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Case Study 1:  From ‘project least likely project to succeed’ to ‘Project of the Year’, with £3.7M savings

Service: Project Management Consultancy

Situation

The CIO of a insurance company needed help with a vital project which was not going according to plan. The project was judged to be least likely to succeed in the project portfolio; failure would mean having to upgrade the current infrastructure at a cost approaching £4M over 3 years. A key requirement for the CIO was tracking using Earned Value (EV) but in his own words “none of my projects has been able to provide this on a regular basis.”

Intervention

We began by holding a project planning workshop using the Index Card Planning method, to create a realistic timeline and identifying the key milestones that would be tracked to confirm progress. From there we built key relationships with the infrastructure representatives; this was essential to reducing a key area of project risk. We also created a cross-functional steering group to ensure high levels of engagement with the key stakeholders and provided the earned value (EV) reporting needed by the CIO to confirm that things were proceeding according to schedule.

Resolution

Despite the compressed schedule the project was delivered on time and without any interruption in service to customers during transition. The client was able to avoid extending a £1M/year support contract, with further cost avoidance of £1.7M. The project was voted ‘Project of the Year’ by the companies’ I.T. leadership team.

The new system was not only 30% cheaper to run than the old one, it also performed better because we fixed a number of previously unidentified problems that existed in the old system. One key stakeholder, who had previously managed a similar data migration for a previous company, said that “the biggest failing of the project was in not making more of a song and dance about how well it had delivered, as few understood how just difficult the challenge was.”


Case Study 2: Improved confidence and organisational efficiency, eliminated risk of costly £5.5M write-off

Services: Project Health Check, Project Management Consultancy

Situation

The Programme Director of a public sector organisation was frustrated with progress on one of her key projects. It was way behind schedule and threatened to miss its latest target dates. The relationship between the project manager and a key supplier had broken down and this was affecting team morale. Failure to deliver would mean having to write off the investment to date at a cost of several million pounds.

Intervention

We carried out a project health-check to establish where the project required the most help. We then replaced the individual supplier- and customer plans with a single plan covering all activities. We use the new plan to prioritise the outstanding work and implemented a series of short development cycles to focus the team on essential work. Finally we secured the resources needed to test and validate the solution without incurring further delays. In all the re-planning of the project and sign-off of the funding needed to complete the next stage took three weeks.

Resolution

The project team completed the development of the solution in accordance with the new timeline, without any slippage. This allowed for the completion of customer acceptance testing. The delivered system was not as fully-featured as originally intended but it was able to calculate revised valuations in a matter of several hours, something that had previously taken a team of ten people almost a month to complete manually. The result was that the company was able to deliver a return on its investment and avoid a costly write-off.


Case Study 3: Improved confidence and focus, reduced delays and project expenditure

Service: Project Management Consultancy

Situation

This well known mobile device manufacturer needed to move one of their best project managers from an existing project to a troubled major programme. That left them with a big problem: how to bring in a replacement who could step into the former project manager’s shoes without a lengthy handover period, without delaying progress and without upsetting its key customers.

Intervention

We agreed a handover period of three days, just long enough to shadow the outgoing project manager while getting to know the team. At the same time we completed a review of personnel, plans and practices, and developed and agreed an action plan with the client. Finally we met with the leaders of the various teams who would be providing services and support to the project, so that no-one would be significantly affected by the change in leadership.

Resolution

The handover went flawlessly. Despite the short transition period we were able to represent the project at the stakeholders’ progress review after just a couple of days. The projects more than recovered time lost due to the change-over and customers were pleased with the speed and professionalism of the transition.


Case Study 4: Computing Company Slashes Failing Projects in Just Two Days

Service: Project Management Training

Situation

We were asked by a computing company if we could help them to improve the project success rates in one of their territories in Eastern Europe. They were desperate to cut the proportion of projects which were overrunning, something they attributed to poor up-front planning.

Intervention

We agreed to organise and run a two-day project kickoff workshop training course for a dozen of their project managers. The aim of the course was to teach them the practical skills of setting up and running project planning workshops. We first examined the main contributors to project failure and swapped stories of past problems to share experience. Then we planned a project from start to finish using the Index Card Planning technique. We spent the following day teaching workshop facilitation skills, giving each participant the chance to develop their facilitation skills, give feedback to other participants and listen to the feedback given by others.

Result

In just two days we were able to give all 12 participants techniques they could use for many years to come. By making the entire course hands-on and practical they were able to develop real planning and facilitation skills and the confidence to use them in a live setting. One participant said that this was the first time that he left a course with such a positive experience!


Case Study 5: Telecoms Giant Turns a potential liability into a valuable asset

Service: Project Management Coaching

Situation

We were asked by a telecommunications client if we could help them to develop one of their aspiring project managers. She had lots of talent but was encountering resistance when working with senior managers because of her personal style and relative lack of project management experience. She was seen as an asset but was in danger of becoming a liability because she wasn’t able to get the best out of people.

Intervention

We started out by getting the coachee to conducting a skills audit, which we used to agree areas where they felt they needed help. We then went on to hold a mix of coaching and mentoring sessions. The aim of the coaching sessions was to get the coachee to reflect on their current challenges and ways that they could solve them, while the mentoring sessions aimed to pass on practical experience.

Result

Over a period of four months we coached the young project manager so that she became less abrasive, more natural and more effective at working with others. Her colleagues commented on how she had changed for the better and they were more open to working with her. As a result she was promoted to a more senior project leadership role two years ahead of schedule and my client had an even more valuable member of the team.


Case Study 6: Managing Director finds the formula for repeat delegate bookings year after year

Service: Conference Host / Master of Ceremonies

Situation

We were contacted by the Managing Director of a conference and events company. They were looking for a master of ceremonies (MC) for an event that they were organising for an audience drawn from around 20 European countries. They had already seen a number of potential MCs, but felt that they wanted someone who not only had the speaking and organisational skills needed for the event, but someone who could ensure that the speakers kept to time. Their biggest fear was that of speakers overrunning, leaving delegates scrambling to get from one room to another and missing parts of presentations.

Intervention

We first spent some time clarifying what their objectives were from the conference and what a successful event would look like, both for them and for their attendees. We then designed a programme that would help to achieve that successful outcome, including articles, pre-event interviews and post-event follow-up. Prior to the event we contacted all of the speakers to introduce myself to them, confirm their speaker introductions and agree any last-minute changes to their presentation. Throughout the event we worked with the speakers to prevent them from overrunning their agreed slots.

Result

At the end of the event our client thanked us for enabling them to deliver the programme without a hitch. They were especially pleased with the delegate feedback, as one of the key things that delegates praised them for was sticking to time. Several delegates commented especially on the way that the MC reached out to everyone and made them feel part of a special occasion. We have since acted as conference host for the same client twice a year for the past five years.


Case Study 7: Stakeholder Engagement improves drastically; project finally delivers after months of delays

Service: Stakeholder Engagement Consultancy

Situation

We were asked by my insurance sector client to assist with the delivery of a critical change programme. The project at the heart of the programme had seen a succession of project leaders come and go and had overrun by more than 18 months. Worse still, the projects’ stakeholders had not been involved in the development of a key I.T. system and there was a risk that they would fail to give their go-ahead to its implementation.

Intervention

We began by facilitating a two-day stakeholder engagement workshop which set out the vision for the new system, explained the development work completed to date and invited participants to review and sign off the approach. We then ran a series of workshops to encourage participants to contribute their ideas to the future development of the system. Through this we discovered potential benefits that were not initially identified by the project team. At the same time we held regular conference calls to keep stakeholders informed of progress and maintain the high level of visibility and engagement.

Result

We won the support of the stakeholder community, with several groups asking to become early adopters of the new system. In the months that followed we secured the approval to put the system into production. As a result my client was able to automate the updating of customer records across multiple systems, eliminate duplicate and often inaccurate customer records which were causing complaints, reducing costs and increasing customer satisfaction.