Case Study: Laika

LAIKA is an award-winning, world-class animation studio that produces feature films, and commercial videos. To meet the demands of producing complex, feature-length films, LAIKA partnered with Advisicon to deploy a customized EPM system using Microsoft Office Project and Project Server 2007. This resulted in an immediate improvement in planning, scheduling, visibility, reporting, and project cost control.

Business Situation

Project Planning

  • LAIKA had very limited forecasting and visibility of resource demand using FastTrack and other applications and no ability to assess productivity of creative resources.
  • Although deliverables were detailed, interdependencies were not clearly mapped and linked, so there was no enterprise-level view of inter-project impacts.
  • Project planning was not integrated with budget planning, tracking, and visibility of project performance.
  • There was very little reliable current or historical project performance data on which to base decisions.

Project Execution

  • Inefficient use of resources due to a lack of control management or monitoring
  • Reactionary management caused by a lack of established project risk assessment
  • Unanticipated schedule delays

Project Reporting

  • No timely or systematic way of reviewing the business.
  • Business had no mechanism to compare planned versus actual time, work, or cost estimates and no consolidated views of schedules, resource tasks, or availability.
  • Lack of data integrity – data not captured accurately or data captured in multiple, distributed tools
  • Inefficient meetings due to lack of integration of data and management processes
Laika

LAIKA produces entertainment films, feature films, and commercial videos. LAIKA has attracted top management and production talent from across the animation film industry. LAIKA has acquired and built upon Will Vinton Studios’ 30-year history of excellence and innovation as a leading producer of computer generated animation, stop-motion animation, and cell animation. LAIKA boasts an Academy Award-winning director, 11 prime time Emmy Awards, and over 100 international accolades. LAIKA’s creative team, management, and projects are helping it quickly grow into a creative powerhouse in the animated film industry.

As part of its ongoing development, LAIKA has branched into two organizations: LAIKA/House, which produces commercial videos and LAIKA/Entertainment, which produces entertainment and feature films. LAIKA/Entertainment’s feature film projects have been an exciting new direction for LAIKA.

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Solution Delivered

LAIKA partnered with Advisicon, a Microsoft Gold Certified EPM Partner, to deploy an integrated EPM solution to support LAIKA’s growing project management needs. This customized EPM system built on the Microsoft Office Project and Project Server 2007 platform resulted in immediate improvements in planning, scheduling, visibility, reporting, and project cost control.

Advisicon delivered a complete EPM solution that provided the necessary functionality, power, ease-of-use, and scalability required by LAIKA’s complex project management challenges. The system automated and centralized many functions including project communications, tracking, and reporting. The EPM system provided a strong platform to support LAIKA’s project planning, scheduling, and management methodology.

Other key elements of the solution that Advisicon delivered included:

  • Migrating projects from FastTrack and other applications to Microsoft Office Project 2007 and publishing them to Microsoft Office Project Server 2007
  • Development of LAIKA’s project templates, custom fields, and other business specific reporting tools
  • Development of an enterprise-wide shared resource pool to reflect LAIKA’s organizational and management structure and workflows
  • User training to ensure adoption and effective use of all platforms (Microsoft Office Project Professional and Microsoft Office Project Server 2007

Another critical element of the solution’s success was the ability to develop and deliver a pilot project using Microsoft Office Project Server 2007. The pilot was used to identify and correct any issues or gaps in LAIKA’s project management processes and to identify possible integration opportunities with other systems and processes.

Benefits

Once the new EPM system was installed and running, LAIKA began to see benefits nearly immediately. The most immediate improvements to the company include

  • A system for planning accurate and realistic production schedules
  • Customized project templates to support LAIKA’s unique project work breakdown structure and processes
  • Standardized terminology and references to facilitate more consistent planning, communications, and reporting across the enterprise
  • Management visibility to assess and predict productivity of creative resources based on actual data
  • Enterprise-level views of project and inter-project impacts
  • Integrated project budget, resource, and schedule planning
  • The ability to do accurate bottom-up resource forecasting, enabling management to plan and hire appropriately

Project Execution

  • The ability to monitor and control resource allocation and management
  • Visibility of schedule changes allowing management to anticipate and mitigate schedule delays and other risks
  • Systematic evaluation to support timely and rational management decision-making
  • Integrated project workspaces to support proactive risk assessment, planning, and management Project Reporting
  • Web-enabled views and portfolio reporting on projects, tasks, issues and risks allowing consolidated views of schedules, tasks, resources, and availability
  • Capacity to analyze and report on planned vs. actual time, work, and cost estimates
  • Ensured data integrity through a single integrated database; productive meetings, management, and decision-making based on integrated, accessible, and reliable data

Advisicon delivered a successful EPM solution that was able to meet LAIKA’s needs. Long-term benefits of the implementation include:

  • Effective management and control of scope, budget, issues and risks, resources and schedule changes
  • Reinforcement of LAIKA’s organizational structure, roles, and business rules
  • Collaboration and better communication across the organization
  • Potential integration and scalability with other SQL-based business systems

LAIKA and Advisicon supported this EPM implementation with training for administrators, users and managers. By ensuring the adoption of the technology, LAIKA has seen sustained use and benefits from the Microsoft project management tools. It also enabled them to continue developing their customized methodology, standards, and processes. Given the success of the implementation, LAIKA will be able to build on their infrastructure and extend the benefits of their EPM system to other groups.

Advisicon is a Project, Program & Portfolio Management Company. We transform your organization's project management with a mix of methodology and technology that delivers results. Our team specializes in technology implementations, application and workflow development, training and consulting.
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