Memphis District employees pride themselves on finding ways to revolutionize how they work. One of the more recent ways they've modernized processes comes in the form of the new Smart Project Updates Dashboard, also affectionately known as SPUD.
Before SPUD, Project Controls Program Manager Lyndsey Sutton said the team would rely on spreadsheets and reports from the Enterprise Data Warehouse to manage their project data.
"We emailed our change requests and kept them on SharePoint," she said. "With such a large program, the team saw a strong need for a more systematic, disciplined approach to project scheduling and data management. This dashboard provides us with the tools to meet that need."
According to Sutton, the new system provides transparency, cuts down on confusion, improves communication, and houses project data for knowledge management and succession planning.
"SPUD keeps track of the status of these updates and change requests, sends automatic emails to notify those who need to take action, and houses the signed documents," she continued. "These tools eliminate the need for project managers and the Project Controls Team to manage updates and changes via email."
To ensure project managers and program analysts are up to speed on how to use the new program, the SPUD development team provided training in January. Now, approximately 35 Memphis District employees, including project managers, program analysts, and the district's “Project Management Information System 2” scheduler (P2 scheduler), are fully trained on using the system.
"Initial SPUD training included demonstrations of project scheduling and budget update tools that communicate through SPUD to the appropriate Project Delivery Team members," Sutton said. "It also included training on the Change Request Tool, which incorporates information needed for a Project Change Request (PCR) that's internal to the Memphis District (MVM).”
Also beneficial, this new system can generate a SPOT Report (SPOTREP) using PDT member input.
"The change request component has been very convenient, and once we get the Project Review Board slide finalized, that will keep project managers from having to do manual updates," Sutton explained. "Managers will only have to add a few notes in SPUD, and then the system will pull the rest of the info in for them."
While SPUD has only been deployed in Memphis for a short period of time, it’s without a doubt that project managers do not miss the old way of doing things. Supplemental Program Manager Andy Simmerman is one of those people.
"The new automated system streamlines all coordination for project scheduling, scope, and budget changes that have to be vetted and approved by MVM and MVD Leadership," he started. "Examples of this are the Project Change Request (PCR) that program managers submit through their supervisor, to the Project Controls Team (Lyndsey and I for this effort), then to Deputy District Engineer, as well as a SPOTREP that outlines a schedule change to any and all Headquarters tracked milestones."
Simmerman said SPOTREP correspondence must be approved by the MVM Commander and then sent to MVD Leadership for their awareness of the scope, schedule, or budget change.
"The old way we coordinated all of these schedule changes was through emailing PDFs, sending reminder emails, and tracking in a separate spreadsheet," he added. "(It was) very time consuming and easy to let an email fall through the cracks and waste a week on a task that should take a day or two tops."
Simmerman said his favorite thing about SPUD is its simplicity, that it's easy to use, it's intuitive, and that it's transparent. He's also grateful for the support received from the New Orleans District team.
"Dashboard saves me at least 50 percent of the time it originally took to route change requests and SPOTREPs," he said. "It likely saves the project managers more as they are the ones creating them. I then review, edit, concur, and send to MVM Leadership and recommend approval."
According to Sutton and Simmerman, this system is making lots of people happy. But not only that, it's streamlining processes, which ultimately ensures the district's project managers can execute the district's missions with much more ease than ever before. And who wouldn’t want that?