These were the immortal words spoken by football pundit Alan Hansen in 1995 of Manchester United on the opening day of the Premier league in August 1995 – when they had lost 3-1; they went on that season to win the double. But in fact that team was a blend of youth and experience; United’s top scorer that season was the seasoned veteran Eric Cantona.
And it is the question of blend – in particular, resource blend within debt collection and recoveries (CnR) projects at critical points – which is the subject of this blog.
The resource palate available to staff a project is very varied these days. An organisation has its own internal staff available; some are SMEs with regards the affected business or system areas, others, project specialists. Beyond an organisation’s shores, there are a numerous third-party organisations of all shapes, sizes and specialisms. There are contractors with varying levels of expertise and subject matter knowledge. There are third-party consultants who often come with the introduction of an off the shelf product – some of whom are independent, others with a ‘vendor-agenda’! (And a side note here; if at all possible, organisations should look to enable their own SMEs to be as full-time on the project as possible; not always easily engineered but the outcome can be significantly enhanced when this arrangement occurs.)
The challenge for an organisation embarking on a project is to find the right mix – the right blend – at the right time.
The early phases of a project is when key foundational decisions are made – decisions about how the project is going to be run but more importantly, design decisions on which the development will rest. The project approach is usually something sketched out quite early on, but really starts to take greater substance once the solution to the requirements has been worked through; so, it needs to be flexible from the outset and only firm up the key deliverables later on. Focus on design decisions usually intensifies once the requirements have been identified, distilled and digested.
This juncture – the step from fully absorbed requirements to the solution and plan is a critical one; our experience is that having relevant resource experts in place throughout these early phases results in a more robust project and design foundation on which to build and progress. We have encountered projects where decisions have been taken at this juncture in all good faith, but where the right blend of expertise prior to this was absent resulting in the foundations not being sufficiently robust e.g. an inappropriate customer/account data structure; an inflexible hand off from host to CnR system; overly complex and difficult to maintain CnR configuration.
As the project starts to gather pace through the development and testing phases, the blend of resources can change and indeed it is often during these phases when the bandwidth starts to increase.
Overarching all of this is the classic cost-time-quality conundrum. Our experience is that if the cost or time pillars are too dominant – especially early on – what usually happens is that sub optimal foundational decisions are made which in the longer run result in more cost and more time than was originally envisaged in delivering a fit for purpose solution.
So at the outset of a project particularly – the requirement gathering/expression and foundational project and design decision points, access the resources required:
- look to utilise – dedicate even – internal SME resources
- supplement with third-party expertise
- flesh out with as many ‘pairs of hands’ with these right skills, knowledge and expertise as deemed necessary
Projects can be fraught affairs as deadlines loom and myriad challenges arise to be overcome, but it is important an eye is kept on the many eventual endpoints. Finding the right blend of resources will go a long way to maximising a project’s chance of success.
We have a breadth of experience with these types of projects, and if you would like to discuss how we can help you and your business, please contact us today.
Michael Haskell, Lead Consultant