QuickBase has helped streamline and structure employee communication, speeding our ability to access critical information and decreasing our reliance on email.
David Turo, VP, Information of Technology
Keeping up with projects across multiple teams and sites was a challenge for Customized Distribution Services. Phone calls, emails, and spreadsheets were too inefficient, and the company was missing a valuable opportunity to train its employees with collected knowledge. After implementing QuickBase for project management and training, CDS has streamlined its project processes and built a system in which best practices can be shared across the organization quickly and effectively.
CDS built a thriving business by delivering high-quality, highly customized distribution services to its national client base of food and beverage companies. But with a booming business came a bigger challenge for CDS: its six distribution centers were highly decentralized, making project management difficult and time intensive.
"We had six distribution centers located across the country, each one with its own client base and own project tasks, and there was limited interaction between them," said Dave Turo, vice president of information technology at CDS. Making matters more complex, each distribution center had its own IT person, who had to funnel information back to Turo in the corporate facility, slowing IT staff productivity.
Conference calls and email could go only so far to help bridge the communications gap between the distribution centers and the CDS corporate facility. There was no computer hardware asset tracking system tying installed hardware to support contracts. Project information was not centralized; some information was stored at the corporate headquarters, while the rest was housed locally on servers at the different facilities. And without central scheduling software, there was no insight into employee availability.
Perhaps most important, CDS was missing a critical opportunity to capitalize on the industry knowledge it had gained over the years.
"I saw a valuable opportunity for the different facilities to help each other with various projects and take advantage of our entire 'brain trust' of industry expertise, which could improve our service offerings and reduce our response time to customers," commented Turo.
The need for a centralized project management application was clear. But it was functionality, application flexibility and enterprise security that led CDS to choose QuickBase over off-theshelf tools.
CDS customized some ready-made QuickBase applications to create ten different applications, including project management, task management, computer hardware asset tracking, calendaring, and a document library.
"Whatever application I needed, QuickBase had a template to create it quickly. But if I wanted to start from scratch and create my own, it gave me the flexibility of doing that too," said Turo. CDS tested a small task management and calendar application with its IT staff. After just six months, Turo was able to launch a full project management application and documentation library company-wide with complete confidence that it would be well received.
"QuickBase made it easy for me to see how IT employees would react initially, and then roll out the full-blown applications to management employees when we were ready," commented Turo.
Project data that had been stored locally on desktops and servers is now stored in these web-hosted applications for easy centralized access by authorized users from all distribution centers. IT, finance, customer service, operations and HR have a secure, central repository for information sharing that works across the different sites, improving overall work flow and collaboration.
Now, forms are standardized and documentation is centralized, so information at one distribution center benefits the entire company. Process documents that contain best-practice information and procedures are seamlessly shared between the distribution centers. Computer hardware asset information is managed online and automatic notifications are generated when a support contract is about to expire. HR forms are downloaded by employees directly. And an FAQ guide eliminates many of the phone calls and emails formerly needed to answer routine questions.
None of it could have been possible without the enterprise security offered by QuickBase. With secure access by department, by role and by project, QuickBase gives facility managers the security they need to feel comfortable sharing confidential data online. As a result, 90 percent of managers transitioned to the system and use it daily to share information and collaborate.
CDS saw a return on its QuickBase investment right away. Project management was greatly improved. The number of emails, phone calls and conference calls was immediately reduced, freeing up staff time for more critical, bottom-line initiatives.
Projects and tasks no longer fall through the cracks. The project management application gives managers views that show up-to-the-minute progress and status. Email alerts are automatically triggered when jobs fall off schedule so corrective action can be taken to get back on track quickly.
"The fact that QuickBase alerts us when a job schedule is slipping is huge. It makes us better project managers and it's all due to the way the tool is constructed," said Turo. The documentation library gives CDS the competitive advantage it was looking for: employees from all facilities can access and share information on demand. Field personnel can search and retrieve data from remote locations and use the information for better job outcomes.