The key to project success is learning from what works as well as what doesnt work . Baseline has compiled a list of best practices drawn from nearly 230 case studies weve written in the last five years.
Lesson 1: Business processes should set the agenda, not technology. Toyota Motor is on track to pass General Motors and soon become the worlds largest automotive manufacturer. Technology plays an important role in Toyotas drive to the top, but the company never loses sight of what comes first: improving its manufacturing and business processes.
See: Toyotas Driving Force
Lesson 2: Biting the bullet and migrating off an older technology can pay off. R.L. Polk & Co., one of the largest providers of marketing data to automakers, wanted to retire its expensive batch-oriented mainframe system. It spent $20 million to form a new subsidiary that in 18 months developed a “data factory” built on a service-oriented architecture and Intel-based servers. The project let the company cut the head count of its data center operations group by 43%, and also saved money on hardware and software.
See: SOA Case Study: How R.L. Polk Revved Its Data Engine
Lesson 3: Track projects across the entire enterprise. American Family Life Assurance Co. (AFLAC) used to have dozens of technology projects moving at once, but the company wasnt ever sure when its 230 technologists would be done with an installation and free to start something new. AFLAC set up a project management office and put software in place that lets executives and project planners see who is assigned to which projects, how many hours they have put in, how many hours are left and which project they will work on next.
See: AFLAC: Duck Soup
Lesson 4: Get stakeholders in the same room. In five years, the number of software applications used by Cirque du Soleil employees had ballooned from roughly 40 to more than 200. Although these tools ran a wide range of operations, they could not share data. The companys goal was to organize all the application environments onto a single, standardized platform for access and development. Getting all the stakeholders in the same room to agree on the requirements was critical to the projects success.
See: Cirque du Soleil: Juggling Act
Lesson 5: Give customers what they want. Megachurches like the 25,000-member World Changers of Atlanta can look at their data and identify members, determine who contributes how much in donations, and track whos becoming discontent and may abandon ship. With a well-trained staff and the technology to track worshipper demographics and their shopping, prayer and volunteerism behavior patterns, World Changers can target products and services to its followers and keep its pews filled.
See: World Changers Church: Know Thy Customer