“We’ve got a real ‘warm puppy’ here,” Brian Smith told Werner McCann. “Make sure you make the most of it. We could use a winner.”

technical writing


Project Management at MM2 

“We’ve got a real ‘warm puppy’ here,” Brian Smith told Werner McCann. “Make sure you make the most of it. We could use a winner.” Smith was MM’s CIO, and McCann was his top project manager. The puppy in question was MM’s new venture into direct-to-customer marketing of its green meters, a product designed to help better manage electrical consumption, and the term referred to the project’s wide appeal. The strategy had been a hit with analysts ever since it had been revealed to the financial community, and the company’s stock was doing extremely well as a result. “At last,” one had written in his popular newsletter, “we have a company that is willing to put power literally and figuratively in consumers’ hands. If MM can deliver on its promises, we fully expect this company to reap the rewards.” Needless to say, the Green project was popular internally, too. “I’m giving it to you because you have the most project-management experience we’ve got,” Smith had said. “There’s a lot riding on this one.” As he walked away from Smith’s office, McCann wasn’t sure whether to feel complimented or terrified. He had certainly managed some successful projects for the company (previously known as ModMeters) over the past five years but never anything like this one. That’s the problem with project management, he thought. In IT almost every project is completely different. Experience only takes you part of the way. And Green was different. It was the first truly enterprisewide project the company had ever done, and McCann was having conniptions as he thought about telling Fred Tompkins, the powerful head of manufacturing, that he might not be able to have everything his own way. McCann knew that, to be successful, this project had to take an outside-in approach—that is, to take the end customers’ point of view on the company. That meant integrating marketing, ordering, manufacturing, shipping, and service into one seamless process that wouldn’t bounce the customer from one department to another in the company. MM had always had separate systems for each of its “silos,” and this project would work against the company’s traditional culture and processes. The Green project was also going to have to integrate with IT’s information management renewal (IMR) project. Separate silos had always meant separate databases, and the IMR project was supposed to resolve inconsistencies among them and provide accurate and integrated information to different parts of the company. This was a huge political challenge, but, unless it worked, McCann couldn’t deliver on his mandate. Then there was the issue of resources. McCann groaned at the thought. MM had some good people but not enough to get through all of the projects in the IT plan within the promised timelines. Because of the importance of the Green project, he knew he’d get good cooperation on staffing, but the fact remained that he would have to go outside for some of the technical skills he needed to get the job done. Finally, there was the schedule that had to be met. Somehow, during the preliminary assessment phase, it

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