»We even won a major project because, among other things, we had a central project portfolio management system up and running.«
informa solutions is part of arvato infoscore, a subsidiary of arvato AG, and the internationally networked media and communication service providers Bertelsmann AG, arvato services division. The consortium, which has around 1300 employees, operates in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Hungary, with its headquarters in Baden Baden. The portfolio of services covers address management, credit assessment, marketing and risk assessment, debt collection, purchase of receivables, and factoring.
Mr. Kulpa, director of risk management consulting at arvato infoscore, talks about implementing Blue Ant.
Mr.Kulpa, what is your position in arvato infoscore, and what is your sphere of activity?
I am the director of risk management with arvato infoscore. We advise companies in how to deal with customer risk. In terms of content, it is procedural, technical and skills-based.
Can you tell us a little about the project landscape within arvato infoscore?
We operate in a project environment dominated by external projects. We do have a range of internal projects, however. We have approximately 100 to 200 external projects a year, ranging from 10 to 150 man days. In general, the project duration tends to range between two weeks and six months. There are, however, numerous large projects with a volume of greater than 1500 person days. These are both external and internal development projects. In these projects, we work mainly across all departments, and sometimes with external employees.
What were your reasons for implementing a project management software in arvato infoscore?
Project management was being done in different departments in a variety of ways, mostly by means of individually-created Excel files. Occasionally, MS Project would also be used, and the MS Project server was in operation in the IT department.
Those of us in the consulting section often had project leader roles, and over time, we struggled to impose a consistent standard of project management. Even topics like settlements and project controlling took two to four days. On top of this, arvato infoscore was growing considerably, and the manual structure of our resource allocation and reservations wasn’t keeping pace with this change in size. It was no longer possible, for example, to keep a centralised overview of all projects and activities. Even resource capacities and the allocation of topics was problematic. So it was clear that we needed a project management software, which would meet all our requirements.
What was the decisive factor which made you want to use Blue Ant as your multi-project management software?
For us, Blue Ant’s user-friendliness was a major plus. The software’s simplicity of operation – that was an essential criterion, as well as it being web-based. We also liked that our service processes were supported. Everything we required performance-wise when we opted for Blue Ant has been fulfilled.
How long have you been using Blue Ant in your company?
We began the implementation process in August 2009. Since November 2009, Blue Ant has been fully integrated into our risk management division.
How did the process of implementing Blue Ant take shape?
When it came to choosing, we had already conducted a straw poll among the employees, who would after all be the future users of the software. Both the usability and the out-of-the-box coverage of our project types made for a persuasive argument.
It was possible to do the basic configuration within a few days, as targeted questions were asked, which we were able to answer swiftly and simply. This gave rise very swiftly to a wide-ranging system, which everybody who worked with it liked a great deal.
First of all, we trained all the key users, then all the project heads and finally all the employees (mainly for time-recording) were brought up to speed too. From January 1, 2010 onwards, planning and recording in Blue Ant became obligatory for all projects.
What is different about project work now compared to the time before you started using Blue Ant?
Controlling projects – planning and developing them in advance – has significantly improved. We even won a major project because, among other things, we had a central project portfolio management system up and running. Control at departmental level has been made easier for managers thanks to the transparency of current activities. Situations where employees may be overburdened can be spotted well in advance, so that the appropriate counter-measures can be taken. Not surprisingly, employee satisfaction has also increased as a result.
You took part in the Blue Ant forum in 2008. How did you find exchanging ideas with other Blue Ant users?
Well, at that stage, neither the actual purchase, nor the content, had been fully agreed on. But there were a number of issues that came up which ended up influencing both the decision to invest and the acquisition process itself. Chief among these was the service-oriented nature of proventis’ own operations, which became apparent from speaking to other Blue Ant customers.
How do you envisage your ongoing working relationship with proventis?
We’d like to continue seeing our feedback and suggestions for improvement responded to, as the Blue Ant functionalities continue to be improved upon. Because comfort and performance is an ever more important factor in a growing solution like Blue Ant.
What, personally, is your favourite Blue Ant function?
The leave overview – at long last there’s no need to depend on a system of Excel lists that you’re not even certain are up to date.The invoicing process is a great deal simpler than the one we’d been using before.The controlling, and that the fact that at the click of an icon, you can see the current state of affairs in a project. And overall, just much more transparency regarding project-related tasks.