Procurement Process Management
by Steve Bering
Activate.NET's 2000 expansion of their client base and services required
an increase in their web-casting ability. In response to this need,
Activate.NET began construction of their largest and most advanced
web-casting facility in the Seattle area. Their hardware and
infrastructure needs required work with proprietary hardware
suppliers and installation contractors. As their work contracts
required rapid completion of the project, in-depth management and
customized tools were necessary.
While developing their hardware and software systems, Activate.NET
chose a hardware supplier who competed on the supply side with their
integration contractor. This demanded management diligence and effective
communication of project information through all parties. The integration
contractor provided a parts-required schedule based on the integration
schedule, and Activate.NET internally managed the PO process to get hardware
on-site in time for their integration. Activate.NET began this process
using a Microsoft Excel 2000® spreadsheet, detailing all of the parts
required with columns for the budgeted cost and supplier names. Based on
all of this information, Activate.NET used a manual internal process to
determine when orders needed to be placed and when they would arrive on
The drawbacks to this approach became quickly obvious. The manual process
Activate.NET used was very labor intensive and required repeated phone
calls between Activate.NET staff, the integration contractor and the
hardware supplier. This solution also required that the Microsoft Excel®
spreadsheet be passed around between team members as they each inserted
their information, bringing into question versioning and data integrity
issues. Activate.NET employees also lacked the time to work through the
estimations to determine when POs needed to be placed. As a result, several
of the first integration parts were ordered too late to be on site in
time to meet the integration schedule. To improve Activate.NET's procurement
process, Bluewater, developed a custom software
solution to meet their needs using Microsoft Project 2000®,
Project Central®, and Microsoft Excel 2000®.
Activate.NET's requested from Bluewater a system with
a familiar interface that would provide them with hardware and software order
needs and delivery times and would also provide customized reporting.
Bluewater worked with Activate.NET to understand
their internal and external PO process constraints, and developed a
software solution based upon these discussions. Bluewater
used Microsoft Excel® - which Activate.NET was already using and familiar
with - to program the order estimates and automatically provide the dates
by which a PO must be submitted in order for a part to reach the dock on
time. Once the PO was placed, the newly programmed spreadsheet rolled forward
through the process, detailing activity completion dates and providing a more
reliable estimate of delivery and testing dates.
Upon completion of Bluewater's customization, all of
the information within the Excel® workbook began to be automatically
processed through Microsoft Project 2000® and forwarded to Microsoft
Project Central® for reporting to suppliers, integration contractors,
Activate.NET employees, and project stakeholders. This information was
customized by programming Microsoft Project 2000® fields that forwarded
into Project Central®. This provides users with graphic indicators
of procurement status for each part in the integration process. Each user,
according to his or her role in the project, is able to view project status
reports at each appropriate level of detail. The supplier sees cost and
schedule information, the integration contractor sees schedule information
only, and Activate.NET sees all procurement related information.
Bluewater's solution has given Activate.NET the
ability to make hardware purchasing decisions easily and punctually.
The use of Microsoft Project Central® allows Activate.NET to give
information to and receive information from outside contractors and
suppliers, and it also allows internal project stakeholders to have an
in-depth understanding of the status of the procurement process. These
communication and information channels ensure that this and future projects
are on time and within budget. Through the integration of Microsoft
Project 2000®, Project Central® and Microsoft Excel 2000®,
Bluewater was able to help Activate.NET control
the supply chain in their largest project to-date.
Support for Collaboration.
The Activate.NET hardware procurement solution put in place by
Bluewater relies on the integration of: Microsoft
Excel® front end; Microsoft Project 2000® capabilities of OLE
linking and embedding, customized fields and graphical indicators; and
Microsoft Project Central's® role- based security and web-based project
reporting to company stakeholders, suppliers and contractors in an easily
interpretable format. This powerful combination automatically provides
all necessary information to stakeholders, suppliers, and contractors,
while maintaining data integrity by allowing a single copy to be maintained
and controlled by a single project team member. Immediate access to up to
date information allows team members to anticipate project needs and operate
With Project Central's® Portfolio View, Activate.NET employees and
other internal and external stakeholders can both rollup project information
for an overview and drill down to see the status and impacts of individual
issues. This allows project participants to see how their contributions to
the project affect the integration end-date.
By linking information from Microsoft Excel® with Microsoft
Project® and Project Central®, Activate.NET team members are able
to use their familiar Microsoft Excel® interface and formulas to
enter and maintain information, while relying on Microsoft Project®
and Project Central® to display appropriate information. Microsoft
Project's® membership in the Microsoft Office® group provides
interactivity between it and other popular office software pieces to
aid in customizing solutions and meeting customer needs.
Quicker information dispersal.
By providing a web-based interface with connectivity to a client's
information spreadsheet, project information can be disseminated to all
stakeholders with the push of a button that publishes current information
to the web interface. Changes can be made and distributed much more
quickly than through previous methods.
Project status from anywhere.
Because Project Central® uses a web interface, team stakeholders
can check status information from supplier and contractor offices, on
site, or on the road - essentially anywhere they can hook up a computer.
Greater control over data access and integrity.
The placement of project information into a single source document means
that there is no question of document versioning. Furthermore, Project
Central's® role-based security makes sure that team members see
only the information appropriate to them, with 'viewing-only' rights.
This ensures improved management of change order processes.
With the hardware procurement solution developed by Bluewater
on Microsoft Project 2000®, Microsoft Project Central®, and Microsoft
Excel 2000®, Activate.NET employees have more control than ever over the
procurement process. They are effectively able both to provide and control
access to their project data, enabling team members to stay informed on
project status, while maintaining a rigid change control process. This
means that Activate.NET can focus on delivering web-casting and broadcasting
solutions with confidence that their infrastructure will be able to meet
their customers' needs.
Created by Bluewater Project Management Services, LLC.
Please feel free to contact us for additional information on any of
these projects via any of the following means:
Activate.NET provides live web-casting services, 24 hours a
day, 7 days a week, for radio, television and internet-only programming.
They present network and web-casts in all major industry standard formats
for product launches, conferences, presentations, sales demos, earnings
calls and more.
In 2000, Activate.NET was in the process of building a new
web-casting and broadcasting center in the Seattle area. Activate.NET
called upon the talents of Bluewater Project Management Services, LLC
to meet some of their building process needs.
Bluewater's solution provided
Activate.NET with the ability to disperse process information quickly,
estimate arrival dates accurately, share project information with all
team members, and control information access rights appropriately.
Microsoft Excel 2000®--The user interface for schedule entry, providing
a familiar interface with easily modified functionality.
Microsoft Project Central®--The web interface to project information providing project status access to internal and external stakeholders.
Microsoft Project 2000®--The engine for sharing Excel® data over the web with Project Central®
Microsoft SQL Server 7®--Highly available and reliable storage for project data.