Makimo is a small company with great ambitions. To complete all challenging projects, Makimo needs to efficiently manage both allocations of their employees and project finances - and to say that they successfully did that with Primetric is like saying nothing.
Thanks to Primetric, Makimo:
And more… If that sounds interesting, and you want to better understand Makimo’s journey with Primetric, read on.
Established in 2010, Makimo is a small software development company with 20 people on board. It focuses on highly specialized, advanced projects for businesses from different industries: from toys to medicine. Additionally, Makimo has a highly selective approach to its project, as its creators and specialists wish to only work on projects they are truly passionate about.
Makimo focuses on separate, specialized products. The company usually produces backend to create technologies such as:
…and many more.
Importantly, Makimo seldom offers body or team leasing arrangements.
That is because the company believes that the technical expertise required to build the whole product is Makimo’s responsibility, not their clients’. Makimo specializes in delivering complete products and services and creating long-lasting relationships with its customers.
The majority of them have been staying with Makimo for more than 5 years, and for more than just one project. This is a result of a personalized and open approach which was highly appreciated by all the entities cooperating with Makimo, including TomTom, Nutricia and World Health Organization.
Makimo tends to work on more than one project at once. The teams are created for each project separately; however, the people assigned to the teams are closely interwoven. That is because, in numerous instances, one specialist works on many projects at the same time.
To add to that, the amount of time spent on separate tasks is usually not equal. For example, one employee can spend 60% of his time on project A and only 40% on project B. As a result, calculating the available capacity may be challenging, especially when it constantly changes.
“In general, our people work on more than one project. That’s because the majority of our projects turn into maintenance projects that do not require full-time support.”
Structure of teams in Makimo is overseen by Matt Papiernik. Because of the size of the company and its limited resources, he has many responsibilities.
Currently, his position combines the duties of both CTO and COO, as well as some elements of financial management. He is also involved in creating meaningful relationships with Makimo’s customers.
With so many responsibilities, Matt needed to truly understand all the planning processes in the company. For much time, he relied mostly on JIRA and Excel to do so. Therefore, planning processes were not as versatile as his needs were.
Originally, resource planning in Makimo was divided into two regularly performed stages.
The first and the most basic stage was long-term planning. It was completed using a tool made by Makimo itself - MT Matrix. It was a simple tool consisting of a matrix with colorful fields that showed both people and their working time, whether it was already allocated or not.
The MT Matrix provided Matt and other leaders with a very general perspective for the upcoming 2-4 months. However, this system was of no use for specialists - it was only meant for the managers.
The application was detailed and worked fine for planning short periods of time, but due to the lack of integration with JIRA, discrepancies in amount of work planned and actually spent by the employees crept quickly with time. Without proper integration, the project prediction capabilities were severely limited.
Therefore, as the long-term planning turned out to be somewhat lacking, Makimo also introduced short-term planning.
The short-term planning sessions were held every two weeks, and they required a presence of all the team leaders in Makimo.
The process required one person to spend about an hour before the planning session to update numbers of hours spent by the teams on all projects.
Team leaders had then a discussion on the actual, shared view of project completion and could propose changes in project allocation. The result of their discussion was then shared with the whole company as a guidance for the next two weeks. Employees liked this form of communication.
There were consequences of such an approach.
As this view was not connected with the long-term planning views, Matt needed to find other ways around this process to communicate project predictions to team leaders and to calculate profitability metrics for the company records.
“The teams were simply unaware of what awaited them after the two weeks of short-term perspective has passed. Even though I had the information in the project, it was not reflected in the short-term plans. As a result, the team assigned to a project knew that their 2 backend specialists are to be working on the project full-time, while frontend is to be working part-time for the two weeks to come. Then, after the two weeks had passed, we met and discovered whether there was more work to be done.”
Finance management in Makimo posed challenges different from those of planning.
“As a COO, I am responsible for operations, organization of projects and allocations. I also monitor their profitability because there is no separate position for that. As a result, operations and finances are interwoven in Makimo - and that is the reason I decided to look into Primetric.”
Just like in the previous case, financial planning was done in Excel spreadsheets. However, they were not connected with any other spreadsheets - financial calculations were separated from people's schedules. As a result, financial forecasts were based on historical data and assumptions rather than actual data - and they only showed expected profits and their completion rates.
Additionally, financial plans did not accurately reflect reality. They were only prepared once a month and, as a result, they did not show any unexpected problems that may occur on the way. They also had limited insight into changes in employee compensation, even though they are fairly common in the IT industry.
Long story short, finance management in Excel spreadsheets resulted in time spent on number crunching that could be used to develop the company itself.
Makimo’s planning processes were obviously long and time-consuming - especially for Matt, who as the only person in the company had the complete knowledge to work within the confines of these processes and successfully manage the company’s financials.
The system worked, but was hard to scale, as it was dependent on too many decentralized sources of truth and specific people. Here’s the list of the requirements that Makimo needed to reach the next level in their planning capability:
Inability to scale teams and processes. Fragmentation of planning and information flow was not sustainable for the future. In addition, it was a big problem for the founders themselves, including Matt, as he had to take care of the process manually.
A gap between the short-term and the long-term planning. Both plans covered two very different perspectives that had nothing to do with each other. As a result, the demand was not clear and was based on preconceived opinions that were not always reflected in reality. These types of planning also lacked a real-time approach and often missed the unexpected changes that occurred after the plan was accepted.
“There was an enormous gap between long-term and short-term planning. Because of it, there were cases when teams were basically oblivious to the things they were to do after these 2 weeks had passed.”
Excels had to be manually updated
It was a time-consuming process that did not consider any updates and changes. It lacked automatic validation of data too and was prone to occasional mistakes, i.e., missing someone’s holidays, miscalculating capacity, and more.
No bird's-eye view of finances
Matt, along with the other managers and board members, could not see any changes to the budget in the real time. As a result, the costs of work were often surprising for him whenever the scope of work in a project has changed.
“We used to do a budget review every two weeks. If we made a mistake in planning and in reality the team worked much harder than we anticipated, after two weeks we had to issue invoices bigger than originally planned.“
Analysis based on the leader's knowledge only
There was no single source of truth for the company - each leader had some information on his team he needed to share with others. The knowledge about the project, on the other hand, came from Jira and was largely supplemented with the information of the leaders who had to remember it. That allowed pivoting projects to meet clients’ demands at a cost of not knowing how the projects progress between planning sessions.
“Even though there were some people that had the information in their mind, there was no direct access to it.”
No visibility of employee availability
Short-term planning in Excel needed an additional look in the calendar to make sure employees are not on any leaves during the two-week period of time. Team leaders often didn’t remember their employees' holidays and planned certain project scope for the next two weeks just to be told in the planning session that a key person is not available at that moment.
“We used to report absences in a very typical way: we had them written down on paper and visible in Google Calendar. However, the information usually only concerned the administration department in our company - the rest was oblivious to it. As a result, when we came to a planning session, we discussed the allocations saying “Well, Mark will work on this project”, and sometimes there came a moment of realization: “But Mark is going to be on holiday then!”
Additional processes performed manually
Any additional calculations had to be completed manually. Due to the process implementations, calculating such metrics as sources of non-billable hours or profitability information required manual labor, and often quite a lot of it.
When Makimo and Matt decided to implement a tool that could replace spreadsheets as their main source of information, they started to look for a specific set of requirements.
That’s because they were not rushing. After a few years of trying their own processes and solutions, the management team came to a conclusion that the new solution should fix the shortcomings of the previous solutions. It was also supposed to connect complex allocations and gain access to financial information, as well as extensive people management.
This, however, was just the first of many problems.
Makimo and all of its founders and employees take pride in their personal approach to all the customers, and expect their providers to treat them as partners, too.
Unfortunately, Matt was disillusioned in this case, too, as he was met with a meaningless SaaS approach he could not relate to. Therefore, he looked even further - and that is how he found Primetric.
It is true that the first impressions always matter - and that was the case for Makimo, too.
When Matt first encountered our solution, he wasn’t greeted by a bot or a demo. Instead, we have invited him to a demo with one of our sales representatives. Even though Matt was reluctant to accept the invitation, he never regretted that he finally agreed.
During the demo, it became clear to Matt that Primetric had everything he wished to implement in Makimo.
Seeing Primetric at work, Matt along with other managers representing Makimo decided to give Primetric a try - and that try turned into a long-lasting relationship Makimo hoped for from the start.
Implementation of Primetric was not a lengthy process for Makimo. In fact, after all the formal details were set, it only took Primetric 2-3 days to become operational and in daily use for Makimo.
However, this was just the beginning. Primetric and Matt joined forces once again, this time to truly show the tool’s potential in a real environment. With Primetric’s support, Matt could instantly get the answer to all his questions and get help whenever he got lost in all the features offered by the tool. We also made every effort to solve any issues that may arise in the process.
As a result, Makimo started to adapt more and more Primetric features, and soon it embraced the tool to the fullest.
Just after Primetric was first implemented in Makimo, it was already put to the test.
At the time, Makimo was trying to complete a very complex project. It was an operation that required enormous flexibility and perfect communication between the customer, product owner and the team. Neither of these things were given to Makimo.
The coronavirus pandemic put a tax on all communication channels between the client, managers, and the team, and scheduling them proved to be more than just tricky.
Acting on budget, Matt and his team were under the obligation to deliver a working product with only the basic requirements met. That needed the team’s product owner to make scheduling decisions to maximize cooperation between team members and reduce waiting between backend and frontend teams.
“We made a lot of quick decisions [in the project] due to the pandemic that hindered contact with the client. It required surgical planning.”
Had Makimo only used spreadsheets for the task, it would have struggled. Fortunately, this time, Primetric was at hand.
Thanks to drafts, reservations and flexible allocations, Makimo’s managers could lay out the whole project in a 3-month timeframe. They were also provided with all the necessary information on absences and availability, so they could realistically assess whether the engineers they intended to engage could really take part in the project.
As a result, after a few different plans were tested, Makimo has found an optimal solution and found a way to complete the project regardless of unfavorable circumstances.
“If the allocations had been done manually, we would make mistakes. With Primetric, we just started shifting people's hourly engagements until everything turned green - and we delivered it.”
Implementation was just the beginning of better management in Makimo.
Gradually, the company tested and implemented more and more features offered by our solution. As a result, today it uses modules such as:
“For me, Primetric combines the rhythm of the work with finances and project workflow - and that’s why it’s perfect for us.”
With Primetric, Makimo gained numerous benefits, such as:
Simple planning and management
Primetric provided managers with a comprehensive view, combining both long-term and short-term perspectives. The information in the system was also instantly updated, allowing Matt and other leaders to make correct decisions. All the allocations and plans could also be dynamically changed without a fear of error, as Primetric included smart messages and notifications about any interfering operations.
“We are capable of stretching our detailed plans to more than just two weeks.”
Matt can rely on his leaders to provide him with information on finances and allocations and see their decisions in Primetric. As a result, he doesn’t have to be a part of every decision-making process and can focus on spotting the mistakes.
Primetric allows Makimo to view and edit allocations in real time. This helps Matt to manage the change, spot any inconsistencies. In addition, managers find it easier to make plans because the tool changes and expands whenever they wish - there are no blocked columns!
“Primetric allows us to modify these plans in real-time. If we know that something has changed or is about to happen, we can intervene. Thanks to that, our planning sessions are now much shorter.”
Primetric immediately shows errors in assumptions and plans. Managers can immediately see problems with people’s goals, completion rates, delays, interfering plans, overtimes, and more - and all of this information is always up-to-date.
Project comparisons and advanced views
They show both the working time and budget perspective that used to be calculated manually - with many unfortunate mistakes. Now managers can see both planned and estimated time and budget and compare them with other key factors. They can also change allocations, forecasts, and vacancies without rummaging through spreadsheets.
“With Primetric, I can instantly see whether the project is more or less dynamic than we anticipated. I can see in real-time what is and isn’t working correctly in the project, and I can act on the information. In fact, it doesn’t have to be me - other managers can do it, too.”
All the spending and incomes are instantly visible in Primetric - and that also includes any changes, overtimes and additional costs. In addition, Makimo also uses this module to include company overheads (i.e., marketing, sales, rent, and other necessary costs). As a result, Matt and other leaders can realistically estimate different types of margins throughout the organization.
Integration with Jira
No reentering the same tables over and over again - now it all happens without even a single click. The data is automatically imported, and it is immediately displayed in Primetric with all the changes, whatever they may be.
“Thanks to Primetric’s integration with JIRA, we can really quickly see whether our plan is falling apart for some reason. I can see right away that someone spends more time on other tasks, or I can see other problems. In dynamic projects, such as ours, this is the key.”
Visible allocations, absences and benches. Holes in scheduled capacity can be seen well in advance, so that the sales team can effectively find projects to fill them with. Managers, on the other hand, are no longer surprised by some long forgotten, but planned absences, holidays, and days off.
And that's the whole story. If you liked it and want to see how Primetric can save you a lot of hours, unnecessary stress and improve your company's operational performance - get access today.
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