How one organization turned around a failing program.
Deniz A. Johnson, PMP
THIS IS A STORY BASED ON MY EXPERIENCE
with a company that turned around an ambitious
but troubled business transformation program.
Recent changes in industry regulations and new
competition in the market required a new look into
company operations. The company’s leaders realized that they needed to improve the way operations were handled. Operations were very manual
and paper intensive, and incoming requests usually
took a long time to process. The organization also
had trouble adjusting when regulations changed,
since it had a large workforce and a rigid process.
Senior executives strongly agreed on the need
for change. They worked with external consultants to define a roadmap, then established timelines, goals and actionable steps to reach them.
Automation was a key expectation, and state-of-the-art products were identified after a very
inclusive selection process. A three-year business
strategy and a two-year program were established.
However, this vision and momentum was lost
during the translation for implementation. The
organization overstaffed without really focusing
on what it needed. Since this was a high-visibility
program, twice-weekly status reports were insti-
tuted for the executive team, along with a weekly
meeting. All the meetings and oversight took time
away from accomplishing tasks.
Requirements were gathered too quickly by
product experts who were unfamiliar with both
the industry and the organization’s work. At the
end of nine months, the program budget was
more than 70 percent gone. Development had
started, but there were significant disagreements
on the architecture needed to satisfy requirements. The first prototypes were met with dissatisfaction from users.
Something needed to be done. Reorganization
of the impacted departments followed. Next, all
outsourcing vendors, most of the project managers and all consultant resources were laid off. The
project came to a stop. Demoralization set in.
Executives began trying to figure out if the goals
identified were even attainable.
TRANSFORMATION OF THE
As a last resort, a new program manager/senior
VOICES In the Trenches
is to find the
work with the