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Case Studies

As examples of the use of APF outside the software-development arena, I will be referring to the following four case studies. They are all examples of actual client engagements where APF was the approach. I have taken some editorial license to better illustrate APF's characteristics. For the protection of my clients, I have disguised all of the names and the businesses. However, I have tried to preserve the nature of the engagement along with its failures and successes. Any resemblance to actual people or businesses is strictly coincidental.

Snacks Fifth Avenue: Kiosk Design

Snacks Fifth Avenue was looking for a way to create more interest for its shoppers and draw more traffic into its ten New York stores. The company viewed itself as somewhat of a boutique, and attracted high-end customers to its shops. It offered the most complete line of international snack foods and party products of any of its competitors. The kiosk had not yet been widely introduced in retailing, and here was an opportunity to do so profitably. My partner and I developed an approach to support the changing needs of the project and the discovery of the solution through iteration. That approach eventually became the initial version of APF that we successfully used for new-product development, and in this case resulted in a shopping kiosk that located food items, accepted orders, and assisted customers with maps and other directional aids. Interest in the shopping experience began to slowly increase as shoppers accepted and used the new technology. Store managers reported increases in activity as customers began to integrate use of the technology into their shopping experience.

Kamikazi Software Systems: Systems Development Project Management Process Design

Kamikazi Software Systems, a business-to-business and business-to-consumer Web site software development firm, built its reputation on fixed cost/time bids for custom designed internet/intranet sites. The development environment was obviously high risk. Recent trends showed that Kamikazi was not making its margins on smaller projects; in fact, the trend was definitely in the wrong direction. Through project reviews, Kamikazi learned that the number of change requests was growing and the process for managing those changes wasn't holding up. The company approached us to help design, develop, and implement a project-management process that would work in its systems-development environment.

The development teams were seldom able to complete client projects within either budget or timeline parameters. Despite the fact that they had an established project-management process at CMM level 3, senior managers were unable to isolate the problem and correct it. What they did learn is that the internal clients were generally satisfied with the deliverables, but only after one or two unplanned revisions beyond the original specifications. Since these were not budgeted, these outcomes were not met by senior management with any joy or celebration. Because of this, APF's just-in-time planning and iterative cycles were developed as a potential stopgap measure. The following results were achieved:

  • Budget and timeline constraints were more consistently met.
  • At first, the client's representatives were uncomfortable with a variable scope, but because of their integral involvement in priority decisions and cycle planning, they were satisfied with the final deliverables.
  • The general consensus was that projects finished in less time and with higher client acceptance than would have been the case if the old traditional approaches had been used.
  • Having the client involved made problem solving and conflict resolution a much more productive exchange between the team and the client.

Pizza Delivered Quickly: Order Entry and Home Delivery Process Design

Pizza Delivered Quickly (PDQ) is a 40-year-old, family-owned, local chain of four eat-in and home-delivery pizza stores. PDQ's stores are located in Woodville, a growing Midwestern city of 200,000. Recently, PDQ has lost 30 percent of its sales revenue, due mostly to a drop in home-delivery business. The company attributes this solely to its major competitor, a national pizza chain with ten stores, which started operation in Woodville 18 months earlier and is promoting a program that guarantees 45-minute delivery service from order entry to home delivery. PDQ advertises one-hour delivery. PDQ currently uses computers for in-store operations and the usual business functions, but otherwise is not heavily dependent upon software systems to help receive, process, and home-deliver customers' orders. Pepe Ronee, PDQ's Supervisor of Computer Services, has been charged with developing a software application to identify optimal "pizza factory" locations and with creating a software system to operate them more efficiently. In commissioning this project, Dee Livery, PDQ's president, said to pull out all the stops. She further stated that the future of PDQ depends on the success of this project. She wants the team to configure the business to deliver pizza unbaked and "ready for the oven" in 30 minutes or less or deliver it pre-baked in 45 minutes or less. Given their current application of computer technology this was a daunting challenge but essential to the survival of PDQ.

Try & Buy Department Stores: Curriculum Design, Development, and Delivery

Try & Buy Department Stores is among the largest discount department stores in the world. Its Information Systems Department (ISD) comprises over 10,000 professionals, of whom approximately 2,000 were project managers. The systems development staff was organized along customer/product/service lines. There were 184 such groups. Each customer/product/services group operated independently, with its own processes, tools, and templates. There was a very strong sense of team and pride within each group. Despite cross-group project problems, of which there were several, the independent organizational structure did allow ISD to develop expertise in each customer group. Much of the success of Try & Buy was attributable to that unique structure. There were a number of problems, however. Projects were generally late, seldom completed, and poorly tested, and produced high-maintenance results. Adopting a project-management methodology that all 184 teams would be required to use was quickly dismissed as impractical and a waste of time and money. ISD senior managers felt that a training solution was what they needed.

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