How to carry out a good site study and prepare a usable business case

A thorough site study is an important pre-requisite for a successful implementation of Workforce Management. But what is a site study anyway? And what should you be particularly aware of in order to succeed? Get advice on how to carry out a good site study and prepare a usable business case based on our collaboration with Aarsleff.

Some say that the beginning is half of every task. At ProMark, we completely agree with that statement. And we actively live by it when collaborating with our customers. Our experience shows that the better we know our customers and understand their business and internal processes, the better we are prepared to implement a solution that supports the company’s needs – without any inconveniences and reverse actions.

Therefore, we start all our implementation projects with a site study.

What is a site study?

Basically, a site study is a thorough study of the customer’s premises and conditions that will have an impact on the solution. It will often be a combination of observations, studies and interviews, all of which contribute to a description that is as close to the “customer’s reality” as possible.

We follow a well-proven and documented project process that has been developed on the basis of experiences from several hundred projects. The site study is a key element of this process. The objective is to ensure quality, control and the fulfilment of expectations – and thus rapid success and benefits with regard to the implementation of Workforce Management.

In practice, this is achieved by having one or more of our consultants visit the company to enable better planning of the implementation of the solution. The purpose of the visit is to:

  • See the surroundings in which the installation will operate
  • Meet the people who will be involved in the project and the subsequent operation and use of the solution. What are their problems (pain points)? Where do they see opportunities for improvement
  • Get a firm grasp on the interpretation of collective agreements and local agreements to ensure th the system is able to deliver precise time and rounding profiles
  • Discuss the IT-related and functional requirements with the customer. Where do they see the challenges in relation to the implementation, and where do they expect optimisations?
  • Map out the current (as is) and future (to be) work procedures in relation to the registration of time spent and to highlight the differences. This forms the basis of a gap/fit analysis.
  • Match the customer’s expectations relative to resources, the business case etc. Which objectives should the project meet? Why is it being implemented?

Thus, the site study will provide an opportunity to see the daily routines in practice – normally in the fields of production, payroll administration, roster planning etc. – and create a comprehensive overview of existing systems, business processes and working procedures.

Case: Digitalisation of the constructions sites for Aarsleff

For a number of years, the leading Danish contracting company Aarsleff has been working on streamlining their processes through digitisation.

As part of this optimisation, Aarsleff and ProMark have entered into a partnership for the development of a specialised solution for the collection of data, directly on the construction sites. Thus, the current physical timesheets, which are fundamental for managing the collective agreements and the remuneration of employees as well as follow-up on projects will be replaced by a digital solution in near future.

By using tablets, the hourly-paid workers will register their time split between projects as well as mileage, supplements, subsistence allowances and absence. At the same time, the foremen will be able to amend and approve registrations and ensure that all the necessary data has been registered with regard to, for example, machinery, mileage and waiting time. And finally, all data will automatically be transferred to a payroll journal which will deliver the data to the payroll system.

Focus on user involvement – a site study in practice

Prior to the description of the solution, there has been a thorough analysis lasting several months. This analysis was conducted in close collaboration with Aarsleff. In this case, the site study was intended to cover both a plan for the development of new functionality and the actual implementation. In order to ensure precise information and fulfil wishes and requirements for functionality from all the relevant departments in the company, Aarsleff selected approximately 25 employees who represented 3 business areas (Construction, Pipe Technologies and Ground Engineering) to participate in a working group. From our side, several consultants and solution architects participated.

This is the first IT project at Aarsleff that impacts so many employees throughout the entire organisation, says Ulla Boel Bergholt, who is Project Manager at Aarsleff. Therefore, we have placed a great deal of emphasis on getting the right people involved from the start – both those who know the processes and those who can make decisions.

At first, the requirements specification was based on input from the payroll office. Here, the primary focus was on obtaining an overview of the functionality that was required in relation to the payroll calculation.

Furthermore, the foremen, who are closest to the hourly-paid workers and thus have a more practical approach to the weekly timesheets and how it works ‘out in the field’, were also involved in the process. This provided additional valuable input in relation to the choice of user interfaces, the administration of employees and the approval of timesheets.

Finally, the site study also identified the need for integration to Aarsleff’s present system landscape (ERP and payroll), just as it should be possible to extract data from the system in the form of reports which are to form the basis for active management information.

By involving all the relevant stakeholders, the site study highlighted how the present and future processes for time registration can be supported optimally and also clarified the scope and complexity of the project. Not only did this help ensure a common reference platform for the project in the future, it also established the basis for drawing up a realistic timetable for the development and implementation of the solution.

A usable business case

The benefits of digitizing the weekly timesheets seem obvious. Automation of the processes for time registration will remove manual registrations and calculations, minimise the risk of errors and thereby reduce the use of resources – both among the hourly-paid workers, the foremen and in the payroll administration.

But, how do you calculate the value of such a project? And does it make sense in terms of the return on investment (ROI)?

The answer can be found in the project’s business case, which has formed the basis of the decision on whether or not to implement.

Based on the mapping of the present processes and working procedures (and time spent), the functionality requirements and proposed solution set out in the preliminary analysis, Aarsleff has identified a number of areas in which the digital time registration solution will create value. Time savings account for a significant proportion of the benefits that can be achieved!

  • Less time spent on the double entry of data from the weekly timesheets, control and error correction. This will, in particular, result in considerable times savings in the payroll administration, where Aarsleff expects to reduce the time spent at present by half
  • Better quality in the registrations. Registrations can only be made on active project numbers, and the solution calculates overtime and rounds off itself. This makes time registration for the hourly-paid workers easier and reduces the need for follow-up and corrections
  • Automatic approval process with the option of setting up more levels of approval and defining substitutes
  • Improved overview and more details, as statistics and reports will be available faster
  • Modern and scalable solution with excellent development opportunities
  • Robust IT support of the payroll process

Follow-up on the business case

According to Ulla Boel Bergholt, the organisation will welcome the forthcoming solution with open arms and there is massive support for it. The project will be implemented in phases. Phase 1 is expected to be operational in September 2017, while Phase 2 will be delivered successively with 6 milestones up to January 2018.

But, how do you ensure that the identified benefits are also realised? It can be of great advantage to use the business case as a guiding principle to ensure that the project is managed according to the business goals and will be a success – both from our own and the customer’s point of view.

We recommend that you select 5-6 concrete measurement criteria for a project. These measurements are carried out after the system has been put into operation and the users have started using the solution.

According to Steen Guldborg, who is IT Manager at Aarsleff, the realisation of the benefits is crucially important:

In all major IT projects, we require that within a year after the project is completed, we measure whether the gains are realised. Therefore, we will of course follow the project closely.