Sciforma user testimony: Sunrise Telecom
We would never go back to the way things were done before. Fred Nikolac
Sunrise Telecom is a world leader in sophisticated test equipment used by major Information Age players around the world such as AT&T, Verizon, Deutsche Telecom, Comcast, and 2,000 other customers in 65 countries that are responsible for the high-speed transmission of the digitized content we can’t live without.
Voice, video, data, and multimedia are sent over a bewildering array of networks with names like VDSL, FTTP, CDMA, MAN, and others still being developed. As consumers, we don’t really care how that urgent e-mail from the Bank of Nigeria, phone call from Grandma, or re-runs of CSI or Survivor get to us, but if the network goes down or delivers poor-quality service we freak!
That's where Sunrise's test equipment comes in according to Vice President of Engineering, Fred Nikolac. "Our products range from basic devices a cable-TV technician might use to check video signals, to more sophisticated tools that can troubleshoot much larger, and more complex network issues."
And as the networks evolve, so too must the test equipment. Fred's Telecom Group sells more than 100 separate products, with 26 more currently in development. He manages five development centers throughout the world in California, Georgia, Switzerland, Italy, and a new R&D facility in Beijing where he spends a quarter of his time. These far-flung teams are responsible for specialized programmable chip design, software development, and product design for the $100 million company.
Products such as the Sunrise Telecom SunSet MTT (Modular Test Toolkit), configured with more than 35 separate test modules, require tremendous resource coordination, a task greatly simplified by PS8.
Fred was a longtime Sciforma user, and while interviewing with Sunrise 18 months ago he made the case for PS8 to manage the company’s workforce and production. He was so persuasive that the company cut a purchase order before he even started his new job.
“They had no project management software in place, relying instead on spreadsheets that worked very poorly,” Fred recalls. “PS8 quickly demonstrated that they could do a lot better than just putting a finger in the air to estimate delivery schedules.”
The people at Sunrise, being mostly engineers, readily relate to PS8’s Gantt charts, using the resource histograms to quickly examine and juggle resources. Also widely appreciated are PS8’s Distribution Spreadsheets to track plans vs. actual costs, which are “100 percent manpower” according to Fred.
His three Program Managers also use PS8 to assemble all of the company’s product plans. “We get the requirements from marketing, create a draft architecture, spec out what components are needed, and lay out the tasks to be performed from all the different departments using PS8,” he says.
This easily gives them the ability to challenge assumptions in the schedule using automated and manual leveling along with project buffers to maximize efficiency. “It’s extremely helpful to do resource leveling across multiple projects – we couldn’t achieve the results we need without a superior project management tool,” he says. “Now we can look across all the projects in a single weekly report, and see where and when we can take on more work.”
A fan of Critical Chain management to compress schedules in highly competitive industries, Fred plans to initiate its use company-wide in the near future, but for now is quite pleased with PS8’s Critical Path capabilities to track and maintain schedules.
“We would never go back to the way things were done before,” Fred says. “This has significantly improved the company’s ability to deliver products on time every time – something we could never do without PS8.”