Rearchitecting a Critical Product Line
Firstlogic data quality software creates a single customer view by analyzing, cleansing, matching and consolidating data. It helps companies better understand their customers, make more effective marketing decisions, and improve speed and efficiency of mail operations.
When Firstlogic decided to replace the underlying architecture for a key product line, it knew it faced significant obstacles. This program, consisting of six projects divided along the product's functional lines, had been mandated by the board of directors and was visible across the organization. A successful program was critical to ensure that Firstlogic's solutions would keep pace with its evolving customer needs.
In reviewing the successes and failures of previous large-scale projects, Firstlogic's Vice President of Product Development determined that Firstlogic's lack of internal project management expertise posed a major risk to the project. He also determined that, while the familiar waterfall lifecycle model met the needs of many of their projects, it would not support a comprehensive redesign initiative. Firstlogic knew it needed a new development model and project management practices that would be better suited to support this new large-scale effort. Firstlogic also wanted to grow the skills and knowledge of its project management staff.
How Construx Helped
Firstlogic had been using the same waterfall approach for 20 years, and it was deeply rooted in the company. Construx was able to help Firstlogic effect process changes and cultural changes necessary to complete the program successfully. Construx helped Firstlogic develop and implement a completely new development process and program management office for the program. Construx provided extensive onsite and remote project management consulting aimed at leveraging Firstlogic's existing practices and filling the gaps needed to scale up to a multi-project program. Major activities and deliverables included:
- Setting up a project management team using Firstlogic's personnel that consisted of a program manager and project leads. This included defining the roles, responsibilities, and authorities of each lead.
- Creating an implementation roadmap that described how evolutionary delivery would be used on the program. The roadmap defined specific milestones used to coordinate work between project teams and to track overall progress.
- Developing an estimation model based on fuzzy-logic. The initial estimates revealed the targets for functionality and schedule were not achievable. As a result, the sponsors revisited the scope definition and refined the initial delivery commitments.
- Creating a multi-tiered project plan that gave each team flexibility while still providing the program managers the visibility they needed to control the program.
- Providing project management coaching and mentoring to key staff.
- Conducting milestone and project retrospectives to provide timely feedback and mid-course corrections.
Using the new approach, Firstlogic developed and released a completely new technology platform on-time (a two year project) and on-budget, with all the originally scoped functionality.
"Construx provided us the experience and insight we needed to ensure a successful launch of this important initiative," said Dave Dobson, Director of Software Development. "Not only did Construx meet our expectations for this program, but also they truly make our staff more effective. It is an investment that will pay off for many years to come."
Joe Zurawski, Vice President of Product Development, said that processes Construx put in place gave him greater visibility into the project than he had ever had before. It allowed the team to meet project objectives. The engagement with Construx was the best use of consulting dollars he had ever seen as a buyer and a former provider of consulting services. Of the effort, Joe said "We absolutely, positively, could not have completed this project without Construx's assistance."
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