Jim Fitch, VP of engineering at Nu-Way Industries, needed project management software to plan new development projects and improve collaboration at his manufacturing business. After using LiquidPlanner, Asana, Smartsheet and Microsoft Project at other companies, he wanted to find the best option to streamline communication and file sharing. With ProjectManager, Nu-Way Industries can build in-depth project plans on the Gantt chart and stay connected with other departments. Plus, they use timesheets and collect historical data to improve bidding on future projects.
An introduction to Nu-Way Industries
Jim Fitch has founded businesses, bought and sold businesses—and now he’s the vice president of engineering at Nu-Way Industries. One common thread throughout Fitch’s experience is the use of project management software tools. After using other products, he finds ProjectManager to have the best balance of ease of use and features to manage and control the complex projects he needs to oversee.
Jim Fitch introduced the software to Nu-Way, a contract manufacturer of over 50 years with a 300,000-square-foot facility and 275 employees.
“I’ve used various different project management systems all in an attempt to find the perfect one,” Fitch explained. “I used LiquidPlanner, Smartsheet and others. When I got to Nu-Way, I knew we needed a project management software. There was nothing in place at the time.”
Microsoft Project wasn’t collaborative enough
Before ProjectManager, Nu-Way managed projects by emails and conversations in the hall. There was no centralized repository for files or communications and no timekeeping.
“How can you bid on a project?” Fitch asked. “You need to collect data to be able to use that data to inform future decisions.”
Fitch had used Microsoft Project before, and others on his team had used it as well, but it’s not collaborative. It’s not a multiuser software.
“That’s when I decided on ProjectManager,” he said. “It follows traditional Gantt chart-based project management software, but there’s no big learning curve as with Microsoft Project. You can walk in and within a day, you got it.”
Implementation was easy. “Just sign up and load projects,” Fitch said.
As an online software, ProjectManager is even more appealing. “There’s no software to load,” he said. “I’m a big SaaS fan.”
The ideal software for new product development
ProjectManager was the right tool for the new product development arm of Nu-Way.
“We have a new product development team whose primary focus is customers that come to us with an idea, a product they want to modify, change or make better,” he said.
One project was the production of 10,000 self-order kiosks from McDonald’s. Another was to develop and support a series of drive-through digital menu boards that are being used across the country at Tim Hortons, Burger King, White Castle and other quick-serve restaurants.
“We used ProjectManager for those projects,” Fitch said. “You can break the project down into phases and share plans with multiple parties involved for approvals.” He uses guest licenses to give clients view-only privileges to give them transparency into the process.
ProjectManager connected all the different entities involved in the project, from Nu-Way’s client to McDonald’s. Each party could review and approve aspects of the project, including various certification agencies and the seismic certification for California. All that project documentation was easily stored and accessible in ProjectManager.
ProjectManager isn’t only used for external projects, but internal ones as well.
“We’re in the process of getting ready to move to a new facility,” he said. “Moving 300,000 square feet of equipment that’s been here for 25 years is a project in and of itself.”
“ProjectManager allows us to plan, lay out the various steps of the project and understand what resources and timeframe will be needed,” Fitch said.
He added, “It’s a great communication tool. We can share the plan with the client and we have the data to back up why this change they want will impact the cost or the scheduling of the project.”
Using the Gantt for complex projects
Fitch says his team works primarily on the Gantt chart feature of the software. It works well with their traditional project management approach and is well-suited for longer, more complex projects.
“We redid our ISO certification years ago,” he said, “and used ProjectManager to lay out the steps. The Gantt chart’s visual timeline can show how certain tasks overlap. ProjectManager lets us link those task dependencies. ProjectManager also helps us prepare for our ISO audit and have everything in place when we need it.”
Timesheets and reporting to stay on track
Another feature that Fitch likes is the timesheets to track how much time his team has spent on their tasks, manage costs and archive historical data.
Reporting features are also helpful, not merely for client presentations, but for delivering to the company’s CFO at the end of the year for the tax credit for engineering.
Fitch has recommended ProjectManager. “If anyone asks,” he said, “I tell them we use ProjectManager and we’re very happy with it. It works great.”