A model of the reality of our organization and ways of working
User report from ZF Friedrichshafen AG
ZF Mechanical Engineering develops and builds special machines and tools for internal customers and delivers them to ZF Friedrichshafen AG locations worldwide. Every year, approximately 900 processes are created as BCS projects. This includes about 70 projects for special machines. With Projektron BCS, they can not only be mapped exactly, we have also noticeably increased the efficiency and effectiveness in project work.
ZF Friedrichshafen AG is one of the world market leaders in driveline and chassis technology and one of the largest automotive suppliers. The Group was founded in 1915, the abbreviation in its name stands for Zahnradfabrik (gear factory). Today, ZF employs more than 153,500 people at approximately 270 locations in 42 countries. ZF's customers include all well-known OEMs in the automotive industry and vehicle manufacturers such as Porsche, BMW, Audi, Daimler, but also motorcycle manufacturers such as Ducati. It can be said that almost everything that moves with four - or two - wheels contains technology from ZF. For example, the hybrid drive of the Porsche 918 Spyder comes from ZF Friedrichshafen.
ZF Mechanical Engineering is a strategic partner to all ZF divisions and develops, builds and supplies special machines for internal use. In this way, we make a decisive contribution to the process development and industrialization of diverse, innovative ZF products. Every year, we prepare around 900 quotations for spare parts, tools and special machine developments. This results in approximately 70 projects for special machines at ZF Maschinenbau each year. These projects vary in scope, typically lasting between 9 and 14 months. All projects are carried out across divisions, and our customers always come from other divisions and from ZF Friedrichshafen AG locations worldwide. ZF Mechanical Engineering generated approximately €33 million in sales in 2015.
Initial situation, need and selection process
Until 2015, project management at ZF Maschinenbau was based on a static data model in Microsoft Access and Excel. Some of our projects are highly complex, which meant that they were basically impossible to coordinate with the previous solution. In addition, we lacked the options for multi-project viewing and monitoring across all projects; there was a desire for greater transparency. We were also confronted with the question of what project management would look like in 10 years' time if it continued to be run with the previous tools.
So we started researching the market - first on the Internet, later at CeBIT. There we also got to know Projektron and included BCS in the software evaluation. In addition to the PMO and the IT department, our purchasing department as well as the works council participated in the concrete determination of requirements in order to jointly identify the most suitable tool. The final choices were Microsoft Project Server, SAP PS, which was already available in the group, and Projektron BCS. We were particularly impressed by the software's ergonomics, which we hoped would lead to a high level of acceptance among users, and by its browser-based approach, which eliminates the need for local installation at individual workstations. The options for individual customizing also weighed heavily in our decision, because BCS allows us to map our own organization without having to make any compromises.
Deployment of Projektron BCS
We started installing Projektron BCS in March 2015. Projects planned up to that point were still handled in the old form; we created all new projects directly in BCS. We deliberately avoided fixed interfaces to other systems to ensure consolidation of the application and provided users with the necessary knowledge through training. Key users received targeted training at Projektron, and all project managers and employees who do account assignment in BCS also received in-house training with an individual training manual.
Broad user acceptance was achieved and maintained through our project marketing as part of regular information events. After the works council approved the use of Projektron BCS at the Schweinfurt site in January 2016, around 70 - 80 of our 120 employees from the development, procurement, manufacturing and assembly departments now work with BCS in various user roles. We primarily use the project planning, resource management, project controlling and time recording functions as well as the ticket system in BCS. Interfaces exist only for the exchange with external service providers via normal export/import processes. For example, we use the file repository to manage specification and verification documents for our projects.
We have strongly standardized the procedure for creating our offers and often work with our own project templates. This has the advantage that we do not have to start from scratch. Requests are collected centrally. Program managers create the master data as a project in request status and assign a project manager. The customer then receives an e-mail generated from BCS as a request confirmation. The project manager is then requested to create a quotation within a certain period of time and send it via BCS as well. When the customer commissions the project, effort and structure planning begins with a fixed end date After commissioning, the project manager plans the tasks and deadlines bottom-up and documents the progress in BCS during the life of the project. Checklists help to comply with quality assurance requirements.
After project completion, the findings are incorporated into the templates as lessons learned, completing them with the effect of making them increasingly error-proof.
In regular project controlling meetings, the milestone meetings, the project managers report on their respective projects with the aim of releasing milestones. We also access BCS for this and use a separate wizard for our project controlling. We have created our own dashboard for this purpose. Completed projects remain documented in BCS, and in the event of subsequent inquiries, an allocation can be made, and recalculation is also possible thanks to the effort-based account assignment.
ZF and BCS: a win-win situation
BCS has become a model of reality for our organization and ways of working. In addition to the high degree of standardization due to the new approach with BCS, we particularly appreciate the fact that we can access real-time data and that our project data is always up-to-date despite the great complexity.
With BCS, we are now able to provide information to customers at the push of a button. In addition, deputy functions can be performed more easily because all information is accessible, search efforts have been dramatically reduced and transparency finally prevails. As a learning organization, we have thus also increased the efficiency and effectiveness of our project work. In the future, Projektron BCS will be used in other business units, such as ZF Race Engineering. If necessary, we will also introduce additional interfaces to avoid duplicate data storage and further increase efficiency. Together with customers, we also want to use the ticket system even more intensively, possibly in several languages. We will continue to have minor adjustments made by Projektron's support team. In our experience, the collaboration with Projektron works very well and technical issues are brought to a successful conclusion together. The business relationship with Projektron can be described as a win-win situation.