Transforming an IT Problem into Business Value
A Case Study of Business and IT Partnering to Drive Success
Solving an IT problem in support of a business strategic growth opportunity exemplifies the value of robust project management methodologies. This paper will highlight the power of engaged partnerships, a comprehensive stakeholder management approach, and the effects these have on the success of a project.
Migrating users to a new desktop is always a challenge. Initiating disruptive change for a 24x7, low-volume, highly complex manufacturing factory required IT and business partnering at the inception. The project focused on IT technical obligations, business requirements, and stakeholder management as three critical success factors.
Executing on the deployment plan was an authentic manufacturing operations and IT project partnership. IT needed to understand how the operations worked in each manufacturing area and determine what approach would work best. Each work area had different schedules, user demographics, openness, and willingness to change. This resulted in modified deployment plans and unique stakeholder engagements.
As deployments progressed to the new platform, an adjunct project was integrated into the master schedule to look at dependencies of the deployments with decommissioning the old infrastructure to address impending security concerns without end users ever noticing.
Keywords: stakeholder, stakeholder management, stakeholder analysis, partnering, business value
Solving an IT problem in support of business strategic growth opportunities exemplifies the value of robust project management methodologies. This paper will highlight the power of engaged partnerships, a comprehensive stakeholder management approach, and the effects these have on the success of a project.
End of life server infrastructure migration is an IT problem that is clear and well-defined. A server environment hosting virtual desktops that are used in a manufacturing setting, around the clock are in dire need of replacement. This highly complex, low-production volume factory relies upon a few key applications and high availability of the desktop. Upgrading and replacing the desktops and software tools had a unique list of business as well as IT requirements. The IT challenges dealt with technology, trying to get old applications to execute on modern infrastructure servers with new operating systems, creating a migration plan that allows a phased approach over a few months to help ensure business continuity and system availability. In addition, there was a need to update business requirements and upgrade the desktop tools with minimal end user training impact, providing future growth for capacity.
These challenges required a well-disciplined approach to the project. The technical changes needed to support the business in keeping it simple, with no offline user training changes, while continuing to offer value. At the same time, the project needed to meet an end of support deadline for the Windows 2003 operating system.
The approach for the project followed a conventional methodology of initiating, planning, executing, monitoring, and closing. Special attention was given to requirements and stakeholder analysis. Knowing the new system would replace a venerable 12-year-old desktop, the consideration was first to understand the existing system as thoroughly as possible, and understand how it is used across the manufacturing areas. During this period is when IT and business sponsor partnering became most important.
The daily performance of moving products through the factory rests with eight unique work cell areas. The work cells’ primary attention is manufacturing productivity. While leadership fully supported the project, the work cell leaders needed to be fully engaged.
Focusing on each of the work cells as unique entities allowed for greater details and improved knowledge of the users. Understanding how they work and how they interact with the desktop tools provides the framework to share across all areas for consistency. Another crucial component was in-person reviews. The one-on-one approach at the work cells shows the IT commitment to learn and understand their needs. Partnering at the lower levels provides for more personal relationships to be fostered.
Having an expanded appreciation for the end users provided the inputs to a multilevel stakeholder analysis plan. The user demographics spanned 50 years of experience with varying degrees of computer proficiency. Understanding the needs at each level of the organization was at the core of a successful collaboration.
Solid requirements and a detailed stakeholder plan provided the key inputs to the deployment planning phase. Knowledge gained from the stakeholder analysis provided data into the deployment plans. Key questions asked when creating the deployment planning were:
- How long, in terms of duration would each area take?
- Would there be an area “champion” of change?
- What else is happening in this area?
When work areas had a person who wanted to embrace change, understood the need to change, and understood the benefits to the users, migrations proceeded smoothly. Defining benefits at each level in the stakeholder planning proved beneficial. If the benefit is simple and might be taken for granted, leveraging it as an opportunity can ease users’ apprehensions.
Dual desktop icons gave the skeptical user a bridge from the old, familiar desktop to the new, more modern desktop. This gave the user the ability to try out the new environment without feeling overwhelmed in performing work. The user could log into either desktop, or both, to compare them in side-by-side windows.
As the deployments proceeded, user demand actually drove an unprecedented acceleration to the deployment plans. The accelerated desktop deployments allowed for a faster decommissioning of the old infrastructure, resulting in achieving cost savings quicker and business benefits sooner.
Summarizing the technical changes to accomplish this involved:
- replacing four different models of thin client desktops, 1,500 in total, across two states to a single model, with a common operating system
- migrating ~ 1,700 user accounts
- decommissioning 45 physical servers
- redesigning and architecting four applications
The business gained:
- an extensible environment able to expand and support growth with new applications and faster transaction times with the core application used by everyone
- the ability to change manufacturing techniques from written instructions to multimedia
- a reduction in login times (decreased by 80%
- common support tools across all users, not just within manufacturing
When building a project schedule for technology, upgrades don't underestimate the power of a solid stakeholder management strategy and what partnerships can yield. Communication is equally important, both good and bad news, with data and facts helps to drive risk mitigation plans with both IT and business stakeholders becoming fully engaged. Commitment and adaptability to deliver business value is essential in today's business climate. It's the trusted engagement and execution that yields lasting business and IT partnerships. Having an engaged team will yield future projects and a lasting relationship.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Vincent Giambartolomei is a certified ITIL® Expert, and Project Management Professional (PMP)® for Raytheon Company's Integrated Defense Systems business. As the lead Information Technology (IT) Infrastructure Project Manager, he is responsible for large-scale infrastructure upgrades with a focus on manufacturing upgrades and modernization. Prior to joining Raytheon, he led projects in the areas of financial services, systems integration, and software development. He holds a bachelor's degree in earth sciences/physics from Western Connecticut State University, and holds a master's degree in science from Boston University.
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Project Management Institute. (2013). A guide to the project management body of knowledge (PMBOK® guide) – Fifth edition. Newtown Square, PA: Author.
© 2016, Vincent Giambartolomei
Originally published as part of the 2016 PMI® Global Congress Proceedings – Barcelona, Spain