Thursday, March 13, 2014

Build Empathy

In response to  NoMo question, AC responded after a minute pause "Build Empathy within your team. Various teams across the organization need to understand how IT team functions and what's the
what is empathy
dynamics in their environment. It will help all your teams to engage in better way to share the common goal."

AC continued " There has to be a detailed engagement across all levels with a separate governance & management framework. I believe you are not  treating IT as  just a cost center because they are also committed partner to your business."

Nomo started feeling frustrated.  He is failing to understand what's the connection between management jargon like" empathy" & CRM upgrade. He abruptly told "AC I'm not able to figure out where you are leading this conversation. I am suffering acute IT project delivery problem and due to which my entire business is at risk. I want your suggestion how I can correct it.Would you please help me?"

NoMO started walking  anxiously up and down inside in the room. He is not sure how to communicate this to board meeting because board might consider this as a serious non-compliance on hiding the facts related to company.

AC  responded after a small pause " I understand. I will send you a small note and we can take it from there of you agree".

NoMO & his leadership team discussed over the project review report. NoMo thought its a mere failure of  IT governance which leads to  projects failure. He consulted renowned consultant AC from BCG on  how to engage with IT team for success.Nomo, an experienced management consultant explained NoMo on importance of building empathy for business leadersip and also forward him a note on how to set up separate IT & management framework.

Monday, March 10, 2014

How To Engage With IT

Frustrated NoMo called Mr. AC, an independent IT strategy consultant from Netherland. AC is ex-colleague of NoMo from Boston consulting group.

NoMo "Hi! AC What's going on?"

AC responded "Hello NoMo! What's a surprise? How are you ? Congrats for CEO awards 2013.Yo deserve it man."

NoMo "Friend. What's keep you busy now a days. Where are you now? I need your help?"

AC responded in a very soothing & relaxing tone " NoMo...I just completed a complex business transformation project for Fortune 100 company. Its one of the largest  shipping company from Asia and they acquired a telecom start up company in India. After 2 years of operation, the company is not going anywhere.

CEO of this company engaged  eli goldratt to identify the constraints and we were hired to work with him. You know its an experience to work with eliyahu goldratt - the author of Goal. BTW, I am no longer with BCG. group  I run my independent consulting team from Netherland. Tell me NoMo how can we help you."

 "AC...We're failing in delivering IT projects. There is a clear conflict with our IT engagement model. IT team is having 300 odd experienced & well trained personnel. IT claimed they have completed all projects within schedule as per scope but business team always complained that its of no value. How could I fix this?"

Read the next post to know  AC's opinion on how business should engage with IT

Summary, here we see how senior manager reacts with project review report. But, in his capacity, NoMo should be responsible to set up proper  IT governance within the organization to avoid any  projects failure. NoMo realising the gap working with renowned consultant from BCG group to set up a proper how to engage with IT team for success.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Project Review Report

CRM Project Review by NoMo

Gustavo suggested to Amy & Alva to share their thoughts about the meeting because they never did that. “What’s your view on that very first luncheon on CRM upgrade?” Gustavao asked looking towards Amy.

Amy started looking her watch with squeezed eyebrows.

Alva remarked that I must admit NoMo ordered my favorite dishes like Coxinha & acaraj√© along with coke for luncheon, but I can’t enjoy the food because of the agenda of the meeting pinching my mind.

Amy started rubbing her chin as if she is uncomfortable to describe the situation  even after so many months. She fumbling to say “um..!I was late for the lunch meeting and everybody was waiting for me. I remember NoMo cracked a joke that I have to sponsor for the next leadership party”.

Amy continued once NoMo said “Bon Appetite” we started eating silently. I was rather sure that a bomb will drop on me due to poor fiscal management because major amount payment is released to vendor.”

Gustavo has a belly laugh and leaned forward with a request to light his Havana cigar from us. After a deep inhale Gustavo looked very relaxed. He passed a remark that it will be a long & an interesting story on how NoMo gradually tricked all of us to take the ownership of the risks & issues of the CRM project. 

Alva added that it appeared that NoMo is in a very cool mood and he asked his executive assistant, Mr. Gaby to present the new commercial on our latest product targeted for the older & retired segment.

Everybody also appreciated the theme of the commercial. Gaby captured all our observations and presented them on the screen to confirm that none is missing. NoMo looked quite pleased with the details of the proceedings and quality of outcome.

NoMo  appreciated Alva’s work for putting together such an impressive ad film while managing various internal and external teams for putting together the complete execution plan for product launch, including product strategy, development, operationalization, reports to track & measure the KPIs after products, distribution of FAQ to fields, training of people, coordinate for timely financial approvals for individual departments etc.” Amy added.
There was a pause for a few seconds.

Gustavo was enjoying his cigar. Amy was looking on her wristwatch. Alva got busy in counting the number of stars in the night sky.

I did a throaty laughter to bring their attention on the unfinished story of their lunch meeting with their MD.

Gustavo started talking in a very slow voice as if he is now in a different world “ Gaby, NoMo’s assistant projected the execution plan on the screen and there are no critical risk or issues. A mitigation & contingency plan exists against all risks. NoMo appreciated again the collective work. He also updated  the operation team confirmed him the deployment of the product in production".

Alva said that the much-waited blow came on us while we are middle of the discussion of the commercial and our lunch is almost over. 

NoMo spoke with a sharp tone folding his arms across the chest "Guys! Till 3 weeks back everything was OK with CRM upgrade. What went wrong and today you are all saying that it's a complete disaster. I think all your status reports are BS." 
NoMo continued with a forced smile  "As per your report we lost 23 m$ and 25 months. It is NOT OK with me. This project is part of our new go to market plan and we just cannot drop it like  hot potatoes. You have a mitigation plan for new product launch with a revenue target only 2 million, but none exists for the most critical project in our company. You all have just demonstrated outstanding synergy for a new product launch that includes IT department. Why there is a complete lack of synergy for CRM upgrade."

Ms. Alva responded, "Sir, it’s just a transformation project and IT had all the requirements. Mr. Ranga promised that everything will be taken care of."

NoMo started cracking of knuckles and responded in a deep voice to me “Alva. I’m sorry this is not a JUST IT project. This is critical for better customer relationship management for large corporate customers. In today’s world, we will stop to exist without a proper relationship management. Amy, why you released the payment and who authorized the release of payment?

"Sir, as per procurement policy, Mr. Ranga authorized the release of payment based on user acceptance testing." responded Ms. Alva in a feeble voice.

"Oh! Jesus! Is this the way we are running the company? Is this our blue ocean strategy? We want to reduce organizational bureaucracy, but that does not mean we'll have no governance in place?" Nomo thumped  the table.

"Mr. Ranga what's the status of your CRM upgrade project? NoMo asked using the speakerphone on his desk.

"Sir. Last week we closed the project. There were 5 open defects. Vendor confirmed three defects would be closed within the coming 2 weeks. Other defects will be closed with the next version because those are new features and part of their roadmap. We negotiated and got confirmation that those features will be free to use. Sir... we completed the project on time, everything delivered as per scope and acceptance completed."

"Look Ranga ! You are telling project is closed & user is tested the new version of CRM. However, all your internal customers and users are telling me that project is a complete failure. Why you release payment without asking your users? Isn’t this a total management failure?"....Mr. NoMo started screaming over the phone.

Mr. Ranga responded in a very steady and low voice" Sir! We published a detailed and summary report every week. We had weekly risk and issue management meeting. Where everybody was invited, but we have challenges in regular attendance from business & marketing team. We did 3 rounds of testing and total 7239 test cases executed. We also include scenarios as suggested by the business operation team."

NoMo sighed dejectedly with halfhearted shrug asked “How did lapse happen and I got to understand it yesterday only. Let’s get together after two days. I want to have a definite action plan from all of you on how we should recover without spending any additional nickel. Remember, it should be a joint plan like the new product launch.”

NoMo walked out of the room.

Editorial Summary from Babi: NoMo should be responsible to set up proper  IT governance within the organization to avoid any  projects failure. In next post, we'll see how  MD & CEO   set up a proper how to engage with IT team for success.

Monday, March 3, 2014

IT projects failure

Why business leader stamped CRM upgrade project as a disaster?

Gustavo & I completed our dinner. We started walking across the Copacabana beach and pick a table a little bit back from the stream of people passing by to avoid almost endless stream of beggars, vendors and weirdos.

I requested Mr. Gustavo to share what happen in the meeting called by Alva.Gustavo sucked a deep breath and started sharing with me what happened that day in the meeting room.

In the city of Rio it was a clear day. The blue sky touches the tops of buildings and sends a crisp breeze through open windows. It was a nice summer day to enjoy time in beach with potato chips, but we were busy in our office.

I received an urgent meeting invite from Ms. Alva followed by a call from her office to join at second floor conference room. The agenda of the meeting was the closure of CRM upgrade project.

I have a feeling of a knotted belly. Several questions rushed into my mind at once.The project can't be over with so many open issues and without a formal classroom training. I quickly print the top pending issue list  and proceed to the meeting room.

Candace, assistant of Alva greeted me and helped to sit in the proper place. Amy (CFO), Stuart (Supply chain head) already in the room.

The atmosphere in the meeting room was very glum. I asked Cadence “What’s up? Why Ms. Alva called this must attend an emergency meeting on the closure of CRM upgrade with such a short notice. Where is she?”

Cadence took few hesitant steps towards the projector and started adjusting its focus.

“Hi! Sorry for being late. I was just compiling the final status report on CRM for the last half an hour”. Alva entered the room with her trademark chocolate brown suit along with two of her colleagues.

While walking towards her seat, she started talking “Dear all! This morning, I have a two-minute chat with Mr. Ranga on CRM upgrade project.  Mr. Ranga mentioned that the CRM upgrade is over from his perspective”.

Alva continued, “I called this meeting to know what your opinion on CRM upgrade. Is everything all right in your area related to CRM? Do you have any plan to manage the ongoing issues? ”

Stuart responded "Thanks Ms. Alva...for calling us together. I have a serious problem with this new version of CRM. Most of our existing processes are not working. There are additional validations due to new security checks, which are affecting our SLAs for various business process. Now, there is no ready-made system generated daily/weekly report. My team has to run queries to generate reports.  This is outrageous."

Amy highlighted that 80% payment already made to the vendor. It was news to all of us.

You know I was so frustrated that I commented “Let's move to cloud and outsource the damn IT".

My expectation was new CRM would help us to give a better customer experience by providing mobile apps, online self-service for mundane activities, etc. Customer care center got the worst hit because we didn’t add extra agents to support increasing load to avoid additional costs.

Ms. Alva commented, "I too have some problems. Entire money looks like went to drain and it's a complete failure of IT department, But Mr. Ranga & his team got an outstanding rating from MD & Chairman for completing the project on time and within budget."

In the mean time, Alva and Amy joined us. 

Alva joined the discussion and remarked that she still remembers Stuart's comment, “Why can't IT department roll back to old CRM?  We will live with old systems & existing process. Let's escalate this to Mr. NoMo in our next leadership meeting."

Alva looked at Amy and said that she had terrible moments as she  cleared almost 80% of the payment to vendor based on IT report.

Amy said in response  " I got anxious about money and the time lost. In last board meeting NoMo presented his business plan and a lot of his plan has depended on new functionality of CRM. Failure in a CRM upgrade project will have a very bad impact on our company’s performance. What we will reply to our shareholders and owner?”

Amy looked at me and said "You know Babi Alva asked me to forward the concerns of the business team to NoMo. I was about to push it back, but saw Alva is looking at the ceiling as if she has no idea what to do next. So, I prepared the note and forward the same to NoMo with a request for an urgent meeting."

Now the most unusual things happened. Neither NoMo called me nor he sends a long list of questions in  the customary style of asking more details. He just called a luncheon.

Editorial comment - This is a classic example on how IT project should not be executed. Business has different expectation but IT team has different goals. In this reminisce of Mr. Gustavo on IT projects failure  shows lack of IT governance within the organization. In next post, we'll see how  MD & CEO  reacts with Project Review Report

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Why IT Governance

The purpose of IT governance is to make sure EACH project delivered measurable unique value to business

In general, it is common in most organization that IT department initiates a project without having full agreement with business team or business sponsors on how to measure the benefits (ROI) of the program.

Michael Gerrard, Research Vice President and Distinguished Analyst from Gartner defines IT governance as the set of processes that ensure the effective and efficient use of IT in enabling an organization to achieve its goals. In other words, it is demand governance.

The very purpose of IT governance is "Doing things right" and "Do the right things"

Last month, I conducted a three days’ workshop on COBIT5 framework from ISACA at Copacabana Palace, Bras√≠lia.

Out of nine participants, three are CXO level executives from a local Telecom company - Zobni-systems. I found it is an interesting combination that marketing, customer support & finance head of a company joined IT governance training.

I found, during the day's session, they are quiet hands on with IT risk assessment and management process, enterprise architecture and related other IT methodologies.

As we were staying in Copacabana Palace, Rio de Janeiro, I catch them at hotel lobby in evening.

After initial exchange of greetings, I shifted our casual conversations to pointed questions.

I asked Ms. Alva, CMO of Zobni-systems "Why there is no representation from their IT team? What's the secret of their so much in depth knowledge on various ITIL processes along with COBIT framework?"

Ms. Alva leaned back in her chair & responded with a deep gratifying sigh looking at Ms. Amy, CFO of  Zobni-systems "2 million $, 2 years & 2 minutes".

With a tentative smile, I just managed to ask "WHAT?"

Mr. Gustavo, head of customer support of Zobni-systems replied, "We learned IT best practices in a tough way because last year everything went wrong related to our CRM upgrade. Under the leadership of our MD Mr. NoMo & consultant Mr. Lance we were all engaged with IT team to improve the performance of CRM system in a war footing."

Babi - COBIT5 expert
I nodded slowly. Moreover, with a wish to know more I tilted my body towards Mr. Gustavo and told him "I understand. However, it looks like there is an interesting story behind 2 million $, 2 years & 2 minutes. Would you please share that."

Ms. Alva chuckled with a wide grin. She replied while exchanging a knowing look with Mr. Gustavo and Ms. Amy that all this started with a 2 minutes discussion between herself & CIO Mr. Ranga.

Ms. Alva continued...

"Mr. Babi it’s an interesting story. You know our revenue stagnated for sometimes though we managed to maintain an average growth in customer acquisition around 10% year on year on basis. We engaged a reputed management consultant to improve our process."

After a small pause, she leaned forward & spoke with a gentle tone that the consultants from AT Kearney recommended to improve our CRM systems to support enhanced business process & SLAs.

Our board of directors approved 2million$ budget for CRM upgrade.

She started rubbing back of her neck and started talking again after tagging her scarf "Challenge was IT team and their vendor told it will take at the minimum 2 years to finish the entire CRM upgrade program. This throws our improvement plan related to customer satisfaction out of the window. After several rounds of meeting we surrendered to IT team’s approach of my way or no way”

Mr. Gustavo narrowed his eyes and intervened after clearing his throat "Actually!  To improve better customer experience, adding promotion after making first call & pay out commission to our dealers & distributors we started working in 3 shifts and deployed additional workforce at back end team to meet various key business KPIs”.

Ms. Amy was doodling till now on the napkin, tapped the table top and said with a deep sigh "I released the order for CRM upgrade worth of 2 million$ assuming just releasing the PO will solve our ordeal". Her self-pity appeared to be very dormant to me.

“Amy! Come on.  It is over now. We are within target for 10 major KPIs out of 15 and will manage the rest by next quarter. Don't you think today we are more able to handle IT issues whereas earlier we used to treat IT as a black box" Ms. Alva said in a polite way with an enthusiastic waving towards Ms. Amy.
Mr. Gustavo returned to the table after collecting few grilled chickens. Ms. Amy & I ordered Caipirinha drinks.

Alva sipped her Brazilian coffee and commented that actual drama started while I asked our CIO, Mr. Ranga why the features like householding for our subscribers  is not working and other issues like SLA not matching, implementation of new business intents are taking long time. 

Madam Alva added looking straight to me "You Know! Mr. Babi, Mr. Ranga responded that the project completed successfully. IT team did a brilliant work after stretched hours of working for a long period. We need to raise new change request for the functionality not working. He turned away from me and started walking on other direction murmuring that business team should stop blaming IT and do their work properly."

Mr. Gustavo who was enjoying grilled chickens & drinks until now started talking that this evasive behavior of Mr. Ranga dinged Ms. Alva so much that she called an emergency meeting with leadership team.

This 2 minutes discussion between Ms. Alva & Mr. Ranga is now famous in our organization as "2 minutes".

Editorial comment from Babi : As an implementer & assessor of COBIT5, I found this is an real life case study on  why IT governance is required. In next post, I'll share the discussion  why and how business team of   Zobni-systems  considered this as IT project failure.

 Share your comments below on importance of IT governance training.