Clean Project Management:
Christ Electronic Systems counts on InLoox
Everyone is familiar with the image: car owners patiently queuing up to have their vehicles washed. There is a good chance that they are doing this at a car wash from Otto Christ AG. The group of companies based in Memmingen, Bavaria, essentially consists of Otto Christ AG, Christ Electronic Systems GmbH and Christ Packing Systems GmbH. Otto Christ AG, as the parent company in the group, stands for innovation leadership as a system provider of car wash systems. Christ Electronic Systems GmbH as well as Christ Packing Systems GmbH pursue ambitious growth targets in their own markets, the embedded computer systems and the end-of-line packaging systems respectively. What is special about the family-run group of companies is that the synergy effects from the individual companies are cleverly bundled through the broad positioning. The diverse competencies are used for innovations in the areas of car wash systems, industrial touch panel PCs, embedded electronics, software as well as packaging machines.
What remains completely hidden behind the often individually customized embedded computer systems: Christ Electronic Systems GmbH uses the Outlook-integrated project management software InLoox for the optimal execution of development projects. Equipped with a company license, the entire workforce has been provided with this project management application step by step since commissioning.
Recommendation: a simple tool that is really used
Arthur Zerr, head of development at Christ Electronic Systems GmbH, was not actively looking for project management software at the beginning, but kept his eyes open for the optimal and simple solution to coordinate projects in a meaningful and easy way. "As in many companies, we therefore organized ourselves using accompanying e-mail and Excel. But that is time-consuming and unreliable," says Arthur Zerr, describing this widespread problem.
When Zerr met Gottfried Fischer, managing director of Habemus Electronic + Transfer GmbH, at an industry event, he brought up InLoox. Habemus Electronic + Transfer has been working extensively with this vendor's project management application since 2012, so Arthur Zerr was able to see the benefits of the software for himself on site. Habemus has like Christ in a short time to develop individual embedded electronic assemblies, whose quality in the field is decisive and must be ensured permanently. The perfect and economical InLoox organization of all these set requirements convinced Mr. Zerr in the long run. The development team also quickly found their way around the project planning software, so that the project management solution is used regularly.
Transparency and efficiency in the project
"InLoox has brought transparency and peace of mind to our projects, enabling greater efficiency," notes Arthur Zerr with satisfaction, and he adds: "We no longer have to fight our way through an overhead of project information, but find everything relevant in one central system." Documents, task descriptions or workloads are simply stored in the extended Outlook interface and can be found quickly. This database creates the necessary security to keep data up-to-date and consistent in order to work productively on projects. In addition, centralization of project information on a single platform leads to shorter paths, as documents or specifications no longer have to be requested from other departments. "All of this has resulted in our ability to continuously track our projects in terms of status and progress, as well as cost, since implementation. In addition, thanks to InLoox, I have noticed a time saving of about two hours per week for me alone, which I would otherwise have to spend just on gathering information," says Zerr, summing up the increase in efficiency at Christ.
Project management with Kanban and Gantt chart
In everyday project work, a hybrid form of agile and classic project management often proves to be the ideal approach because it is pragmatic. For example, Christ Electronic Systems uses the Kanban board for smaller projects, while milestone and project phase planning is done in the Gantt chart for complex product development projects. "As soon as dependencies arise in our projects, whether in terms of scheduling or collaboration with other stakeholders, the integrated planning solution is applied. For internal sales or support projects, we organize ourselves with tasks in the Kanban board," Arthur Zerr describes the approach. "Since InLoox version 9, it is now also possible to provide tasks with start and end dates. This enables clean and reliable task management," he praises the new feature.
In order to map the processes that were already in place before the project management solution was implemented, default templates have been created, e.g. for touch computer development. The template maps all important main steps of the development. As soon as a new project is created, the project manager loads this default template into the planning and can adapt it. Steps that do not make sense in this project are deleted. In this way, Christ Electronic Systems ensures that established default processes in projects are maintained without much effort.
Time tracking for controlling and accounting
In addition to project planning and task management, project time recording is also done with InLoox. On the one hand, time recording is used for controlling and on the other hand for transparency. Christ Electronic Systems focuses the available budget and time frame in the sense of the customer by continuous monitoring. The software generates a PDF report with all time tracking entries, which sales and the customer receive, together with the invoice.
"Since we changed this over, even this process is transparent in the projects. Everyone involved can now easily see where the working time was spent. This saves the customer any follow-up questions about the invoice and internal controlling can be handled more quickly," explains Arthur Zerr.
Glimpse into the future: Expansion plans and deepened use
Now that project management is working so efficiently, Christ Electronic Systems plans to expand the use of the software by the end of the year. Up to 200 people are to be provided with licenses and further features are to be used as default. In the near future, resource planning will also be taken over by InLoox. For this, further prerequisites have to be created internally, but Christ Electronic Systems is confident that this step will also bring a further improvement of the processes in the long run.
"We have managed to organize our demanding projects clearly and to make the information quickly and easily accessible. InLoox thus enables us to plan and implement projects effectively in the growing market of individually customized touch panel computers," Arthur Zerr summarizes the added value for Christ Electronic Systems GmbH.