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Customer story - How Archimedes Exhibitions moved mountains with Structure PPM

Structure quickly became a mission-critical component of Archimedes’ successful Jira deployment.
From Team '23

Tempo Team

Archimedes Exhibitions is a “one-stop shop” for innovative experiences. From brand spaces to high-tech interactive installations, their creative output travels from their headquarters in Berlin to millions of people.

For example, their Max Planck Science Tunnel has toured the world since 2000. Archimedes also built Felix the Robot (pictured below) – an emotionally intelligent robot – can be found in exhibitions throughout the globe and the team once built an exhibit that involved shipping 12 railroad cars from Germany to India, where it was viewed by 7 million people.

This is the story of how Structure by Tempo helped them manage their massively complex workload and delivery pipeline without missing a beat.

Felix the Robot communicates emotion through facial expressions and has become the most popular interactive exhibit ever created by Archimedes and you may run into Felix in a growing list of cities around the globe.

Their entire operation – from planning to procurement and installation – is done in-house. That means an incredibly diverse series of teams handling everything from engineering and fabrication to creative work and deployment that need to be aligned but all work in different ways.

For years, all they had to help them manage the chaos were out-of-control email threads and outdated spreadsheets. Meanwhile, requirements have drastically shifted. Archimedes was challenged by shrinking budgets, condensed project timelines, and tight delivery windows.

They knew they needed something that could keep up with change and provide the mission-critical data they lacked.

The need for a solid structure

Archimedes desperately needed a single source of truth. They were working as much as they could within Atlassian Jira, but with several cross-functional teams working on up to 50 projects at a time, there were many critical challenges they needed to solve.

  • Labor cost tracking: 60% of the Archimedes project budget is labor. They needed precise tracking, excellent labor reports, and universal buy-in. All work tracking needed to be in the new tool.

  • Managing material procurement: The other 40% of project budgets were materials. With more than 500 procurements per project, a smooth procurement process and perfect expense tracking was a must. 

  • Approval process: Large purchases needed approval, and it had to be dead-simple to prevent project delays.

  • Tracking resource availability: Certain resources have limited availability, so work performed with those tools needed to be planned with high accuracy. Most notably – the CNC milling machine was used across every project and could cause major delays without accurate planning.

  • Comprehensive reporting: Tracking materials and man-hours would do no good if reporting wasn’t highly visible and configurable. Flexible reporting by project, project part, and portfolio was a requirement.

  • Shifting staffing arrangements: With a team that could fluctuate by up to 100%, the tool needed to be friendly and adjustable enough to accommodate new team members seamlessly.

Simply stated, their goal was to get live project data, leading to better transparency and more accurate forecasting. A tall order for such a complex, cross-functional team.

Luckily, the answer would be simpler and more seamless than they thought. The Atlassian suite, plus a few key apps by the names of Structure for Jira and Structure.Gantt.

Holding the world on their shoulders

Archimedes might never have considered the Atlassian Suite for broad-scale project management if their software team wasn’t already achieving great results with Jira. They took a look and realized that Jira could be much more than a software development tool. With a few key apps from the Atlassian Marketplace, Jira could become as flexible as they needed.

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Members of the Archimedes team working on project ELIXIER – "experience-based learning through interactive experimentation in mixed reality environments.".

But how could they take the thousands of issues from a myriad of different teams and organize them in a way that would make sense for everyone? This is where Structure and Structure.Gantt by Tempo entered the scene to help.

Structure quickly became a mission-critical component of Archimedes’ successful Jira deployment. Custom views could be created, shared, and edited in a snap and Structure made it simple to slice and dice the data for fine understanding of potential process improvements. 

Now the Archimedes team sees Structure as indispensable.

“Since virtually all aspects of the projects are managed in Jira, this results in a large number of related issues and pages, which would be impossible to manage without the Structure app. It allows all members of the team to create all kinds of project perspectives and see very specific data, organized in a convenient way." Stephan Spenling, CTO and Chief Science Officer, Archimedes Exhibitions

The teams loved their new tool so much, they achieved a 99% adoption rate. This was only possible because the system was mapped to the culture, not the other way around.

Of course, there were some process changes involved. The workload has shifted toward designers, who now must complete more administrative tasks in Jira. But the payoff is clear – there’s much less trouble for project managers downstream, because the information in Jira is more accurate.

Today, Archimedes uses Structure and Gantt Charts for Structure PPM to plan and track tens of thousands of ongoing activities across up to 50 simultaneous large projects. Now that’s scalability.

Need to scale your Jira projects like Archimedes? Learn how Structure for Jira can help by requesting a demo today. Our Structure for Jira specialists will be happy to show you the ropes.