SIG (Services Industriels de Genève): Making Better Insights Available to More People
Resource restructuring and creation of a new organization led SIG to adopt Sciforma to its project management. Benefiting from the ease of use and flexibility of Sciforma, other teams and segments of the company began to adopt Sciforma for day-to-day planning as well.
SIG is an autonomous public company with a capital of 100 million Swiss Francs shared between the State of Geneva (55%), the city of Geneva (30%), and the Communes of Geneva (15%). SIG’s continued existence and development are from the company’s sales, receiving no aid or subsidies from the authorities. They supply water, gas, electricity, and thermal energy; treat waste and waste water; and provide a fiber optic network. SIG's aim is to carry out its activities with sufficient profit to prepare for the future and to respond to the growth of its markets quickly.
Creating a New Engineering Office to Improve Collaboration
In 2007, SIG decided to reorganize its resources and created a new organization named “IPRO,” from the French initials for “Engineering Project Network Work.” Its aim was to create and bring together the various types of engineers at SIG (hydraulic, electrical, thermal and civil engineers, and architects, etc.) and increase the synergy. "Because of our technical skills and our different activities, complex projects were already being managed from start to finish. However, each of these projects were managed differently, making it difficult to have an overall view of them and to implement homogeneous reporting tables for management," said Philippe Liechti, the SIG IT Customer Solutions Manager. "Everyone organized projects in their own way in their own area and the managers often found that the information was scattered among a multitude of files in different formats. With the liberalization of the electricity and gas markets, the pressure on SIG and its projects increased, with tighter and tighter requirements for financial management and delivery dates: technical competence alone was no longer enough."
Selecting Sciforma for Better Management, Organization, and Unity
The implementation of IPRO was an opportunity to adopt a new project management tool and test it in the new organization. The aim was to find a solution that would make it possible to unite the engineers around one language, to use common work methods, and to be able to administer and access company resources through one single database. One of the greatest expectations was to be able to rapidly generate homogeneous, accessible reports so that all contributors could benefit from them. This tool would not be solely for the upper echelons, but would be used by all those involved in projects (customers, project team members, etc.) in order to help manage day-to-day work better.
By mid-2007, SIG contributors studied the different solutions on the market. "Several tools were evaluated and three were installed and tested. The evaluation covered their TCO and their features," explained Philippe Liechti. "In the end, it was Sciforma's solution that was chosen. It stood out from the rest because of its user friendliness, simplicity, accessible interface, and the quality-price ratio."
Easy and Fast Deployment in Only Seven Months
Deployment started at the beginning of 2008, with about fifty contributors. To involve the future users and to fully understand their needs, SIG organized workshops with consultants from Sciforma. Sciforma’s experience with deployment in other companies was a great advantage. These exchanges made it possible to:
- discuss the organizational processes to be implemented
- detail the numerous features of the tool and select those that fitted SIG's needs best
- define the different configuration to be added to Sciforma (new fields, processes, reports, etc.)
In parallel, other parts of SIG were invited to the presentation so that they could implement Sciforma.
Defining various processes lasted for 6 months (not a minor change in the organization of day-to-day work). On the other hand, configuration of the tool took only a few weeks due to its ease of use and flexibility.
"We were able to rely on the Sciforma team from the very beginning. They were always ready to listen to us and they trained us on Sciforma while giving us a custom-tailored service. The configuration of the tool was done in a very natural way because of Sciforma's great responsiveness and attention to our needs," said Philippe Liechti. "Sciforma was adopted progressively by our contributors in about one year.” Everyone quickly became interested and became comfortable with it, which helped them organize their everyday work better."
A Flexible Tool that Complements SAP
The SIG IT system runs on a SAP system. As well as deploying Sciforma, the SIG programmers developed interfaces for communicating with SAP and for extracting supplementary information.
The first module was created to link to financial and accounting information. The aim was for a project leader to be able to have better visibility and an overall view of the projects, their budgets, and the costs.
A second module made it possible to integrate human resources related information that was managed in SAP into Sciforma. This second interface allows a project leader to always have up-to-date resources. These two modules enhanced the new tool and its day-to-day interest for management and all the company's contributors. With the interface with SAP, Sciforma makes it possible to plan and manage current projects better. Additionally, Sciforma makes it possible to replace the innumerable Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Microsoft Project files that everyone was using.
Benefits and Usage Spreading to Other Parts of the Organization
Originally, Sciforma was only to be used by the new organization, IPRO, but the benefits were significant enough for other parts of SIG to adopt it. In 2008, the contributors of the IT Department and Project Office began to use it. In 2009, it was the turn of the Electricity Distribution and Public Works Departments to manage the planning of their respective worksites with it. Today, 130 SIG contributors use Sciforma to manage an average of 700 projects and work sites per year.
Thanks to Sciforma's tool, project and resource management has become much easier. Improving planning has also made it possible to anticipate some problems more easily and therefore have time to address them. Another benefit is that cooperation between the different organizations has become even stronger because communications are better, through a common language, and a common tool. "Everyone has benefitted from it, in terms of time and efficiency: The language, the project stages, and the reports are common to all the projects. The organization is more effective and information on our projects is more readily accessible. Among the qualities of the Sciforma tool, we have especially appreciated its flexibility, for configuration and for the possibility of adapting it to our specific business needs," explained Philippe Liechti. "Our workers have noticed that it is now much simpler to work together and they have come to like this." Sciforma has taken care to see that Sciforma has operated correctly since 2008 by offering support and an ongoing analysis of the needs of the contributors. Their team continues to develop the tool so as to continue to respond directly to the expectations of the SIG users. In 2011, some twenty new users will adopt the tool. SIG also hopes to create a Sciforma users' club where employees can share their experiences and exchange the best practices in project management.