PMI-Montréal project management blog

The Customer: The most important stakeholder for ensuring a flawless transition at a major healthcare company (part 2)

Author : Elizabeth Harrin and Phil Peplow


Elizabeth Harrin and Phil Peplow

This is an edited extract from Customer-Centric Project Management, by Elizabeth Harrin and Phil Peplow.

Last week we saw how a major healthcare company started to improve IT service by putting in place a programme to improve customer satisfaction. The approach was approved, the staff were in place, and the first set of monthly satisfaction results had just come in...

The first formal scores recorded in May 2008 were unsurprisingly well below the company’s target of Good, Very Good or Excellent. In fact, the IT team scored Consistently Poor for how they managed the major issues raised by the department’s customers. Other areas measured ranged from Poor to Acceptable to Good, with corporate functions rating IT services more generously than those managers at locations outside of the corporate head office.

Step 8: Deliver on the results

The final step in the process is to deliver on the results. After the first round of meetings it quickly became apparent that there was much to be done and that customer satisfaction with the levels of IT service could be significantly improved. It was clear that the IT organization would be judged on its response to the points and issues raised during this initial round of discussions. After all, while customers appreciated the opportunity to air their views about the quality of IT, they really wanted to see their problems resolved and their concerns addressed.

More than 180 stakeholder inputs were recorded in the month after the launch of this customer-centric way of working. The issues were wide ranging, as can be seen from this sample:

  • Site has been waiting on a couple of purchase requests for some time.
  • Printer in marketing is still not fixed; waiting on a replacement part. This issue has been ongoing for about three weeks.
  • Faulty PC will not boot up.
  • Telephony issues are causing major problems within hospital.
  • Server on site is not backing up correctly.

Identifying these issues was the first step in being able to put them right.

Analysing the results

At first glance, a list of 180 issues to resolve – some relating to projects, some related to business as usual – represents a daunting list of concerns. In fact, when analysing the detail the team saw a mixture of problems but many common threads: service desk performance, computer problems, purchasing delays, general lack of responsiveness.

However, there was much that was encouraging in the comments that were recorded. Most, if not all, of the issues raised were fixable given the necessary focus and determination.

Now that the whole IT team knew what was really important to customers, real operational changes were made. Our outsource partner was fully brought on board and commissioned to supply a team of mobile field engineers. These engineers ‘adopted’ groups of business units and internal customers got to know their dedicated engineer. Now there was someone who could quickly get to the business unit, who knew his way around and who could assist in the moves, changes and technical projects which affected his site. The service desk was also reorganized to be more responsive, and internal processes were revised or replaced.

Analysis by business unit showed that some were happier than others. Some had fewer than half a dozen issues. Some were pleased with the level of communication and proactivity shown by IT in seeking requirements for projects. All had needs and concerns which were clear and unquestionable.

This was the starting point for our move to a more customer-centric approach. We worked on the basis that clarity leads to understanding; understanding leads to confidence, and confidence, together with determination, would produce a clear and positive result.

Addressing the issues

Customer centricity had arrived. The IT organization went to work on knocking down these issues. Within two months all scores of Poor had been eliminated. Within a further two months all scores were at least Good or well on the way to being Good. By the fifth month, all scores were between Good and Consistently Good. Since then, customer satisfaction has continued to rise steadily.

The situation today

As we’ve seen, the initial list of issues contained more than 180 items. Further examination concluded that many were duplicate issues experienced by multiple customer areas and which could be solved by applying generic solutions. Many were trivial, others the more challenging results of an organization going through a major change. A junior Service Manager’s role was refocused to include responsibility for chasing down resolutions. This person had great communication skills, an overwhelming desire to look after customers and wouldn’t take no for an answer. Within six months there were only 12 outstanding issues.

The company’s appetite for customer centricity has never diminished. Recent reviews highlight only a few service issues, and consistently good scores for IT projects as well. When issues do emerge, as they always will in a dynamic, complex and constantly changing operating environment, they are tackled immediately as the priority is always to protect and improve customer satisfaction ratings.

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

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