Project Department

Project Department

You’ve got a plan in mind — one with many moving parts and different people to consult. Who’s going to lay everything out, and how do you get everything into place without disrupting the workflow of the company or creating other negative side effects? That’s where the Project Department or Engineer comes in.

Our Project Department provides IT product management and coordination services to SMBs in Chicago and the surrounding areas. The Project Department or Engineer that works with you can step in and help implement changes, whether big or small, that support your technology alignment and business goals.

If you’re looking for outsourced IT project management services in Chicago, you’re trusting this big undertaking to a third-party provider. At XL.net, we know you have a lot to think about when it comes to project management, so we take steps to address the most important aspects:

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Transparency

In business terms, you want to know exactly what the project will deliver, what it won’t, what you have to invest before you make a commitment and where the project stands without needing to ask.

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Efficiency

You want to know that you are getting the best value for your investment in a project. Overengineering, lack of expertise and poor processes are some of the culprits that work against efficiency.

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Execution

You want your project to solve problems, not create them. You invest in most projects to do things like improve the efficiency of your staff or reduce the risk to your organization. If there are hiccups, you get the opposite, and hearing excuses doesn’t help. 

Let’s review each of these three items and how XL.net takes care of them.

Transparency

We used to give our clients beautiful technical project plans to sign off on. If a client asked for status, we would send the same technical project plan showing items checked off.

What we found is, the clients not only did not understand what we sent them but it also was not relevant to them. Full of technical terms, and written from the perspective of the Project Engineers, clients felt left in the dark and would only have hope and blind faith to get them to the other side.

We decided it makes the most sense to have a one-page document written in a way that answers questions from the client’s perspective. It contains:

  • The purpose of the project.
  • Phase 1 – Research and Project Definition.
  • Phase 2 – High-Level Phase Description.
  • Phase 3 – Testing and Documentation.
  • What is out of scope.
  • Total cost to you, including our labor, as well as any third-party costs for materials.

After we complete the preparatory first phase, we set up a project kickoff meeting with a simple agenda:

  • Review the one-page scope of work, including what is out of scope.
  • Review the change control plan.
  • Needed action items from you.
  • Estimated day to completion.

Next, as the project is running, we give you weekly status updates, so you won’t even need to ask us where things stand.

And finally, once we believe the project is closed with all the testing and documentation in phase 3 completed, we ask you to confirm that, from your perspective, the project is closed. We then ask you to rate your experience.

Efficiency

All projects, whether technical or not, have three common culprits that undermine efficiency: overengineering, lack of expertise and poor processes. Let’s take a look at each of them and how XL.net addresses them.

Overengineering is often done to increase a factor of safety, add functionality, or overcome perceived design flaws that most users would accept. We do a few things to counteract this concept and find the right level of engineering. 

  • We start by taking time to understand where you want your business to go and put together a one-page Technology Alignment Plan.
  • We then create and jointly update your Business Model Canvas quarterly.
  • We only do projects with ongoing clients.
  • Our clients are similar, and most have 15-250 computer using staff members, and are focused on growing their business. 
  • Most of our projects are subsequently similar across our client base. We have less than 15 project types that comprise 80% of the projects we do on a monthly basis.

Lack of expertise is addressed with similar steps. Since we understand 80% of the projects we need to do on a monthly basis, we ensure that our Project Engineers are skilled in those areas and get rewarded for being certified in the relevant technologies.

For most Project Departments, poor processes are the main culprits to poor efficiency. We utilize ISO 9001 governance to reduce waste and combine that with an easy-to-use process management system called SweetProcess. This allows our 950+ policies, processes and standard operating procedures to be easily followed, updated and tracked.

To validate that our processes are effective and projects are done efficiently, we track our utilization rate, which is a measure of how many hours a week went toward the project work out of the available hours in a week.

Flawless Execution

A project can involve many different moving parts, and you don’t want any of them to clash. We take great care to plan our projects with minimal side effects, if any, and smooth implementation that won’t hurt your workflow. We also follow through with our projects to ensure no unintended problems appear by tracking the source of Service Desk calls.

Delivering flawless projects is the end result of an efficiently run operation. To ensure we are not fooling ourselves, we categorize every Service Desk request to identify if any problems were caused by a project. This number is discussed with all of XL.net during our weekly all-staff scorecard review. At this time, our overage for the last 3 months was just 0.15 issues per week.

XL.net's Project Engineers and Managers

Our Project Engineers take great pains to ensure a transparent, efficient and beautifully delivered project. We find that our clients greatly appreciate those results and enjoy hassle-free operation when everything is completed.

Other guiding principles behind our Project Engineers’ performance include extensive communication and continuous growth. They’re always learning and staying up to date with industry trends so they can find the best solution for your business.

IT Support and Project Management for Chicago SMBs

At XL.net, we offer IT product procurement services in Chicago and the surrounding areas as part of our managed IT services. The types of projects we cover can be big or small or anywhere in between. While many of the projects we do are similar, we can take care of everything from new software implementation to network infrastructure project management for SMBs.

Whatever the project, we want to find ways to make sure your technology furthers your business goals. It should help, not hinder you, so we offer a comprehensive solution that starts with a Technology Alignment Plan (TAP).

After we come up with a plan, we provide you with the resources to follow through with support from our Service DeskSystem Analysts and Central Services, among others. You get ongoing assistance from a Technology Officer, and we can enlist the Project Team to help with any projects that will help you grow and become more technologically competitive. Our team can take care of everything from designing solutions to developing systems and deploying them.

To learn more about working with XL.net and our IT project management and coordination services in Chicago, contact us today.