All too often there are ramblings about project management being an overhead cost to avoid, along with a litany of reasons why that opinion is being shared. The reality is, project management occurs whether it is formalized or not. Without dedicated project management, processes become burdensome for those involved in the project, often distracting them from their actual role and efficient execution of their expertise. The result impedes success.
Success can be defined in many ways – in the Project Management world the focus is on the accomplishment of an aim or purpose within the constraints of scope, time and cost. Overlooking any one of these constraints and the success of the project will be delayed or difficult to achieve.
What does success look like?
One of the first questions that needs to be addressed when starting a project is, “What does success look like?”
This is important to know for all people involved in a project – Executive sponsors, Managers, End Users, and those involved in maintaining the product once the project has been brought to life. Without this clear vision a project can end up with dissatisfied end users, delays caused by re-establishing intent (and potential for increased cost) or worst of all, the project gets cancelled.
There are (2) primary stakeholders involved in a project: those delivering the project and those who benefit from the project. Their alignment is crucial and will require a representative (Project Manager) that will actively communicate internally within the organization during the project and provide the catalyst for collaboration with all participants. Without these representatives, single points of contact from each organization could make responsibility and accountability unclear, introducing additional risk to the project.
These are the resources that tackle the technical elements of the project. There is collaboration between those delivering and those benefitting from the project, and it is important they understand who to turn to in the event technical issues hinder or block their progress. Having a person serving in the role of Project Manager removes “management of the minutia” from the technical resources so they can focus on the tasks where their expertise can be applied to and benefit the project. As minor as this may seem, maintaining focus on what they do best helps maintain desired timelines and cost constraints and makes them easier to achieve.
Project Managers ask, “What are the risks”?”
Every project has risk potential that needs to be identified and managed in a way that avoids or prepares for risks throughout the project. This is important to be managed by a single point of contact from each stakeholder to keep the risks clear, identify and log the implications for each risk, and develop contingency plans in the event they are unavoidable. One of the more common risks is the resources of those who gain the benefit of the project are also trying to maintain their daily activities. Sometimes communication is lacking on incoming project, giving project managers a short notice on project details. Those delivering the project then end up coordinating their effort around the daily business of those who benefit.
Scope, Time & Cost – the 3 constraints Project Management aims to fulfill. On the outside it seems simple right? The problem is these constraints conflict. If a short timeline is needed, that may require overtime or additional resources thereby driving up cost. If the scope is changed, that typically has an impact on timing, as well as cost. These need to be addressed with an objective eye toward the goal of providing a quality product that fulfills the needs of the end-users.
Scope is the most common constraint that tends to change because of missing detail identification that wasn’t involved when the project budget was established. Project Management then needs to usher all of the resources involved to determine if the change is a necessity or just nice to have. If it is a necessity, finances and management will be engaged to coordinate a change request and communicate the implications. The goal is to re-establish expectations while keeping all the balls in the air to minimize impact on the remaining elements of the project.
Though this brief outline may be common circumstances of any project, each project differs and has a tendency to take their own path – making Project Management even more crucial. EAC has dedicated Program and Project Management in an effort to provide the foundation for success and build the partnership required to not only succeed in the short-term, but to assure strategic business initiatives are kept in sight with all projects existing and future.
1. Why do I need to do regular maintenance on my PTC Windchill system?
Critical systems, like Windchill PLM, must be available to users. This is why it is so important to do regular maintenance on your PTC Windchill system. Windchill system outages can be costly and impact system adoption and usage. Therefore, it is recommended that you complete regular, preventative maintenance to identify and resolve issues before they cause performance problems or service interruptions.
2. What is included in the Alliance program?
We start by assessing your department and company’s needs. We combine the assessment results with our understanding of successful Windchill implementations and deliver recommendations and a plan for a stable, high-performance Windchill instance. The flexibility of the Alliance program allows us to configure an engagement as needed. This gives us the ability to tailor the program specifically to your company.
3. Can my staff complete the Windchill maintenance activities?
Certainly! Keep in mind that preventative Windchill maintenance tasks are commonly an afterthought, and other projects are likely to take precedence. As the staff becomes busier, their dependence on a functioning Windchill system increases. These would be times when a system outage during a critical project could prove to be disastrous.
4. Can you train my staff to complete Windchill maintenance tasks?
Yes, in fact we would love to help train your staff how to complete Windchill maintenance tasks. EAC has PTC certified instructors that are available to deliver all of the Windchill Business and System Admin training courses offered by PTC. After attending these classes your staff will be ready to take on their new Windchill responsibilities. Additionally, we can provide mentoring with our Windchill experts to answer all of your Windchill maintenance questions.
5. What are some benefits of using the EAC Alliance program?
One of the core benefits of the EAC Alliance Program is the ability to take a proactive approach to maintaining your Windchill system – ensuring high availability and performance. By completing regular system maintenance and software updates you are able to better leverage your PTC investment. You can also eliminate the need to maintain a staff of Windchill Administration experts by assigning these system and business admin tasks to our EAC’s expert consultants. Our Windchill consultants have years of experience and complete these same activities on a daily, weekly and monthly basis for many Alliance Program customers.
6. Are Windchill system updates and upgrades included in the Alliance Program?
Yes, the EAC Alliance Program can be structured to include Windchill system updates and upgrades. When you include this in your Alliance Program you can easily budget a fixed cost over the upcoming months and years.
7. Can you support my Global company?
Yes. While EAC is based in the United States, we are part of the PTC Strategic Partner network giving us access to many additional resources overseas. We call on these partners to help with implementation, training, and support services local to international facilities.
8. Are you able to provide 24/7 Windchill support?
Yes. We can provide your company access to our support case submission system, which will allow your Windchill users to log cases at any time of day. If emergency Windchill support is required (noted by the priority level assigned to your case), our team will be notified immediately and begin support. If you require overseas support, and international support is included in your Alliance Program agreement, we will coordinate with a local PTC partner to address the issue.
9. Doesn’t my PTC Maintenance agreement include similar Windchill services?
No. Your PTC maintenance agreement covers all Windchill updates to software that you have purchased as well as technical support should you have a problem that requires resolution. It does not include the services necessary to update, upgrade and maintain your Windchill system.
10. How much does the EAC Alliance Program cost?
This varies based on the complexity of your Windchill environment and the level of support you would like to include in your service level agreement (SLA). This can be determined by having a quick conversation with your team and proposing a solution that correctly addresses your needs. Contact us today for further information!
From industry experience we know how difficult it is to get projects done by end of year – especially when most manufacturing facilities close on average for two weeks during the holidays. When your company is shut down for the holidays who wants to return to all of that work at the beginning of a new year? Let me answer that for you. You don’t.
Our solution? We would like to gift you more time this season. Time, that is, to not have to work on engineering projects that will push back your project timeline into next year and into next quarter. No, we are not work-aholics. Our CEO gives us our holidays off but we do not do a hard shutdown during the holidays like some manufacturing plants do. And we’d like to see you get a head start on your 2018 year goals.
So what does this mean for you? Less work. We would love to offer our engineering services to you when you need it the most. We know you value your time and you’re eager to enjoy some downtime around the holidays.
Want to learn more about our design and engineering services? Check us out here.
You probably have a checklist for what to do when your company shuts down for a few weeks, but if you need a refresher -here are a few steps.
3 Steps to Take if your Company is Closed During Holidays
If you are shut down for the holidays – here is a short checklist you may want to double check to make sure you’re ready to leave for the holidays.
Notify Employees, Customers, Vendors, and Hospitality Services
Notifying employees may be the obvious one but you can imagine that with everyone finding the time to get everything done by the end of the year – it’s easier to plan your to-do list around the time that you actually have when the office is open. So notify your employees internally via email, calendar, Facebook Workplace, or by another platform you’ve set up for internal communication.
Make sure all of your customers and clients know all of the days that you will be closed. This is especially important for those that are trying to get a hold of your business during office hours when you are typically open. Make sure that you have a personal out-of-the-office voicemail set up in case they didn’t get that email you sent. Think about setting up a calendar or a list of all of the holidays and pre-planned office shutdowns to be available on your website so there is no confusion.
Vendors may have reoccurring delivery schedules that need to be notified via phone, text, or email to put a hold on deliverables. And sometimes it may be easy to forget about your hospitality services that come in the middle of the night once or twice a week to clean your office – don’t make the janitors and clean-up crew come in when you aren’t at the office to make a mess.
Turn off Office Equipment & Turn Down the Thermostat
Don’t just say that your business is green – take actions to preserve energy by turning off all of the office lights, any office machinery that won’t be used, and turning down the thermostat for the shutdown. Not only will you be saving energy – you’ll be saving a lot of money in energy costs too.
Prepare to Start the New Year with a Bang
Your customers are going to want to hear from you at the beginning of a fiscal year. What better way to do that than write a refreshing handwritten card to send when you get back into the office from your holiday retreat? If you don’t have time to do a handwritten card because you have a longer to-do list than expected, then at least send an personal email out that wishes farewell to 2017 and a warm welcome to 2018.
Also, sending a letter out is an opportunity to inform your customers of any upcoming and exciting events or products that will hit the market at the start of the new year. They’ll want to hear about what you’ve got in store for them.
Don’t forget to take advantage of our Design and Engineering Services this holiday season – as we would like to help you get a head start on the new year with your engineering projects.
First things first, lets address the elephant in the room. Any engineer or designer reading this article, at some level, is having the same thought.. “Why would I hire an engineering design firm to assist with an engineering project? I don’t want to replace myself.”
To that I say – no one is trying to replace you. Or your job. Let’s look at it from another angle.
Engineering and design firms want to help the client in whatever capacity they need. They’re here to assist existing engineering teams, not replace them.
If you’ve been overwhelmed with the tasks on your to-do list, then it’s probably crossed your mind that you could use the help but are afraid to ask. You are already getting s#*t done but don’t want to fall behind just because you’re in your busy season and there’s a billion things to do. By convincing your boss to get assistance with an engineering project, you can free up your time to focus on major projects that you and your team have already began while giving the projects that you have put on the back burner to another team that can help you get it done in time.
Many engineering service providers want to help you. Convincing upper management to take on the task of hiring outside engineering services may be easier than you think. You just have to find the right strategy to go about it. Here are some tips to help you get what you want.
Do Your Homework
Prioritizing which projects you plan on executing in-house and which ones you want to outsource is a good place to start. You should be researching what your options are for outsourcing – most likely your company has already partnered with an engineering services team in the past that will work with you to get your projects done. If not, then you should be prepared to do a little research on who you plan on outsourcing to.
Your team is already doing an awesome job by hitting your goals and overall getting things done day to day – an engineering services provider is just an additional team to help out while your team is in a bind for time. You should always be able to have some convincing material to help you answer this question: “How is my proposal going to help my boss achieve his or her goals?”
Just remember that you’re trying to make less work for your team with your proposal – so make sure that you’re pointing out exactly how outsourcing will work for your engineering project and for your team. Your boss will be more likely to listen to you if you’ve done your homework and are willing to give him or her a few solid options.
Highlight the Benefits
Most likely your team already knows the benefits of outsourcing, especially if you’ve worked with an outsourced engineering team before. Highlighting the benefits of outsourcing is even more essential if you’ve had an outsourced project go sour in the past. Make sure you have 2-3 major advantages in mind when bringing up the proposal to management. Examples of advantages should include the cost savings that would incur (the number one factor why companies choose to outsource even when they already have an engineering team) and always make sure to focus on how outsourcing the engineering project would benefit the consumer.
To be more persuasive, make sure you bring up anticipated disadvantages as well. You wouldn’t want to leave your boss with any surprises, would you? If there ends up being any focus or major concerns about these disadvantages, then bring up preemptive solutions. A back up for your back up plan, if you will. For example, if you expose the possible risk of leaked confidential data while outsourcing, then you should also have a plan to mitigate the risk. This should help you to be more convincing in the fact that you thought this through with realistic expectations.
Propose an Un-committed Commitment
You don’t have to make it seem like it’s a die-hard commitment if you know there will be hesitance in the proposal. If you know your boss is precarious to situations that involve a little risk, then you can explain that outsourcing this project can act as an experiment going forward. You can reassure management that your team will analyze the results of outsourcing to a third party so that you can weigh out the advantages and disadvantages of working with that specific engineering team in the future. Ensuring your boss that he or she is still in control of the outcome will put their mind at ease.
The other important take-away of hiring an engineering services provider is that it can be on an as-needed project basis. If you present your proposal to your boss and emphasize the fact that it is not a permanent arrangement, then you will have more elbow room for your other points. Your boss cares about getting things done and keeping costs down – remind him or her that hiring an engineering services provider would add capabilities to your team during a busy season without adding permanent overhead. Remember you are adding the services as an extension of your team, not having the provider take over completely.
Present Proof of Success
How has success been measured with the outsourced engineering team in the past? Which types of projects does the company have the most experience in? Don’t think that your boss won’t ask these questions. Simply, point out who outsourced what and how it worked out for that company. Consider finding an outsourcing example with the company that is similar to your own project that you’d like to outsource.