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CASE STUDY FOURTEENTH Hilti AG: Putting Things Together with New Project Management Tools

Let’s say you want to dig a really big train tunnel, one that’s 57 kilometers long, and which connects the German- and Italian-speaking regions of Swit- zerland, from Erstfeld in the north to Bodio in the south. It will have almost no gradient, meaning that trains can travel through the tunnel at speeds of up to 250 kilometers per hour. The tracks need to be anchored to a concrete bed, and the cable ducts attached directly to the walls of a huge mountain called the Saint Gotthard Massif. Just ten kilometers of cabling will require 30,000 holes in the mountain and five million fasteners to secure the rails for the floor. Oh, and another 900,000 mechanical fasteners will be needed to connect the rail sections. Over 150 hammer drills and 700 batteries will be needed to drill the holes for the required high-strength fasten- ers. The rails need to be laid and secured within a millimeter over the entire length. Two thousand and six hundred employees will be involved daily, most of whom will need access to timely and accurate information and project plans. This is the challenge of the Gotthard Base Tunnel, the world’s longest rail- way tunnel and Switzerland’s most expensive public works project ever. One solution was to hire Hilti AG. Hilti AG company was founded in 1941, in Schaan, the Principality of Liechtenstein, by brothers Marint and Eugen Hilti, to provide components to German manufacturers. After 1946 the company transitioned into fasteners and tools for the construction industry. Today, Hilti is one of the world’s largest producers of construction industry fasteners and hammer drills, and it has expanded into new products like laser measuring devices, systems that integrate construc- tion data for contractors, software to estimate project requirements, and customized project management services for the professional construction and energy industries. Hilti now has 26,000 employees in 20 countries on six continents and the company is pri- vately held by the Hilti Family Trust. In 2016 Hilti generated €4.3 billion, and had net revenues of €448 million. Helping its customers manage complex projects, Hilti generates over 200,000 customer contacts each day. In the past it relied on Microsoft Project Profes- sional for each customer project, built largely on Excel spreadsheets. With thousands of Excel spread- sheets for each project and thousands of projects,

the result was an opaque process with little com- munication among project managers and employ- ees in addition to the inability to track employee assignments, resources, capabilities, and costs. Hilti needed a project portfolio management tool (PPM) that would look at all on-going projects as well as for day-to-day tasks for specific projects. It also needed an integrated communications environment for proj-

ect participants to share project-specific information. At the same time, management did not want to make

a huge investment in IT infrastructure or implement

a costly training program typical of customized soft-

ware solutions. To deliver these capabilities, Hilti turned to Micro- soft Project Online, a cloud-based solution, to man- age portfolios of projects for senior managers, and to provide employees with access to specific project data on a daily basis. Working with a consulting firm, Hilti defined the information requirements for each department and created standardized project tem-

plates that reflect standard activities, tasks, and mile- stones as well as security procedures governing user permissions and version controls. Tasks are assigned to individuals, and every assignment has a list of resources, a completion date, and resource require- ments. With a company-wide project portfolio perspective, senior managers can see what projects the company is engaged in and what resources are required. When the implementation is completed, Hiliti estimates that over 10,000 of its employees will use the system daily to track projects for itself and

for its customers.

tablets and smartphones to access the system. Project Online is delivered as a part of Microsoft Office 365, which provides all the familiar Micro- soft apps like email, calendaring, collaboration, the collaboration software SharePoint, as well as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. The cloud solution meant the company did not have to expand its own IT infra- structure, and employees were already trained in Office 365. There was no need for monthly upgrades to software and hardware, maintenance, or compat- ibility issues among different software tools. The benefits to Hilti include the ability to manage com- plex projects for its customers, company-wide project portfolio management, reduced communication and travel costs, much faster decision making, and pro-

ductivity improvements. Whereas in the past project

In the future, employees will use

team members would spend 30 minutes searching for project information, that time has been reduced to 10 minutes on average, a saving of more than 75 hours a year for every project participant.

CASE STUDY QUESTIONS

1. What were the management, organization, and technology issues that Hilti needed to address when considering a new approach to project management?

2. Why did Hilti choose the Microsoft Project Online technology

Sources: “Trimble and the Hilti Group Delivers Integrated Solutions for Construction Professionals,” Bloomberg.com, November 10, 2016; “2016 Hilti Company Report,” http://www.hilti-companyre- port.com; “Construction Manufacturer Employs Cloud Service to Streamline Project Management,” Microsoft Case Studies, January 13, 2015.

3. Why did Hilti want to standardize the project man- agement process throughout its entire company?

4. What do you think were the four most important benefits of the solution Hilti adopted?