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The enlightened CIO's guide to running projects

Corinne Forrest | Dec. 4, 2013
How HBF’s David Gollan and his IT team transformed a once chaotic project environment in Perth.

"It was essential to get the fundamentals right from the beginning if the business was to realise the full value of the projects in which it invested," he says.

The environment did not hold a strategic operating view and employed far too many resources. The ratio of permanent members of staff to contractors was also too low, which added to operating cost and the burgeoning complexity.

"We needed capability in some fundamental areas and we needed it quickly. The PMO manager, Geoff Lim, the chief solutions manager, Pat Flynn, and I knew that focus and prioritisation were critical to reduce project environment running costs and improve outcomes.

Gollan says project staff deliberately put the business at the centre of everything they did. He advises other organisations embarking on PPM improvement initiatives to strike the right balance between the long term plan of improving foundational PPM capabilities and finding "quick wins".

"Too often there is a focus that exclusively looks for easy quick wins, but never solves some of the fundamental issues," he says.

"We knew that in the short-term, it was not realistic to become highly effective in every PPM discipline. Instead, we focused on not ailing in any discipline and chose the time-critical functional disciplines in which to be very effective.

"In our experience, the only way to do that is through reducing complexity, which is why a streamlined operating approach was essential," he says.

Given the changes to HBF's business model, speed-to-market became such a focus of Gollan's new project environment that speed and flawless project execution became his prime messages.

Too often there is a focus that exclusively looks for easy quick wins, but never solves some of the fundamental issues.

Simplicity gets results

The last phase involved creating a more streamlined and integrated environment. Complexity had cost HBF time, money and most importantly, competitive advantage.

Restructuring the project environment produced several mutually reinforcing benefits. It increased project environment efficiency (and thus project execution success), reduced project head count, dramatically reduced environment operating cost and immediately uplifted capability in PPM fundamentals, improving the maturity of the project environment.

One project -- dubbed Easy 8 -- which bundled a number of insurance features into one innovative product -- delivered several improvements. This complex initiative, involving multiple IT systems and complex legislative compliance requirements -- was expected to take 9 to 12 months to execute. It was executed and the product was launched in just 11 weeks.

This enabled the company to get a jump on the competition with 3,000 product sales in the first 6 months -- sales that wouldn't have happened without speedy project execution.

The project used fewer resources and delivered to above agreed quality standards. It turned a potential slow-delivery disaster into a flagship project, and brought a significantly attractive product to the market at record speed.


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