Catalyst ONE is a growing Australian project management company that provides integrated project solutions and infrastructure services for the telecommunications industry with specialisation in on-site acquisition, property services, and telecommunication tower technical design, among other services. With five offices in Australia located in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane and Perth, it has been providing quality project management services to its customers since 2005.
“We didn't have the desired visibility as to what was going on day-to-day, the costs associated with the project or program. Even back when we had twenty-five people, we recognised we wanted to grow and doing everything by spreadsheets was never going to be the way to grow the business.”
– Anthony Osment, Managing Director
Catalyst ONE was a small company that recognised it needed to optimise its project management operations to provide the business with better visibility on resource scheduling and project profitability. It relied heavily on an Excel-based project management process that lacked corporate rigour, limited operational insights and impacted its ability to scale.
Catalyst ONE needed a system to manage all their projects and resources in one central location. Their spreadsheet-driven project management process lacked the visibility they needed for a unified view of the incoming work, hours rendered or costs associated with the project.
Timesheets were manually keyed in into their payroll system that was not only time-consuming but also prone to risk and errors. The extra load this placed on the Finance team who were not closely involved with daily project operations made the process difficult, time-consuming and would not have been able to cope with the significant and immediate business growth that was soon to follow.
Being able to track the billing events—whether there’s a purchase order or not, what has been invoiced or what is due to be invoiced—were very difficult to do by just relying on Excel spreadsheets. It impacted Catalyst ONE’s ability to forecast its cash flow and revenue.
There was total reliance on project managers to process information for finance to invoice, and these were triggered manually via email to the finance team. This was a process that created risk for the business as it allowed for possible miscommunication or invoicing “lost in the email”. This risked lost revenues or delayed cashflow if invoices weren’t submitted on time.
Selected for its demonstrated technical expertise in implementing leading-edge Microsoft-based solutions, Professional Advantage was chosen to deploy Microsoft Project Online and integrated cloud and collaboration services for Catalyst ONE.
Project Online is a subscription-based portfolio and project management (PPM) solution that combines resource management, scheduling, team collaboration, project analysis and reporting in an online Office 365 integrated tool. Because it is cloud-based, employees have anytime, anywhere access to project data using their preferred devices.
“Now that we have the billing application, we’re able to look at project profitability and forecast our business confidently. That’s something we couldn’t do easily in the past.” – Garry Sandilands, Telecommunications Consultant & Contractor
Professional Advantage helped Catalyst ONE in defining their requirements and configuring Project Online to suit their needs.
Because Project Online is delivered through Microsoft Office 365, it works seamlessly together with other Microsoft applications such as Microsoft Office, SharePoint and Power BI which Catalyst ONE was able to leverage in this project.
Having extensive knowledge of custom development, Professional Advantage developed a bespoke billing application running on Microsoft Azure and integrated it with Project Online to manage billing events, billing dates and forecast dates. This replaced the manual invoice triggers, tracking and approvals that would have been otherwise done through email and could easily fall through the cracks if not properly tracked.
A year after implementing Project Online, Catalyst ONE has experienced significant wins and improvements in its project management operations.
COST SAVINGS AND GREATER PRODUCTIVITY
Without the Project Online solution in place, Catalyst ONE would have needed to hire more people to manually key timesheets into their payroll system for the hundred staff that joined in the same week in 2017, only six months after the project commenced. Implementing Project Online provided for a company-wide, streamlined timesheeting capability that allowed Catalyst to save on additional headcount. The smoother operations and intelligent reporting also permitted project managers to focus on their core function dedicating more quality time and attention to their assigned projects.
Because Project Online is cloud-based, Catalyst ONE also saves on infrastructure and maintenance costs, will always stay current, has built-in disaster recovery and guaranteed SLA’s from Microsoft.
IMPROVED CASH FLOW MANAGEMENT
Project Online together with the bespoke Azure billing app enabled the business to have clear milestone visibility across all projects to ensure that these are invoiced on time. Project managers are now able to keep track of purchase orders coming in easily, and what has or has not been invoiced.
Catalyst ONE has immensely benefited particularly around capturing revenue information, cash flow forecasting, being able to track its projects’ progress and find ways to narrow the gaps. They can now easily identify small things that restrain projects being closed off and as a result, can take necessary action to turn it into cash and efficiencies for the business.
“Our business was enabled to overnight bring in a hundred people online on the first day they started with us, and that was through the timesheeting capability of Project Online. This alone was a huge win for us.” – Garry Sandilands, Telecommunications Consultant
FROM GRAPPLING WITH INFORMATION TO A DATA-DRIVEN ORGANISATION
Catalyst ONE quickly transformed into a datadriven organisation with data visualisation and dashboards provided by Power BI that link together project data from Project Online, SharePoint and the Azure billing app. These executive dashboards allowed for rapid action and decisions on business and project performance that couldn’t be done with spreadsheets.
True to its self-service BI capability and together with its easy to use and familiar user interface, the project teams at Catalyst ONE were able to create sophisticated project reports from Power BI even without formal training. Within several months there were almost thirty comprehensive reports that Catalyst ONE had created to aid business critical decision making.
Migrating the larger existing active projects to Project Online wasn’t considered feasible by the business, so project scheduling and resource management functions in Project Online will grow and provide further benefit progressively as projects managed under legacy systems cease and all active projects are transitioned into the new system. The Company also sees utilising Power BI much further to provide even greater visibility on project profitability. Project Online will continue to become a catalyst for growth at Catalyst ONE, providing for its needs long into the future.