Rescue of an Electronic Data Delivery Project
A leading Australian organisation engaged me to manage, deliver and provision an electronic delivery mechanism to securely log and retrieve billing files. I was engaged to rescue a project that had been running for a number of months but had begun to flounder. The stakeholders were unhappy about the lack of progress and the limited communication about the status of the project. The project team included two vendors whose task was to manage and consolidate the hosting of billing invoices into a single online repository.With a budget of $4 million and a team size of 15, the client’s instructions were to implement the project in five months.
Observations on arrival at client site
The project was quite complex and involved the concept of internet security and online repository of data. The project had been “planned” using an Excel spreadsheet with no dependencies identified or any logical order of tasks. The sheet was more like a disorganised shopping list. None of the resources had a plan to work to and no‐one knew what the other was doing. Whilst there was this list, the documentation was far from adequate to manage the project.
From a process management perspective, there was a tendency to cut corners and bypass key stages rather than focus on delivering the requirements. There was no doubt that the most effective way to develop a proper project plan was to have a conversation with the project team to get first‐hand information about the state of the project. We heard several excuses, such as, “There’s a holiday in X’s country. They won’t be back before Monday and there’s nothing we can do until…” or “All the problems are with X”.
On interviewing the key stakeholders and the project team, I was provided with tales of woe and despondency. It soon became apparent that there was a lack of clarity about the implementation of the critical decision to change the technical design of the solution.
Business and IT were working to different and unendorsed versions of the business requirements document (BRD). In addition, one of the vendors was not yet engaged commercially and the cost of the revised solution was not factored into the business case. Naturally there was a lot of baggage within the project team that needed to be dealt with in terms of high emotions and conflict of personalities.
The mandate was to integrate the Business and IT teams into one cohesive unit capable of delivering the solution in five months. Abhi Chaturvedi and the team of consultants had a brainstorming workshop to develop a plan to overcome the challenges. and devised an appropriate approach for running the project to be presented to the client.
Approach of Execution
Following meetings with the stakeholders and the team, I identified a number of project management deficiencies around project structure, approach and governance, which we duly highlighted to our client. I then put in place our action plan that entailed developing detailed specifications, a project plan, a governance process and an agenda for future meetings.
Daily meetings were initially scheduled, and, after a very short period, these were converted to weekly governance meetings. Team meetings were organised with deliverables agreed and baselined as per the project schedule. Plans were reviewed weekly and a change control process was introduced to record, evaluate, cost and track all change requests relating to changes in the customer’s requirements.
Risks and issues were recorded and reviewed, and owners were assigned to action and held accountable. Within a very short period of time Abhi Chaturvedi gained control of the project to the satisfaction of the client and key stakeholders.
The result was that the project was executed and delivered on time, on budget and to the required quality standards, using the client’s methodology. What really made a difference and ensured the delivery of a successful outcome was the implementation of the following:
• Working closely with the vendors to develop and produce a very detailed day‐to‐day schedule covering the SDLC with accountability for the individual tasks.
• Establishing a weekly governance meeting involving all the diverse stakeholder groups, including the vendors to resolve impediments. The team’s morale improved dramatically, and this helped to increase productivity and transform team spirit into a ‘can do’ attitude.
• From successful rescue of this challenging project, the client was able to see that I am credible delivery-oriented professional with a focus on delivering value and building long term client relationships.