PMI-Montréal project management blog

The Customer: The most important stakeholder for ensuring a flawless transition at a major healthcare company (part 1)

Author : Elizabeth Harrin and Phil Peplow


Elizabeth Harrin and Phil Peplow


Mergers, acquisitions and sales are great business opportunities, but they can leave the newly-formed companies with a challenge. A new healthcare company, formed in 2007, faced this challenge. Having been split off from its old parent company, it owned virtually no IT equipment and had no data centre. Only a handful of IT staff transferred as part of the sale process.

An IT services partner was selected and tasked with delivering most of the service management elements including the service desk, machine hosting, technical infrastructure support and networking. The internal IT team was made up of a small applications support group, a small team of in-house project managers and a service delivery team responsible for infrastructure strategy, supplier management, security and stakedholder management. The team was distributed across several locations. This department, together with the outsourcing partner, was responsible for getting all the new IT services up and running for the new company.

The team knew that the successful transition away from the parent company relied on a clean and smooth IT handover. The only way to do this was to keep internal stakeholders informed of what was going on and involve them every step of the way. Success required a customer-centric approach. Having adopted customer centricity as a core value of how the team worked, they needed to implement a way to measure and monitor this during the transition.

They implemented an 8-step process to managing customer satisfaction during this transitional time.

Step 1: Obtain buy in from the ultimate authority

The CIO embraced a customer-centric way of working from day one, despite having a healthy degree of scepticism as to whether a significant sized customer base across over 40 locations, used to receiving a relatively poor IT service, could be convinced to return scores of Good, Very Good or Excellent for his emerging regime.

While his position was understandable, he was also in agreement with the overriding principles of customer centricity: that customers were everything, that IT would engage with them comprehensively and that their needs would come first. These aims may sound obvious, but this approach represented a major shift within a function which had been considered faceless, unresponsive and unapproachable.

Step 2: Spread the vision

A clear expectation was set that each IT function, including those provided by the IT project managers and partners, would be lined up in support of that area as it brought issues to the table.

Step 3: Decide who the customer is

The IT team supported over 40 locations across the UK. They decided to measure IT performance against all of them individually.

Step 4: Define a simple scoring mechanism which customers can use to rate the services they receive

The team devised a satisfaction scale which ran from 10 (Excellent) to 1 (Consistently Very Poor). By consistently using the same scale across all customer groups, a picture could be built up of the organization as a whole. This set of diagnostic metrics would provide real-time information about the levels of customer satisfaction with IT services across the business.

Step 5: Organize for success

Three Customer Services Managers (CSMs) were recruited with a brief to engage with each business unit on a face-to-face basis at least once every month in order to gain first hand information on their requirements and issues, focusing on customer satisfaction.

Step 6: Align service partners

The IT department was working with partners through a number of outsourcing agreements. Service partners were fully briefed about the Exceed process and the new focus on the customer. A scale of monthly incentive payments directly relating to customer satisfaction ratings was agreed with some partners where this was appropriate.

Step 7: Launch the process

At the first visit, the CSMs positioned themselves as a point of contact for any IT issues a customer had. They also committed to discussing issues and challenges on a monthly basis.

Local management teams were eager to engage given the criticality of IT to their operations. The CSMs were welcomed warmly by customers who had never seen a person from IT in the flesh. Levels of customer satisfaction were recorded against 4 criteria:

  • How well IT managed their top three issues
  • How well IT communicates
  • How proactive IT is perceived to be
  • How they would rate general levels of IT service quality.

Once the scores were captured monthly on a spreadsheet, the results would be published on the intranet. The transparency of recording and publishing the results was important to show that the team was serious about the process and committed to resolving issues.

Find out what the results showed and how the team handled the final step in the process next week.

Customer-Centric Project Management is published by Gower in September 2012. Co-author Elizabeth Harrin writes the award-winning blog, A Girl’s Guide to Project Management which you can find online at She’s Director of The Otobos Group, a project communications consultancy and the author of two other project management books.


Interested in Stakeholder Management? Don't miss these upcoming conferences at the Symposium on October 8th!

102 : L’analyse de la valeur : Processus de gestion des attentes des parties prenantes?

Charles Aboukhaled

Macogep inc

202 :  Clôture de la construction d’un projet minier : Comment gérer le risque social ?

Marie Capy-Lefebvre

TMA Madagascar

302 :  De la communication à la co-innovation : d’hier à demain, différentes approches de gestion des parties prenantes

Valérie Lehmann

École des sciences de la gestion, UQAM

402 :    Bees can do it! Can you? An analytical approach to understanding your project landscape from a human dimension.

George Bryson

Robert Abbott



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