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How do I find

the right project management tool? - Part II

 

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

In my last blog post, I dealt with the eight phases of project management in order to better explain the requirements for a project management tool for the Gruner Group. In this second part, we now look at the further requirements for such a tool from the perspective of information, knowledge and communication management.

Information management in the project management process

Documentation management and archiving
Each of our projects has a wide variety of documents. This includes contracts, invoices, calculations, notes, plans, BIM models and correspondence related to the project. The aim of document management in the project process is to have a digital storage and archiving solution based on metadata. Documents have to be quickly searchable and filterable, and the linking to projects, project tasks or customers has to be easy. The originator, document status, version, etc. are therefore uniquely linked to the individual documents.

Tasks/pending tasks management
The creation, allocation and coordination of tasks plays an important role in the kick-off of a project as well as in project handling. The project manager invests a large part of his available working hours in this area. What is required here is an intuitive and efficient way to manage tasks. Alongside resource allocation, this also includes the scheduling of the task as well as the ability for status and progress analysis.

Knowledge management in the project management process

Identification of employee competences
The Gruner Group benefits from the knowledge and expertise of its own employees. Growing company structures make the search for the appropriate internal specialist for a particular project more difficult.
When it comes to offer proposals, the qualifications of the company’s own employees should also reinforce the quality of the services offered, thereby increasing the chances of winning an offer. For this reason, the knowledge, skills and training of employees must be searchable and filterable for the entire company.

Identification of reference projects
The form and content of an offer, as well as the project planning, are individually tailored to the respective customer. This alone enables us to improve both the chances of an order and the customer's satisfaction with the project handling. However, many new projects have already been planned or created in a similar way. Reference sheets must be available to the project manager in a searchable and filterable form and enable him to quickly find the appropriate reference project. On this basis, it will be possible to prepare offers faster and in a more targeted manner while planning projects more efficiently.

Company wiki & sample templates
The aim is to keep knowledge in the company long-term, to secure it and make it available to all employees. A company wiki and sample templates are the basis to achieving this.

Communication management in the project management process 

Recording contacts & storing communication
As described in the market observation phase, particular importance is attached to the recording of the customer and partner network as well as the presentation of customer-related activities. The intuitive and simple guidance of the user through the process of contact recording or a largely automatic registration of communication processes is relevant. The cost of system maintenance must be significantly lower than the yield of the information obtained. Otherwise, the added value can hardly be communicated to the user.

Project chat
Project management depends on the communication of different project parties. The aim is to bundle the communication of a project centrally and make it possible to incorporate external project parties. This makes it easy and effective to exchange information on project topics and view documents.

Functions of the project management tool

The entirety of the requirements results from the described project phases and the processes behind them, on the one hand, and from the classical functional requirements for a modern and user-oriented software solution, on the other hand. In the following, I will discuss the user-oriented software solution.

User management
The goal is a group-based assignment of permissions which enables changes of permissions on a global basis and provide the Gruner Group with an individually tailored access system.

Operation
The operation of the software solution must be as simple and intuitive as possible. The user should be guided and excessive training should be avoided.

Mobility
The software solution must be usable on all devices worldwide.

Scalability
The project scopes are scaled quite differently within the company. The project management software must offer the possibility to handle different project types and sizes or to flexibly adapt the project process.

Interoperability
An exchange must be possible between the new project management software and existing or new systems. The software must also be modifiable and the stored data structure must be usable. Depending on the scope of services provided by the project management software, the future exchange with additional CRM and HR systems is also relevant.

Efficiency
Every tool must fulfill its purpose optimally, otherwise it is no good. The same applies to a project management tool, of course. Short response times, fast loading processes and a fast and extensive integrated search function are important to efficiently support users.

Multilingualism
The employees of the Gruner Group must be supported in their language in the project management process. This requires the availability of German, English and French.

Currency
The Gruner Group operates internationally. Support for all common currencies is therefore a prerequisite for successful implementation.

Notification system
The software solution is designed to support not only the project, but also the department and business managers in their respective functions and to minimize risks. This includes a notification system that warns the function owner of exceeding or falling below specified thresholds. The execution of projects, task planning and document workflow must be supported by status messages.

Configurable workflows
The integration of workflows must simplify validation and verification processes and ensure the quality of documents or planning steps.

Technology
The software solution must correspond to a modern, accepted and user-oriented state of technology. This includes, for example, the use on mobile devices. In addition, it should also be possible to access the underlying database or connect further software solutions via interfaces.

Availability
The Gruner Group is interested in a long-term and sustainable solution. Long-term support and the expectation of long-term product maintenance are basic prerequisites for the choice of software provider. The company deliberately does not rely on niche solutions.

Handling
The system should be easy to install, maintenance and upkeep should inexpensive and cost-efficient.

Data
Data security plays a special role. The Gruner Group guarantees the customer a high level of data security and efficient and manageable data management.

Level of development
In order to avoid implementation difficulties and acceptance problems, the product should have an advanced level of development. The software solution must already be used successfully in other companies, ideally in the same industry.

Conclusion

The desired requirements, functions and the envisaged scope of a software solution in the field of project management are very complex. The user groups and their respective functions in the current project flow are manifold. No project management tool on the market covers all requirements and is already available in a customized form. Intensive cooperation with the evaluated software vendor is necessary in order to meet the needs of the Gruner Group optimally.

Stefan Aufdermauer is Chairman of the Executive Board of Gruner Berchtold Eicher AG with core competencies in infrastructure construction, construction and environment.