Throw away the spreadsheets and track business issues digitally

 
 

And…discover our top 3 mistakes when tracking and managing project issues

During the life cycle of a project, there are always unexpected issues that crop up. In a perfect world, communication is seamless, and everyone already knows exactly what they’re supposed to be doing, and when.

Think: Occam’s Razor: One should not increase, beyond what is necessary, the number of entities required to explain anything.

Or put more simply…The simplest solution is correct.

The problem with simple solutions is they’re not always simple

As humans, we have a bad habit of getting in our own way. We mean well. We have a goal and we generally work toward a unified outcome. But, unexpected issues come up. Fires need to be extinguished and people get pulled away to handle the urgent problems, eventually getting back to the simple tasks. This has a negative impact on the efficiency of a business and hits where it hurts: profits.

So, how do you make sure you're able to effectively track and resolve project issues quickly before they affect the project's outcome?

Overlooked issues have real time effects

Industries like the life sciences, industrial processes, data centers, personal care and cosmetics (to name but a few), are largely driven by innovation and growth. Companies must meet strict regulatory compliance standards, continuously (and collaboratively) ensure quality is met, and reduce risks in each stage of the project life cycle. Many commissioning issues, for example, have to do with miscommunication between trades, between the engineers, or between the technicians and the contractors.

Life sciences businesses operate in critical control environments. Temperature, humidity, air flow, and lighting must meet GMP specifications or can result in critical issues that impact the integrity of the project. A quality process of checks and balances ensures building systems are designed, constructed, and operated for peak performance. However, budget or time constraints can mean low-priority issues may get overlooked resulting in project backlog.

Engineering and construction are other examples of industries that regularly manage complex, mission critical budgets. When public funding is involved, the pressure on these projects can increase and the leaner a company is in tracking and managing their resources, the better the outcome. However, by the very nature of this industry, issues with equipment can be very challenging to track and can impact the entire project.

Critical manufacturing functions and high costs of quality issues are prompting companies to improve issues tracking and project management.

Highly regulated industries must be ISO and/or FDA compliant, which can increase challenges for manufacturers, putting pressure on businesses to modernize quality systems and processes. Add the need to accelerate time-to-market as another pressing challenge, then it becomes easier to quantify the value in tracking, managing and resolving issues as expediently as possible.

Businesses that are effectively optimizing their resources (people, processes, and technology) reap the benefits and advance their business processes to drive greater efficiencies.

The top mistakes when tracking and managing issues

When it comes to getting the job done right, whether commissioning, retro-commissioning or re-commissioning, there are a lot of boxes that need to be checked during the process. It’s difficult to be a commissioning agent for the fact that, as you’re not an owner or general manager you have no authority over projects. In today’s fast-paced, competitive marketplace, inefficiencies can lead to mistakes.

Mistake #1 – Tracking on a spreadsheet

We get it. The spreadsheet has worked for years. Everyone in the business knows how to use it. The idea of moving away from the spreadsheet for some is as difficult as dropping their child off at school on their first day. But make no mistake when we tell you that even the most ‘fool-proof’ spreadsheets make fools off us at times.

They simply are not robust enough, dependent enough nor sophisticated enough to be error free. If you are using a spreadsheet to track, manage and resolve issues – it is time to wave goodbye to your spreadsheet at the school gates and turn your back. 

Luckily, with innovation and digital transformation, organizations can establish a strong digital foundation to combat issue tracking challenges.

Mistake #2 – Using a generic project management system

The market is flooded with off-the-shelf project management tools. But here’s the plain talk: a tool is not a system.

In fact, at Coactive we are huge fans of some of the collaboration and project management tools out there. They help us with the three “vital C’s” when planning simple to medium sized projects - collaboration, communication and coordination. But unless your business has a process for prioritizing and fixing issues remotely, in real-time, effectively all you have is a pretty application with as much sophistication as an online spreadsheet. 

Mistake #3 – Lack of customization to access real-time data

We’ve written a lot about this topic because it is one of the most fundamental and impactful decisions any company will make once they decide to ditch the mid-century spreadsheet and use an app instead. Owners, contractors and project team members at many levels of the project’s organization are often limited to less-than-adequate participation because of lack of information and communication in real-time. Letting a week, a day or even a few hours go by without resolving issues can lead to inefficiencies and productivity problems.

Our Occums Razor

Building a customized solution is not only a lot more affordable than it was as little as 5 years ago, it is also the only true way to impeccably track and manage issues, stay lean, improve efficiencies, outpace competitors and drive your profits up.

Companies seeking to reduce costs while continuing to drive innovation at a faster pace, must streamline processes to drive new efficiencies.

Meet Exitus

Exitus is designed to deliver added value to businesses that need to manage complex, mission-critical, high-risk or high-profile projects.

Here are 3 reasons why companies use customized Exitus applications

Our cloud-based system allows data synchronization, which means everyone involved in the project has synchronized information in real-time.

Track in a cloud-based system

We’ve incorporated status and activity tracking, that can be used on your desktop or across mobile devices, so that contractors, project managers or colleagues can complete checklists and other responsibilities on their own schedule without having to wait for other parties to complete their sections first. This improves all-hands-on-deck communication while reducing the impact on the project delivery schedule.

Streamline clunky, generic and time-consuming processing

Generic project management tools don’t get specific problems solved. We’ve incorporated specific functions like an audit trail, for more detailed who-touched-what issues, and when, so there’s no guesswork during project life cycles. Integrating automatic notifications means Exitus-based application users can sync all their completed checklists electronically via the cloud, eliminating administrative time spent coordinating other methods of printing and transmitting completed documents, for example, scanning, faxing, e-mailing etc.

Customize for specific, smarter reporting and insights – in real time

Get the information when you need it. Exitus users now have real-time visibility on open issues and can coordinate tasks (like inspections, tests, and payments) based on the resolution tracking form. With prioritizing and history tracking designed into our app, daily and weekly resolution tracking reports are easily generated, which increases project team visibility and accountability. This allows for quicker resolution of issues and minimizes the impact on the project schedule.

We created basic settings that aren’t deep and spread out, so you won’t spend hours reading through Help articles to understand how to customize your forms. Users can quickly understand the problem and how to resolve it, either from their desktop or their mobile device. With improved issue resolution metrics, Exitus removes the need for paper documentation or even legacy spreadsheets, so users can access, analyze and understand their data more accurately, critical decision making is smoother, and projects are delivered more quickly.

See if your business is right for a customizable issues tracker