Typical Client Studies

Unlock Full Benefits of New System

Challenge: The organization had implemented a new IT system that contained the necessary functionality to handle all HR processes. However, branch offices were resisting the system and using internal “shadow systems” based on spreadsheets or paper records.

Intervention: After talking to branch office users, it became clear that the user interface for the system was oriented towards the power users in central HR. Local users felt the system required too much work and too many clicks to achieve their daily tasks.

A light-weight, web-based system was specified in cooperation with local users and quickly built. This system contained simple screens with only the input fields relevant to the branch office, and used fully supported interfaces to place data into the central system.

Result: Local users adopted the light-weight system, leading to almost complete elimination of shadow systems. Having the entire organization placing data into the central system unlocked the promised benefits of the new system: Better, more actionable HR data.

Dramatically Improved Knowledge Sharing

Challenge: The organization was running a knowledge sharing portal on the company intranet, but usage was abysmally low.

Intervention: Examining the incentives offered for participation revealed that employees considered these (company-branded merchandise) to be of low value. Knowledge sharing was not part of the regular performance goals, so employees felt that spending time sharing knowledge on the portal prejudiced their chances of a good performance review.

Sharing on the knowledge portal was made part of the performance goals of experienced employees. An additional intranet module was developed and placed prominently on the front page of the intranet, showing latest additions to the knowledge portal as well as a “top 5” list of contributors.

Result: Production of formally codified knowledge increased dramatically. Additionally, usage of the knowledge database increased, both as direct links from the new “what’s new” module and as searches through the knowledge sharing portal.

Faster “Time to Market” for Internal Applications

Challenge: The business considered the internal IT organization to be unresponsive to their requests for new and changed IT systems. The IT organization considered the business to make unreasonable and unclear demands.

Intervention: Business and IT leaders were brought together in a workshop to clarify expectations and to learn about modern thinking on agile development processes. They decided to run an agile pilot project where:

  • the business would produce less documentation up front, but would be available for questions at a daily “coffee with the geeks” meeting.
  • the developers would start developing on what was in their eyes “incomplete” specifications and would accept without complaining that changes to existing code would have to be made as understanding of the task increased
  • a short 6-week release cycle ensured that business benefit was produced early and continuously

Result: The pilot project was successful, delivering the promised business benefit in a number of increments, and both business and developers were happy with the process. After the pilot, this approach was slowly expanded to new projects when business and IT agreed that it was appropriate for the project.