Centralizing Construction Schedule Management for a State Department of Transportation

Case Study: Schedule Management Application

Background:

A construction management and inspection firm provides project controls and program management functions for a state department of transportation bridge improvement program. The firm needed an accessible software solution through which personnel could store and retrieve information. In addition, the firm wanted to track and manage construction assignments. The organization was using a wide range of tools for these critical business processes. This processes included paper-based reports, multiple spreadsheets, and manual processes. As a result, these methods were inefficient and time-consuming, and they offered limited visibility into real-time reported data. Therefore, the firm reached out to Aciron Consulting for assistance with streamlining and automating these processes. Aciron would develop a system where users could manage construction schedules and assignments, conduct schedule reviews, track issues, and generate analytics reports.

How We Added Value:

Aciron collaborated with the client to validate and analyze the requirements and strategic direction for the application. In initial meetings, Aciron and the client discussed building the system on the client’s existing Microsoft SharePoint platform. However, after further requirements gathering, the team determined that the desired functionality for the application would be too complex to achieve within SharePoint. With this in mind, Aciron recommended that the solution be built as a custom application. This application would be using Microsoft .NET and SQL Server technologies.

Aciron then developed storyboards and process flow diagrams to document how users will interact with the system. The client has wide variety of project types. Thus, they were seeking an application that would match their unique business needs. As a result, Aciron worked closely with the client to get a thorough understanding of the multifaceted scheduling workflow and the complex schedule review process.

Aciron worked with the client to break down the steps involved in building the application. Due to the complexity of the application, it was decided that development of the system would be broken down into phases. This would allow users to gain access to the system sooner. After each phase of development, also known as a “build,” the application was tested thoroughly through a 3-test cycle. The testing cycle included tested the system, integration, and user experience. Both the Aciron team and the client team participated in this testing process. Thus, ensuring that the platform was defect-free, easy to use, and met users’ specific needs.

Aciron and the client discussed the initial phase of development, which established the core functionality of the application. This phase included schedule management, assignments, project controls, basic reporting, and administration. Subsequent phases have added more advanced reporting functionality and enhancements based on client feedback.

Results:

Aciron developed a web-based application with a SQL Server back-end database. This database allowed the organization to manage construction schedules more efficiently. The multi-functional application is comprised of several interconnected modules:

  • An assignment management module allows users to enter, manage, track, and organize data related to the assignment of tasks. Customized workflows facilitate system-driven and process-driven tasks.
  • A schedule management module allows users to upload and store schedules, which then enter an automatic workflow for the schedule review process. Therefore, simplifying an otherwise complex process.
  • A project controls module allows users to track issues and to create progress reports for projects.
  • A reports module offers powerful reporting features that allow users to generate analytics reports from a centrally managed location.

Integrating all information and processes into one central location has enhanced efficiency and transparency within the organization. The seamless, fully-integrated system includes relevant, up-to-date, and detailed data. Thus,  eliminating data duplication and allowing an automated data entry process. The client has experienced more efficient project management and project controls. Enhanced visibility into the work done by the assigned employees also helps with performance management.

Since implementation, the application has been adopted for all scheduling activity in the client’s scheduling department. We continue to work with the client to add new functionality based on user feedback. Thus, expanding and updating the application according to the client’s growing and changing needs.

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