ABOUT THE CUSTOMER Incorporated in 2000, Abritas is an independent supplier of web-based, fully managed business systems to over 180 local authorities throughout the United Kingdom (UK), including housing associations and social care providers.
Abritas offers a range of modules to manage key areas of social housing including housing register, choice-based lettings, homelessness, enhanced housing options and tenancies and rents. The company’s fully integrated web solution is available across key aspects of social housing to provide applicants and staff with a complete solution from online applications to online advertisement and bidding, shortlisting and social housing allocation.
MAIN CHALLENGES Replace Microsoft Project desktop Manage project budgets, resources and performance more closely Offer greater project task visibility for overruns to ensure swift action Abritas’ expansion and growth created the need to more closely manage project budgets, resources and the performance of the growing number of client implementation projects running concurrently. With a separate timesheet system used to track time, and Microsoft Project used to track project progress, the company relied on a number of manual reports that were created to determine costs and to monitor performance.
“Estimating accurate costs at the start of a project, and the expected cost at completion, was a challenge,” explains the program manager. “More often than not, issues relating to project task overruns were not visible early enough to take action. The management team had to rely on manual reports being created on a weekly basis to track status and highlight any risks or delays across the project program.”
WHY PROJECT INSIGHT Program planning to determine project costs and profit estimates Project planning that provides regular updates and status reports Project financial performance reporting to monitor each project’s current and forecasted profit based on real-time status and costs incurred Program performance reporting that provides overall profit monitoring across all projects and specific alerts relating to major cost overruns Project documentation to ensure quality checks are completed at critical points in the project Custom forms and fields to manage product enhancement requests and plan future system releases based on priority enhancements Abritas identified four key criteria that a potential solution would need in order to address the major challenges faced by both project managers and the management team:
Identify a project management solution to replace Microsoft Project desktop Ensure the solution could replace timesheets with an easy-to-use interface Provide real-time project progress reporting that closely monitored the entire project program, highlighting delays or task overruns affecting project profitability Provide each project resource with a clear list of tasks along with the order to be completed, and when “In meeting with team leaders across the business, we identified an additional key criterion: the need to replace the system we used to manage the issues or faults our clients identified,” the program manager says.
By integrating this issue management functionality into the project management solution, project managers would be able to raise issues specifically against project tasks, assign these to individuals for resolution and track the time spent resolving each issue.
After searching the market to identify which project management solutions potentially met the majority of the company’s criteria, the program manager selected three providers to undergo a four-step trial.
He explains: “The three solutions were scored based on each of our key evaluation criteria, their general ease of use, and their general ability to customize the project management software specifically to our own requirements. Of the three solutions, Project Insight not only scored highest in each of the key criteria, it was the only solution that could be self-hosted or installed on premise which, though not a key requirement originally, offered us the ability to take ownership of the solution and technology while being fully supported by the Project Insight technical support team.”
THE RESULTS See a complete picture of actual project costs incurred to date and the expected forecasted profit at project completion Take quick action to mitigate key areas of overrun or concern Capture projects and time within a single system to more accurately assess performance Obtain an easy-to-use software solution to manage projects more closely within a collaborative environment Provide a project management solution tailored to Abritas’ business needs to ensure the company proactively manages project delivery and analyzes performance for future improvements Project Insight was installed in May 2010, and by October 2010 all client implementation projects had been migrated into the project management software.
What’s the biggest benefit of implementing Project Insight project management software?
According to the program manager, “It’s having a complete picture of the actual project costs incurred to date and the expected forecasted profit at project completion. Previously we manually compiled this information from reports generated within separate systems, which was time consuming. And, in reality, the information was out of date by the time it was compiled. There was no ability to really analyze or drill into the data specifically when project performance was suffering.”
Because both project managers and the management team now have a real-time picture of project performance, they can quickly take action to mitigate key areas of overrun or concern. With projects and time captured within a single system, project managers now can more accurately assess performance and, retrospectively, adapt project plans to ensure greater accuracy in the future.
The program manager sums up, “Project Insight offers our users an easy-to-use solution with all the benefits of Microsoft Project and a time management solution, but with the capability we require to manage projects more closely within a collaborative environment. We now have the ability to more accurately plan timescales and costs during the sales process as well as more closely manage projects’ performance to reduce overrun and maximize profitability. The Project Insight solution also enables us to tailor our own business needs to ensure we proactively manage project delivery while analyzing project performance to address areas for future improvement.”
Project Insight worked so well for project management, that now the development teams also use the software to more accurately plan their system releases and determine resource requirements.