Monday, December 26, 2016

Taken for a ride: the preferred vendor or the enterprise ? 2 sides of the coin !

It was a great journey working with you and the team to design the solution … regret, unfortunately we are unable to proceed with the engagement and would like to thank you for offer; we wish you all the best in your future endeavors ! After unsuccessfully attempting to shift the blame from himself, the CFO gave in and agreed to recall the vendor and accept their last provided offer to move ahead. It was a tumultuous ride that had culminated in the imbroglio the enterprise found itself in with the vendor shortlisted by the business and IT. (see earlier post)

The delay had almost cost the business the early mover advantage; they required the solution to be primed within a time window for which they will now have to super stretch. Regulatory deadlines can be unforgiving to business and the Business Head was thus on tenterhooks. He sensed that the wounded ego will not take kindly to the decision; the scorned CFO should have been his ally, after all they had a good working relationship in the past; the CIO was a political outcast with his neutrality now going against him.

With a letter of intent the project was kicked off, the contracting took a while; each and every clause was scrutinized and fortified to put the vendor in a precarious situation should the project suffer any kind of deviation. To safeguard his interest, despite undue pressure the vendor did not commit full resources until the paperwork was completed. The business team watched the drama as it played out waiting to get started; the CIO continued to counsel the vendor with a mix of pragmatism and spirit of the now fragile partnership.

Starting on perceptibly shaky foundation, the project got off to a fair start with all sides putting in the rigor required to make up lost ground and deliver to promise; review meetings were used for course correction as the steps taken were firm and steady thus covering the halfway milestone with time to spare. The first process prototypes were approved for build and the finishing line appeared to be within reach. Everyone was charged and they were progressing in perfect unison, an example out of the textbooks on project management.

Next review meeting had an uninvited yet powerful participant who wanted a personal assessment of the good news that the project reports were portraying. He tested the patience of the team with his questions that attempted to elevate the highly improbable to highly likely even though it did not make any sense to build for probability of events that may occur beyond the six sigma. The system design not addressing the probable though not possible kept recurring as a theme and he declared an emergency by the end of the meeting.

No one had anticipated the CFOs active interest in the project considering that after finalization of the contract they had not heard anything from his offices. So the new found interest made everyone a bit uncomfortable, wondering where it was headed. By the end of the meeting it was evident that it was a blatant attempt to derail the project by challenging the team credibility to have thought through the processes and design a solution that addressed all use cases; the team went into a huddle to find a strategy to overcome the new challenge.

The vendor provided referenceable material on global best practices and how they had addressed similar scenarios in other markets; the CIO reached out to the subject matter experts to list down occurrences of exceptions over the history of the company rather than work on hypothesis of an eventuality hitting them. All the material thus collated clearly vindicated the stand the team had taken and the solution they had architected which appeared to be adequate to counter the new threat to their project.

Such distractions they could do without and they could not have taken on the CFO headlong; so they decided to use the CIOs connections to get an external consultant – an acknowledged authority. As providence would have it, the next meeting was the Steering Committee which had all stakeholders. The Consultant gave an independent critical analysis of the project pointing out a few observations where the team could improve outcomes. The CEO applauded the audit report and endorsed the team to move with full speed.

Contracts protect enterprises from external risks, how do we stay protected from internal mischief ?

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