Case Study - The Launch of a Revolutionary Retail Risk Product

Why would it be different this time ?

A major financial institution endured a history of several costly, high profile, failures in attempting to launch a revolutionary product, on a new technology platform

A number of challenges required immediate attention

  • Disharmony between business and technology
  • Significant change was to be targeted in an area that had experienced little change over a long period
  • Lack of training and process documentation
  • Unclear business requirements and business case
  • Immature tender process
  • The project was implementing in an area with little business analysis, development or testing expertise
  • The need to overcome a culture of blame and underachievement
  • Past failures meant that the launch deadline could not be significantly postponed



An integrated approach structured across business and technology was taken. It built an inhouse capability while launching a change program that aimed to do that little bit more

The following initiatives were completed in order to underpin the project

  • Value drivers of the project were implicitly understood and adhered to. Any tradeoff or design decisions were based on these drivers in order to preserve value
  • Business expertise was seconded on a fulltime basis into key project roles in order to ensure the final solution met stated requirements
  • New training tools and techniques were developed to train a national decentralised user base
  • A combination of a waterfall and a spiral model was pioneered in order to achieve the best compromise between the need to establish firm milestones, against the benefits of creativity, responsiveness and flexibility
  • Incremental releases rather than a big bang drop model was adopted in order to fast track benefits flowing through to the business
  • Processes were built around how the core system operated, making full use of existing system capabilities
  • Traceability against requirements was reconciled against test cases to eliminate any surprises
  • Specialist cross functional business support teams were setup to support affected business areas after each release, allowing these area’s to concentrate on deriving the most out of the system.

The change program not only dealt with change, but the capability of leadership

  • Stakeholder management and user forums and initiatives were instigated. Regular surveys of the project team and user population were conducted. Feedback was actioned
  • An effective, decisive steering committee formed from a cross section of all affected groups - including Compliance and Audit
  • Change management became the function of every member of the project management group - not the specialty of one group
  • The leadership program was designed to skill middle management with the required leadership attributes in order to effectively cope with foreseen and unforeseen challenges. These workshops were pragmatic rather than theoretical
  • Transparent communication was established that relayed a balance of good as well as bad news
  • Communication was frequent and face to face
  • Change agents were sourced from the area’s concerned and tasked with maintaining a two way two way communication channel

The Outcome?

  • A rarity - a strategic project that delivered its stated financial benefits to the business
  • The performance of the new product exceeded all expectations. Inflows were twice of its nearest competitor
  • The project continually scored 4 out of a possible 5 in its acceptance by the business
  • The leadership program was retained and embedded into the business
  • The culture of blame and lack of achievement had been replaced by one of emerging possibilities
  • Affected areas were able to deal with expected and unexpected issues without the turmoil, turnover or resistance experienced with previous attempts

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