Project Department

Project Department

You need a Project Department to implement changes. When you work with a Project Department, there are only three things you care about:

  • Transparent – 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 to know where the project stands without needing to ask. 
  • Efficient – You want to know that you are getting the best value for your overall investment in a project. Overengineering, lack of expertise and poor processes are the culprits that work against efficiency. 
  • Flawless – Zero issues from a change. You invest in most projects in order to 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 the three items you care about, and how XL.net addresses them.

Transparent

We used to give beautiful technical project plans to our clients to sign off. 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 most sense to have a one page document written from your 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 setup a project kickoff meeting with you 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 have no need to ask 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 this project is closed and ask to rate your experience.

Efficient

All projects whether technical or not, have three culprits that undermine efficiency – overengineering, lack of expertise, 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 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 together with you update quarterly your Business Model Canvas.
  • We only do projects with ongoing clients.
  • Our clients are similar. Our clients 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 and get rewarded for being certified in the relevant technologies.

Poor processes is for most project departments the main culprit to poor efficiency. We utilize ISO 9001 governance to reduce waste combined 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 utilization rate which is how many hours a week went towards the project work out of the available hours a week.

Flawless

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:

We realize we are not perfect, but we strive for it constantly!