Case Study - Savills
Project Management Software Design
Savills, the property services plc, won a contract to project manage the acquisition and development of sites for mobile phone masts for Vodafone. This involves overseeing the acquisition of the sites, liaising with all the relevant parties and managing the design of the installation. Many people are involved at each stage of the process and they have to keep careful track of which stages have been completed successfully and what needs to be done next.
Project Director, Tim Waterfield, contacted Software-Matters to design a project management database to organise their information. He could see that he would need far fewer staff to complete the project if he had a suitable system, and that this would be key to ensuring the project was profitable for Savills. He needed something that would ensure that processes were completed properly in the right order, that documents and reports could be produced easily, and that accurate invoices were submitted at the right times. He wanted his staff to be able to concentrate on the job, confident that the software was tracking progress and alerting them to outstanding issues. All members of the team needed to access the information they required to carry out their jobs.
Philippa Turnbull from Software-Matters met with Tim, to completely understand their requirements in detail. After plenty of probing and questioning and incorporating ideas and suggestions from both sides, she was able to work out how to transform it all into a project management database. The system design took the form of a straightforward document that Tim could digest and understand easily, with individual features costed so that he could weigh up benefits and costs of marginal items.
The finished database project holds details of proposed and actual sites and their status, and keeps track of the planning and design process. The database is designed to cope with the different acquisition processes applicable, depending on the type of site and its planning position.
A central feature of the project management system is the To Do Lists. These show exactly which jobs are waiting to be done and include ad hoc reminders as well as the standard reminders related to the normal project process.
Keeping the system up-to-date with which milestones have been completed where, not only drives the To Do Lists, but also feeds through to the invoicing automatically.
The management database includes many useful tools for project managers. A set of reports show a range of key performance indicators, keeping track of personnel performance and site statistics. Progress spreadsheets in Excel are produced for Vodafone to their own requirement. A document management tool facilitates storage of and access to associated project documents. A comments history facility allows an at-a-glance view of all comments about a particular site. Mail merge functions make production of personalised correspondence simple.
Savills have been using this management system since around 2010. It is now part of a suite of similar systems that they use to manage all of their projects for the mobile phone operators.
Tim Waterfield of Savills says, "Software-Matters is responsible for designing our bespoke database projects that are critical to our ability to manage these projects efficiently and effectively. The clever management and time saving devices e.g. To Do lists and Snapshot Views mean that my project managers can work extremely efficiently, meaning that I need to employ 50% fewer managers to do the work which results in substantial cost savings (£60,750 per year in one case), without any reduction in quality."
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