Magnifying Visibility Into Complex Electric Transmission Projects

Project management can be a daunting task, especially if existing systems are disjointed, difficult to use, or not optimized for the workflow and communication style of a particular organization. Our client, a Fortune 500 utility, asked us to build a tool that could fit their exact workflow and needs, and it grew faster than anyone could have predicted.

The Backstory: Another Project Management Tool?

There are almost as many project management tools in the world as there are companies. So whenever a partner asks us to create a project management tool, our first step is to understand the goals. Often it is because they have very specific needs around their workflows, communications, and regulatory requirements. Other times it is because what they are referring to as a “project management” tool, actually has a much broader vision.

In this case, the answer was: all of the above. The organization had very specific ways of interacting that they had built up over years, and they worked. These weren’t changing. They also had a vision for a tool that would span different teams’ workflows, integrate with other internal systems, and give them visibility outside of just day to day work. These needs weren’t going to be met by grabbing an off-the-shelf project management tool.

They had tried other off-the-shelf tools, and they just didn’t work.

They knew a tool like this could change their organization, but it needed to blend seamlessly with their existing workflows.

The Challenge: Bringing Various Teams and Tools Together

Our utility client was tracking projects through various pieces of software.

Users were doing redundant work and had difficulty knowing the status of a project at any given time.

Most off-the-shelf project management tools are great for task tracking and assignment, but simply fell short when it came to providing visibility to leadership and tracking less task-oriented work.
This led to a lot of one-off solutions outside of the tools, which exacerbated the challenge of keeping people informed and on the same page.

Poor visibility into the status of these projects and lack of communication between teams was leading to expensive and unpredictable—yet preventable—setbacks.

The Strategy: One Lens To Rule Them All

Our utility client needed a single platform to manage a wide array of functionality for various user levels, in multiple departments.

Managers needed to see what was going on, and users needed visibility into what their colleagues were doing.
Simple Thread created a tool that brings everything into focus.

This tool was initially designed for a small team’s use, but quickly scaled to include multiple departments in the company. Because of this, the application is at various stages of deployment within different departments, but overall it has the ability to:

Calipers and other measuring tools
  • Provide visibility into projects.
  • Create engagement between users.
  • Define previously moving deadlines in real-time.
  • Flag blockers and issues that could stall a project.
  • Inform anyone who wants or needs a status update.
  • Streamline feedback and interdepartmental collaboration.
  • Assign productivity values to a team for improved forecasting.
  • Enable effective communication throughout the entire company hierarchy.

“This tool gives us the ability to tie our systems together. 
We now have a new set of expectations for the caliber of technology we expect. When we have a need we articulate it to Simple Thread, and let them work.”
– Manager, Electric Transmission, A Major Utility Provider

The Outcome: What Else Can This Do?

Good software is intuitive, easy to use, aesthetically pleasing, and provides value to the end-user. When software checks these boxes people don’t only use it, they also ask what else it can do.

Because the application was built to seamlessly fit into user’s existing everyday workflows, the feature requests began rolling in.

All the tools that previously existed in a vacuum are now on a managed platform.

User are now connected in a way that provides the right level of both high-level and granular insight into the current state of complicated projects. They’re able to focus on their projects because the application give them the context they need, when they need it.

Thanks to the collaborative nature of our partnership with our client, the software is being rolled out to additional teams on a regular basis.
Their leadership team knows that as the organization changes and adapts, so will this tool. It will always stay in lock-step with the way they work.