Case Study: Technology at the Speed of Business – A Common-Sense Approach to Leveraging Technology in a Business Setting

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Author(s)

Business Relationship Manager - Product Lifecycle Management, Chevron Corporation

Janet LePage is a founding member of the TELUS Quickwins Team, which manages technological change for this $8 Billion Data, IP and wireless service provider. She has also worked for IBM and Business Objects where she held progressively senior IT positions.

LePage has been dealing with large-scale change at TELUS for the past several years. In order to manage this growth, TELUS had to redefine how to work with the introduction of new technology. In so doing, LePage has developed a new blueprint for successful project implementation and leveraging of technology called the “Quick Win Approach.”

Reviewing the normal scapegoats for the over 80% of technological projects that fail, she listed:

  • Legacy architectures
  • IT projects late or never delivered
  • Inability to stay within budget and time lines
  • Buying systems that aren’t used
  • Write-offs

The crux of the matter, according to LePage, is that the business itself usually does not know how to articulate what is wanted or needed. The normal response to a project that is in trouble is to redouble the effort, but this only helps in 5% of the cases. Bringing in new industry-leading experts only helps in 3% of the cases.

LePage says that the most important thing to remember when a project first runs into trouble is to stop and re-examine what you think the problem is and what you want the solution to do. Both the problem and the perceived solution need to be questioned. In order for the problem to be solved, the business and IT have to use a common language to describe the problem and the technology so the business understands what the technology can and cannot do. Using civil engineering as a model, LePage related that 10% of a civil engineering project is spent on site preparation. She said that it is just as important to accomplish this step with software, even though manufacturing software is virtual.

The three guiding principles for the Quick Win methodology are:

  • Use technology at the speed and level of understanding of the business
  • Synchronize the value to deliver immediate tangible business value
  • Recapture lost or missing business logic and bolster the business operations processes

The Quick Win concept includes:

  • Bringing in highly skilled people from outside with fresh perspectives
  • Ensuring they have all the skill sets to ensure business benefit
  • Making it easy for the business to present ideas or opportunities to improve the operations
  • Placing Quick Win team members with the frontline operations to foster tangible opportunities

The results LePage claims for TELUS include:

  • Winners of the 2006 Stevie International Business Awards
  • Graduates of program accepted into prestigious MBA programs
  • 8000 members and growing
  • Re-engineered 47 corporate processes
  • Offer 79 learning solutions
  • Decommissioned two corporate legacy systems

The key steps for success include:

  • Hiring the right people with business and IT backgrounds
  • Creating an environment where they can make mistakes
  • Working directly with frontline team members
  • Using technology as a learning tool
  • Practicing new concepts in the business environment to understand the changes needed
  • Preparing the business now for the vision and changes of tomorrow

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