An innovative project management approach keeps a complex, multi-year technology project on track.

The Obeya Room provides a focal point for visual tracking boards, measurable KPIs, and daily communication. 

The Challenge

Ensuring delivery of a critical IT project

The client – a large utility with several operating companies – embarked on a multi-year, multi million-dollar program to replace its existing middleware and integration points to all legacy systems so it could consolidate three operating companies on a common version of meter data management (MDM) software. In order to track daily activities and progress across 10 work streams, the utility sought an effective project management approach that would: 
  • Encourage collaboration among team members in multiple onshore and off shore locations 
  • Provide visibility of status across the project and alignment with the critical path 
  • Drive timely completion of tasks and key milestones

The Solution

A dedicated space for visualizing progress

West Monroe introduced an innovative project management concept called an Obeya Room. “Obeya,” Japanese for “big room” or “great room,” is a component of lean manufacturing. An Obeya Room is a dedicated space for visual display of project management information designed to help project leaders and managers visualize progress and collaborate to deliver against the project plan.

West Monroe established an Obeya Room at the utility’s primary location. In the room, West Monroe created several display boards to provide visibility into daily project activities: 

  • A long-term planning board that allowed the utility to see critical milestones across the entire duration of the program, including interdependencies among milestones and workstreams. 
  • A short-term planning board that highlighted daily goals, tasks, and critical paths for each work stream. This board provided insight about resource planning, timelines, and daily progress against plan. 
  • A risks and issues board that described key program and executive-level risks/issues, including discovery and due dates, responsible party, next steps, and overall status.
  • A testing entry/exit criteria tracker board that clearly displayed criteria for testing phase entry/exit which displayed due dates, ownership, and key next steps towards criteria achievement. 
  • A KPI board that depicted key performance indicators and progress of work streams against plan. The board highlighted decisions or approvals required for moving forward, as well as key milestones and resources required across the work streams.

West Monroe held daily stand up and stand down meetings with the project core team and work stream leaders to discuss daily plans, review and drive progress, and make decisions. The meetings helped align parties with critical path tasks, track design timelines, coordinate key onshore and off shore resources, and review critical risks and issues.

The Impact

On track to realize efficiencies and cost savings

This innovative project management approach ensured that utility executives and project leaders had access to critical information so they could resolve issues and roadblocks in a timely manner. In turn, this helped the utility manage and execute a mission-critical project to consolidate three operating companies onto a common version of MDM software.

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