With 25 projects and 170 people on board, SovTech’s manager, Oliver, started to find the planning and financial processes more and more burdensome - and sometimes even misleading. Fortunately, he was soon to witness the rapid growth of his company, to 40 projects and over 220 - all it took was a little help from Primetric.
SovTech is a leading African software development company based in London and Cape Town, working with numerous technologies, including Web3. It is one of the top rated software companies according to Software World.
Because of its international character, the company employs developers from all over the world, with the majority of their specialists being located in South Africa. All these people are brought together by their exceptional skills, flexibility and, above all, a passion for work - the values that are at the core of SovTech success.
SovTech also takes pride in the development opportunities it provides to its employees. Apart from standard training, the business also participates in, and organizes numerous industry events, including hackathons.
The diversity in the company is also reflected by its selection of customers. SovTech caters to the needs of an array of different clients ranging from financial institutions, to agriculture, to commercial companies, and others, including supermarkets and food companies. Up to this point, SovTech helped companies such as Huawei, Deloitte, and Standard Bank.
"We believe that software is a perfect combination of artistry, engineering and people. The dynamic of it allows us to build incredible software."
The company’s approach is reflected by its operations that focus on creating bespoke software for any customer that may be interested in their services. These projects are executed both in Waterfall and Agile methodologies tailored to the needs of the customers. If necessary, SovTech also handles maintenance of existing products, or subscription projects that require constant development, as well as some consulting operations.
Apart from that, SovTech also takes great pride in connecting specialists and developers with their customers, as the company strives to become the best talent pool in the region. As an African leader in the industry, the company has a variety of recruitment operations that expand their possibilities even more with body leasing services.
Regardless of the type of the project, SovTech covers the whole project life cycle when necessary. Thanks to the help of strategists, each operation is thoroughly analyzed in order to provide all the stakeholders with recommendations for the work. That ensures the top-notch quality of each project in the company.
Previously, the company used three tools to manage its operations: Google Sheets, Harvest, and Jira.
Google Sheets were used to plan their people in the long term perspective and manage finances. However, they needed to be updated every time something changed in the plans - and that was basically a daily occurrence. As a result, the resource planning process, as well as financials were getting more and more tedious by the hour.
"Things changed on a daily, weekly, monthly basis, and we needed to constantly update the sheet."
Of course, SovTech wasn’t left with no technology to help the process. The company also used Harvest, which was introduced to the business to assist time tracking. Still, it did not contain many information managers needed, such as finances or capacity.
Additionally, with around 25 projects at hand at the time of implementation of Primetric, the processes themselves were getting more complicated and prone to mistakes. People allocations required comprehensive knowledge of all the activities, and that could not be provided by a Google Sheet. To make things worse, finances were also in the way of managers, as the changing hourly rates and tracked hours required separate calculations.
"It took me ages to get anything right. For example, it would take me 3 hours to get the costs for a month just to discover that a single hourly rate was wrong. It was a nightmare trying to work out the finances and people."
Although he is a project manager, Oliver plays quite a few different roles in SovTech. So far, he also acted as resource manager, and an intermediary between the business and accounting.
His main responsibilities include:
The range of Oliver’s responsibilities required a bird’s eye view of all the operations. However, at the time when he started working for SovTech, he only had Google Sheets at his disposal. That posed a number of challenges he had to overcome on his way to success.
"Why is this not working? Is the task completed? Why is it taking longer than expected? What can we do to improve it? Who delivered it? These were my day to day challenges at the time."
To wrap up, Oliver needed a single command center to get the big picture over crucial operations in the company to better predict both the finances and the availability of people.
Before implementing Primetric, SovTech has encountered numerous challenges that affected its ability to organize work in the most efficient way. These challenges included:
When Oliver first came to SovTech, he was managing around 100 developers, each with different skills and experience. However, all the information on the people’s:
were kept in the spreadsheets.
At the same time, information on projects plans and tasks were stored in Jira, forcing the managers to rummage through numerous tools whenever an allocation was to be made.
"If we got a new project, I didn’t have the ability to quickly pull up anybody who has the experience [in the field] and see their available capacity."
As the information on capacity and finances were kept in separate spreadsheets, Oliver found it difficult to establish the profitability of particular employees and, consequently, their projects. If he wanted to do that, he was up against a very time consuming process that was prone to mistakes. In the long run, this situation caused the company’s finances to be a blur, making it even more challenging to come up with reliable indications necessary for making critical decisions.
Additionally, ensuring getting the right people was a challenge for the company, especially taking into account the expenses. With numerous short projects at hand, Oliver was often concerned about the costs of people that were going to be benched after the project was over. Due to the lack of long-term allocations, there was no way to tell whether the specialist put on pause will be profitable in the long run, and the same problem applied to the newly recruited employees.
"When hiring a new person, I was sure that they were going to work on this project for, let’s say, 6 months. But what happens then, what about the costs of that person? I have to know whether we actually can sustain that person later on."
Things were no different for people’s costs. Even the slightest change in wages could cause all the calculations to be incorrect.
Finances were the apple of Oliver's eye. However, to get a better view of them, he needed to delve into the Google Spreadsheets.
From a project’s perspective, it was difficult for him to establish the real profit margin in the project and see the costs of work done in a given operation. Even with a time tracker at hand, gathering the information required lots of changes to meticulously created spreadsheets. As a result, the calculations were prone to mistakes, and, even worse, endless changes.
"Trying to forecast costs, to work out people’s costs and hours, or margins of a project, anything related to finance was difficult."
As all the information about people's capacity were kept in separate files and tools, managers - including Oliver - were often not informed about key changes of endeavors. They also could not see changes to the project progress, resource availability, and more. They were simply lacking on-demand, up-to-date reports that could help them oversee the company’s operations. As a result, they couldn’t change their perspective right away, to see the work of particular teams, departments, customers and more.
As the spreadsheets were growing larger and more complex, they were causing more and more chaos. As a result, managers began losing their trust in the tools, and they were increasingly frustrated with their work.
Seeing this trend, the company started to look for a tool capable of gathering all the information in a single place. The new system was to improve the transparency of data and improve the accuracy of all the key decisions in the company. That’s when SovTech encountered Primetric.
Right now, SovTech uses Primetric for several types of operations. That includes:
Since day 1, Primetric has been integrated with other tools SovTech has at its disposal. By combining the tool with Harvest, managers gained access to the information on the total of tracked hours. Primetric was also integrated with Jira to gather all the information about project management in the tool, too. As a result, project managers and executives didn’t have to switch between different programs while planning work and they could compare plans with reality to see whether they are accurate and whether they fit in the budget.
"I am able to see how many hours I can schedule, how many hours I have allocated, and how many hours I am going over. I can also see when people are coming off projects."
Primetric has also provided Oliver with an overview of all the allocations and people workload, as well as the ability to change them on demand. Thanks to the drag-and-drop option, he was able to edit existing allocations or add new ones just by clicking on a given day. He was also able to see the progress of the work in the same view.
"The calendar view is really nice. It’s great to be able to have a look at all the projects and see what the efficiency is. I can also see who is assigned to the projects, and what are their costs."
Primetric provided SovTech with a bird’s eye view of all its finances.
For the company-wide finances, Primetric was able to generate the reports showing the profitability of all the operations in the company, including non-billable hours that used to take a toll on the final profit margins.
"Primetric offers a much easier way to look at finances. Executives can just look and see pretty quickly where the company is, and where it is going to be in the next 3 months. They can say right away: this is good, this is not good, we need to make changes here."
For the projects, on the other hand, Primetric was able to:
As a result, project managers are now able to control the budgets of their endeavor in detail, without worrying about being over budget in the middle of work. They can also
Additionally, accounting specialists also use Primetric for gathering the information for the invoices. In the tool, they can access both the scheduled and tracked hours for a given project and use the data for invoices and other settlements.
In the case of SovTech, Primetric is also integrated with Harvest and Jira, and it automatically imports the data from the tools into its own system, creating a bigger picture of all the activities. Should that be necessary, the data can also be exported to Excel once it has been gathered.
Before Primetric, monitoring the progress of all the projects was a great burden for all the people involved - both in terms of finances and allocations. As the data was available in multiple separate tools, managers found it hard to combine them and get a bigger picture of all the operations. With Primetric, that changed.
In a project calendar offered by the tool, project managers can see the hours logged in the projects as they are reported in Harvest. Later on, they can go to the budget tab in the project panel to see how the work has affected the finances. For a more general view, they can also use a variety of reports, including project progress report, project finances report and others, to see how their operations are really doing.
"With Primetric, I can quickly see where the projects are in their current state, where they were and where they are going. I can see what the project budget burnout looks like, what is ETC, and more."
The ability to see the utilization was a real game changer for SovTech, because it allowed them to see how many hours go to the non-billable work and billable one. It was essential for improving the profitability of the whole company.
"If we have 160 hours in a month, and some people only track 40 billable hours, why is that? We now have the ability to see such issues and manage them a lot better, getting a better value for money."
By introducing this feature, Oliver could make sure that the hourly wages are really corresponding to the progress in projects and see whether the money is really contributing to the company’s success. That changed his perspective on billable and non-billable hours and helped them make better decisions regarding the allocation of valuable specialists and optimize the use of people’s capacity.
"After seeing the hours with wages, I was able to see exactly how the money was spent, and I could manage it better. In my mind, it really helped me improve the profitability of our operations."
Before Primetric, all the data related to project and resource management was kept in Google Sheets that were difficult to edit and offered no in-depth insights for the managers. With Primetric in place, that changed. Thanks to automated reports, real-time updates and numerous visualization options, both the managers and executives can see exactly how the business is doing, and why.
"With all the projects scheduled correctly, I can see the incomes and costs correctly. The most senior guys above me can also take a look and see: this is where we're gonna be in three months, this is where we gonna be in six months."
So far, Primetric has improved not only Oliver's work, but also the condition of the entire company in numerous areas. They include:
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