dFakto is a small 45-person startup in Brussels, Belgium, that focuses on program management for large enterprises like banks. I met de Vylder when we shared an Uber on our way to Web Summit in Lisbon, Portugal. Prepared to be utterly bored when I learned that DFakto was a program/project management tool for, of all things, enterprise-scale companies, I was blown away by the two-minute VR demo he showed me with a Samsung Gear, right in the Uber.
And by the fact that he made project management interesting.
And … easy.
“We created a UX experience in project mangament that allows people to update their project status in 30 seconds or less each month,” de Vylder said. “Just by focusing on only what’s very important.”
That’s the first key: having few KPIs.
The demon of big data is that in having data, we tend to want to track a lot of things. All of those add overhead, and the end result is predictable: KPIs that don’t get updated regularly, on-time, and with ease. That’s a problem, because not only do you have to track KPIs to be successful, they have to be nimble and adaptable to changing business circumstances.
As Winston Churchill said, “Plans are of little importance, but planning is essential.”
Few KPIs and simplified software for short status updates enable project managers to quickly update progress — generally the most onerous of project management tasks. Using this agile methodology and DFakto’s platform helped BNP Paribas, the large multinational bank, save $3.3 billion in a recent efficiency drive, de Vylder told me.
“BNP Paripas initially invested $1.3B to in an attempt to create $2 billion of costs savings,” he said. “But they actually increased their investment to $1.6 billion and created $3.3 billion of savings.”
Being agile has other benefits that are not traditionally associated with enterprise companies: acting more like startups.
“The thing about project management is that you need to not blindly follow a set of milestones,” de Vylder explains. “You need to be continually asking: Are we still in line with business priorities?”
So how do the VR and 3D printing fit in?
The virtual reality experience is for experiencing business progress in an immersive way. DFakto has created an app that allows you to see your progress charts in a personal theatre style. Focus your eyes on a particular chart, and it grows. Dive into elaborations the same way.
And 3D printing? Surely it’s just a gimmick?
“It allows people to touch what they do,” says de Vylder. “Otherwise when you close a report you don’t see it anymore … but this remains on my desk.”
“And, whenever anyone enters, the first question is: what the hell is this!”
You will need to spend money to save money, of course. dFakto’s software runs somewhere around $100,000 annually, and costs about $300-400,000 to implement. It is fairly quick to initiate, however, getting up and running in “less than three months” with “less than five people,” de Vylder told me.