Project Management for Finance

Andesa Services

"There were items that we weren't billing our customers for, such as research or production problems. Project Insight has provided us the capability to set up our billable projects and our non-billable projects and still be able to keep track of what it's actually costing us to service a customer."
-Director of Project Management

Main Challenges

Andesa Services is in the business of providing valuable expertise and services to life-insurance companies. The four current client relationship managers and project managers provide calculation services for their clients. In addition, they deliver a service that presents market data on up-to-the-minute changes in fund values for each customer within a graphical user interface. The director of project management said, "One of our biggest selling features is an outward-facing service that goes to all the brokerage firms so that they can view all of their insured data at any given time."

  • No way to see all projects' status or timelines
  • No good method for resource allocation
  • No clear picture of the cost of each project, especially non-billable work
  • Reliance on customer's preferred tool for managing projects
  • No single project management repository

With over 100 projects in the pipeline which range in duration from five or six days to six weeks in length, Andesa's relationship and project managers needed an enterprise view of all their projects, tasks, and timelines. Without a single system and an enterprise view, the director stated, "We weren't getting a clean picture of what our projects were costing us. We had a home-grown tool that was capturing costs on billable projects, but there were things that we weren't billing our customers on, such as research, production problems, things like that." Whereas many professional project managers are able to manage projects fairly well using their own methods and skills up to a certain "tipping point," she explained, "We've grown tremendously over the past 18 months and it was impossible to do that any longer. We had the need for an electronic tool." The team was dependent on paper processes. The director said, "There were absolutely no tools here prior to Project Insight. The team used a little bit of Microsoft Project, but not much. We were at the mercy of all of our clients' systems. Whatever systems our clients were using, we piggybacked on top of."

Why Project Insight

The Andesa Services team began a search process to find a solution that would give them:

  • An enterprise view of all projects and their timelines
  • Clear reporting on actual project costs, including non-billable costs
  • Accurate representation of resource allocation
  • A single tool to use for all customer projects that would scale up to assist the team as the company grows

Although the search, evaluation, and purchase of Project Insight took place before the director joined Andesa Services, she reports that, "We did a requirements study or needs analysis to see how we wanted to roll it out, first of all. We needed resource allocation so we could see who was available to work on which projects, as well as an enterprise view of all our projects. Then we became aware of Project Insight and identified where, in Project Insight, those needs could be met. We took the software in front of the executive committee and we said, 'We can't address all of these needs at one time. So which are the most important ones to be done first?' Then we prioritized those needs and started attacking those through Project Insight in that order."

The Results

What they liked about Project Insight:

  • Advanced reporting capabilities
  • Easier visibility into resource allocation
  • Company-wide view of all projects in timeline
  • Will scale as their project load increases
  • More accurate invoicing and accounting for both billable and nonbillable time.

With significant skills in the complexities of project management processes, the director and her fellow senior project manager found using Project Insight very intuitive. Later, the group also found a two-day training course led by Metafuse to be of great help. She reported, "We use Project Insight for every project now. We have all our resources hooked up to it and using it." Asked whether Project Insight has brought new benefits to the Andesa team, she stated, "Absolutely, the first two or three months we ran in parallel with our home-grown invoicing tool, and we compared what was in that tool and what was getting put into Project Insight and the data in Project Insight was actually more accurate. I think it's because when you approve someone's timesheet, you're looking at it on a weekly basis to make sure they're working on what they're supposed to be working on. That's helping to solidify things, to make sure that the developers and testers are putting in there what they're actually working on so we can bill the customer accordingly. Our billables are much more accurate with Project Insight than with the previous tool."

Process improvements and accountability Project Insight has also helped improve accountability at Andesa Services. "We had one resource who was using 80% of his time on administrative tasks," the director said. "We said, 'Whoa, he should be using his time on development.' So we corrected those things. We use Project Insight to handle vacation and sick time, too." Identifying the most significant new capability at Andesa since implementing Project Insight, the director enthusiastically said, "Reporting. Everyone says every day how great it is. Of course, we also like that it's web-based and has features like documentation storage, issues dialogues that you can have back and forth. And there are some advanced features that we're growing into." Overall, Project Insight is changing Andesa's processes for the better. "It' making sure we know exactly what's going on out on the floor," said the director. "Before, tasks would come in through the phone or through the woodwork, and one of our clients would ask one of our developers to do something and they would do it. Now they have to account for their time to do it. They know that it must be in Project Insight, so it helps us to account for everything."

Finally, in remarking on Metafuse as a company, the director remarked, "I'm probably one of the biggest users of the help desk email. When I ask for a feature to be added, nine times out of ten it's already being contemplated or it's in the release that's just about to come out. So it's kind of exciting that Metafuse is a step ahead all the time."