Introduction: Improving the management of internal projects and processes
One of the world’s largest engineering and construction companies reached out to Belatrix looking for a technological partner to assist them in finding the best solution to enhance some of their internal processes. In particular, the company was interested in improving the way they handled staffing and budgeting. This led Belatrix to come up with an innovative cross-functional solution that improved the quality of communication between projects.
The issue: The need to improve information sharing
The company was facing a series of issues with efficiency and lack of consistency between their ongoing projects. Typically they relied on Microsoft Excel to manage projects and people, which was highly inefficient. However, due to the fact that projects often had commonalities and relied on the same information, at Belatrix we saw potential to create a software solution which would enhance information sharing. The initial project was to create a human resources staffing application, but soon we also developed associated project management applications. By doing this, the company would avoid reprocessing data, and solve the problem of not sharing information between projects. The solution would also help maintain consistency in project management between different locations.
The challenges: Overcoming vendor-client issues when two companies are very different
The company had a couple of organizational dynamics that required flexibility in order to work effectively together, which are worth highlighting here.
Firstly, the company operates at a global scale with many thousands of employees. Its decision-making processes reflected a company of such magnitude. Decisions were often escalated into committees, rather than being dealt with directly. Initially, for the Belatrix team, this was a challenge because it could lead to delays, it impacted communication, and at times it was difficult to gain clarification with regards to requirements. However, understanding by both the Belatrix team and the client as to the different ways of working, helped us overcome them, and quickly start thriving together.
A second challenge we had was the way the company was used to working – having a Waterfall mindset and approach was the norm. At Belatrix, we work with Agile – known for its iterative deliveries and Sprints. This was therefore the polar opposite. Having such a different framework that was so ingrained in the company’s DNA was at first challenging. However, again we took the time to understand the company, how they worked, and were able to quickly get the grip of it and work effectively together.
The solution: Creating software platforms to help improve efficiency and coordination
Initially, we developed a human resources staffing application. We designed this web platform to enable managers to manage staff according to their professional profiles, roles and skill sets. The application had to consider other important aspects such as the location of the construction site, the current labor legislation, the entrance/exit of different people from projects – depending on the different tasks they needed to perform – hourly accounting and roster administration, amongst others.
As we worked on this project, we discovered complementary solutions, which could provide significant help to the company – such as a tool to better manage all the different parts of a construction project, which could then be shared between different projects. Furthermore, we developed additional solutions that could calculate both staff and material costs, based on initial forecasts.
Up to today, the initial project has evolved into 5 different software solutions that address both staffing and material management. Apart from our regular software development, quality assurance and user experience (UX) services, we have also integrated ongoing support, to both our solutions as well as applications previously owned and developed by the company.
The outcome: Software solutions help drive major business benefits
The outcome for the company has been highly positive since we have been able to deliver a series of web applications that have improved their overall project management. On the one hand, the human resources application helped them improve their staffing and internal management. By doing this, the company could make sure the most suitable professional profiles were available according to the different stages of the projects. On the other hand, the project resource tracking application improved their cost management, providing a reliable solution that helped them stay on track with their estimates and forecasts in terms of material availability.
All of our solutions offered the possibility to communicate with each other, which boosted the company’s internal efficiency and helped share information. Bearing this in mind, we also integrated our solutions with additional third-party applications, such as SAP, to further assist core business operations such as resource planning, managing financial transactions, product life cycles, and supply chain activities, amongst others.
We have been able to establish a close ongoing relationship with the company. In the long run, this has been of great benefit since we have taken care of crucial requirements as well as finding additional ways to create solutions for them. Moreover, identifying development needs was of great convenience for the company since we were able to leverage their internal processes through solutions that would easily integrate with each other. It was because of this that the company decided to add 3 additional applications to the initial scope.
It’s worth highlighting that we were able to foster fluid communication which led to fewer issues in the development process. Regular reporting and effective communication helped identify issues early, and enabled us to stay on the planned roadmap and avoid any delays.
Finally, we acquired valuable understanding of the company’s business dynamics which empowered us to be more proactive yet independent. We have become a trusted partner that understands their needs, their internal dynamics and most importantly, is able to deliver solutions that exceed their initial expectations.
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