National Insurance Group; How projects fail

Situation

A large national insurance broker recognised a need to improve online delivery of services across several hub sites (12) including head office. Increasingly the business had been seeing issues with their digital activity.

  • maintenance of content across 12 sites was becoming unjustifiable (man hours)
  • development of design and functions was managed internally, and the dev team was beyond breaking point in terms of capacity to handle requests and demands
  • A dozen individual sites with different stats, functionality and branding
  • An internal CMS review which failed to deliver a workable solution
  • Digital budgeting being guessed at, not based on specifications, need and costings

At this point the business recognised a need for an agnostic audit of the situation, and a solution specification

Solution; Discovery

An initial audit of the existing technology was undertaken, and processes mapped to understand interrelationships. This also established a number of issues not previously raised by the commissioning team.

A sequence of discovery sessions confirmed a variety of the pain-points known to the senior team, plus several practical considerations from different departments within the business.

The issues were broken down to simple components;

  • Make publishing content to multiple hub sites as easy as possible
  • Ensure updates could be managed from one point, populating multiple sites
  • Identify a system that did not need extensive developer retraining/reliance
  • Reporting was inadequate, and could not deliver a coherent picture
  • Contractual and legal issues such as licensing

Solution; Specification

The internal team research had identified Sitecore, EpiServer and Adobe CMS as potential contenders for managing the multiple website content. However, a new issue arose, as it was established the budget set for the project was based purely on “standard CMS rental” costs. Consequently the budget was proven inadequate for the adoption of a new system. To simplify systems would require changes to the page structures, navigation and styling of the 12 websites in order that they conform to a “house” style.  There was also no allowance for implementation; who/how would the system be adopted?

An initial aspect to the project was our review of the in-house solution options. We concluded Sitecore, EpiServer and Adobe CMS were potentially over specified and would result in a considerable ongoing license fee based on the number of hub sites – which were growing annually. A wider review of potential CMS was implemented, comparing the agreed scope to solutions. The conclusion was to adopt Kentico Xperience CMS, which had  the potential to deliver all the functions required, as well as satisfying budget requirements . A key factor was identifying a CMS that allowed unlimited domain publishing. This insulated future budgets from the impact of hub-site expansion.

To ensure a structured solution to the issues a scoping document was prepared. This in turn would lead to an invitation to tender (ITT) to be shared with potential solution providers. The scope needed to address a wide range of issues, from multi-site architecture, content production to imagery bank and brand execution.

The Tender process

I developed the components for an efficient tender process;

  • Documentation (Scope, ITT)
  • Agency selection based on proven delivery work; shortlist
  • Agency liaison to ensure proposals reflected answers to all questions
  • Creation of scoring matrix for submission review

Submissions were reviewed and visits to meet teams set up.  The conclusion was insight.

The fallout

At this point the senior team took the project in-house. One agency was invited to present, and following a short meeting, appointed.  The presentation was undoubtedly the slickest but did not answer many of the technical questions that needed addressing.

The client attempted to progress the project through lockdown and following 9 months, contacted me for help. Progress had been minimal, and the project was stalled. I provided input on how to get back on track, and subsequently the agency delivered the majority of requirements, leaving the client with the task of content input. Unfortunately the client had not followed the original plan, and not used the 9 months to prepare the necessary content. The launch of the new system is still waiting the content.

Learnings

The value of external input was highlighted in the process of developing a single scope, development of a tender process and project plan.

This was further illuminated when the project was taken in-house and back into the control of a team who had previously failed to manage the delivery of change.

Committing to a project budget as well as process is critical; about turns are usually expensive.

Published

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