Blind To Resources
Keeping in lock-step with the rapid evolution in the wireless and radio communication industry, Peregrine Semiconductor had doubled in size in just one year heading into 2012. Yet, this innovative hi-tech company’s project planning and tracking system was a decidedly low-tech approach, consisting of complex Excel spreadsheets and the occasional Microsoft Project file. Peregrine’s Craig Lathrop, senior program manager for high performance systems, knew the existing system could never keep pace with the company’s aggressive development roadmap.
Project timelines were high-level at best, omitting valuable detail that left program managers struggling to figure out current status on critical tasks. Each PM kept his or her own timeline in Excel, but with minimal detail—most recorded each project in just three phases, In reality, however, each phase would often consist of 300 or more tasks.. Worse yet, these timelines resided solely on each PM’s local machine, offering zero visibility into how project timelines overlapped—or interfered with one another. The lack of visibility made resource planning extremely difficult, and when bottlenecks arose, there was virtually no way to identify the root cause.
PMs spent hours tracking down status updates and updating and managing massive spreadsheets. By the time those spreadsheets were updated, the information was already outdated because Peregrine’s product workflow moved far too quickly for PMs to keep up with the conventional tools at their disposal. Craig alone was spending roughly eight hours a week simply updating spreadsheets and writing reports, With their lack of real detail, these still offered little value and, instead, became a source of inefficiency for Craig. Furthermore, because these spreadsheets and reports lived only on Craig’s PC, this put the sole responsibility for keeping them updated and generating reports entirely on his shoulders. The inefficiencies in the system meant that most PMs could manage only about five projects at once.