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5 Ways to Keep Your Project on Schedule

Gina Labou | 10 September 2020

The two weeks at the beginning of a project take just as long as at the end of a project. The difference between the beginning and end, is that the beginning is usually less stressful than when a project is getting close to a deadline or a hard Go live date. It can be easy to let precious time slip! By being efficient during the negotiation stage and clearly communicating the project timeline and milestones at the beginning of the process, you can help your projects run smoother.

Here are five ways you can help keep your project on schedule:

1. Establishing a single point of contact.

Communication is always clearest between two individuals. Ideally this communication would be between the Bastian Solutions project manager and the customer elected project manager (oftentimes the customer’s ‘superuser’). These two individuals will work closely with each other and their teams to keep the project running smoothly. While we can work closely with multiple individuals from different departments, we cannot always guarantee everyone will be happy, and this could create further delays.

The maintenance team is going to have different wants and expectations than the operations team, who is going to have completely different opinions from the sales and marketing teams. While it is important all departments are involved and express their requirements, it is best to have only one point of contact on the customer side to make the final decisions on requirements. This one person can help to triage which of these thoughts is most in line with the driving forces behind doing the project, and thus help us to keep a project going smoothly overall, even if there are some day to day bumps due to differing opinions.

2. Clear expectations

I always want to do right by my customers, and I know I am not alone in this at Bastian Solutions. In order to do this effectively , I need to know in the beginning of the design phase what the priorities are. This diagram is a good visual of priorities - and you can only pick two!
venn diagram fast-cheap-good
The good/fast option and the good/cheap options are going to differ on design and installation requirements. We rarely will recommend the fast/cheap option, but occasionally this is what is needed for a temporary solution. By communicating clearly and closely early on, we can work together to find the best solution for your unique situation. Additionally, both the customer project manager and Bastian Solutions project manager should be aware of the customer’s responsibilities for the installation. This can include providing a space inside the warehouse for staging materials to be installed, use of a dumpster, power drops, air drops, etc. This should be spelled out in the proposal along with when these need to be provided by in order to avoid delays.

3.Timely issuance of purchase order (PO)

We are normally able to work closely with manufacturers to find mutually beneficial timelines; If the manufacturers have a production gap in their pipeline, we can fill in a lull with a good order for them and get a better timeline for the customer, but we can only do this negotiating in the planning stage. This is why we will state a date we need to receive the PO by in order to keep a timeline.

4. Looking ahead.

We need to plan ahead for peak season, holidays, and expected shutdowns to see how they will affect the proposed schedule. In some cases, holidays and shutdowns can work in our advantage for installations. For example, if a customer is looking to do an install as a cutover, we can plan together to utilize a three day weekend coming up in the schedule and plan accordingly, or if a customer knows they have a shutdown for taking inventory for a couple of days and will not be doing usual operations during that time, we can plan on using that time for an install. All of this changes how a schedule is laid out and may make for a later go live date, but one with less impact on day to day operations.

5. Timely testing

Testing generally occurs near the end of the project timeline. It is important the customer is ready early each day to provide testing product and has operators available (if necessary) to maximize the amount of testing that can be done in a day. This also includes ensuring that product and live orders are available for testing when needed.  If testing goes well and meets the customer’s requirements, we can potentially have an early Go Live date. However, if there are delays during testing such as having insufficient orders to conduct a test, we can see a Go Live date pushed back and can create more stress for everyone involved.

Bastian Solutions is sure to work carefully to check these boxes and interact with the client’s contacts thoroughly.  Planning before the start of a project allows for greater flexibility, knowledge of the expectations and reduces stress in the long run for everyone involved.

Author: Gina Labou

Gina is a Bastian Solutions Project Engineer based in Pomona, CA. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona and a Master of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from Western Michigan University. As a Project Engineer, her duties include design engineering and project management for systems involving conveyor and goods to person technologies.


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