Resource planning
While an initial allocation of resources at the project level already takes place during the project kick-off, a large number of projects running in parallel need to be carefully surveyed and planned during this phase. Bottlenecks and lack of resource utilization must be identified, the project managers' plans checked and approved. The focus is on short- and medium-term resource utilization at departmental level as well as long-term personnel planning at management level.

Phase 5: Time tracking
The actual tracking of working time, but also vacation and sick time is the opposite side of the coin of resource planning. Time and expenses are reported individually by the employee and approved by the supervisor. The analysis of time tracking provides information on flextime and vacation time, indicates missed time and serves as the foundation for the project assessment based on internal employee hours and expenses.

Phase 6: Project handling
If the first timetable of a project is defined at the time of project kick-off, one can speak of project handling in terms of a route adjustment or control correction. The focus is on adapting originally planned tasks, resources, deadlines and invoicing to actual needs. During project handling, we process changes and react to newly acquired external or internal information. What is relevant here is that the project resources can be flexibly adapted without losing essential information from the original planning. As with the project kick-off, the adapting of resource plans must be checked and approved by a supervisor.

Phases 7 to 8

Phase 7: Project monitoring
A stringent project process can minimize risks. On the one hand, this includes the active management of the project manager through the project process and on the other hand, meaningful project monitoring based on predefined key figures. In this phase, project progress, quality of implementation and cost developments are evaluated and analyzed. If previously defined thresholds are exceeded, this leads to a notification of project managers and supervisors and thus serves as a key figure and risk-oriented project management process. Monitoring projects across all hierarchies must be possible.

Phase 8: Project conclusion
In the last phase, project documents and contact developments are archived and the final invoice is sent. However, it is also a matter of transferring knowledge and ensuring that the findings of a completed project can be used for future project work in the company. This includes 

  • the creation of reference documentation, 
  • the transfer of newly acquired insights for use in subsequent projects as well as 
  • obtaining customer satisfaction feedback. 

This information must be collected and made available to employees for future work.

Further requirements for the project management tool
From the point of view of information, knowledge and communication management, there are additional requirements. It is important that information entered during the project process is accessible and useful in a sustainable manner. An actual reduced workload for the project manager can only be realized when there is secondary and multiple use of information.

I will explain the relevant requirements in an upcoming blog post.