Planning Team Resource Utilization
Q&A with Wayne Nelligan of PCA Technology Group
Statdash: Could you give us a quick overview of your company?
Wayne Nelligan: We do software development, network consulting, and telephony. Those are our three core components and more and more the telephony has been wrapped within the networking side because of the convergence that has happened in the industry. Most telephone systems, almost all of them now, are IT based and they run on your existing networks. The old way of doing things, the old POTS lines or plain old telephone service has gone the way of the dodo. So, we’re down to those two aspects really: just networking and software development.
How would you describe you role?
My role is to oversee the software development department to make sure that we are servicing and pleasing the clients and meeting all of the objectives and the deadlines that the clients have.
How many employees do you have?
On the company side, we have 28 now because we just added two. We just increased the help desk too. The help desk is a big part of managed services which is part of the networking side. And, on the managed services side, there was one help desk person and now there are three. So, we’ve definitely been growing that whole area of our company. And, manage services is just the change of what used to be called,“break/fix service” where the client would call you when something happened. Well, managed service is more a proactive role where you keep their networks running and you are aware of all the things that are going on, you’re aware of the clients’ objectives, and make sure that everything is in place too. That really requires a pretty robust help desk because you never know what questions you’re going to get from your clients on a daily basis.
Who would you say is your target customer?
Typically, I would say any company with workstations in the 25-or-more range that would have a need for either software development or consulting and they don’t necessarily have an IT staff themselves. Actually, our ideal client is a company that doesn’t have it’s own IT staff because we come in there and we fulfill the role for them. And, we can do it much more efficiently because it’s our core competency. More and more companies, they should really be focusing on their own businesses and leave the IT side to those that live and breath it on a daily basis. Most companies don’t have their own lawyers and they typically have an outside accounting firm to do their auditing and all that. So, it’s the same kind of thing with the IT; unless it’s really going to be a core part of your company, you’re probably better off just outsourcing it and that’s where we come in.
How long have you been using Statdash?
For the last six months I would say. It’s become an integral part of what I do because, as you can imagine, overseeing the software development side—it’s very, very important for me to know at the high levels what the individual employee is working on and how they’re dividing their time and making sure they have the highest utilization rates they can. Statdash is just instrumental in allowing me to do that much more efficiently.
How did you keep track of projects before Statdash?
Before Statdash, I would almost have to have meetings every week for an hour or more just to ask everybody, “What are you guys working on? What’s coming up for the next two weeks? Where do you see yourselves focusing? How are we doing on deadlines?” and all that. Now with Statdash, because it has the scheduling capabilities at twelve o’clock on Fridays, in the next couple of hours it will automatically send out to all of my employees the list of projects that I have or am associated with and then they’ll come on there and they’ll tell me how much time they’re planning to spend on those things for this week. They also have a category where they can put in any new projects that come up and I can get their time on that as well. So, from a really high perspective, I’ll know where I need to do some resource leveling and that sort of thing. I can see it all at a glance. Before Statdash, everything was pretty much on paper. I was keeping a list of individuals and what they were doing and then I would have to go to them. This time, the dashboard automatically sends an email request to them with the projects they’re assigned to and asks them to fill out how much time they’re spending with each client. Then they can put in comments if they need assistance or additional resources on their side, any questions they may have, anything I can help them with, any concerns they may have.
How much time do you save using Statdash?
Like I said, I save an hour per week of my time, but then I save an hour per week of other people’s time because it’s an hour that we’re all not spending at a meeting. We don’t really like to have meetings just for the sake of meetings. Because, at these meetings, some people will tune out because not everybody cares what everybody else is doing. Now, it’s nice because we can have much more informative meetings and have them less often, in smaller groups where we can ask much more in depth questions instead of, “So, what are you working on right now?” and that sort of thing.
Before using Statdash, did you consider using any similar products?
No because, honestly, other products that I’m aware of have a high level of learning associated with them and they want to do complete project management. I’m a higher level executive; I don’t want to do project management. I have project managers do that. All I want to be able to see is: OK, what is my team working on? Do they have enough billable work? And, where do I maybe need to do some resource leveling, because one person has so much work that they can’t get to it all? So, then I can reassign it. Statdash, with its dashboard view, I can see at a glance who might be overwhelmed, where I might have to move some project from one person to another. That kind of thing.
What are your team members saying about Statdash? How do they like it?
They actually took to it right away; I was surprised about that. I said, “We’re going to give it a shot” and I sent a manual email to them before setting up a scheduled component and within probably two hours (because it’s so simple; there’s no training necessary) 8 out of 10 of them had already filled out exactly the information I needed to know. The other 2 didn’t do it because they were busy with clients that day, but they actually did it over the weekend. So, I was surprised, they REALLY took to it. A lot of times when you’re rolling out any kind of new program, you have to sit through training or whatever. I set up the dashboard with the projects they have and their responsibilities and they just go ahead and do a dropdown and say, “OK, I will spend 40% on this project this week and 20% on this project and 30% on this project, and 5% on the other projects.” So, all the projects I can see at a glance—which ones are getting the focus and where my employees time is going to be spent for the upcoming week. It’s as simple as that, really. They go to the project name and then it gives them a dropdown, they update their status and hit “submit.” I get a notification that they’ve updated the dashboard. I go on Statdash and take a look at the dashboard and see what information they updated. Another thing too, during the middle of the week, something could change. They’ll go ahead and do an update and then Statdash will notify me that somebody updated their work without themhaving to call me up or come into my office.
Did you check out any of the support documents or videos on the Statdash website?
I did. I looked at a couple of the videos. I thought the videos were very, very well done. That’s actually all it took. The rest was so self explanatory.
Is there anything about the system you would like to see changed or improved?
No, but I did have Statdash make a change for me. I was looking at a view of all of our clients and I called Statdash and said, “You know what would really help me? There are some weeks when some clients don’t get touched.” So, let’s say that we might have 50 active clients in one month’s time. Well, I was seeing all 50 of those with all of the people associated with them, so I was scrolling down a lot. So, I said, “We’re not working on all 50 projects for this coming week. Can you just show those projects, in a filter view, that we will be spending time on?” That was one thing that helped me a lot. So now, rather than looking at 50 clients, I might be looking through 13 that week.
How likely are you to recommend Statdash to a friend, colleague, or client?
Very likely! 100%.