Avoid Wide-Scale Failure on Big Projects

Do you have the capability to identify the projects that pose the greatest risks of delay, budget overruns, missed market opportunities or, sometimes, irreparable damage to the company and careers, before it’s too late?

On big projects, the gap between projected benefits and actual performance can be significant. Schedules are missed by an average of 55 percent and budgets by 33 percent.

For instance, wide scale failures on big projects in recent years have left permanent scares on the State of California, including MyCalPAYS and the California Case Management System.

MyCalPAYS

In 2004, the State Controller’s Office (SCO) proposed the 21st Century (TFC) Project (the $371 million failed payroll project also known as MyCalPAYS system), the information technology (IT) effort to replace the existing statewide human resources management and payroll systems used to pay roughly 260,000 state employees. The new system was intended to allow the state to improve management processes such as payroll, benefits administration, and timekeeping. In February 2013, after the project experienced various problems during the pilot stage, SCO terminated the contract with the vendor and the project was suspended.

At the end, the project had nearly tripled in cost and was years behind schedule.

California Case Management System

Despite spending $500 million on the California Case Management System (CCMS), court officials terminated the project and allocated $8.6 million to determine whether they can salvage anything. In 2004, planners expected the system to cost $260 million; today, the price tag would be $2 billion if the project runs to completion.

Although the project seemed promising, the initiative has been plagued by poor management and lousy planning. A 2011 state audit[1] highlighted the following issues: “Our review of the Administrative Office of the Courts’ (AOC) oversight of the development of the statewide case management project revealed that the AOC:”

– Inadequately planned for the statewide case management project and did not analyze whether the project would be a cost-beneficial solution to the superior courts’ needs.
– Was unable to provide contemporaneous analysis and documentation supporting key decisions on the project’s scope and direction.
– Did not structure the development vendor’s contract to adequately control cost and scope – over the course of seven years, the AOC entered into 102 amendments and increased the cost from $33 million to $310 million.
– Failed to develop accurate cost estimates – in 2004 the cost estimate was $260 million and by 2010 the estimated cost was $1.9 billion.
– Has not obtained the funding needed for statewide deployment and without full deployment to the 58 superior courts, the value of the project is diminished.

The multi-billion project, started in 2001, was intended to automate California court operations with a common system across the state and replace 70 different legacy systems. Although benefits from the planned system seem clear, court leadership decided it could no longer afford the cost of completing the system.

40 to 60 percent of Projects Fail

Unfortunately, the stories of many large, complex projects are similar. The typical Fortune 500 company, for example, spends nearly 6 percent of revenue on capital projects[2], 40 to 60 percent of which fail to meet their schedules, budgets or both[3].

Organizations can significantly improve the overall ROI of their project portfolio and reduce the risk of project failures if they recognize challenges early and respond in time.

Empower2adapt (E2a) provides an evidenced-based approach to avoid wide-scale failure on large projects. Making use of big data analytics, our cloud-based tools provide actionable intelligence to align people (skills & performance) with business process and infrastructure to optimize outcomes.  Without our tools, the value of lost productivity and inability to manage outcomes can add significant risk to your project.

IT Vendors & Change Management Consultants

Empower2adapt offers IT vendors and organizational change management consultants real-time visibility into projects to mitigate the risk of wide-scale failure. With actionable insight into projects on an ongoing basis, IT vendors and consultants can better serve their clients by delivering projected benefits on time and on budget. With our tools, IT vendors and consultants can extend their engagements with clients – reducing their customer acquisition costs and extending customer lifetime value, while greatly improving client outcomes.

If you want to improve your performance, quality and outcomes on big projects, contact Empower2adapt (E2a) today.  E2a can help you solve your most complex challenges on big projects.

 

[1] Ref: http://www.bsa.ca.gov/pdfs/reports/2010-102.pdf

[2] Ref: http://pages.stern.nyu.edu/~adamodar/New_Home_Page/datafile/capex.html

[3] Ref: http://www.aits.org/Articles/tabid/1450/ArticleId/9709/Chaos-Manifesto-Think-Big-Act-Small.aspx

Improving Employee Engagement by 10% at Veterans Affairs (VA) is Equivalent to Adding 20,000 Employees

On November 10, 2014, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Robert McDonald made an announcement , “Already, more than 2,000 VA employees at 20 facilities serving 1.4 million Veterans have shared their perspectives on how we can improve this Department, and have provided insightful and thoughtful feedback about how VA should be organized to better serve Veterans.”

I applaud Secretary McDonald for his willingness to listen to employee feedback. But why stop there. Why not acquire the capability to gain “insightful and thoughtful feedback” from all of the more than 340,000 VA employees – on an ongoing basis?

Companies such as Rackspace, W.L. Gore, Dunn & Bradstreet and Aflac make it a point to solicit feedback from employees:
· They solicit feedback from employees on an ongoing basis,
· They identify the root cause of employee concerns,
· Then follow through with meaningful change.

The result is an engaged workforce and exceptional customer outcomes.

In a September 8, 2014 press conference, VA Secretary Robert McDonald was quoted. “I am worried about our ability to recruit and retain talented people. We need tens of thousands of new doctors, new nurses, new clinicians.”

Before hiring “tens of thousands of new doctors, new nurses, new clinicians,” the VA should consider acquiring the capability to create adaptable work environments to attract and retain qualified talent.

Its been widely publicized that the VA’s culture is resistant to change. New employees that are hired with a fire-in-the-belly attitude to serve veterans eventually succumb to old routines; i.e., this is how we’ve done things in the past, and will continue doing things the same way.

Sometimes, employees need an opportunity to blaze a new trail to improve veteran outcomes. The only constant in life is change, and the VA needs to find a way to change – to constantly adapt to changing conditions.

According to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey results for 2013, more than one (1) in three (3) VA employees are “Disengaged.”

With a workforce of approximately 341,000 employees and total annual wages of approximately $24 billion USD, approximately 110,000 employees are “Disengaged.” Using allocations based on Jack Welsh’s theory of employee engagement, a 10% increase in employee engagement across the VA is equivalent to adding 20,000 employees.

Empower2adapt (E2a) provides an evidenced-based approach to sustainable performance improvement and ongoing culture transformation. Our cloud-based tools provide actionable intelligence to align people (skills & performance) with business process and infrastructure to optimize outcomes – on an ongoing basis. Without our tools, the value of lost productivity and inability to manage disruption can add significant risk to your business.

Empower2adapt provides organizations with the capability to engage the hearts and minds of employees to achieve sustainable performance improvement and ongoing culture transformation. Organizations that acquire our capability gain the ability to constantly adapt to changing conditions, and learn how to dominate their market segments and thrive in an ever-changing global economy.

Change Management Consultants

Empower2adapt offers organizational change management consultants a unique opportunity to extend their clients’ lifetime value by providing cloud-based tools that capture actionable intelligence about their clients on an ongoing basis. With our tools, change management consultants can turn around and restructure distressed companies. With this information, consultants can extend their engagements to help their clients constantly adapt to changing conditions. With lifetime clients, consultants can reduce their customer acquisition costs and extend customer lifetime value, while greatly improving client outcomes.

If you want to improve your quality, service and customer outcomes, contact Empower2adapt (E2a) today. E2a can help you solve your business issues.

References:

[1] Ref: http://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/USVHA/bulletins/db9bf0#.VGEukgdjvZw.twitter

[2] Ref: http://www.va.gov/opa/pressrel/pressrelease.cfm?id=2622

Don’t Just Treat a Symptom – Cure the Disease!

In the Fall of 2013, the local news media in Phoenix, Arizona reported a backlog of more than 6,000 cases of child abuse and neglect that went un-investigated by Child Protective Services (CPS). The news media opened an investigation when they found CPS case files of child abuse and neglect in a dumpster in Phoenix.

But three years earlier, in March 2011, CPS Director Clarence Carter recognized that the workload was unsustainable, and kicked off a systemic process improvement initiative. To accomplish his goals, CPS contracted with a nationally recognized third party team of experts from Change and Innovation Agency.

Each of the major work flows in the process of keeping children safe and improving child and family well-being were dissected and laid out from beginning to end. The process led to the elimination of the need for more than 200,000 work hours of staff time each year. As a result, the caseload for case investigators, managers, supervisors and support staff were raised.

But there were no long-term sustainable performance improvements, as caseloads continued to rise, and employee turnover for case investigators continued to climb.

There are two inherent problems with modern-day process improvement initiatives.

1) Continuous Improvement:

Business transformation efforts are not a one-time event – they’re an ongoing effort.

2) Holistic Approach:

Business transformation efforts must take a holistic approach to solving problems, looking at the interaction between people (skills and performance levels), business rules and processes, and infrastructure (including IT systems and technology).

By focusing strictly on process without understanding the interaction between people (skills and performance levels), decision-making, and infrastructure (including IT systems and technology), the process improvement initiative failed to achieve measurable improvement.

In the end, the initiative treated a symptom without curing the disease; i.e., protecting children from harm by balancing caseloads and addressing the high employee turnover for case investigators.

At her 2014 State of the State address, Arizona Govenor Jan Brewer unveiled a plan that called for $25 million in one-time money to help pay costs to transition Child Protective Services (CPS) to its own separate agency and $21.5 million to hire 212 new caseworkers. The request came in the wake of the discovery of 6,554 reports of child abuse and neglect that were deliberately not investigated.

The Director of this new agency created by the governor’s executive order was quoted, “I know it will be a challenge. Untangling decades of bureaucratic policies and misdirected priorities is not an overnight fix.”

“Untangling decades of bureaucratic policies and misdirected priorities,” will take an ongoing effort that takes a holistic view of solving problems. In doing so, case workers will have the flexibility to make informed decisions that protect Arizona children from harm and improve child and family well-being.

If you want to improve your quality, service and customer outcomes, contact Empower2adapt (E2a) today.  E2a can help you solve your business issues.

Empower2adapt (E2a) provides an evidenced-based approach to sustainable performance improvement and ongoing culture transformation. Our cloud-based tools provide actionable intelligence to align people (skills & performance) with business process and infrastructure to optimize outcomes – on an ongoing basis.  Without our tools, the value of lost productivity and inability to manage disruption can add significant risk to your business.

Empower2adapt provides organizations with the capability to engage the hearts and minds of employees to achieve sustainable performance improvement and ongoing culture transformation. Organizations that acquire our capability gain the ability to constantly adapt to changing conditions, and learn how to dominate their market segments and thrive in an ever-changing global economy.

Change Management Consultants

Empower2adapt offers organizational change management consultants a unique opportunity to extend their clients’ lifetime value by providing cloud-based tools that capture actionable intelligence about their clients on an ongoing basis. With our tools, change management consultants can turn around and restructure distressed companies. With this information, consultants can extend their engagements to help their clients constantly adapt to changing conditions. With lifetime clients, consultants can reduce their customer acquisition costs and extend customer lifetime value, while greatly improving client outcomes.

Got Problems – Solve them Fast!

No matter what industry, no matter what business you are engaged in, unresolved problems will fester like an infected sore.  Problems may seem easy to fix, but all too often the symptom may be fixed and the underlying problem is still there.  To effectively solve problems, you need to find their underlying cause.

Every business, no matter how big or small has people, processes and infrastructure (including IT systems and technology).  Some business processes may be written as procedures and others may be unwritten but repeated every day.

  • When something goes wrong with a process, you have a problem.
  • When people lack the skills (hard & soft) to complete their task assignments, you have a problem.
  • When people are under-performing, you have a problem.
  • When infrastructure doesn’t meet business needs, you have a problem.

Generally, unresolved problems lead to poor quality and service, and may lead, ultimately, to the failure of the business.

There are a number of effective problem solving techniques and the one described here is both simple to apply and effective.  It is described, along with other problem solving techniques, on the Empower2adapt web site, an excellent source for aligning people (skills & performance), with business process and infrastructure to optimize outcomes.

Get to the root cause of the problem. 

Empower2adapt makes use of employee feedback loops to acquire actionable intelligence in a timely manner to solve problems.

  1. Solicit feedback from employees on an ongoing basis.
  2. Identify the root cause of employee concerns.
  3. Follow through with meaningful change.

In today’s competitive world, the businesses that bat near 100% are sure to flourish, while others that give customers excuses for bad service will come in second or maybe even last.

Empower2adapt incorporates the “why” technique for solving problems. “Why” started in the 1930’s by Sakichi Toyoda, the founder of the Toyota Motor Company.  It was revolutionary in its day, as most businesses simply lived with mistakes that were repeated time after time.  The premise of the “why” technique is that the answers to most problems come from the people who are working within the confines of the business’ processes and infrastructure.

Indeed, this was the beginning of problem solving teams. Once the “why” questions are answered, steps can be taken to ensure that the particular problem does not repeat itself.  Businesses that have this problem solving mentality may deal with a myriad of problems over time, but they are different problems.  The old ones have had corrective procedures or processes, additional training for people, and/or new infrastructure put in place.

Problem solving businesses have competitive advantage as their products and services are better and more consistent, resulting in more satisfied customers.

If you want to improve your quality, service and customer outcomes, contact Empower2adapt (E2a) today.  E2a can help you solve your business issues.

Empower2adapt (E2a) provides an evidenced-based approach to sustainable performance improvement and ongoing culture transformation. Our cloud-based tools provide actionable intelligence to align people (skills & performance) with business process and infrastructure to optimize outcomes – on an ongoing basis.  Without our tools, the value of lost productivity and inability to manage disruption can add significant risk to your business.

With our tools, change management consultants can turn around and restructure distressed companies. Empower2adapt provides organizations with the capability to engage the hearts and minds of employees to achieve sustainable performance improvement and ongoing culture transformation. Organizations that acquire our capability gain the ability to constantly adapt to changing conditions, and learn how to dominate their market segments and thrive in an ever-changing global economy.

Change Management Consultants

Empower2adapt offers organizational change management consultants a unique opportunity to extend their clients’ lifetime value by providing cloud-based tools that capture actionable intelligence about their clients on an ongoing basis. With our tools, change management consultants can turn around and restructure distressed companies. With this information, consultants can extend their engagements to help their clients constantly adapt to changing conditions. With lifetime clients, consultants can reduce their customer acquisition costs and extend customer lifetime value, while greatly improving client outcomes.