Project Management for Product Development and Engineering

Plastic Technologies

"With Project Insight, our estimates have become more accurate and all-inclusive because they're based on project plans, staffing, resources, time and expenses. It's already very obvious in our levels of billing. Project Insight is a huge part of the new approach that allows us to issue quotes faster and bill at a higher level."
- Program Officer Coordinator

Main Challenges

Before PTI established its program office, project teams chose any processes, management and reporting tools they preferred. Everything from spreadsheets, checklists and punch lists were in use. However, as the company grew, project leaders made the decision to open a program office. Along with program office, they wanted to establish and support a more formal project management methodology. The goals were to improve customer service and to streamline project management for greater overall efficiency.

  • Needed support for implementation of project management process
  • Time consuming to track project and task status manually
  • No easy way to share information or work collaboratively with clients

The Program Office Coordinator explained, "Many of our projects have to do with package development, which is our core business. We develop plastics solutions for the medical and other industries." After creating the program office, adopting project management tools and processes, the team was able to more readily report on project status, to collaborate and to share information with clients without a significant amount of manual effort. Plastic Technologies' Program Office is now tasked with establishing and maintaining an efficient, collaborative project management environment for those clients that have engineering and research and development goals to accomplish. At any given time, the Program Office group manages between five and ten projects for customers and for project engineers, who are responsible for the final delivery of the projects.

Why Project Insight

The Program Office needed a solution that would be:

  • Web-based and accessible by both MAC and Windows systems
  • Easy to use to enable collaborative customer engagement
  • Compatible with Microsoft Project to allow for offline project planning and template development by engineers
  • Support multiple project management methodologies
  • Readily produce a variety of reports.

The program office group evaluated approximately 80 potential project management solutions. They narrowed the field of candidates to a handful, which the group then tested. Based on the powerful feature set, ease of use and reasonable product price, PTI chose Project Insight.

The Results

  • Web-based and cross-platform
  • Ease of use and easily accessible self-help resources
  • Simple to use and promotes collaboration with customers
  • Reduces the time for project engineers to create new projects
  • Rapid project creation with project templates
  • Enables project managers to manage multiple projects simultaneously
  • Accelerates proposal turnaround
  • Provides real-time project visibility with clients
  • Estimates are more accurate and comprehensive
  • Billing levels are higher
  • Supports any number of project management methodologies and unique project characteristics
  • Powerful reporting capabilities that support ongoing analysis
  • Integrates readily with Microsoft Project
  • Integrates with the ERP system
  • Responsive technical support from the Project Insight team

After a brief training session, PTI began working with Project Insight. PTI's Director of Programs and Internet Business Development reported, "We use Project Insight to deliver an interactive project management environment so that our researchers and senior engineers and project teams can interact in a dynamic, daily fashion with the client organizations. This keeps the projects within schedule and within budget." Other benefits reaped by PTI soon after implementation included greater client involvement, better status information for improved project coordination, and reporting that supports more effective analysis.

The Program Office Coordinator explained, "What I think Project Insight brings us is a visibility platform between ourselves and our clients. It provides for transparency, to be able to see real-time at any time the progress of the project both in terms of the percentage of completion and how we are on budget and schedule, and that can be seen by the client and by us. I think that's one of the main benefits of Project Insight and, frankly, the clients with whom we have worked have enjoyed that."

Also of help to the PTI Program office is Project Insight's ease of use and customer support. She said, "In addition to the visibility aspect, I really must say that one of my favorite things about Project Insight is the user friendliness of the tool.

I truly enjoy that, and not only from the point of view of navigation, how easy it is to find your way around and learn what you need to do, but also the help that's available, as far as the online manual, the webinars on a regular basis that address topics that are really important on a day-to-day basis." More recently PTI has implemented an integration between their enterprise resource planning (ERP) system and Project Insight. The ERP system had a project management module, but the program office coordinator said, "What that module was lacking was the functionality and flexibility that Project Insight has. We integrated the two so that we can move a project from Project Insight into our ERP system with the click of a button. We use Project Insight for planning our projects.

More specifically, we love the fact that you can use pre-built templates, copy and paste tasks, and move chunks of projects around easily. This makes it possible to rapidly develop new projects. All of the services we offer are pre-templated and housed in Project Insight. About 90% of our company is now using the project management solution." With Project Insight, PTI can generate client proposals around more rapidly, as well as to create far more accurate and comprehensive estimates. "Our estimates have become more accurate because they're based on project plans, staffing plans, and time and expenses. It's already very obvious in our levels of billing," said the Program Office Coordinator. "When you sit down to estimate a project like we do, there are so many components that it's easy to overlook one. Also it's so granular that there's no way to know you missed it unless you have a very detailed tracking capability.

Project Insight has really been instrumental in that whole process of improvement." The Program Office Coordinator concluded by saying, "The team at Project Insight has been very responsive and flexible. We have never had any issues whatsoever getting a hold of someone or, more importantly, receiving an answer to our questions. Overall, working with the team has been very pleasant."