Technology, political tension, and conflicting agendas: When smart IT isn't enough.

We aren't the only consultancy that delivers smart IT solutions. However, we are definitely one of few that can navigate murky political waters and help stakeholders with conflicting agendas coalesce around a common outcome.


Ministry of Justice - Public Sector

The Surface Problem

Alberta's Court Clerk desktop needed to be modernized, as the legacy system was quickly nearing its end of life. The current vendor had put forward a conservative proposal that the client believed would provide an unsatisfactory solution.

The Deeper Problem

This project was, in fact, the tip of a very large iceberg.

The majority of Court Services' software and processes were aging out, and other processes were stuck due to poor software implementation. The system needed a potentially disruptive overhaul.

Our client, a progressive thinker, needed to navigate an environment that was extremely averse to disruption. He also had an existing proposal that promised modest modernization - which he knew would be a band-aid solution. Finally, there was an underlying budgetary tension between government and the judiciary: who would pay for what?

In an atmosphere like this, simply offering up a disruptive technical solution would be business suicide, and a major embarrassment to our client.

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The Solution

We began by creating an engineer's report evaluating the current proposal for effectiveness, lifespan and ROI.

To deliver diplomatically viable options, we crafted suggestions that ranged from safe and modest to disruptive and bold, enabling our client's stakeholders to collaborate and feel involved in the decision-making process.

At this point, we also needed to satisfy the byzantine government procurement process by coming in as consultants under the existing vendor's aegis. This presented new problems, with the existing vendor justifiably feeling challenged.

Finally, the process required that we bring in an additional integrator (in addition to ourselves). This integrator, unfortunately, delivered subpar work, some of which had to be re-done - without causing unnecessary tension among our clients or the existing vendor.

A key element to our solution was team inclusiveness. In this environment, the Court Services team needed to feel ownership. At every step, we went out of our way to simplify, educate, and involve the team. This paid dividends, with the client achieving buy-in with rapidly diminishing resistance and political second-guessing. The solution we implemented was successful, and testament to both our IT and business strategy acumen.

Today, the program we implemented is still in use while being upgraded to even newer and better technologies by a member of our team.

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The Learnings

1. IT solutions are a complex proposition. They tend to alienate stakeholders who feel left out and helpless. In this atmosphere, it is vital to listen hard, include stakeholders in a collaborative solution, and break the technical down into understandable 'bites'.

2. Large, complex projects are often fraught with political quicksand. Solution providers need to be adept at reading both the technical, and the political tea leaves, and working to build cohesion at a very human level.

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