Centralizing Construction Schedule Management for a State Department of Transportation

Case Study: Schedule Management Application

Challenge:

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 and track and manage construction assignments. The organization was using a wide range of tools for these critical business processes, including paper-based reports, multiple spreadsheets, and manual processes. These methods were inefficient and time-consuming, and they offered limited visibility into real-time reported data. The firm reached out to Aciron Consulting for assistance with streamlining and automating these processes in one simple, integrated system where users could manage construction schedules and assignments, conduct schedule reviews, track issues, and generate analytics reports.

Approach:

Aciron began the project by collaborating 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 and analysis, the team determined that the desired functionality for the application would be too complex to achieve within the limitations of SharePoint. With this in mind, Aciron recommended that the solution be built as a custom application using Microsoft .NET and SQL Server technologies.

After establishing the project requirements, Aciron developed storyboards and process flow diagrams to document how users will interact with the system. Aciron worked closely with the client to get a thorough understanding of the multifaceted scheduling workflow and the complex schedule review process for the client’s wide variety of project types, ensuring that the application would be developed to match the client’s unique business needs.

Due to the complexity of the application, it was decided that development of the system would be broken down into phases to 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, including system, integration, and user testing. Both the Aciron team and the client team participated in this testing process, ensuring that the platform was defect-free, easy to use, and met users’ specific needs.

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

Solution:

Aciron developed a web-based application with a SQL server back-end database to allow 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 assignment of tasks. Customized workflows facilitate system-driven and process-driven tasks, rather than requiring users to manage all tasks manually.
  • A schedule management module allows users to upload and store schedules, which then enter an automatic workflow for the schedule review process. Users enter schedule review data via a robust multi-step form, which simplifies 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 based on data gathered over time in the system from a centrally managed, easily accessible 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, which has eliminated duplicate data entry and reduced the time and effort necessary for manual data entry. Thanks to their increased access to data, the client has ultimately gained greater insight into the status and progress of projects and contracts, allowing for 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. The client has been so pleased with the application that they presented it at their regional industry conference and received rave reviews from conference attendees. 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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