A construction company specializing in commercial, industrial and residential new development projects typically had about 30 projects in development at any given time. Because each project had more than 140 milestones during the development lifecycle, good project management was a necessity to keep projects on time and on budget.
Information management for this company had been haphazard. Project managers tracked workflows using spreadsheets and individual departments owned different portions of project documentation. For example, legal and accounting maintained separate lists of critical project dates and the development team managed their own calendar of milestones. Similarly, siloed content repositories were strewn throughout the company. Quickly finding the right version of a document was challenging, which added to the difficulty of producing individual, let alone multi-project or target-area, reports.
“It’s difficult to ensure that deadlines are recorded, publicized and retrievable,” one employee told Blueprint at the beginning of the engagement. “An inordinate amount of time is spent tracking down development managers or project managers to learn the status of active projects.”
The Blueprint Way
To set the stage for success, Blueprint began the process by interviewing dozens of employees to better understand the types of projects, milestones, tasks, dependencies and timelines they were working with. In this way, Blueprint was able to quickly identify duplicative workflows and gaps in the company’s processes that could be addressed to provide immediate improvements to tracking and reporting on an individual and multi-project level. Blueprint’s initial 30-day stint to produce a Technical Assessment and Strategy Report for the company evolved into a 15-month partnership that established the foundation for future growth.
“The biggest challenge this company faced was the sheer number of content repositories, each holding different information,” Blueprint Client Development Director Thomas Hallstrom said. “They had one area for vendor and supplier information, an area with pro formas, another with marketing materials and so on. People who had been with the company a while might know how to hunt it all down, but it still took a lot of unnecessary time and effort. New hires were left to scavenge.”
Because the company had a current M365 license, it was an easy choice to use SharePoint to streamline and standardize their processes, as well as give them a single source of truth for all project-related information. Blueprint built a project management portal and document management system that included templates, milestone tracking, document review and approval workflows and dashboards ranging in specificity from company-wide to product-specific. The portal is searchable, project status and project teams are displayed visually on project dashboards and automatic notifications are enabled for task deadlines and required approvals. Blueprint also integrated financial information from a sister company into the dashboards to avoid fragmentation and to enable even more reporting options.
Gaining visibility into all projects and financials in one place allows the company to zoom out and look at projects as a whole, providing executives with more clarity about the business and what challenges could be looming. If multiple development projects all have major milestones at the same time, for example, knowing that in advance can help identify deadlines that need to be pushed out or necessary resource allocation adjustments.
“With enough foresight, you can anticipate what’s coming,” Thomas said. “There’s a lot more latitude to come up with a strategy and a plan when you open up visibility into a company’s workstreams and projects.”
This engagement went well beyond enabling project management for this company, though. As a construction company, many employees spend the majority of their workday on job sites. By working with the mobile-ready portal created by Blueprint, field employees are now able to review and approve documents from anywhere without needing to go into the office or access a VPN.