MicroNav is an award-winning leader in air traffic and fighter control simulation systems. The company develops, delivers and supports systems worldwide for both civil and military aviation authorities, airports and other organizations.
Over the last few years, the company had seen a rapid increase in orders, and while they began to expand from their success, they also began to suffer from growing pains. Their project teams quickly found themselves overwhelmed by complex projects requiring the tightest communication and scheduling processes.
How could Micro Nav handle this constant flood of orders and also keep both their new and longtime customers satisfied? Was there a way to be more efficient and get more out of their existing resources?
For Operations Manager Kevin Crump, the solution would need to accomplish two things:
- Generate accurate scheduling, communication and information sharing across his project teams
- Supply management with clearly defined data for pin-point resource planning
Micro Nav had been using Microsoft Project, but according to Crump, they found that “we needed to improve communication within and across our project teams, and generate a better and more accurate flow of information around those projects. Specifically, we needed an online project management tool that would improve task time and collaboration.”
Efficient information was also an issue. “Unfortunately Microsoft Project spits out crummy data, and it’s also very difficult to get at that data, causing a constant struggle to put out realistic work estimates. Worse, updates would be reflected only in the master plan, so at the micro project level, we still had to verify everything that got booked on the schedule. Not very productive.”
One of the features that made LiquidPlanner so attractive to Micro Nav is its ability to set up adjustable or sliding schedules. Crump continued: “LiquidPlanner 3.0 is very intuitive, and based on very understandable, clear logic. You can enter task estimates as best/worse-case ranges, versus one hard number like with Microsoft Project and other systems. You never know until you finish the job when it really will be complete. LiquidPlanner 3.0 matches the way our guys think. There are no barriers to using LiquidPlanner. It is built the way apps outside of work are built: easy-to-use, interactive and collaborative.”
As team members work on their tasks, the system encourages them to reforecast, which the Micro Nav team has wholeheartedly embraced.
“LiquidPlanner really enables you to see what your ‘real’ workflow is, compared to another program such as Microsoft Project where there is difficulty in making adjustments because schedules get so skewed,” says Crump. “Entering time, creating realistic schedules with LiquidPlanner is straightforward.”
Now, everyone on Kevin’s project teams can see what each team member is working on, so visibility across the board has been significantly improved. Moreover, Kevin can provide his executive team with significantly better data.
“We also use LiquidPlanner to provide our executive team with much more accurate resource management data. For example, they can see not only where we are more efficient, but also where we have deficiencies or are not so smart, and then correct. Overall, there is also more confidence in the numbers and a real comfort zone based on the validity of that data. This has been a huge boon for us.”
Kevin’s Three Keys to Project Planning
- Plan (and don’t forget what the plan was!)
- Don’t underestimate the human element; getting buy-in can make or break a project
- Learn from previous lessons/take advantage of wisdom accumulated on past jobs