Meeting deadlines thanks to structure, strategy and transparency:
Project management software for manufacturing & engineering in use at Mayer & Cie. GmbH & Co. KG
Mayer & Cie., a medium-sized manufacturing company and global market leader in the field of circular knitting machines, is using InLoox’s project management solution to improve its ability to meet production deadlines and thus, enhance its competitiveness.
Mayer & Cie. generates annual sales of over 100 million Euro worldwide and has over 500 employees. The development, engineering and assembly of circular knitting machines is an increasingly complex business – particularly if, like Mayer & Cie., you have a 25 percent market share and export 99% of all machines delivered. This is further aided by the variety of products and variants available to a wide variety of customers and market segments, as well as the coordination of geographically dispersed production sites. The company’s machines manufacture diverse products such as t-shirts, sportswear, mattresses, car seat covers and sneakers. To date, the company has launched 1479 machines on the market, of which there are 50 different types.
For economic reasons, Mayer & Cie. decided some years ago to introduce a project management software in its engineering department. Zoran Raic, head of development and engineering, describes the initial situation: “Before 2016, we simply did not have any project management and no designated project managers. Projects were managed by development engineers who took on the role as project manager intuitively and brought a lot of experience with them. However, there was a lack of proper project planning, which lead to development times for new circular knitting machines ranging from two to five years. There was also no project transparency. Documents were filed in various locations so that some of them were incomplete or there were several duplicate files. Constant priority changes and their effects were also not very transparent. All this had a negative effect on the adherence to schedules and deadlines. We also lacked an overview of resource availability to determine which people where needed at which time.”
Under the direction of Raic, four software solutions were evaluated against six different requirements:
- A global overview of all current projects and project costs
- Clear overview of the employees’ workload
- Document management with central filing system
- Task management support
- Possibility to track times
- Display of key data based on supplied figures, data and facts
Mayer & Cie. opted for InLoox because, according to Raic, the solution met all requirements. Thanks to its integration with Microsoft Outlook, users can work in a familiar environment. The solution is easy-to-use, keeping the effort involved in day-to-day business to a minimum – after all, project managers and engineers are one and the same person. One of the benefits of InLoox is that the investment costs, running costs and administrative effort are all kept to a minimum. Another decisive factor was the existing IT structure did not have to be changed.
Added value in day-to-day business
Since then the company has been using all InLoox features. Users currently include all employees in the development and engineering departments: around 40 employees at two locations working in mechanics, electronics and software. In addition, all technical roadmap members, project managers and product managers work with the solution.
During the implementation phase, Mayer & Cie. focused on defining processes and workflows. To this end, an employee was released from their regular duties for around three months. According to Raic, “don’t start blindly” was the motto. The comprehensive approach allowed the company to answer questions relevant to business decisions, such as: For which department does production work and how much time is dedicated to that? Since the machines have a service life of up to 40 years, there are sometimes repair jobs that need to be done, so that additional workload can now be determined.
Mayer & Cie.’s aim was to be able to comprehensively display engineering processes und projects in InLoox to gain a more transparent overview and more structure in both day-to-day business and strategic projects.
As far as day-to-day business is concerned, tasks are prioritized by due date. There are no further prioritizations. According to Raic, “a noticeable benefit of InLoox is that we work according to deadlines” instead of arbitrary priorities. When a project manager receives a new task, they estimate the workload and the team member reports back the real workload. If the reported workload is higher than the workload estimated by the head of department, consultation is required. If the engineer notices that a task will take considerably longer to finish, the effort must be adjusted. If the effort estimated by the head of department is exceeded, another consultation is required. “About 70 percent of tasks are finished without consultation,” says Raic.
As priorities are constantly changing, Mayer & Cie. has assigned five employees who are responsible for day-to-day business tasks and who are not available for project work. The reason for this step is that sometimes there are conflicts of interest: Wishes of important customers sometimes conflict with an important strategic project.
InLoox can be easily used for controlling purposes. The head of department is responsible for controlling day-to-day business. They can evaluate the final deadlines. According to Raic, the advantages of InLoox include prioritization via the master data management. With regard to workload, he recommends a workload of 80 percent per employee, the remaining 20 percent are reserved for unplanned events and unexpected changes.
Strategic projects can be evaluated more realistically
Strategic projects are now displayed in InLoox in a project plan comprising nine phases. These range from concept, design, prototype, trial and field test phases to development and sales release and project completion. Project managers are now faced with the task of managing around 140 sub-projects. This would not be possible at all without a project management software.
For the strategic projects, the engineering department has determined an actual development period of four years. After six projects with a project plan have been completed, the team has – for the first time ever – empirical data that is “pretty close to reality”, according to Raic. For example, it was previously assumed that development would only take two years. According to Raic, knowing that false assumptions made early on can be discarded is really valuable, particularly in consultation with account management and the end user. However, the new experience usually conflicts with the expectations of the company’s management, who does not (yet) accept this new reality.
As a result of relying on InLoox for project management, Mayer & Cie. has achieved the following benefits:
Thanks to the prioritization according to due date, adherence to schedules in engineering and production has improved considerably. The company has also seen benefits from prioritization via the master data management. After all, “something unexpected always comes up”. Another key finding was that restructuring was necessary. In day-to-day business, planning proved to be critical because constant interruptions generated a lot of additional work. That’s why a change management team was introduced, consisting of five people who are responsible for day-to-day business and who are unavailable for projects. The above-mentioned introduction of the phase plan – with a detailed task list – allows creating a project plan that represents reality. And finally, InLoox shows the organization important figures, data and facts. One of these facts is, for example, that the “procurement time for prototype components takes about nine weeks” or that additional employees are needed in cases of capacity fluctuations.
Mayer & Cie. has plans to introduce and evaluate key data with InLoox. The following data will be provided by InLoox:
- The share of the development or engineering department’s involvement in projects can be broken down by category and customer.
- According to Raic, InLoox also provides information on on-time delivery: e.g. the adherence to or exceeding of deadlines and the average time taken to complete a task can be easily extracted from the solution.
- Other key figures such as planning quality and project costs can also be determined with the help of InLoox and used as a benchmark for continuous improvement.
- “Mayer & Cie. chose InLoox because the solution meets all requirements.”
- “This is a noticeable benefit of InLoox: We produce according to due date instead of arbitrary priorities.”
- “We have vastly improved our adherence to deadlines with InLoox.”
Zoran Raic, Head of Development & Engineering, Mayer & Cie. GmbH & Co. KG
Before 2016, there was no project management and no designated project managers. There was a lack of project planning, so that the development times for new circular knitting machines ranged from two to five years. Documents were stored in various locations and the effects of constant priority changes were not transparent. All this had a negative effect on the adherence to deadlines.
Four software products were evaluated against six different requirements. Mayer & Cie. chose InLoox because the solution met all requirements. Thanks to its integration with Outlook, users can work in a familar environment. The solution is easy to operate, keeping the effort involved in day-to-day business to a minimum.
Thanks to prioritization according to due date, the adherence to schedules in engineering and development improved visibly. In response to new processes, an operational restructuring was intitiated. The introduction of the phase plan (detailed list of individual tasks) enabled more realistic planning. Collection of figures, data and facts for benchmarking. Strategic projects can thus be evaluated more realistically.