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An introduction to the project planning department...

Mike, please could you explain what project planning involves?

My department is responsible for planning all upgrades and new system installations. It is my job to ensure that everything is in place before the field technician arrives on site.

Can you describe how timeware® manages to upgrade over one hundred and fifty SLA2 customers each year?

Each SLA2 customer agrees the month in which their annual upgrade should take place at the point of installation and it is my job to contact them two months before to agree an exact date. I also allocate a field technician to each customer to maintain continuity.

Working within these rules makes planning much easier. I can look at any month and see which customers are due for upgrades. We never allocate upgrades for the months of November, (because of the product launch), and December, (because of Christmas).

Mike, please could you describe the various stages of the project from when a customer has seen a demonstration?

Following the demo but before a customer quotation is prepared by sales, I meet with the person who completed the demo to ascertain if we need to re-visit the customer to discuss in more detail any customisation required for the project. We believe that an initial demonstration is not the place to discuss customisation in detail and we also believe that a customer appreciates additional visits before the quotation as it re-enforces the professionalism of timeware.

Following the second visit, I prepare a summary of the customisation and pass this to the sales team who incorporate this in the sales quotation.

Once the order is placed by the customer, the project is passed to me and I plan and organise four clearly defined stages:

  1. Customisation. If required, liaising with the development team for timescales to complete customisation.
     
  2. Pre-installation meeting. I email a pre-installation document to the customer which highlights the questions that we will need answering at a pre-installation meeting. I decide if we need to visit the customer’s site to complete the pre-installation meeting or if we could complete the meeting over the phone. I arrange a date and time for the meeting and update wrike (the project planning application).
    Following the pre-installation meeting I arrange the installation or upgrade dates taking into account the timescales required to complete any customisation.
     
  3. Installation. This stage is further divided into four phases.
    1. Hardware install/upgrade. I ensure network and mains points are available.
    2. Software install/upgrade. I discuss with the customer’s IT representative what we aim to achieve during the installation and ensure that servers can be accessed etc.
    3. System commissioning. I explain what the technician will be doing and which key staff members from the customer should be available.
    4. User training. I plan the training to be completed including start /end times. I also arrange to use the customer’s AV equipment if necessary.
  4. Post-installation. Following the installation, a member of the support team contact the customer each day for ten working days to ensure the system is working satisfactorily.

What application do you use to help with project management?

timeware® uses a cloud based app’ call wrike, (www.wrike.com). All sales, and support visits are logged within wrike and can be accessed by authorised employees of timeware®.