Programs that Make Remote Office Communication, Planning and Scheduling Much Easier
Good communication both internally with our engineering, design and manufacturing teams, and externally with our partners and customers is vital to the success of projects at SPARTA ENGINEERING.
We manage both manufacturing and design teams while working closely with our customers to ensure that we provide a fast, efficient and quality product. Sparta’s “hands on” approach to engineering and design for manufacturing means that we are in constant communication with our manufacturing partners and subsequently, issues are resolved nearly instantaneously.
At SPARTA ENGINEERING we use two key project management and communication tools in our day-to-day operations. While we are always exploring more innovative ways of doing things, like starting our Company Wiki, hosting our first Sparta FedEx Day, launching DesignShare – our customer iPad App (among other tools), there are no two pieces of software more core to managing our business than Liquid Planner and Sococo. I wanted to spend some time highlighting how we have integrated these software programs into our process at Sparta and why these programs make remote office communication, planning and scheduling much easier.
Sparta Engineering Uses Liquid Planner and Sococo for Project Management and Communication
Liquid Planner is a perfect mash up of Gantt chart project management, communication tracking and time management.
It allows you to “tear down” a project into the individual steps required to complete it. These plans can be as detailed or as vague as you need. Each task gets assigned to a person, given an estimated time for completion, and a description of how to complete the task. The software then compiles to-do lists for all the people on your team and schedules the work according to the outlined tear downs.
The clever part of this program is that it assigns priority based on a top-down approach. In other words – tasks further up the list get scheduled first.
This eliminates all the annoying dependency setting required for most Gantt charts and lets your fluidly change priorities or add tasks on the fly. As a team member logs time into a specific task, the remaining time before completion starts to dwindle and the schedule updates to provide the user with a real time project schedule.
So how did this change Sparta?
Well as soon as we implemented this software, it gave us total control of our company workload. Liquid Planner gives us a very clear indication of how long every team member is spending on each task and an overview of all booked projects (with completion dates).
Team members can at any time move a task or a project up (or down) in priority. This communicates which jobs are highest priority and ensures we are all focused on the right tasks. Liquid Planner has allowed project management responsibilities to be shared among team members and make each of us accountable for the projects at Sparta.
The second piece of software we depend on is Sococo. Here at SPARTA ENGINEERING we pride ourselves in having a flexible work place. Many of our team members work from home or from one of our offices in Grande Prairie, Mexico or somewhere in between. We have found that having a remote workforce puts strains on internet and traditional forms of communication and it become a major hurtle in getting the job done. This is why we chose Sococo as our online communication portal. We needed a software that would connect team members in a fun, playful way that was realtime and would keep the same creative, open-door work environment that makes Sparta a fun place to work.
Bridging the physical and the virtual is a great way to build a stronger corporate culture by fostering collaboration and creating a feeling of connectedness for all your employees… regardless of their physical location” – Paul Brody, CEO & Co-Founder of Sococo
Sococo is essentially an “online” office. Each team member has their own digital office with a door, a projector and a phone as well as an “avatar” which communicates passive information to the group. The users can move their avatars around to each other’s offices and share information on their screen, make conference calls or have a video/voice chat. There are large meeting rooms to host “creative huddles” for up to twenty people with screen sharing between 6 screens. Each room also has a VOIP phone so that outbound calls can be made to as many people as required.
What Sococo does better then any other online communication platform is two fold.
- First, its fast enough to have zero delay or down time in your communication. You can hop into someone’s office have a quick conversation, show them what you are working on and leave faster then you could dial a phone number.
- Sococo is the only product out there that communicates all the passive information that you would get from working in an office. For instance, everyone has an avatar so you can easily see when two of your team members are having a meeting or when someone is or isn’t at their desk. It also allows you to set your availability level by leaving your door open (inviting anyone to come in) or closing it (requires someone to ask permission by knocking to enter).
This might seem a little nerdy at first, but I can tell you nothing has facilitated greater collaboration among team members than Sococo’s virtual office platform. It has changed how quickly we can share ideas, encourage innovation and be a leader in design for manufacturing.