Case #4 - National Grid
In this case study the project manager had neither project management content nor subject matter knowledge but was, nevertheless, able to complete a project successfully.
When shareholders at one of the world's largest utilities voted to change its name from National Grid Transco to National Grid, it was a small change in words, but one with big business impact. A team from Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC) worked hard to bring the changes to life for staff at the company - against a tight deadline that had legal implications for the company.
National Grid is one of CSC's largest clients in the United Kingdom. CSC supports mission-critical gas and electricity transmission systems and infrastructure throughout Great Britain, in addition to back office IT infrastructure and desktop support. For the CSC team supporting National Grid, 24 x 7 operations are nothing new. But the re-brand brought an unusual nighttime project for a 20-strong CSC team. Working with the National Grid IS project team, CSC brought the name change to life, starting with National Grid's Corporate Centre in central London, housing critical corporate functions and the company's board of directors.
According to Declan Kiernan, the project manager who led the CSC team:
"Changing the company name had legal implications, which in turn meant IT implications. Staff who work in departments such as Legal and Human Resources needed updated templates, e-mail addresses and applications with the new company name embedded in them on the next working day to make the company legally compliant. We had from midnight to 8 a.m. to install the initial batch of new e-mail addresses, convert 11 mission critical applications and deploy new National Grid branded templates across 200 servers. We also rolled out a new-look desktop build including the new National Grid logo. This will be used as the standard for all new desktops and laptops rolled out to reinforce the new name."
"The re-branding work didn't stop there. Over an eight-week period, the CSC team worked to identify every application, document template, e-mail account, desktop, laptop and handheld device with old company names or logos, as well as identify all desktop or laptop builds and screensavers that included references to National Grid Transco or NGT. The scope of the project was enormous, when you consider all the devices, applications and other elements that contain a company's name. Signs, clothing, stationery, applications, screensavers, e-mail addresses and desktop builds with old company references all had to be identified, modified and in some cases tested before release."
With such a volume of changes, two CSC project managers were reassigned full time to National Grid to work with its project team alongside the CSC team. Working together, over an eight-week period they updated and tested 194 applications, every company e-mail address and electronic stationery template, and deployed desktop updates to 16,000 users.
Says Paola Gagliano-Fawcett, Information Services project manager for National Grid: "The CSC team did an amazing job. There was such a huge amount of change in such a small amount of time."
This is an example of a project where the project manager probably did not have experience in this type of project. There were a number of different aspects of the business that needed to have a name change as well as a computer program that had to be changed. The project was obviously successful due to the project manager applying sound project management principles rather than being an SME. In this particular case, technical knowledge was not necessarily a requirement. It is interesting to speculate what might have been the outcome, had these managers been in charge of some of the other cases discussed in this paper.
22. CSC, Computer Sciences Corporation, 2006 http://www.csc.com