Project Management Software Helps WSECU Keep 'AtTask'
"I can just pop it up and show we did 82 projects this year," the business analyst/project manager at Washington State Employees Credit Union said of the @task Enterprise solution deployed several months ago at $1.4 billion WSECU.
The hosted, on-demand software from AtTask Inc. in Orem, Utah, replaces an ad-hoc system of keeping up with projects "in a loose fashion on Excel spreadsheets, Word documents, multiple disparate data sets," Wagner said, and now is being used to keep track of a variety of projects at the 157,000-member credit union.
"Our first full-blown project was our Mobile Financial Manager from Access Softek. We've also done things as simple as people moving locations and work station reconfiguring. We did our new loan origination system on it. We used it when we developed portions of our payday lending application, and with home equity and VISA campaigns," Wagner said.
"You put all the tasks on there and you can keep track of schedules, recurring meetings, what IT and other resources you have to have ready, test groups, whatever you need to do," he said.
The software's scoring and prioritizing of projects, along with sending alerts and reminders and status reports along the way, help organizations allocate resources effectively while simultaneously applying a kind of electronic peer pressure, the company said.
"People don't like to have symbols next to their name showing that they're late or the project is at risk," said Scott Johnson, AtTask founder/CEO. He said the software got its start in 2001 as an internal tool for a marketing agency and now is used by 1,300 customers in multiple industries, with deployments of as few as two users up to about 10,000.
"Managers really do need good data to make assignments and understand what their resource utilization really looks like. You also need to be able to monitor trends and really know early when things are going off track," Johnson said.
"We cover that from inception and planning all the way through project execution and validation, at all levels of the organization, using dashboards that give you real-time visibility to evaluate how your initiatives are doing," he said.
Johnson also said that the system Wagner and WSECU are using is far different than the original product and that regular upgrades continue. Going forward, they'll also carry a democratic twist, he added.
"We just launched a new area of our community site that allows our customers to put an idea on there, and then people can either vote it up or down. That gives us a clearer idea of what things are important to our user community, things that may not be exactly what we here as executives and product managers would clue in on as important to customers," Johnson said.
WSECU is one of about 15 credit unions on the client list and has about 50 licenses. Wagner said he uses the software nearly daily and that "it's hard to say just how much it's saved us in man hours, or put a value on being able to provide management with real-time, instantaneous reports."
Project templates also can be stored, making it easier next time a similar project or campaign is undertaken, he said. "We have the task lists right there."
The WSECU business analyst/project manager added, "Maybe the best part about it is that once I create a task list, I can show ownership on each task, generate output and send it to everybody, so there's no question about who's doing what.
"The alerts, too, that show 10 days, then five days left and the project's not on time or some tasks aren't done...well, no one likes having that red or yellow warning by their name. That's a very powerful picture."