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This episode is sponsored by The PDU Podcast:
This interview with Elizabeth Harrin about her new book book Customer-Centric Project Management is intended (sort of) as an implementation guide to moving your own projects to a customer-centric way of working, using a model called Exceed. We also want to give you some some guidance for ensuring that customer-centricity is sustainable and supported in the organization.
To achieve this we will be looking at the case study section from her book, which comes from her own experience and day to day work.
While there is of course no guarantee that customer-centricity will always lead to project success, adopting a customer-centric mindset and using the Exceed process to measure and monitor customer satisfaction will, however, help you move towards working with happier, more engaged stakeholders.
Below are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete transcript is available to Premium subscribers only.
Cornelius Fichtner: Hello and welcome to Episode #223. This is The Project Management Podcast™ at www.pm-podcast.com and I am Cornelius Fichtner.
This is once again one of our premium episodes recorded especially for all you our premium subscribers. So thank you very much for your support. And don’t forget that if you are a PMP, you can earn 30 PDUs in total over 3 years just for listening to the interview today and all our other episodes. To learn more about this, please go to www.pm-podcast.com/pdu.
Today’s interview with Elizabeth Harrin about her new book “Customer-Centric Project Management” is intended, sort of, as an implementation guide to moving your own projects to a customer-centric way of working, using a model called Exceed. We also want to give you some guidance for ensuring that customer-centricity is sustainable and supported in your organization.
To achieve this, we will be looking at the case study section from her book, which comes from her own experience and day to day work. While there is of course no guarantee that customer-centricity will always lead to project success, adopting a customer-centric mindset and using the Exceed process to measure and monitor customer satisfaction will, on the other hand, help you move towards working with happier and more engaged customer.
And now well, please get inspired and enjoy the interview.
Female voice: The Project Management Podcast’s feature Interview: Today with Elizabeth Harrin, author, blogger and speaker.
Cornelius Fichtner: Hello Elizabeth and once again, welcome back to The Project Management Podcast™!
Elizabeth Harrin: Hello, Cornelius! Thank you for having me on the Podcast again.
Cornelius Fichtner: Sure! So I promised our listeners during the first interview that we’d be having a second interview a bit more depth going into a case study of what you have done. I believe that’s also the case study that you used in your book “Customer-Centric Project Management,” isn’t it?
Elizabeth Harrin: Yes it is. I thought it would be good to just give you an example of how it actually works in real life.
Cornelius Fichtner: Right! Why did you discuss this project in your book?
Elizabeth Harrin: Well, my co-author and I, we wanted to prove that the ideas behind customer-centricity in a project management environment, it wasn’t just a theory. It was something that we knew actually works and we were doing it anyway. We were working that way long before we decided to put the ideas into a book. I mean it was making a difference so we thought as well as all the good theory about post-implementation reviews and all that stuff, it was worth offering some proof to people who are reading it, that actually we tried it and we got some good results.
Cornelius Fichtner: Tell me a little bit more about the company, the project, the customers...
Elizabeth Harrin: Well, we worked, Phil and I, for a company called Spire Healthcare in the UK and it’s a part of a healthcare business. We deliver private healthcare through a network of 38 hospitals across the UK from Edinburgh in the north to south actually and each hospital is driven by a hospital director who has an individual target over in their business.
So the prominence of each hospital is important. And then we have the central functions like IT’s function where I sit. I work in Ireland Head Office. We’ve been around not very long in our current iteration and as Spire Healthcare because we were previously part of another company.
But in terms of how we’ve try to set up our IT division, we wanted to make sure that because we are very geographically split across the country, we wanted to make sure that whatever we did from the central office, were suitable for everybody across the country and that we were getting feedback from people across all the different hospitals and the other business units as well.
So the project that we used as the example in the book is about upgrading all of the technology in our radiology departments. So that was hardware and software, a big program to update all of that and it took 4 years. And what we were trying to do during that time was to install new software and hardware at the hospitals then do a central software upgrade as well and replace some of the kits in medical technology too.
I really love healthcare because medical technology changes all the time. To be able to keep up with medicine, you’ve got to be able to adapt in change and be flexible. And so, we’re constantly doing programs of updating hardware and software and this was quite a big initiative to replace kits all over the country.
It was good. It got us and about and traveling. But our core program team is split across five locations and there was also traveling extensively to the different hospitals and offices. And what we thought we’d do taking a more customer-centric approach to how we were managing the project was that would allow us to standardize our approach across the distributed team and make sure that we were constantly feeding back to each other how things were going so we could share best practices from each individual, from the work we are doing in each individual hospital and making sure that we took it forward to the next hospital.
Cornelius Fichtner: And what specifically did you do in order to make it more customer-centric?
Elizabeth Harrin: Well, what we were doing, the actual project itself was to upgrade, to put in a new radiology information system and a new Picture Archiving and Communication Systems or PACS. If you got listeners from a healthcare background, I’m sure they’ve come across those products before. It’s commonly available and what we were doing was making sure that we were asking the customer of the projects in each hospital how it went for them asking them regularly so at the beginning, in the middle, at the end just to make sure that whatever they expected us to be doing while we were working in their hospital, we were on track. Obviously, the IT is essential to running a hospital. The patient care is most essential, more essential.
Cornelius Fichtner: Yes.
Elizabeth Harrin: And we couldn’t do anything that would interrupt or be detrimental to patient care and we were working with a lot clinical stuff as well. Clinical stuff, we’ve been in a meeting and someone’s pager would go off because they’d be in emergency or a query and they just walk out. Obviously as a project team, we have to make sure that we could cope with that and adapt because you can’t expect people to always to be able to attend meetings when it’s convenient for you. You’ve got to fit around the needs of an operational hospital to be able to do things.
So we knew that we have to be customer-centric because the way the business worked. But the way that we did in practice was to make sure that we ask people regularly how we are doing, what should we be doing differently, what are your top challenges, how we could we address them and then fix them. Make sure we went back and let people know what the feedback was. And pass all that learning onto the next hospital and then the next hospital. So we got better and better and better as we went along.
Cornelius Fichtner: Right. So my understanding is you know you said it was a 4-year project. It wasn’t 4 years in all, hospitals, right? Each hospital took me, I don’t know 6 months, 9 months, something like that maximum.
Elizabeth Harrin: Maybe less than that.
Cornelius Fichtner: Less even?
Elizabeth Harrin: Some hospitals took longer than others. But then you’ve got different sizes and different requirements every size. So yes, you’re right, we were working on it for 4 years but each hospital didn’t have us there for 4 years.
Cornelius Fichtner: Had a shorter project. So when you said: “We asked them at the beginning, in the middle and at the end,” you didn’t ask them on day zero, then 2 years later, you asked again somebody and then 2 years later, at the end, you asked again. It’s at the hospital throughout the implementation you ask people how you were doing and you did those continuous reviews. What kind of results did you get?