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The idea here is to improve the quality of the service delivered by the Operations Team in a department responsible for the distribution of Variable Marketing Payments.

This team primarily creates programmes to generate the discount premiums to customers.

Following a Customer Satisfaction Survey it has been raised that the Quality of the service needs to improve. The knowledge of the business and the system is limited, therefore the team is not in a position to advise better practises to customers in order to maximise their premiums according to the customer's specific requirements. This issue has been discussed several times with Senior Management who has now acknowledge that there is an issue and wants a plan to resolve this.

My proposal is to run this as a formal project, Operational Quality Improvement Project, which at least requires:

  1. Business Case - actual issue, costs, business options, benefits, risks...
  2. Planning - tasks and timescales to achieve the prime goal...
  3. Implementation and Control

Unfortunately, Senior Management does not consider this as a Project because it's not software related (incredible!!!), they believe this is something that can happen on the fly.

I strongly believe that in order to improve the quality of the programmes delivered the team requires a better understanding of the business, the system and the different usage thus training requirements from an expert in the subjects are a MUST. This training has costs implications; hiring an expert and the time that the team will invest on training sessions would impact the creation of Variable Marketing programmes. Again, planning is required to mitigate the impact to our customers. Finally, we would also need to monitor the success of the project, for example by reissuing Customer Satisfaction Surveys.

Do you have any suggestions to support my proposal to Senior Management? What other aspects should we need to take into account to present this as a formal project?

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Your best argument is that they're going to get out of it what they put into it. If they're not willing to put money and effort into it as a project, they're going to get results that reflect that investment.

Additionally, you can ask them that, if it can be done on the fly, how will they know when it's done? There are no goals, no plans, no measurements,...

And lastly, point out that the predominate QI methods in use (Six Sigma, TQM, Toyota Production, etc.) all follow a 'project' path. They do this for a reason.

  • Thank you for your answer Trevor, I like the methods suggested such as Six Sigma. I am quite interested in the integration of this methodology into other Project Management Processes like PRINCE2 (pm.stackexchange.com/questions/1119/…) – M0N4K0 Apr 19 '11 at 8:20
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    Take a look at Design for Six Sigma in particular for integration with pm methods. Their phases (Identify, Define, Develop, Optimize, Verify), track very well with the established process of pm. – Trevor K. Nelson Apr 19 '11 at 15:30
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This is tricky. Your corporate culture is focus on the project for customers and not internal. There are a couple of ways to approach this. 1 you can do the discipline under cover and then show success. This means you still create a scope statement, you still plan etc. and you show the process to the sr management as soon as you have success. 2 the other way is to get some goals - i.e. customer satisfaction rate increase by X%. and then do what you have to to meet the goal and never show the methodology unless you are asked.

It will depend on your corporate culture. Option 1 can come across as "I know better" in some cultures.

Good luck

  • Perry love your suggested alternatives, specially option 1. I would personally consider this option quite proactive and would love that any member of my team could demonstrate that we could undertake Operational improvements. The quality of the service provided is as important as the application required to produce it. – M0N4K0 Apr 19 '11 at 8:23
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Align your objectives with the objectives of your Senior Management. Don't fool yourself that they want quality as first-class priority. Very often it's not true.

Ask them what are the objectives/goals they are going towards. According to the information received, build your project proposal and try again. Don't give up! Sooner or later your proposal will be accepted. And don't try to start this project without explicit commitment from the management!

Besides that you're absolutely right that such an endeavor shall be managed like a fixed-scope project.

  • I agree with you on your statement "don't try to start this project without explicit commitment from the management!". I have come across situations where I started something that wasn't "officially" approved and I was told off. Thanks for your comments. – M0N4K0 Apr 19 '11 at 8:15

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