Client: Global Media & Advertising Firm
Function: Finance Department
Project: Project Manage Post-Merger Systems Consolidation
Overall Project Mission
A global market research business had completed the legal merger of two business units and now needed to consolidate these into a single entity within the corporate finance system to streamline financial processing and reporting.
This was a relatively complex project over 4 months and combining changes to Finance and business processes and systems. Due to budget constraints and other workload, both technical support and project management had to be provided remotely from the UK, with most project activities completed by the Finance team in Germany.
Both business units were using different and non-standard configurations of the corporate finance system. These had to be aligned and brought up to date at the same time as completing the data migration, requiring changes to some processes and accounting.
Local systems had been implemented in some areas (e.g. employee expenses) which needed to be retired and moved into the standard finance system modules; this required change management to train Finance and business users and overcome resistance to moving away from customized local systems.
The project had been stalled for 6 months due to difficulties with resourcing and a number of interdependent design decisions which needed to be made for the finance processes and accounting.
Scoping and Planning
A Steering Group was established with representation from local, regional and global Finance leadership to provide a final decision-making authority and support resolution of any issues requiring escalation.
A kick-off meeting was held with the Steering Group to ratify recommendations on open design decisions and to confirm the overall project scope and target timescales, and a regular governance schedule established for project and steering meetings.
Planning sessions were then held to identify and sequence the detailed project tasks and dependencies, making use of template plans and lessons learnt from previous data migration projects.
Progress against the plan was managed through weekly project meetings, with detailed tracking of actions, risks and issues. The project involved a number of workstreams which needed to be kept in alignment for:
- Technical design, implementation and testing of changes to Finance and business systems and processes
- End-user training design and delivery
- Leadership and employee communications
- Finance data cleaning and preparation for migration to the new unit
- Business readiness for a 2 week “blackout period” to complete data migration during which Finance systems would not be available
Status reporting was provided weekly to the Steering Group and full project team to keep everyone informed, and to raise awareness of any specific challenges to be addressed. Where necessary, specific issues were also escalated to the Steering Group for support with a recommended course of action to enable these to be resolved.
Detailed working sessions were held to complete design elements for the finance system and accounting and to define the tasks and sequence for data migration from the historic Finance system units into a new combined unit.
Data Migration and Go-Live
The business leadership and teams were included in planning and helped to prepare for the “blackout period” without a Finance system available by ensuring that approvals for client and vendor invoices, and entries for client projects were up to date.
Data migration was managed through a detailed daily task list to ensure that these proceeded to plan, or any deviations could be immediately addressed, and clear guidance and support given to all staff taking part to ensure that data templates were completed correctly and reconciled and checked before loading to the Finance system.
The migration was completed ahead of schedule with all activities successfully completed. On going live, additional training and support was provided to end-users for the first few weeks and troubleshooting calls held to resolve any minor issues or identify gaps in training.
At the end of the project, a small number of ongoing actions were handed over to assigned owners in the German Finance team and all project documentation archived.