CMCE Showcase 8 Feb:  Ethics and Consultancy
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Starting on the Wrong Foot?

Always great to work with a client organisation that is innovative, entrepreneurial and client-focused. Oh... Hold on.....

This one provides research services and, by early 2011, was present in 67 countries. It acquires, interprets and distributes information gathered using systems and services (B2B & B2C) in real-time. The client’s clients are governments and corporations for whom responsiveness and service levels are critical. Services are consequently dependent upon timely, reliable, acquisition of large-volume data (‘big-data’), its secure manipulation and analysis.

The Opportunity

In late 2011 the client acquired a competitor, something they had done many times, on a small scale. This though was of a different order: this acquisition was to be ‘transformative’, the acquired being of similar size, operating in 65 countries. And for the first time, the acquisition was from a larger business services group in a 700m transaction. Maybe this time they needed a little help? A nice assignment? Six months to integrate? No problem.

Oh, hold on, the acquired organisation’s IT was provided and operated by its parent and tightly integrated into its environment. Still, six months to total separate, no problem. And achieve full integration (organisation, infrastructure, applications, premises, data-centres etc.). Umm? No problem.

Ah, but what IT do we have to separate? And integrate? Well none actually.

How does one put this kindly? Someone forgot to actually buy the IT, licensing, data-centres or applications, all of which stayed with the seller. A little unexpectedly for some. On the bright side, we got the data.

So 9,000 users in 67 countries who, in six months, will have none of their 800 line-of-business application to use. Nor, indeed, have anyway of working. Umm, problem.

The assignment

So a slightly different assignment than envisaged: design, procure, contract for and build new IT infrastructure and services. Migrate 800 line-of-business applications. In six months. Oh and maintain client service levels on real-time applications throughout.

So a very small core team, three daily teleconferences: Asia, Europe and Americas. Planning and resourcing (combining In-house, off-shore & outsourced); directing 24x7 activity over multiple time zones in 84 countries; overseeing globally distributed teams covering infrastructure, application, service-management and migration; migrating ~18,000 users, ~60+ Exchange environments; assess/build/integrate ~3500+ servers and data; ~14 data-centres,  ~500+ web domains; integrating ~600 global technical staff; managing/resolving operational and change risks; facilitating on-going business/ technology change (e.g. global rollout of common accounting system).

Not forgetting, coordinating IT change with the broader business integration initiatives: communicating with the businesses globally; preparing and delivering change communications/ briefings to board level; gaining engagement of global/ regional/ national & local leadership.

The Results

A highly objective-focussed programme with minimal documentation, massive acceptance of risks and a hugely motivated multinational team (many of whom never met face to face). And the result: separation and integration objectives achieved. In six months, less a few days. No problem. Oh yes, and service levels maintained and untargeted operational savings of over 35% of IT costs identified and realised through virtualisation, rationalisation and infrastructure rationalisation. No problem. Phew.




Paul Squire