This is a case study on how an organisation successfully applied quality project management principles in partnership with a supplier to improve the performance of its people. It is a microcosm of the way organisations can employ best business practice at team level.
The company is a business services provider and a worldwide market leader. Over 9000 employees supply a range of services to both private and public sectors.
One of the fastest growing divisions had just developed a new product. They needed to promote it to targeted clients, on budget and on time. Quality, cost and time were the key improvement areas they offered to clients. They now looked for the same from an external advisor to help them develop their business. After research and interviews, they selected an externally certified management consultant. His brief was to improve the team skills in managing their communications with customers and prospective clients, with minimum interruptions to their everyday duties. A key objective was the team better understanding and satisfying client needs.
A project is a task with a beginning and an end. The initial steps for the two partners followed a simple decision process: Agree objectives; List options for action; Forecast outcomes; Select best option.
The external consultant, Clive Bonny, helped the team analyse their training needs. This allowed his observation of telephone communications, client meetings and interviews with staff. As a result their activities and skills were quantified, qualified and prioritised. An implementation plan was then drawn up with the whole team’s commitment. This plan gave them the opportunity of setting behaviour standards and activity benchmarks. It was agreed that behaviour changes would evolve over a period of time, so the team was provided with tools to enable them to evaluate their performance over a four week period.
Spreading the learning process over several weeks with self-analysis provided a number of benefits: They quickly realised that KNOWLEDGE of good process did not always result in PRACTICE. This motivated them to change. They could develop improvements one step at a time at their own pace, and consolidate learning. They could improve their skills on the job without costly absence from work, and without incurring high training costs.
An important project milestone was to check progress before completion. The team therefore held review sessions to compare and resolve outstanding issues. Bonny facilitated this with techniques and instruments to enable the team to keep themselves on track in the future. Their improvement was charted with additional systems and controls for visible focus on success.
The Divisional Director commented “We have followed the same rules that we provide to our own clients with our services and products. It works. Just as our work links successfully to project management standards, so our link with an externally qualified management consultant has achieved its objectives. We are identifying, understanding and satisfying client needs more effectively within tight parameters of Time, Quality and Costs. A planned approach to investing in people pays off.”