As one of the world’s leading providers of engineering and consulting services for global infrastructure projects, Royal HaskoningDHV is called upon to lead hundreds of engagements that help governments and major corporations deploy systems and solutions for energy management, food/water supply chains, transportation solutions, and much more. The breadth and diversity of those projects – from a few weeks to 20 years – that take place around the world present a significant management challenge. What’s the status of the project? What resources are needed? What resources are idle? What’s the cost profile of the engagement? With so much at stake, it’s essential for the company to have complete visibility into its hundreds of projects and have fingertip access to the answers to these – and countless more – questions.
Through growth and over time, however, the company’s standards for project management had fragmented. According to Jan Altena, project manager for Royal HaskoningDHV, the result was a difficult tangle of conflicting information, periodicities, and formats. “We have different teams, business lines, and expert areas to support,” he said, “Unfortunately, they were all using different tools – spreadsheets, printouts, Access tables, and Project Authorization System becoming inappropriate. The result was that we had hundreds of project managers, bid managers, business developers, proposal managers, approvers, risk managers, and executives – plus finance and legal counsel – all using and seeing different systems and reports. We wanted a new system to improve our productivity, reduce project risk, lower our costs.”
Although the company has a sophisticated ERP system, Altena said that it was ill-suited for the style of project management the company was pursuing. “It’s a finance-centric system,” he said. “It handles time/attendance and invoices very well. Those are important pieces, but we needed a layer on top of that to support the way we run projects – not financials. The ERP system couldn’t give us a flexible Web-based solution to support the entire lifecycle of a project. We simply have a broader spectrum of project work than it could handle – so we began to look at custom alternatives.”
In partnership with FlowFabric, an expert in dynamic business applications, Royal HaskoningDHV selected the Mendix rapid application development platform. In addition to flexibility and scalability, with Mendix, engineers start with high-level requirements, share results immediately, get the app in the hands of key users quickly, and work iteratively.
“Our company is committed to outsourced software development,” said Altena, “and I was familiar with FlowFabric. They showed me some apps they created in Mendix and I was impressed. It represented a major leap forward in state-of-the-art enterprise software and we agreed it would be a superb foundation to address our needs. We completed a basic functional design and proof-of-concept – just some screens and workflows – and then secured our budget and approvals.”
The team followed the Scrum methodology to fast-track the software delivery project. “We didn’t have a lot of details written down,” said Altena. “We have a lot of variety in our work, so the key was to get something to support it all – without wasting a lot of time in discussions and planning. I could immediately see that Mendix was the ideal choice for this project. For instance, the approval tabs for mobile devices and the connectivity to other systems – these were great features for our needs. The flexibility and scalability in a state-of-the-art platform gave us the confidence that Mendix was the right platform for our application.”
In just a few months, Royal HaskoningDHV and FlowFabric created “Project Managers Workbook,” and deployed it to over 500 users with different levels of authority ranging from supporting staff, project managers to risk assessment managers and line managers. Drawing on data from multiple sources, the application gives those managers, approvers, and executives far better visibility and insight into the status, quality, and profitability of engineering projects taking place globally. “The best part is that it’s all unified,” Altena explained. “It’s one source, one status. We see all dimensions of the project at every stage. Previously, we were dealing with emails and paper trails scattered across offices. Now it’s all in one place.”
According to Altena, user acceptance has been very strong. “We deployed this all at once,” he said, “and it went amazingly well. Our people are quite direct and will complain if something is not right, but we hardly saw any of that.”
“Our project managers now spend less time on mundane administrative tasks and have more time for clients and working on the actual projects. And there’s more clarity about where everything stands. Our users see the impact of this system every day. It’s very flexible and intuitive, and they like that very much. We can make changes ourselves without needing to call FlowFabric, too. PM Workbook is a tremendous improvement for our organization.”
About Royal HaskoningDHV
Royal HaskoningDHV, headquartered in the Netherlands, is a leading, international consultancy, engineering and project management service provider, ranking globally in the top of independently owned, non-listed engineering consultancy companies and in the top 40 overall. The company specializes in aviation; buildings; industry, energy and mining; infrastructure; maritime and waterways; planning and strategy; rivers, deltas and coasts; transport and asset management; and water technology.