We are often contracted by clients to fulfil the roles of Project Managers and Project Engineers. However, a natural extension to our functioning in the roles required is to improve and implement small scale changes where it makes sense. Generally, these changes are in a step-by-step manner where the small incremental changes do not have any negative impacts to the functioning roles of others involved with the projects. As improvements are realized both in efficiency and the bottom line, acceptance to change is magnified and quite often ideas of others begin to be implemented because our people have the capability to implement the ideas in addition to fulfilling their original mandate for which they have been contracted.
One example of this was functioning in the role of Project Manager for many small projects for one of our clients in the oil and gas industry. One aspect of the role was to supply the field construction supervisor with a Construction Binder containing all the necessary documentation to be able to construct whatever was required. Some of the pertinent pieces of information would be the inclusion of the necessary permits and drawings.
Our client had incorporated their ERP application to handle all of the aspects of procurement. One of the important pieces of documentation required in the Construction Binder was a procurement list of items that had been purchased and shipped, were in transit, or were about to be shipped to the site. The list would allow for the receiving of goods and allow the construction supervisor to know if anything was amiss regarding any aspect of equipment required for construction (from not being ordered, to being late, to being the wrong piece of equipment). Up until our involvement, there was no mechanism in place to accurately and effectively reflect the information required of the Construction Supervisor. A lot of manual sifting through the data (via a csv text file) to present only the pertinent information was required and the produced document was both difficult to handle and use in the field.
Our client happened to have installed as part of their standard software applications Microsoft Access® on all of their desktop computers. Our Project Manager recognized an opportunity to improve the quality and the effectiveness of the construction binder and had the ability to enact the change with the application tools residing on the desktop. It was a simple matter to utilize the reporting functionality of Access® to retrieve the requisite data from their ERP system and present a report in an easy-to-read, easy-to-deploy, and easy-to use fashion. Even though it was simply a Purchased Items list, its usefulness and importance for the Construction Supervisor out in the field was among the most important documents used for construction.
We removed the obstacle of daunting manual intervention to produce the information in the original document. We also improved the amount of time to produce the report to almost instantaneous rather than the few hours it would otherwise have taken.
The report was so successful in the Business Unit for which we were employed that we were asked to build similar reports for other Business Units and other projects.