"Real-time manipulation of data across multiple users is so instrumental to the success of our business."

Jessica Cogbill, Engineering Business Analyst Manager, CCI Systems

CCI Campus

How CCI Systems Engineered Project Tracking and Quality Control Using Quickbase

CCI Systems is a successful employee-owned company based in Iron Mountain, Michigan. Established in 1955, the company has built its reputation on successfully designing, engineering, and implementing robust telecommunications systems for companies nationwide. Along with high demand for their expertise, CCI faced increased challenges tracking project data and maintaining quality control information with their existing systems. After six weeks with Quickbase, they saw tangible results and a clear direction to fulfill their future needs.

Challenge

  • Develop an overarching and customizable workflow to track engineering projects that includes costs, materials, instructions, employee skills, and quality control
  • Migrate away from slow and inaccurate job intake and tracking using spreadsheets
  • Receive data about customer feedback and satisfaction

Solution

  • Develop an engineering management application using Quickbase.
  • Develop a Quickbase project tracking app that consolidates and automates quality control
  • Use Quickbase to streamline job entry using spreadsheet data or automation capabilities
  • Inclusive relationship with IT that empowers both citizen development and IT governance and compliance

Benefits

  • A fivefold increase in job entries per week achieved over 17 months
  • Accurate and timely first pass yield (FPY) quality control data
  • Deep insights into employee performance and training needs
  • Imparting a wow factor to customer service through data visualizations

The Challenge

For 65 years, CCI Systems has engineered telecommunications solutions for businesses across Michigan and the rest of the country. The company operates with a mission to provide access to secure and reliable high-speed data solutions built on a foundation of service, respect, and accountability. They prioritize their customer’s best interests, they value learning and innovation, and they love what they do. In 2014, company leadership searched for a solution to open bottlenecks, speed up job entry, and improve project management workflows. They chose Quickbase as their resource and an English Literature major as their in-house anchor.

Kelly Hayes, Senior Business Analyst, worked at CCI doing administrative work and data entry for roughly four years before she was tasked to begin working with Quickbase. Using her savvy and Quickbase’s technical support, she prepared the company’s first app—a project entry app— for launch in six weeks while performing her regular job duties. Kelly describes the company’s previous job entry system as disjointed and slow. “You could count on between five and 15 minutes just to enter a job, whereas, in Quickbase, it takes seconds. Or if you've got a spreadsheet open that's on a server, and somebody goes to lunch and leaves that spreadsheet open, nobody else is getting into that.”

A year after Kelly began using Quickbase, Jessica Cogbill, Engineering Business Analyst Manager, joined the company and became a citizen developer to create a Quickbase quality control app that worked in tandem with Kelly’s project tracking app. Prior to Jessica’s arrival, the company tracked quality control using manual processes such as spreadsheets and email: a process that was also slow and inaccurate.

The Solution

Between December of 2014 and January of 2015, Kelly created CCI’s first app, which is the company’s most extensive and is still in use. The application handles and automates job entry, tracks project progress, and reports quality control data.

Jessica’s quality control app complemented Kelly’s by linking to her project tracking data. The QC app gathered data about failure correction attempts, FPY numbers, and customer rejections. It also served as a repository for communications between in-house and field teams, so all project questions and information stay in one place.

As Quickbase’s popularity grew within the company, CCI quickly realized the value and versatility of these new apps. The company then made sure that all apps complied with IT security standards and governance. CCI citizen developers now work closely with IT throughout the app building process to review compliance, identify security requirements, and perform reviews.

As Kelly assisted other departments with building their own Quickbase apps, single-use opportunities arose that helped with specific hurdles the team faced in the field. For example, CCI called on Kelly and her supervisor to assist with a cable installation in Florida. After a week of tracking the project using spreadsheets, they decided that Quickbase would provide better and more accurate data for both them and their customer. After Kelly and her supervisor created and refined this custom app, the managers were excited to show this customer real-time project updates using the app’s data visualization features.

The Benefits

In January of 2015 and prior to using Kelly’s Quickbase app, CCI’s data entry administrators like Kelly were averaging 88 new job entries per week, using a very conservative time estimate of five minutes per entry. By May of 2016, the number of job entries increased to 436 per week, a nearly 500 percent jump from the previous year. And the time spent on these job entries was down to about a minute per entry. By December of 2020, the company’s business entered a whopping 4,543 new jobs per week, and they have now automated the process through Quickbase automation or spreadsheet import. The time spent on job entry now is minimal.

On the quality control front, CCI now enjoys deep visibility into both the quality of its work and the areas needing improvement. According to Jessica, “Real-time manipulation of the data across multiple users is so instrumental to the success of our business.” Utilizing the FPY data and examining the types of project errors, management can quickly pinpoint training and coaching needs. The company saw a four percent increase in its FPY between November 2019 and November 2020, and a 40 percent increase in the volume of work passing through the app.

The decision to use Quickbase has led to CCI System’s steady growth and continued success. Kelly’s in-depth knowledge of the app and willingness to assist other departments has made Quickbase a popular go-to solution within the company. She advises departments considering using it to “fully embrace it and take the plunge. You won’t regret it.”

CCI Systems has taken the plunge and doesn’t regret it. It has deployed Quickbase throughout the company in almost every department, and enjoys a wealth of project data and the high speed with which Quickbase delivers it. CCI employees have embraced the improved workflow quality and efficiency. And rather than become encumbered by data, this company can now use it to grow its business and strengthen its infrastructure.