Increased Team Productivity
Manager Time Savings
About Urban Grid
Urban Grid is a leading developer and financier of solar photovoltaic projects in the Mid-Atlantic United States. Founded in 2011, Urban Grid has over 1500 acres of solar projects connected and online across United States and in the UK.
With extensive solar project development expertise, the company delivers projects that maximize value to their customers, while limiting risk through a team of seasoned finance, industry and construction professionals.
Urban Grid is a proud member of the Consumer Electronics Design and Installation Association (CEDIA), which is the only globally recognized body that governs the electronics industry.
Back in 2011, when Urban Grid was founded, the company used Microsoft Excel for their project management. Back then they had only a handful of projects and one project manager. As the company started growing and kept adding more projects, the lack of a comprehensive project management solution started causing several issues. Managing complex, capital intensive and multi-year projects in Excel was becoming nightmarish. Project estimates were unreliable and priorities often shifted based on ever-changing project environments. At Urban Grid, the team juggles upwards of 20 projects at a time. These projects are in various stages of development and take anywhere from one to three years to complete. “The main challenge was communication,” said Leah Garvey, Vice President of Project Finance at Urban Grid. “We didn't know where projects were status-wise all the time. We had to rely on emails and phone conversations and spreadsheets that may or may not be up to date. And as we added more projects and project managers it got too cumbersome to link all the spreadsheets together, manage changes and keep up with everything,” she added.
Their key challenges included:
Project and Resource Visibility
For Urban Grid, using spreadsheets to manage extensive projects was quite demanding. Because the project plans lived in multiple spreadsheets and were often not up-to-date, keeping everyone on the same page, working toward the same priorities, and accountable for their assigned tasks was very difficult to deal with. Lack of broad access to project plans and their current status was another major drawback. And, the lack of a consolidated view of resource usage across all projects only exacerbated this pain.
Being a very capital intensive development process, accurately tracking budgets, making sure they were on track, comparing planned vs actual budgets and costs and being able to report that to the management was practically impossible using Excel.
The teams at Urban Grid had to rely on emails and phone conversations for important project related communication. This resulted in gaps in communication at several levels and crucial information started to fall through the cracks.
Urban Grid’s system of spreadsheets was simply not scalable to accommodate changes in their projects. Without proper project management, it was virtually impossible to evaluate the change impact on other projects. Lack of project historical data also made it quite challenging to evaluate the impact of changes on ongoing projects.
Why Celoxis ?
When Urban Grid started its hunt for an integrated project management system, they knew they really needed a solution that could help pull together the entire team—keeping everyone on the same page, working toward the same priorities, while keeping tabs on their investments and budgets. Having solid historical project data to capture the effort required to complete past projects and apply that to new ones would be invaluable to their capital intensive solar projects. With this clear idea of what they needed, Celoxis really stood out as the only affordable solution that ticked all their boxes. “With Celoxis, it was really the visual setup that got us attracted. It was so easy to understand and use. The reporting, the dashboard, the ability to use Gantt charts and also to pull the information you need into a management level report for effortless,” said Leah.
For Urban Grid, Celoxis was a platform of choice because:
- Celoxis was extremely easy to understand and use coming from an Excel and spreadsheet background.
- It was cloud-based and web-based solution that could securely house all of their project data, files and history.
- Celoxis provided their managers and executives with full visibility into all project schedules, gantt charts, off-track tasks and budgets from one place.
- Celoxis helped Urban Grid’s teams to achieve better communication and collaboration. Using Celoxis, everyone is up-to-speed and on the same page in the face of continual project changes.
- Celoxis’ powerful and customizable reporting engine made comprehensive, real-time project analytics and dashboards accessible within a single click for Urban Grid’s managers and upper management.
- Celoxis provided real-time transparency to effectively manage resource (human and non-human) availabilities and workloads.
- Celoxis offered ultimate flexibility in terms of custom fields for capturing various project and task specific information.
- Celoxis offered unmatched capabilities at an affordable cost.
How Celoxis Solves Their Business Problems
“For the management level it's much easier to just log into the dashboard and see at any given time a status of a project and also when we have to make a budget decisions, easy to pull up a report and see where we are on our project”, said Leah smilingly. “And for project managers it’s a tool that they can take anywhere with them and they can automatically update the status or task of their projects and be able to stay on track,” she added.
The key business benefits included:
- Celoxis provided the much-needed consistency and scalability that the management needed so they could track project progress and resources in real time.
- Managers could effectively track off-track tasks and take corrective action directly from the Gantt Charts.
- Celoxis’ best practice financial time-phased reports helped Leah and the management to pull in all the budgets per month for like the next few months and filter them out by categories and task types. “Budgets are very important for us, and with Celoxis we could keep track of them and make sure we were on track and we were able to mark when we've paid off certain tasks and mark them from our budget to actual and be able to report that to management,” Leah explained.
- Celoxis Reports brought in plenty of insights to the upper management. “We use a ton of reports on a regular basis,” said Leah. “I do really appreciate the customization and the reporting on custom fields,” she continued. Celoxis Reports allowed them to create customized reports and present preferred information as and when needed.
- Celoxis improved project planning, estimation and collaboration among the managers.
- Celoxis effectively captured project history, allowing the managers and management take effective decisions on past project performance.
- Custom fields and formula fields helped Urban Grid keep track of several industry-related project information and metrics.
- Celoxis brought in a system that was easy to setup, easy to adapt, highly customizable to their needs and scalable as required.
What They Like About Celoxis ?
“Celoxis is being used extensively by our managers to keep track of their projects, make sure that they’re on schedule and they’re doing everything they need to do. And then our upper management uses Celoxis regularly to monitor projects and also the budgets on the projects.” said Leah.
Key Celoxis features that Urban Grid is taking advantage of include:
Celoxis’ interactive Gantt chart was godsend to Urban Grid’s project managers to be able to visualize their long project plans, keep them up-to-date and predict delivery dates. It was virtually effortless loading long projects. They could easily color code different types of tasks, update their status, and track project progress and dependencies all from one place.
Time-phased Financial Reporting
With several real-time best practice and custom time phased reports, Leah and the upper management could easily keep track of their project budgets and costs on a monthly basis, monitor planned vs actuals and observe trends.
Managers and upper management extensively use the customizable dashboards to see a consolidated real-time view of their projects and make decisions with a greater depth of clarity.
Resource Load Chart
The cross-project resource workload chart enabled the managers to quickly identify resource bottlenecks and reshuffle priorities between resources and projects.
Urban Grid extensively uses custom fields including formula fields to demarcate different categories of tasks and to capture and report on project and financial metrics for their executive reporting.
Project Discussions and Task Comments
Urban Grid heavily uses project discussions and task comments for collaboration as it keeps all conversations at one place and within the project for easy access.
Change Request App
Working in a very dynamic project environment, changes are inevitable for Urban Grid. The change request app enables them to channelize all their project changes and prioritize them effectively while also maintaining a history of all change requests.
Greater Visibility and Improved Communication
Moving from using Excel to a comprehensive solution has helped Urban Grid, as an organization, to have greater visibility into their projects, achieve a better rate of transparency and improved communication channels between teams. There is no more lost communication and reliance on phone and emails communication is almost obsolete.
Significant Manager Time Savings
With Celoxis, managers were able to achieve about 12% time savings leaving them with more time to focus on their project delivery.
Improved Team Productivity
While Urban Grid team members did not use Celoxis on a day-to-day basis, their productivity still went up by almost 50% because a lot of their manual activities were eliminated by Celoxis. Using Celoxis to update tasks and communicate with managers and rest of the team made it their single interface of communication.
Supported lowering company’s operational costs
Through the company’s aggressive growth period, Celoxis helped standardize processes, lower operational costs at various levels and help sustain the overall growth.