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Case Study - Business Management


CEED sourced three MBA students for industry placements in the 2009/2010 financial year. These
highly qualified students, who are in limited supply and great demand, have proven particularly effective at leading or supporting strategic projects for companies large and small including Data#3, Cedar Creek Company and the Department of Justice and Attorney-General.


Clients have been able to realise a return on their CEED investment by placing students on projects
concerned with reducing costs and increasing revenue. In fact, two students have proven themselves so valuable that clients have retained them on a full or part time basis after the completion of their CEED projects.

Many clients have reported great success in utilising students as a dedicated resource to undertake systematic research, gather information and produce reports, leaving existing employees free to concentrate on their day-to-day duties.  As MBA students, the CEED interns have access to a wealth of research data, and bring new ideas and a lack of preconceptions to projects.

CEED MBA students have access to a wealth of research data



CEED case study – Data#3

The client and project background:

Data#3 is an Australian, ASX-listed ICT solutions company, which was established in Brisbane in 1984 following a merger between a software reseller and an office equipment supplier. Today it employs more than 450 people across its eight offices and reported revenues of almost $600m in the
last financial year.

In 2009, the company identified that its rapid growth had resulted in the evolution of a number of departments, which ran almost as separate businesses, and systems, which did not communicate with each other. They ran the risk of not acting on information, which could help with business
analysis and future planning.

The client’s own research identified the need to implement Enterprise Architecture (EA); similar to a master town plan for a council, EA is only relevant to medium to large organisations with disparate units, which need to work cooperatively. It serves to break the company’s structure down into subsystems, and provide a comprehensive description of how those systems function and interact with each other and the external environment.

The ASX listed company approached CEED to find a student for an
Enterprise Architecture project

The resulting blueprint will help Data#3 improve communication and strategic planning, highlight inefficiencies and aid decision making regarding new technology investments with a three to five year view.

Data#3 had previously used CEED students and approached the student placement specialist to find an outstanding MBA student to assist in developing an EA strategy for Data#3.



Katie Ingram.Data3 project 2009/10 
 Above:  Katie Ingram (CEED student) on right, with one of her
 Data#3 mentors, Cathy Ford.

The brief:

Data#3 asked CEED to find a student who would be able to tackle this ambitious project, with excellent technical and people skills, including knowledge of EA and its methodologies, the ability to interview people and communicate findings.


The successful candidate would have to help with every stage of the EA process from developing a project framework and establishing a set of standards to creating a roadmap and putting maintenance procedures in place.

This would include using business scenarios to define needs and concerns, identifying stakeholders and building consensus with partners, drafting a description of the current system, evaluating possible solutions and planning the migration.

The student:

Katie Ingram had a Bachelor of Business majoring in IT and Accounting; she spent three years as an Accountant in a Chartered firm and two years as a Projects Administrator for a local government. She had completed two and a half years of an MBA when the CEED project commenced including subjects such as business analysis and enterprise architecture. During the project Katie was also doing a ‘PRojects IN Controlled Environments’ (PRINCE2) accreditation.

The approach:

Stage 1:

Katie started the Data#3 project in July 2009 in a support role, reporting to Cathy Ford, General Manager – Organisational Excellence, who instigated the EA project.

The first steps for Katie involved researching EA methodologies, working out how to store and present the information gained during the project. She decided to approach the project using Microsoft’s collaboration and web publishing platform Sharepoint, which was already employed within Data#3.


This education stage led Data#3 to two decisions: that the best methodology was the Open Group Architecture Framework (TOGAF) in combination with an EA framework created by the Queensland Government; and to recruit Enterprise Architect Mike McCluskey to oversee the project.

At this point Katie’s 14 week-long project was completed but she was asked to stay on part-time to assist in the implementation and support Mike.

The CEED student stayed on to help with implementation once the project was complete


Stage 2:

In order to help Data#3 realise its three to five year objectives, the EA team had to first collate all the relevant information to gain a clear cross-organisational view. Mike worked with Katie to identify the pertinent people and the questions to ask.

Katie then organised and helped conduct the interviews. A master business blueprint was developed to identify hotspots around the organisation where systems were not effectively supporting the business or there was an opportunity to improve business processes.

The next step was to agree on where duplication would be consolidated into a single process, and what systems would be used to support this process. A roadmap was then started to plan how and when all business units would be moved towards the new processes and systems.

Results:

Mike and Katie drafted a set of blueprints to inform their decisions, covering:


o Business architecture (how that work is done, for example logistics)
o Information architecture (the data used in performing work)
o Technology architecture (systems used) 
o Application architecture (how they are wired together)

They also created a guiding set of principles to be used when filtering and discarding options. For example, when a decision needs to be made about new software, the team will always re-use existing systems before buying and buy before build to keep costs down.

All the groundwork needed has now been laid and the team has identified seven projects as part of the roadmap. Two are currently underway.

The first project involved Business Process Management consolidation. Katie identified that multiple lines of business have consistent business processes, such as data collection and invoicing, but use different systems to support them from simple solutions like Excel spreadsheets to sophisticated
software purchased from vendors like SAP. A scoping project for one purchasing system has now started.

The full roadmap was signed off at the end of August 2010 and project briefs were drafted to address issues - such as customer data being scattered - and opportunities – such as automating manual work.

Next steps:

Two new CEED students have taken over from Katie, who left at the end of July 2010 after completing her MBA, to become a Consultant at another company. The new students are continuing work on the project, initially focusing on helping identify business process improvements related to some of
Data#3’s sales processes.

Fast Facts


Business and management are one of CEED’s newest areas of expertise but since introducing the
discipline in 2008, more than 20 projects have been completed for clients.


CEED students can help with all marketing disciplines from research to above and below the
line execution, strategic management, enterprise planning, human resources, and finance.


Clients have included Data#3, numerous Queensland Government departments, Corporatelink, VR Solutions, Queensland Rail and Trueline Technology


Further project examples available at www.corptech.com.au


The CEED program for students:

Katie said the CEED program gives students the essential “step-up” by providing them with the means to gain experience in “real world projects” in their chosen industry while still completing their studies.

“When you are at university, what you are studying is stagnant and without life, so when you are in a project, the knowledge you have acquired takes on a whole new perspective.” Katie said.

She added that having CEED as a liaison between the University and company helped students succeed in both the academic and industry settings.

Having CEED as a liaison helps students succeed in both
the academic and industry settings

“For students with no project management experience, it is difficult to determine what is achievable within a set timeframe and how to approach it. Being able to draw on my supervisors’ experience gave me confidence and helped me get more from it than I would have on my own.” Katie said

“The experience of working for a larger firm such as Data#3 has also been rewarding. It has provided me with the opportunity to talk with people across the lines of business, from many different walks of life about what they do, how they do it and the issues they are facing. It has helped me to understand how business works and improve my people skills.”

Katie’s project was supposed to run over the course of a semester but was extended for a month due to unforeseen delays. She was then employed for a year on a part time contract basis to help with the implementation.

Conclusion:

Mike McCluskey said Data#3’s project should pay for itself many times over through operational cost savings, such as simple things like sending documents electronically, and maximise investments.

“This will benefit Data#3’s staff, customers and shareholders, and provide an opportunity for Data#3 to pursue more business by making customer interaction far easier,” Mike said.

CEED students have played an important role in making a major project happen
without taking resources away from Data#3

“CEED students have played an important role in making this major project happen without taking any resources away from Data#3.”

 

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