I’m sure you’ll
appreciate these case studies are kept somewhat vague in certain
selective areas to maintain confidentiality for the organisations,
companies and individuals involved.
That said, the content is valid
and accurate, I have provided as much detail as possible to portray
the scenarios with no poetic license
or economy employed with the truth.
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Case Study #1 2005 – 2007
To migrate the entire retail network of a leading
high street bank (in excess of 1,000 outlets) on to a new telephony
both the voice and the data traffic. The supplier projected savings
of over £30 million in 5 years.
They say never to burn your bridges - how true that
It’s a strange feeling to be “poacher turned gamekeeper”.
To suddenly be the other side of the table, originally supplier then
customer and to find out the supplier’s programme manager was
in fact a colleague from a previous project!
I was the customer but I also knew the supplier’s strengths and
weaknesses, the full portfolio - warts ‘n all! I always make
a point of ensuring that I can go back and work with a company, team
or individual again. That way I think you limit the chances of falling
out with people.
I was comfortable with the savings figure as predicted; I had
already represented the supplier delivering the same solution
leading high street bank and knew this would be realistic.
I was engaged to work in a high-profile QA role, representing
retail IT division and the business team. I was to liase with the
external and internal suppliers to ensure the business requirements
understood and met within what was a potentially daunting technical
My responsibilities focused on ‘policing’ the project management
methodology and governance through all of the project’s phases
from ‘Design’ to ‘Closure’. Above all though
it was my responsibility to make sure the solution was successfully
delivered to the business, it was what they actually wanted and would
deliver the stated benefits.
The first challenge was to tackle the common perception amongst
the suppliers that much of the pre-deployment work had already
There was a genuine feeling about the place that everything
had been considered, including the needs of the customer and
A subtle blend of tact and diplomacy was called for,
often taking on extra workload myself in order to get a point
additional graft with even longer hours it was no more than
many others were doing. It helped me to gain respect from the
trust between us. I was able to prove I was not trying to score
cheap points by highlighting areas for improvement and better
ways of doing
things. I was there to improve the project’s efficiency as
a member of the team.
It took some time to convince key individuals that, despite
the lack of time available, there was a need for more detailed
assumptions to be made and a greater understanding of the impact
to the customer and end user.
The internal technical supplier, responsible for delivery,
were used to providing what they deemed as fit for purpose
really listening to customer! This was due to a mixture of “knowing
what was best” and to be fair not previously receiving an awful
lot of co-operation from the business! We had to address this quickly
and get people to think and work differently.
Without this additional effort we were likely to encounter
resistance from the business, in particular the end-users,
in the proposed
approach -probably when least desired when the solution was
being rolled out
in anger with very little room for manoeuvre.
If we did not pay enough attention to the detail we were in
danger of being open to misinterpretation, the customer having
but to accept what they were given or risk halting the deployment.
solution may have been ‘fit for purpose’ but not “true” quality,
namely something a bit special!
The timescale of fifteen months was extremely tight
and aggressive with virtually no room for slippage. If the deadline were not
met the customer would not be able to achieve the projected
The solution was fairly complex and there were specific parts
design unique to the customer. All in all this was a tough
nut to crack!
The areas that needed addressing were mainly (as usual)
due to the lack of time given to prepare for the rollout. My first
and initial assessment was as follows:
• The internal technology group (leading supplier) had not had consistency
with the personnel representing the business team
• Business requirements were not defined in sufficient detail
• Insufficient level of reporting to demonstrate the feel good factor
of being in control
• Limited updates from technical teams to the business team
• The level and amount of documentation did not reflect the importance
of the project
Lack of understanding of the users’ needs particularly during
deployment of the solution
• The platform experienced a significant delay due to issues with the
existing live platform narrowing an already tight delivery
• Risks were not fully identified or mitigated
By and large a good “team” with some great individuals
in key positions
• Although a stiff challenge there were enough positives in place to
give the project a fighting chance
What had to be done? The project was far too big to
be run generally on the informal lines it was originally. Overall
defined governance was needed.
There was a need for a greater understanding of what the
impact was going to be on the retail outlets with documentation
We needed a more formal emphasis on the risk, issue, assumption
and dependency management and above all a marked improvement
in the overall
communications throughout the project teams.
All parties needed to know what success looked like and
what was needed for the project to be accepted and achieve
All of the major points were addressed and tackled successfully. A greater understanding of the business was reflected in
the approach to the deployment, the issues and risks were
documentation was produced and made available on the group’s
Reporting and updates were improved, in particular with
regards to the business team being kept in the picture
at all times.
project teams became one genuine project team with regular
communication and information being shared between them.
• Deployment completed within stated timescale (only one delay)
• Successful introduction of strict project governance, structure, documentation
• Building of strong relationships between technology and business areas
• Strict monitoring and control undertaken but with sense of humour maintained
• Genuine environment of openness and honesty
• Unique understanding of technical and business needs, individually
• Fault handling, problem solving MI for analysis produced
• Dependencies identified and monitored
• Identifying and agreeing success and acceptance criteria
Major business benefits introduced:
• Group wide savings in excess of £30 million over 5 years
• The new technology provided virtually limitless potential for improving
Case Study #2 2004
Part of a groundbreaking “Business Partnership” programme
between a leading telecoms company and a high street
bank. The supplier was delivering a managed service, including
Voice over IP, converging
data and voice traffic at twenty-three of the customer’s
head office sites. The project was valued at £2.5
million; the VoIP solution would save the bank’s
head office sites £5
million over five years.
Unfortunately the project had gone off the rails
and was in serious jeopardy of being another tragic statistic.
The proposed solution had passed the “Proof of Concept” and
was deemed “fit for purpose”. Unfortunately there had been
a significant number of delays that affected the deadlines and threatened
the overall budget and consequently the bank’s savings.
The project was part of a major business initiative
to introduce a new style of business partnership
between two leading companies,
a telecoms company and the other a high street bank.
It was high profile with the stock exchange keeping
not an option!
The original programme manager I replaced
had tried to run the project remotely. Unfortunately he had
and the various project teams involved.
There were a number of issues that needed tackling
locally and not from a distance. The working relationships
due to a lack of trust by the customer in what they
were being told as reasons for all of the various
management of the project.
The other main supplier, who was responsible for
the cabling, had been left to do pretty much as they
undergone a significant
challenge to their resourcing levels; a victim of
their own success, they were heavily involved in
the new Wembley
stadium, itself suffering from its own challenges.
There wasn’t even a project manager assigned to the project for
me to liase with! It took well over a week to get a project manager
allocated to our project. For some time they had been operating an
unchallenged ‘best efforts’ approach.
They had to back-fill the staff being used on the
new Wembley project with sub-contractors. This brought
with the quality
of their work, reliability and even in some the dress
code and conduct when working on a customer site.
The work they were to undertake had not been properly
documented as a formal Statement of Works. Nor had
the work been checked
thoroughly in the early days, consequently there
were misinterpretations in
quality of the work, the equipment and materials
used and configuration. This resulted in a number
to the sites already
Our project team was pretty demoralised. A
number of delays meant there was no clear direction.
in the solution
at one point
been low and the relationship between the project
had never recovered.
The project was displaying classic symptoms of a
vessel in distress. The root cause centred on the
and the customer had sent up the distress flare!
The working relationships, especially with the
customer, had to be restored quickly. Genuine,
open and honest
regular face-to-face meetings and formal reporting
the trust re-built and quickly re-establish the
confidence in us the leading supplier and business partner.
This would be best gathered from my counter-part
on the customer’s
project team by asking what had gone wrong and
what did they want to see happening now. The “how” and “by
obviously down to me to identify but also running
the proposed plan past the customer for comment
(out of courtesy) to
check time scales
The best way would be to identify a few “quick wins” that
would demonstrate we were back in control, all activities
identified with owners and deadlines and then reporting
regularly on the progress.
A proactive approach was needed with the
supplier seen to be driving the project’s direction without prompts from the customer. There
would be a requirement for “live” coaching
and mentoring of junior project managers reporting to me.
Equally as important would be the handling of future
issues. Flagging them as soon as possible. Explaining
and the plan to
resolve, by whom and by when.
There was a need for highlighting the positives
and celebrating the successes. Understandably the
majority of the
had been focused on the negatives. We had to redress the
balance in favour of all the good news that was being generated.
All simple things really, just a matter of communicating
clearly and appreciating our counter-parts also
had to report to their
superiors. If possible pre-empt the questions,
make sure they have all the information
We quickly turned the project around by focusing
on the human element. The customer was very supportive
cared and that we were in control. Regular face-to-face
meetings, plenty of updates with accurate reporting
in an open and
honest way saved
We demonstrated a genuine empathy toward the
project team, the constraints they were having to work
with and pressures
they too were under. This allowed us to work together in
a constructive and productive environment.
• Project brought quickly back on schedule for migration of head office
sites including VoIP, cabling and configuration
• Business partnership programme deemed successful
• Re-built excellent working relationships with all parties, in particular
with the customer, providing further business opportunities
for the supplier
• Introduced pro-active management of activities supported by a comprehensive
reporting model to verify project status
• Greatly improved moral of project team
• Subtle introduction of ‘best practise’ approach, raising
standards and expectations relating to project methodology.
Also significant for future projects
Major business benefits introduced:
• Projected savings for head office sites in excess of £5 million
over 5 years
• As a result the business partnership programme generated further business
for the supplier
Case Study #3 2003
This project was closely linked to Case Study
#2, part of a large programme of works forging
company and a high-street bank. My main objective
was to deliver a complete cable, asset and
65 working days.
The project was already in jeopardy. Previous “challenges” to
the overall programme had caused a knock-on
affect pushing the project’s
start date back on a number of occasions.
Unfortunately the end date didn’t budge! A major contractual
milestone was in place with a penalty of £250,000 if the date
and associated deliverables were not achieved.
Every data and head office site had to be
audited, the information collated and loaded
on to the
to bill the customer. This would provide
a more efficient and
effective billing system. It would also manage
cable, asset and inventory once it had all been base lined
and placed under a formal
and stringent change control process.
Unfortunately the records had not
been kept up to date. It had proven difficult to maintain
the bank’s retail outlets
during the transitional period. It had not been possible
to impose a strict change control process.
Subsequent changes to a number of the outlets
had cast a shadow of doubt over the accuracy
current records suggesting
virtually the whole estate would need re-auditing,
a potentially expensive
exercise and a cost the project could not
Because the project had suffered
a number of setbacks it had lost momentum. The availability
gathered was out of date and a number of
would need revisiting.
Certain elements of the solution had been
developed in place and ready for “Beta” testing. Quite a
lot of the activities had been completed but much of the
work had been carried out in isolation.
various departments involved had been working in silos
with very little liaison.
High-level requirements had been gathered
but were now dated. As usual the devil’s in the detail and there was a serious risk of the
requirements no longer accurately reflecting the customer’s
needs and being misinterpreted.
I had to juggle and balance the outstanding
activities with the resource available and
still meet the
deadline that could
be moved to
accommodate the circumstances.
I had been brought in to the organisation
on recommend with a reputation of being
a trouble-shooter. Somebody
the wagons rolling quickly and efficiently
with the least amount of fuss.
I’ve also been described as a hard-hitter,
a heavyweight who gets the job done properly.
I don’t really have a problem with these descriptions except
the hard-hitter and heavyweight labels imply a bit of a hard-nosed
tough nut. Although I admit I set and expect high standards I’ve
never fallen out with anyone.
To bring this project back from
the brink I would have to shape the deliverables
purpose but any
whistles would have to be applied later.
We would have to
go for the slimmer
leaner version but without sacrificing
Because of the delays and lack of detailed
documentation it was hard to tell the difference
customer “clarifying” the
original requirements and fresh additional requirements,
namely scope creep! This would all have to be re-visited,
defined, agreed, documented
To do this we would have to re-establish
many of the communication lines and working
and perception of key individuals on the
project. Establish the
not just our understanding.
I had to quickly establish what
the end result had to look like. What had actually
done and was
a revised, workable, action plan. Re-document
the requirements, project structure, roles & responsibilities with acceptance
and success criteria all to be agreed with by the key stakeholders.
I liased closely with the various suppliers
to determine the quickest and most cost
effective way of collecting
the billing and cable management. In some
cases it meant going back to
Thanks to some lateral thinking by a very
sharp individual the retail network could
out of hours.
He produced a network “sniffer” that
trawled the retail outlets during the night
and collected all of information and formatted
it for us to upload to
Against all the odds we met the deadline. Despite a lot of the work falling over
period, our professionalism
shone through. We met the deadline that
was part of
milestone and there was no penalty. The
solution was in place and the estate
under formal change control allowing
efficient management of the customer’s
assets and inventory. The customer experienced
the benefits almost immediately.
The perceived technical issues were resolved
as the drive to provide clearer communications
a great success.
It served to provide a greater understanding
for everyone. The pieces of the jigsaw
fell into place,
confidence in the solution returned paving the way to expand
the business partnership
to the mutual benefit of both organisations.
• Systems & processes actually delivered in 61 working days despite
extremely tight timescales and resource constraints. Involved
audit of over 640 retail outlets and 15 strategic head office sites.
• Developed systems & processes to be used by supplier as the standard
model for delivering CA&I management to other key outsourcing
• Passed two major contractual milestone assessments avoiding penalties
• Major achievements acknowledged by the customer greatly enhancing future
benefits from the business partnership
• Successful development & delivery of branch and head office network
scans, providing critical data for population of CA&I
databases allowing efficient and effective auditing, maintenance
Major business benefits introduced:
• Generated recurring revenue from CA&I of over £2.5 million
• Blue-print developed enabling further opportunities with other blue
• Successful start to the business partnership. Strengthening reputation
and creditability with the consumer and the financial market
places. Recognised positive impact on share price.
• Fault resolution & speed of Voice & Data changes improved
Thank you for taking the time to read
these case studies.
Click here if you would like more specific
information or to discuss these case
studies in greater detail.
contact me, simply go to my Contact
Us page and choose the most convenient