Client wins in 2003 Computerworld Excellence Awards - 'Most Successful Project Implementation of the Year'
Creating a single IT and business process platform for an amalgamation
of three Top 100 companies put Hartford Consulting at the centre
of one of the largest systems projects New Zealand has ever seen.
When the product of amalgamation is a global top-ten dairy company
and by far New Zealand's largest company, then a single set of integrated
applications, processes and business rules to run on is vital. Partnering
with experienced project navigators was critical for the success
global giant - Fonterra.
Formed in October 2001, Fonterra is cooperatively owned by more
than 13,000 farmers and has an annual turnover of US$6.8 billion.
The company's manufacturing business, which is the amalgamation
of Kiwi Dairies and New Zealand Dairy Group, is the largest dairy
ingredients operation in the world, producing over 1,000 products
marketed in 140 countries.
Fonterra's strategic vision of industry leadership made a common
set of applications and processes mission critical. So, just how
do you implement 18 systems affecting 2,700 users across 16 geographically
disparate sites and keep the milk - a readily perishable raw material
For Fonterra Ingredients, the answer was to engage Hartford, a
project specialist who could translate the merger vision into an
effective project plan, easily understood by people at all levels
- from factory floor to executive management.
"Good project management is about articulating the needs of
the business and working effectively with people at all levels,"
says Paul Brown, Fonterra General Manager Operations Northern. "I
think the ability of Hartford to deal with people at different levels
in the business clearly is a strength I've seen, and it doesn't
necessarily come with other suppliers."
Known as MIA (Manufacturing Integrated Applications project), the
project was at the forefront of the dairy merger and set the platform
and the standard for other key business merger activities. When
you understand the sheer scope of MIA you get a picture for just
how much was at stake for Fonterra.
Tasked to deliver 18 systems, comprising finance, HR, asset management,
planning, production, finished goods management and data warehousing,
MIA's principal aim was to establish an integrated suite of common
applications. These provide for a single source of information,
business processes and rules to improve business decision-making,
and have reduced the total cost of systems' ownership. By consolidating
a single data centre with portal access, MIA has revolutionised
supply chain visibility. It has also permitted synergies between
sales and marketing operations, which previously had interacted
via a 'gateway'.
Driving all disciplines, from project scope, hardware/software
selection, project team choice, through communications, change,
risk and quality management and control, Hartford directed a project
team of 120 over a 15 month period. In the process it also formally
trained over 2,500 Fonterra people.
Hartford is distinguished by an ability to develop innovative,
customised solutions for projects. For example, the unique 'super
user' concept was evolved to ensure implementation success. Under
this scheme, individual Fonterra users at all levels were hand-picked
and released from regular responsibilities to learn the new systems,
train their peers and grow into an ongoing troubleshooting and support
The power of what, at face value, is a remarkably simple idea works
at several levels; firstly, growing individuals to train other users
guarantees a level of proficiency, and secondly, leaves behind empowered
self supporting teams.
"The super user concept was a great spearhead to instil business
intelligence in a number of core people who then provided support
for both the rollout and post go-live support. That was just brilliant,"
A key challenge for Fonterra was overcoming a natural resistance
to material change for literally thousands of users - a task made
more difficult because the project had to move quickly and, in many
cases, ahead of other merger activity.
"The whole element of change and the risks that come with
a large IT project are often overlooked and underrated," says
Paul. "We weren't just taking three legacy companies and creating
one. We were effectively bringing together seven different organisations
into a whole and that meant changing the way we did things, business
rules, IT platforms, and changing what was important to the business."
Impacting on the business at both strategic and operational levels,
Fonterra could not afford for MIA to disrupt normal business. The
risks were significant, with 20 percent of New Zealand's exports
dependent on the successful implementation of MIA. "When you
bring new systems into an organisation that is actually running
and doing business, the risk to business as usual is high, particularly
when you're a business with over 4,000 people and perishable raw
One of the most visible risk-minimisation strategies employed by
Hartford was a road show called 'A Day in the Life', which enabled
staff to experience the new systems, processes and rules before
going live. More than simply familiarisation, the approach enabled
the project team to pre-empt and remedy issues without compromising
the success of the actual rollout.
"We needed to get a single platform so we could use the same
financial applications and KPI measurement tools. As we had become
one company we needed to be able to share information between sites
and look at the efficiency of the business as a whole, rather than
as a number of subsets," says Paul. "We couldn't have
people focusing on different business rules or on performance objectives
that may not necessarily have been in the best interests of the
company. With the common platform delivered by MIA, we can disperse
knowledge to a wider base and improve the efficiency of the entire
On time, under budget
Almost unheard of for a project of this magnitude, MIA was delivered
on time and under budget, despite the scope widening part way through
"The ability of Hartford to take a widened scope and do it
within the original timeline and financial constraints has got to
be a marvellous little gem," says Paul. "Apart from providing
us with a benchmark for any successful project - on time, right
quality, within budget - Hartford ensured that the project was delivered
without compromising business as usual, and ensured we were able
to leverage off a strong common platform in our first season operating
We can do this for your business.
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