The information technology (IT) department at NFI is responsible for a wide variety of projects across three major areas of focus. "The majority of our time, probably 75%, is spent doing projects for external customers, supporting warehouse or transportation services," said the Chief Information Officer (CIO) at NFI. "IT is an integral part of bringing up that type of solution. We have to bring the warehouse management system up. Then we work the integration with the customers and directly with the external customers through our operations, their operations and their IT groups."
- Unable to see all task assignments for each project or company wide
- No efficient way to track actual time spent against time estimated
- Limited by manual resource allocation process
- Differing management methodologies between project groups caused confusion for supporting IT teams
The other two areas the IT department performs projects for are internal operations that help drive higher levels of efficiency or profits, and for back office functions, such as accounting and human resources. "However, 75% of our work is very much external customer work, bringing up new customers or supporting business changes that they're taking on," the CIO explained. Describing one of the main challenges that led NFI to evaluate project management systems, the CIO said, "Until a couple of years ago, anytime the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) would grab me and want an update on things, I knew what was going on. But over the last few years as we grew and more projects were active, that was becoming more and more difficult. There were a lot of times that I would have to say, 'I don't know. I'll have to find out and get back to you.'" In addition, as the teams grew, they needed to graduate from using a combination of spreadsheets and homegrown databases to using a robust project management system. With the growth of the company came the addition of a large number of people within IT. "The first thing that I found with the addition of a lot of new people was that their constant feedback was, 'We don't know how to get something done,'" the CIO said. With 18-20 project managers handling approximately 80 projects at a time on average, NFI needed a way to standardize project management and gain visibility into resource allocation, status, and profitability of projects.