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Posted by lipsius at 2020-04-05

HerrMannLeiter Project Management and PMO

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"With Blue Ant project management software we have established a very strong transparency and standardisation in our project landscape."

Franke Aquarotter GmbH is one of the Franke Group operating worldwide under the umbrella of Water Systems. The company combines innovative water management systems and high-quality sanitary facilities in the form of state-of-the-art fitting technology and directional sanitary facilities made of stainless steel and mineral granite with individual solutions for industrial, public and semi-public use.

Franke Aquarotter is currently based with 220 employees in Ludwigsfelde near Berlin, where production, administration and a representative training and training centre are located. Franke Aquarotter has been managing its product development projects since 2011with the multi-project management software Blue Ant, a solution of Berliner proventis GmbH.

We spoke to Michael Mann, Project Manager and PMO at the Ludwigsfelde site.

Mr. Mann, what is your position with Franke Aquarotter and what are your areas of activity?

At the Ludwigsfelde site, I am responsible for project management and PMO. Overall, three project managers are active in project management, which mainly drive product developments.

Why did you want to introduce project management software?

Which path led you to Blue Ant project management software?

After knowing that we can only properly organize our projects with a project management tool, we first have all the criteria or Requirements to be met by the software. Overall, four factors were important to us:

1. The tool should be able to track employees'time.

2. The software should be slim,

Three. can grow flexibly

Four. and be economical in terms of costs.

These requests were based on different starting conditions. So we wanted a slim tool that could be operated at the beginning with a slim approach, e.g. time recording. It should be flexible because it was not yet foreseeable whether and which functions would still be needed at a later date. We wanted to introduce new functions gradually and not scare our employees off with a "inflated tool" at the beginning. In addition, the tool should be self-explanatory, because we want to avoid key users in the individual departments that train employees over long periods of time. This, in turn, was due to the fact that we introduced SAP at the same time, which already entailed an enormous amount of training by key users, which we certainly did not want to repeat.

With these demands we then entered the competition and came across the BARC study by Mey Mark Mayer. The study is called project management software system, a book in which software tools are always presented in relation to the same criteria. We took a closer look at this, which led to a selection of different solutions. The decisive factor for Blue Ant project management software was (a) the proximity to us, (b) the price and (c) that the company envisioned complementing the relatively young product by customer-specific program features. This overall package has convinced us most. After the decision for Blue Ant project management software, it was only a question of whether we wanted to introduce the tool as a cloud or in-house solution. The group then opted for the cloud version.

What steps were taken to introduce the software?

In parallel with our four requirements, there were also four phases of implementation, which lasted more than a year in quarterly steps. In the first phase we started planning with a smaller team from the field of documentation in the house. With this team we first tried the time recording. In other words, we have created the first projects with only one project implementation activity, on which the employees were able to book their time. It worked right away.

In the second step we covered all projects first with one and later with further project activities. In the third step, the application was extended to the entire Research and Development Department. Then came the rollout in "Shopping" and "Industrial Engineering". Finally, the remaining areas were included and the existing time recording stopped. This was a very important milestone, as the time recording had to be audit-proof and Blue AntProject Management software had to work reliably here from the beginning 100-percent.

How does the establishment of multi-project management work with your work organisation? Is the introduction supported by management?

In my view, it is very important that employees are included in such an exercise. Often there is a subtle fear that something might not work or that the employees would be disadvantaged in some way. For example, employees were very concerned that the absence of the other person caused by illness could be seen and evaluated. However, we have been able to address this concern by ensuring that only controlling and human resources management can access these data through appropriate rights configuration of user groups. Transparency and early involvement of stakeholders is therefore of enormous importance if such software is to be introduced.

Another important step was the agreement with the works council and the Data Protection Officer, which went relatively smoothly. Subsequently, we progressively approached the individual employees according to the introduction phase. In the Blue Ant employee training we have shown the benefits of the use and explained that we will start with a basic installation that can be expanded if necessary. In this way, we have quickly reached a high level of acceptance.

What are the typical application scenarios supported by Blue Ant project management software?

Product development projects are typical of our company. As mentioned at the beginning, our house is subject to a standardised product development process, which is common to all employees. This process includes defined milestones with so-called deliverables, which we hold according to these milestones. For example: for the development of a washbasin fitting all activities in Blue Ant project management software, from the idea of the conception, the production of the loaders, the actual development up to the serial introduction.

Apart from the standard projects, are there also ad hoc projects?

Yes, there are. The MTO (Make To Order) segment, i.e. products developed individually for the customer. be adjusted, e.g. Individualised series showers for industrial enterprises. However, we do not reproduce these in Blue Ant project management software.

Then there are the internal projects, e.g. the conversion of the production or similar. These projects are individually covered in Blue Ant. There are no specifications for the course of the project here.

Can you comment on the costs of introducing this?

As already mentioned, we have compared the costs of the labour time recording process with the costs of process optimization through a multi-project management software. The result was clear: we had spent an average of five figures per year on time recording. Partly automated, i.e. through the use of Blue Ant project management software, these work- or Process costs significantly by two thirds. We now hold different license types for about 140 users throughout the division. This enabled us to reduce our current costs significantly. In addition, the purchase of the tool was also relatively cheap. Other multi-project management solutions were good in the six-digit area. Such costs are only expected for higher user numbers from 500 users.

How has the introduction of Blue Ant project management software affected your project management?

The structures in the projects are uniform. All projects are covered by Blue Ant project management software and are handled in the same way. The product development process is always the basis of the project plan. We also make intensive use of the completion function and the death lists. Thanks to the standardised approach, representatives of our project leaders can be implemented much more quickly among themselves. Project participants with the appropriate rights can always see the progress of the project and the next tasks ahead. With Blue Ant project management software, we have established a very strong transparency and standardisation in our project landscape.

Has Blue Ant project management software also changed the importance of project management in your company?

In my opinion, this was already very high when I entered the company in the year 2011. Already at that time, project leaders were recruited who devoted themselves exclusively to this subject in a professional and full-time manner. With the introduction of Blue Ant project management software, further professionalisation steps have been initiated, which has also increased the requirements for product development.

What do you recommend to other companies in your industry for the introduction of multi-project management?

In any case, take your team on board and introduce only what you really need, pragmatic and transparent.

Thank you very much for the conversation, Mr Mann.