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Trek bicycle rides project management tool to efficiency

Stephanie Overby | April 3, 2014
Getting new products to market on time is critical, especially for a business that is seasonal. In order to improve new product development and delivery Trek Bicycle implemented a project management tool that is keeping teams better connected, collaborating and creative.

Trek implemented the software-as-a-service program management tool AtTask, starting with one product development group and systematically rolling it out to others over time. That the tool was hosted by the vendor was a plus as Lamp and her team — not IT — had to support it. ("IT's project list was pretty long," Lamp says, which is why her team sought out a solution on its own.)

The system made a difference almost immediately, keeping teams on track and making sure everyone knew what needed to be done next for a given project. "Early on it was just getting everyone connected," Lamp says.

"It really helped people understand how their role affected the next person down the line whereas before they were disconnected," Lamp says Creating reports for management was extremely easy. And the system provided support for seven languages enabling a truly global rollout.

Lamp kept customization to a minimum in the beginning. But as the company began to use the system and see what the possibilities might be. "We started to think bigger. They created more customized views, imported more data, developed more detailed reporting. Trek's test labs all over the world, for example, began using AtTask to better coordinated which new products go to which labs and when. The company's prototype lab and mold lab shop (which makes the tooling used to build Trek bikes) soon followed suit.

There were change management issues. "It was hard, but one thing that we did pretty well is we kept communicating to team members way ahead of time that this was coming and this was why," says Lamp. "We also received a lot of management support and they communicated to employees that using the new system wasn't an option."

Better Business Process and Delivery Rates — and 'Time' to Create

Trek's on-time delivery rates have improved more than 20 percent, and new processes enabled by the system are contributing to the bottom line. "It allowed us to communicate issues better than before, helping us resolve problems and deliver product on time," Lamp says. Having product in stock on time is worth millions of dollars."

Today, there are 800 different projects being managed in the system — and they're proceeding more smoothly than when the company had just a fraction of projects in play. But the biggest benefit, says Lamp, is that it gives everyone "time to create."

The keys were taking the time to select the right tool and get everyone prepared for it, starting small, and keeping things simple in the beginning. "You can't start with everyone or everything. You'll go crazy and you will fail," Lamp says. "Start with one team and work through the problems. Add functionality as you go."

Now other teams are approaching Lamp asking for access to the system. "We're growing with the tool," Lamp says, "bringing more teams together."

 

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