Learning the Process – Project Planning
We have often written and given talks about how the nature of work is changing, and here at Momentum we are no exception. Much like how the financial industry has seen both retail and operations transformed by technological innovations, we’ve built a revolutionary project management process around cutting edge tools. And we believe that following our case study can help you build more robust project management processes on your own team.One core benefit of new technology platforms is the automation of routine processes, which translates to less human error, fewer dropped balls, and higher quality end results. And in our case, no platform has made a greater impact than Smartsheet. We’ve been able to integrate it into our construction and information management platforms, Procore and Box, and build workflows that ensure data is accurately captured and updated.
When a project kicks off we populate a Smartsheet schedule and Procore, our construction management platform, via an automatic workflow of Smartsheet forms. These forms are sent off, in order, to project participants who each fill out their details, and on submission, the next form is sent to the next person on the list. This allows preconstruction, construction, design, and accounting teams to weigh in on the project quickly and efficiently.
In the Smartsheet schedules themselves, our project management team has built templates based on dependency and predecessor tasks. These are tasks that depend on each other in a chain. Instead of the time-consuming and error-prone process of manually updating a schedule, Smartsheet automatically updates tasks accurately based on a predefined set of rules. These cascading changes are immediately visible to other users and trigger notifications.
Every stakeholder in the project has access to these Smartsheets and this radical transparency enable much more effective collaboration. Consider the example of unexpected bad weather delaying concrete pouring. Normally, such an impact would have to be manually calculated and the project manager would need to speak with every participant and confirm their receipt of a new schedule. Missed updates or older schedules in circulation could cause serious problems and introduce a higher level of risk.
But in our process, the owner of the concrete pouring task can make a note in Smartsheet with an update to that task. The schedule updates propagate automatically, and the relevant parties are notified so that they can adjust their plans accordingly. And as the Smartsheet exists as a single source of truth, anyone logging in will have the up-to-date information.
Consider how this process could help your internal projects run more efficiently, for example a core conversion. These projects need all hands on deck and require a considerable amount of collaboration and communication. Different IT teams have to adapt their systems to the new core and prepare for the changeover, the call center employees need to be prepared to handle calls if there are issues, and marketing and PR need to get messaging out to the members or customers. Changes to the schedule impact everyone, and by integrating all of the participants into a Smartsheet you automatically notify all stakeholders of what changed and how those changes impact their work.
We also use Smartsheet to collaborate with clients and vendors on the design of a project. One such area is the equipment matrix, a description of the technology and equipment provided by the client and including things like teller machines, computer terminals or even self-service coffee makers. When the client makes decisions or changes around equipment choices, they can update the equipment matrix sheet with the specifications and the design team is automatically notified so that they can update the design to support this equipment.
Building out these automations and integrating them into our other technology platforms took a considerable amount of work, but the impact has been dramatic. Our projects are better in every way – a higher level of collaboration, shorter delivery schedules, fewer change orders, and overall lower risk. Many firms can be initially uncomfortable with these processes, especially the idea of complete transparency and giving clients immediate access to bad news, but one of the greatest hits in our office is “unlike wine, bad news doesn’t get better with age.” The sooner all stakeholders are notified of a problem, the sooner everyone can begin working towards a solution.We believe that our process could be translated to any industry with successful results. Consider the projects your credit union team manages. How many involve complex schedules and participation across multiple departments? With the universal shift from routine task-based work to more collaborative and dynamic project-based work across multiple departments, effective communication and collaboration has become a challenge everywhere. Could the automated workflows we’ve described in our own case study make your own projects run more efficiently?
As always, please reach out if you have any questions about this or any other topic! And Smartsheet is only one of many tools we’ve adopted to manage projects more effectively. If you’d like to learn more, fill out the form below to schedule a demo of our process.