REVIEWER: Gokhan Ciftci, assistant vice president of Servicing and Compliance, Merrill Lynch-Wilshire Credit Corporation.

BACKGROUND: Wilshire Credit Corporation, a business unit of Merrill Lynch, is a servicing organization located in Portland, Oregon. With a $29 billion servicing portfolio and more than 750 employees, Wilshire Credit is a nationally recognized expert in servicing nonprime residential assets.

HARDWARE PLATFORMS: Windows Server running IIS, Microsoft SQL Server.

PROBLEM SOLVED: Wilshire Credit's Servicing and Compliance group is responsible for the development and support of applications used by the entire company, with a special focus on those professionals in the organization who service mortgages. Our Servicing and Compliance group is one of several units within the IT departments. We're the ones who write and maintain the code for business users. Since our acquisition by Merrill Lynch, we have continued to operate from our Oregon office but have had to deliver additional accounting data and reports to corporate headquarters. Prior to the acquisition, we were using a combination of tools to manage our projects. We needed an easy-to-use way for team members to enter time against projects but also an easy way to pass that data to the overarching corporate time-tracking solution. We wanted to know the same thing that accounting wanted to know, which was how much time we're spending on projects.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: All IT team members log into Project Insight for time tracking, either daily or weekly. Time is being entered against tasks and projects in real time. I create project schedules in MS Project desktop and then import them into Project Insight with just a couple of mouse clicks, which is very helpful. Then everyone can log in and manage through the Project Insight interface. We have project team members all over the world, including in India. My Indian developers log in and enter their time. This gives me visibility to see what they are working on and makes them accountable for their results as well. We extract the time entries from Project Insight and put them into Merrill Lynch's overarching time-entry system. We created a customization to extract the project time entries in a format that the accounting system would accept. This eliminates the double entry for the developers! I can see all my projects in one place and their status in real time.

STRENGTHS: One of the best features of Project Insight is integration with MS Project desktop. You can directly upload everything into Project Insight, including resources. You can run reports to see how much time is entered overall. It is highly valued by management. Additional strengths include flexibility and ease of use.

WEAKNESSES: One weakness is that you must have Web access to make changes.

SELECTION CRITERIA: Looking to combine the process of project management and time reporting, one of our project managers performed a thorough search of project management systems available. Project Insight was one of the products that were evaluated. We discovered that people can easily manage their projects, enter their time, and then flexibly grab the data needed and feed the time-entry system in the background that's used by everyone at Merrill Lynch. That intrigued us as we realized that if we could do that, we could eliminate double entry. With a Web-based application, you can let a lot of people manage their projects and, given the growth that we were expecting, it just made economic sense. After a trial evaluation, Project Insight was the clear winner. We were really impressed with the flexibility and ease of use.

DELIVERABLES: At the end of the year, we use reports to look at everything with regard to time tracking. At the end of a project, we look at the time-entry report. This shows who billed what, and how much people billed their time against each project.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Vendor support was excellent both pre- and post-implementation. Installation was a breeze; the only additional thing we did was customize certain functionality to extract SQL Server data that we needed to feed the accounting system. Overall, working with Metafuse was great. We've never had any problems.

DOCUMENTATION: The documentation is complete and easy to understand. To get a new person up to speed, if it's just time entry, it takes 15 minutes. If you're a project manager, it takes a couple of hours. It's really a straightforward application.

Project Insight Project Management Software
Metafuse, Inc.
17320 Red Hill Avenue
Suite 270
Irvine, CA 92614
(949) 476-6499

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