Over to the Expert
23 March 2021 — Testimonies
Feedback from one of our Mezzoteam experts on some very demanding projects in the industrial, transport and construction sectors.
Joëlle Chipaux has been a Project Manager and EDM expert for more than thirty years. We asked her to share her professional experience with us!
Joëlle, can you give us an overview of your career at Prosys?
After obtaining my Architecture degree and getting a few years’ experience in various fields, I started my journey at Prosys in 1988 as an AutoCAD trainer. I then joined the department dedicated to AutoCAD development, where I worked for several years on customer premises on custom-designed developments. After that, I was in charge of Expert Support in the Operations team. Lastly, I dedicated my expertise on tools to supporting our customers as Project Manager.
What is your role now?
At the moment, I organise and arrange what the customers need. Having worked in technical, business-specific and project roles, I now use my skills to simplify the day-to-day user experience of my customers, especially by correct configuration of Mezzoteam.
When customers ask for the seemingly impossible, I find it funny! But I like to try and understand what lies behind their request, so that I can fully meet their requirements.
Within the Operations Division, I like sharing good practices and my experience with my colleagues. Whether it’s just occasional assistance on a project or more in-depth support, my initial advice is always the same: keep it simple!
Can you tell us about the projects that you have managed that were particularly demanding or interesting?
There are several projects that spring to mind. I’ll start with a transport project outside of France, where implementation of Mezzoteam turned out to be especially challenging. On this project, a project owner support officer tried to insist upon a particular organisation, much to the distaste of the teams. Previously, these users had a very permissive tool, which was ill-suited to the switch to project-based work. Management wanted to put in place a new tool and insisted that it must be very strictly configured, given the scale of this new phase of the operation.
There was a lot of resistance to these changes from the users. In the end, however, they were won over by the new platform after a few months of use, realising the benefits obtained through improved documentary organisation and the automation of processes in Mezzoteam.
Tip #1: Never underestimate the human side of things when you implement a new collaborative platform. As is the case for any IT project, user buy-in is essential in order for the project to run smoothly. “Change management” is another key point: if resistance is felt, it really is worth taking the time to explain the reasons for choosing this platform and the user benefits.
Another customer wanted to be able to use Mezzoteam on all their projects simply by duplicating a workspace, whilst keeping great flexibility in managing coding and the approval process. Their model therefore had to be able to adapt to both very small projects (renewed signage or the refitting of a roof) as well as some very large-scale projects (complete construction of a hospital). The project managers and the contractors needed to be able to get to grips with the documentary solution very easily, and the customer needed to able to manage the project easily too. It was a very interesting challenge: designing a workspace that can be adapted to all types of project.
Finally, for the third project, I would like to talk about a major industrial project that used Mezzoteam from the outset as its EDM solution and that gradually upgraded it over time.
- It was all fairly straightforward to start with, involving just the management of technical documents for the group’s in-house EDM, based on a list of provisional documents combined with a conventional internal approval process (Author/Verifier/Approver/Quality control), then sent on for final approval to the Project Owner.
- As our customer was very pleased with this initial configuration, we were asked to develop the scheduled dates of the documents to take into account any unexpected incidents affecting the schedule.
- We therefore set up a tool for submitting scheduled date change requests with a related process (who can submit requests, who approves them, what happens if a request is not approved, etc.).
- Another requirement then arose on the project. The group contracted work from suppliers, with whom it communicated by email. The group wanted the suppliers to be able to use Mezzoteam as well, so we created a workspace where each supplier had a dedicated private space, where they could upload their documents: the suppliers and the group both increased their autonomy.
- This gave the customer the idea of using Mezzoteam as an ERP system, through which it could manage billing. For example, the supplier submitted a quote, which was then approved and an order was created. Once the work was done, the supplier then issued an invoice, which entered an approval workflow (approved, paid, etc.).
It is by offering this kind of adaptability that Mezzoteam shows its true qualities and enables us to create tailored solutions for our customers.
Do projects have specific properties, related to their business sector?
What we can say is that the bigger the project, the more varied the documents to be processed tend to be, and as a result, the project ends up being more challenging and complex.
Generally speaking, industrial projects are more structured than other categories of projects. This structuring can be seen in particular in the substantial number of stages there are in the approval workflows. The advantage in industrial projects is that users are already accustomed to processes and this tends to facilitate platform buy-in. On the other hand, on these projects, you have to make sure you avoid making the approval workflows too complicated.
Tip #2: There is sometimes a temptation with approval workflows to try and incorporate overly complicated situations. In order to keep to deadlines, you have to keep workflows relatively simple, remembering that the goal is to improve the flow of approval.
As regards construction projects, they are generally much easier to manage. Complications tend to come from “human factors”. Often, complexity is not in the project but lies rather with the people running the project.
Tip #3: What makes a project is all the teams working together to carry out the tasks that have been assigned to them. Human relationships are essential in the smooth running of an operation: “computers can’t do everything – humans are central to any project”. Mezzoteam provides the tools needed for good working relationships, but there is nothing to stop users from calling each other directly when the situation demands it.
How have you managed to enjoy a 30 year-plus career at Prosys?
I’m excited about each project I work on. Every time, I encounter new challenges and that’s very motivating. I love working with customers, helping them with their problems and trying to find solutions to meet their requirements as effectively as possible. I also like it when I’m contacted by my consultant colleagues and we work together to come up with solutions that sometimes use features or settings that are new for them. In short, I’m just as excited as ever by the wealth of opportunities this job provides to share and exchange knowledge!