Overall Project Mission
A major financial services firm wished to implement an integrated, enterprise-wide information technology (IT) management system to improve effectiveness and efficiency in the areas of IT portfolio management, resource management and project management and address needs for improved firm wide reporting and standardized business processes. Because the proposed system would have a profound impact on the enterprise, it was decided that an extensive pilot would be conducted to confirm the suitability of the software. Before the pilot could commence, the software data configuration and workflows needed to be defined and implemented.
In order to achieve maximum value from the product the client wanted to run a single instance of the proposed system. A single instance would provide the organization with easy aggregation of data in support of firm wide reporting without the addition of a business intelligence layer, provide a knowledge sharing platform for the organization and keep production costs down. However, the system was to be piloted by eight different lines of business, each with unique infrastructures, processes and reporting needs.
Given the broad scope of the pilot, the team needed to engage a large number of key stakeholders from across the organization to gather the specific data, workflow and reporting requirements from each line of business, define areas of standardization that could be implemented firm wide and reconcile any business process issues that came into conflict with how the system functioned.
Our challenge was to define a configuration that could be run on a single instance of the software while maintaining a level of flexibility to meet the unique requirements of the different lines of business, and to do so in a manner that would not impact the day to day business of the organization.
Intellilink planned and executed a workshop approach to maximize input from key stakeholders in the most efficient means possible in order to properly define a configuration and set of workflow definitions for the software pilot.
Identify Subject Matter Experts
Intellilink reached out to the lines of business and asked them to identify subject matter experts in the areas of portfolio management, project management and resource management, as well as in critical cross-functional areas such as architecture, Six Sigma and finance. The subject matter experts were given the latitude to represent their lines of business, communicate business-specific requirements and make decisions on how the software should be used by their organization. In doing so, we guaranteed high quality input from a cross-representative population that adequately represented the organization.
Educate Subject Matter Experts
Because the proposed solution was new to the organization, the subject matter experts were unfamiliar with its features and functionality. Without a base-level familiarity with the software the subject matter experts would not have been able to envision how the system would integrate with their existing business processes and therefore not be able to adequately provide input into the configuration. Intellilink organized a series of live demos that were web cast over the internet. The demos were conducted by product specialists and allowed the participants to see the product in action and ask questions about how it worked. Additionally, Intellilink worked with the vendor to develop a CD-ROM demo that was distributed to the key stakeholders to provide them with another source of product information. Between the live demos and the CD-ROMs, we were able to equip the team with a strong foundation of product knowledge in a very short amount of time.
The software required that well over 200 attributes and settings be defined prior to the pilot. Instead of providing the subject matter experts with a blank slate with which to work, Intellilink developed a strawman of the data configuration for them to react to. The strawman configuration provided the team with a springboard for the ensuing workshop discussions, allowing more ground to be covered in a condensed timeframe and as a place to document required changes throughout the workshop process.
Conduct Function Workshops
Intellilink conducted two sets of workshops with the subject matter experts. The first set, the function workshops, focused on identifying commonalities and differences across the lines of business with respect to processes, data definitions and configuration requirements. During the sessions we were able to collect input from the lines of business on the strawman configuration to determine whether LOB functional requirements were being satisfied and how the structure needed to be further refined. The workshops also afforded the opportunity to communicate where the tool required standardized workflows or data to support global processes. Parking lot issues were recorded during the sessions for topics that required additional follow up outside of the workshop format. After the function workshops concluded, the output was synthesized, parking lot issues were addressed and the strawman configuration was updated.
Conduct Validation Workshops
The updated strawman configuration was presented back to the subject matter experts during the second set of workshops, the validation workshops. The validation workshops focused on reviewing the updates to the data definitions and configuration requirements, reconciling remaining issues and gaining consensus on the pilot configuration as a whole. At the conclusion of the validation workshops, the team had defined a configuration for the software pilot that took into consideration the needs and standardization requirements of the different lines of business while maintaining a level of flexibility that did not require the individual organizations to compromise their existing business processes. Additionally, due to the collaborative workshop approach, the configuration had been syndicated across the organization and was ready to be rolled out as part of the pilot.