Project Management for Power Systems

Monolithic Power Systems, Inc.

"Project Insight project management software has made my job much easier. We have a rather complex workflow/approval/communications system spread over two continents. Project Insight's software simplified our system, so now I can see everything I need in one place."
- Project Management Administrator

Main Challenges

Monolithic Power Systems makes hundreds of products used in backlighting, automotive, battery chargers, power drivers, motor drivers, switching power supply regulators and more.

  • Lacked company transparency across project groups and across continents
  • Lacked effective system for notifying project manager of schedule updates and changes
  • Lacked effective workflow to approve project documents in a timely manner

At any one time there are dozens of new products being introduced. Each passes through several stages: marketing, engineering, prototyping, outsourcing and production. Actual testing is done in-house and by customers. It's a complex operation, and all of it was tracked using spreadsheets. These were transferred and placed in many different hands in multiple locations across the U.S. and Asia for updates and approvals. There was no standardized workflow process or centralized document repository. "As the company grew and the number of projects going through the process increased, it became increasingly more difficult to track their real-time status," states MPS Project Management Administrator. "We needed more effective project management to alert team members about updates to the project schedules and to improve workflow through the approval process. Equally important, we needed transparency throughout the company so each project group knew what other groups were doing."

Why Project Insight

Basically, MPS sought a simplified solution to a complicated situation. Project managers wanted a powerful tool they could utilize effectively, yet simple enough to effortlessly manage project documents and change management.

  • Supports better task and resource management for improved efficiency and productivity
  • Generates reports regarding project status, resource allocation, approvals, etc., as well as various task reports (e.g., milestone-based tasks, critical tasks, overdue tasks)
  • Creates a baseline once the project team agrees on a project timeline and locks in a schedule
  • Facilitates better resources use to ensure products are delivered on schedule
  • Includes a centralized document repository for all project files to maintain transparency and improve communications across the enterprise

After evaluating several solutions, MPS selected Project Insight project management software because it included all the features they required at an affordable price. It provided project visibility across the enterprise, stored and organized documents in a centralized location, allowed project managers to better manage resource loads, facilitated workflow and produced customized reports. "At first we only tracked a few projects because each had to be migrated manually," she continues. "However, once we got the project management software in full operation, it certainly simplified my life."

The Results

  • Centralized, web based project management
  • Provides a simple way to track time and status for both internal and external team members
  • Enables effective resource allocation
  • Delivers useful reports
  • Real-time financials making it possible to capitalize and expense project costs

With Project Insight project management software, MPS project teams can agree on a timeline for each new project, lock in a schedule and create a baseline. Performance is then continuously monitored against the baseline schedule to ensure on-time delivery. "We've used the approval feature extensively to dramatically improve workflow," the Project Management Administrator says. "Under the old system if an engineer requested an extension, it could end up in an inbox where it might sit for days. Now I track all projects in real time and send system-wide alerts to team members and managers to keep them on schedule." "The software's cross-project functionality helps us allocate resources when they are working on multiple projects," she adds.

This feature also allows us to create inter-dependability across projects. For example, Phase A of Project Alpha will not kick off until Phase C of Project Beta is complete." Because workflow has been streamlined, project managers can access real-time data on each project's status regardless of where a product is in the design and approval process. They also receive a weekly view of what products are upcoming and what tasks they need to complete. Built-in alerts and notifications verify all project resources are up-to-date with the latest changes and updates to confirm they will meet their deadlines. Task reports are generated for each specific product unit and business unit. Each month the reports compare product engineering and task engineering for an active overview of what is happening.

In addition, top management receives these reports weekly to review products and discuss product status. Using this information they can make more informed decisions regarding where they need help, and they send task reports to project managers to ensure all products arrive at the fabrication plant by a specified date. "Currently we have about 400 active users working on multiple projects," she notes. "It's a large database. Customized project templates are created for different product families, and these templates are used to add a new product quickly into the system. Project folders are created for various product families, and privileges to these folders are given in such a way to protect extreme privacy."

The software's centralized document repository includes each project's complete record within a single folder. The folder's simplified structure allows project resources to access the latest file versions and schedules. The repository also provides a centralized location to store links that direct team members to other network locations. "Project Insight project management software is quite efficient," declares the Project Management Administrator. "Now I work faster and accomplish more in less time. That keeps management happy, project managers happy and our customers happy."