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November 10th, 2016
We've slightly changed the format of our blog this week to interview our Implementation Manager, Ben Townend, who we're really proud to say has recently passed the PRINCE2 Foundation exam.
Once a contract has been awarded it's Ben's responsibility to take it from award to go-live. It all starts with a meeting with the customer's Contract Manager to discuss their overall objectives, discuss any process gaps that may have been overlooked by the previous supplier and to agree a proposed go-live date.
Ben liaises with all internal stakeholders (CSD, e-Commerce, Marketing, Purchasing, Sales, MI) to ensure everything is covered from Accounts/Invoicing setup through to Marketing the contract. A Critical Path is created and monitored throughout the implementation process, this is shared with all internal & external shareholders to give them visibility of tasks that need to be actioned and the timescales they need to be completed.
The implementation process takes anything from a couple of weeks through to 3+ months for some customers. A Rep Manual is created for the Sales Rep looking after the account, which gives them a snap-shot of how the account will be run and any special instructions that need to be adhered to. Ben's involvement with the contract will usually be up to the 1st Quarter review meeting, at which point he steps aside and lets the Sales Director and Rep take full control of the account.
PRINCE2 is a process driven project management methodology which brings together quality management, project organisation and knowledge of consistency in control of a project into one accessible yet valuable qualification, with a host of certifications to suit all levels of project manager.
Prior to working for ACS, I was in the pharmaceutical industry primarily managing imports and exports from around the world. This involved a lot of monitoring shipments from as far afield as India and China, so there were definitely elements of project management involved in that role.
Honestly I'd say whilst it was fairly difficult, it was completely worth it. I signed up for the foundation qualification, then received the PRINCE2 textbook shortly after so I could get to grips with the methodology. 3 weeks after receiving the materials, I attended a 1 week intensive course for further study which was then followed by an exam which has a fairly high pass criteria at 75% minimum.
The qualification has taught me a lot about what should be focused on, particularly after a project has gone live. There is a lot of post go live activity which should be undertaken to ensure the smooth running of future initiatives, such risk assessments so we can plan for unexpected and deal with any adverse consequences efficiently, along with addressing lessons learned, and the streamlining of existing processes. I would say the major change is that I now approach projects much more thoroughly than before.
Firstly, it offers additional peace of mind for our customers, particularly contract managers. Some companies, often those in the Public sector, have a prerequisite for their suppliers' implementation staff to be PRINCE2 qualified. The fact we now have this firms up our bid with added value, ensures a thorough process and that all possible boxes are ticked.