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The world first digital
marketplace

The client situation

A digital marketplace is seen as the foundation of generational change for the education sector with a combination of digital, on-premise and virtual learning brought through a single platform for students and learners on a global scale.

With the delivery of the digital marketplace program critical for the university’s global growth ambitions for students and learners the need for digital delivery expertise and product knowledge was required.

The start of the program had not gone smoothly with a third of the budget already spent and the main tier one information technology solution integrator, business subject matter experts and internal information technology teams not all on the same page creating angst and an us vs them segregation. In addition, the university was attempting to move to an agile way of working that required a change to the delivery approach across all stakeholder groups.

The challenge

The university faced difficult decisions. Not only did they need to deliver a complex 300+ cloud component integrated solution they also needed to amend the business, solutions integrator and internal information technology teaming situation, start to deliver working software at pace and shift to a more agile way of working.

As a delivery organisation the maturity of agile delivery was mixed and as there was no established one method of working. Each contractor that was engaged was brining their own method of working exacerbating the gap between business subject matter experts and the internal technology teams. The solutions integrator was unable to bridge the gap due to contractor push back and a lack of overall program leadership being shown by internal capability.

The business being use to a waterfall approach for delivery was refusing to sign off on specifications and requirements leading to delay in delivery and funding burn not associated with any code development.

In addition, expensive software experts that were provide thought leadership lacked the practical hands on business and delivery experience to deliver a working solution instead debating what cloud product performed what function.

The program was at a cross road, should the university progress or stop the program.

The solution

Alchemy Solutions ‘’Alchemy’’ was initially engaged to perform an urgent review of the troubled program. The review was performed and the core reasons for delay were established and recommendations were suggested. Impressed by the business and technology product knowledge of the Alchemy team the university requested that Alchemy provide a proposal to stabilise and deliver the digital marketplace.
The recommendations involved two clear interventions to stabilise the program and get delivery back on track.

1. The utilisation of Alchemy’s hybrid agile method Ei5™

a. to increase business engagement, ownership and involvement in the delivery of the program

b. to align all solution integrator, business and internal information technology delivery resources to a single method of delivery which could easily be communicated and utilised by the program

c. to create a cadence for the program that allowed for the appropriate level of engagement in rituals and also working time to achieve results.

2. Provision of an Alchemy agile delivery squad to lead, oversee and coordinate all delivery of the program.

a. squad included the following roles; program lead, product owner, scrum master, change manager, business analysts x 2, user interface designer and a deployment lead

b. squad roles and responsibilities included the coaching and mentoring of all solution integrator, business and internal information technology delivery resources

The urgency of delivery required a priority to be placed on the unification of all delivery resources across multiple groups of stakeholders. The aim was to create a high performing team where people could work hard on focussed and clear tasks, enjoyed spending time together and felt part of a bigger purpose.

The results

Alchemy successfully delivered a “world first” digital marketplace for the university.

The key recommendations resulted in two positive turnarounds for the program.

Alchemy’s hybrid agile method Ei5™ use ensured common language and understanding. The business resources felt instantly engaged and took on ownership and delivery decision making. The internal information technology resources and solutions integrator team members had instant buy in to the leadership and methods that Alchemy brought to the table. Alchemy shared methods and tools without fear of any commercial or intellectual property constructs. There became no us and them just a cohesive collaborative team that shared the same delivery desire which then showed in effort and results.

Within a short period of time working software was deployed and the business digital marketplace became a reality.

The solution integrator lead for the account quoted ‘’Alchemy have provided the talent and leadership that has made this program as pleasure to be involved in for our people. We have seen no difference in the way our team has been engaged or treated to that of the business or Alchemy resources themselves. We would love the opportunity to work with Alchemy again”.

In addition to delivery the expertise of the Alchemy delivery squad resources, the business and technology knowledge of the complex cloud software was utilised for the university’s digital marketplace design and build.

Quote from the digital marketplace sponsor – “you know what, it’s been a fantastic delivery result. This program has really brought our business together. We have one team working together who delivered a great result. Our biggest challenge now is to unlock the full power of what we have built through new innovative products and services. This technology will truly change the universities business and we are very excited about it”.

Final thoughts

Bridging the gap between business and information technology is a constant issue facing many of our clients.

To address this gap, Alchemy has a proven approach to mend the bridges and open up effective engagement. This approach is built on successful engagement and delivery experience and contains the following key elements.

  • People First – Alchemy brings a distinct and holistic people, process and technology approach to each engagement which helps in identifying and remediating blockages to communication and process flows. The identification and prioritisation of customer and employee journey’s ensures line of sight to what’s important – People!
  • Alchemy’s Ei5™ method – is designed to be engaging and clear for business and technology resources and identifies business ownership as critical to delivery success. The use of agile techniques, tools and rituals ensure that everyone understands their role and conflicts are resolved quickly.
  • Partnering Framework – Alchemy’s partnering framework ensures a clear pathway for everyone involved to experience success. Alchemy’s people and culture transfer knowledge and provide a collaborative environment and tools for all parties to engage in a safe, visible and positive way.

Alchemy’s key sponsor believes “the whole digital marketplace program was transformative for our university. The business has a world first digital marketplace delivered and working that can be leveraged by the whole university for new online digital and traditional products and services and in addition our agile influences and approach created people capabilities within our business and technology teams that just did not seem possible prior to engagement of the Alchemy team.’’