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Case Study: Small/Medium Business Solution Management 2019

Author: Anthony Michael

In the previous two case studies: Compliance Assessment and Risk management, and Board Strategy and Guidance we have spoken about the preliminary work done to prepare a project for execution. Establishing the three pillars essential to project management: Scope, Budget, and Time.

TLM had a mandated 6 weeks to complete a now defined scope of work to a set budget that worked for both TLM and The SMB in question.

So, lets take a look at the work done in this stage.

The first step in this process is to define each individual task that needed to be completed as according to the scope, understand the estimated time frame for completion on each of those tasks, and assign an individual responsible for each of those tasks; along with a governance structure in order to monitor progress.

Once all of these things are understood from a bottom up perspective you can build a project schedule. This is used for monitoring progress, analysis of problem areas in resourcing and time management, and allowing for accountability in baseline slippage.

There are two key things that should be noted at this point:

  1. While it may seem “over the top” or “un-needed expenditure” to have a project coordinator/manager on a project of this size it can be invaluable for several reasons.

    Firstly, as with any kind of management having detailed oversight allows your project to stay “on its rails”. Trusting resources to just go off and do work can lead to serious delays and things slipping through the cracks. You can get focused on one task and miss something extremely vital by not having someone with clear visibility of the larger picture.

    Secondly, with a detailed project schedule and consistent governance reporting we could buy ourselves extra time with the bank and their auditors. Being able to prove that we had a clear plan that was being executed with regular progress made showed the auditors that we were treating the issue with the severity that it deserved and that we had a clear end state that we were working toward. For them having a non-compliant company off of their reporting was a mark of a job well done for them. The hard deadline and promise of fines is a tool used to impress upon a company the seriousness of their situation and motivate them to action. Once they can prove that serious action is being taken their willingness to provide some leeway increases.


  1. There is an old saying in project management “you can only hit two of three”. From multibillion-dollar corporations down to the most basic of tasks achieving the targeted Scope, Time, and Budget can be a tricky prospect. There are often so many balls in the air with any given project that eventually a mistake will be made. Whether that be a resource going on an unaccounted for holiday, a task taking longer than originally estimated, or one of a million other unpredictable occurrences.

    This is why managing expectation is key. No one can expect a whole team of people to do everything perfectly from start to end the first time through. There are several ways that you can manage this. Building slack into your schedule is a common way to combat some time slippage, another is to simplify or remove extraneous parts of the scope of work – this like idealised stretch goals.

In this particular case study our issue was resourcing. We had planned to utilise not only our own team of experts (A on the ground project manager, A Policy and Procedure expert who also worked as the head of the team , and a Technical expert) but also in order to save time and budget also taking advantage of some of the company’s internal resources.

While this can be a feasible idea for many organisations, in this case we ended up dealing with a couple of problems. The first being that the employee in question was openly hostile toward the project plan, questioning the validity of the actions taken. So much time was spent arguing about why the work needed to be done that it ate up countless hours of simply doing the tasks that were assigned on both the employee’s end, who was needed to do technical work, and also on end of the team lead who was needed to do Policy and Procedure documentation writing.

Once that was dealt with through internal management, that same employee revealed that they were unable devote the time needed to complete their tasks because they were currently occupied with another internal project for the company. The building of a new website needed for launch at an upcoming trade show. Thus pulling focus from our technical expert who was now attempting to do the work that they were both required to do.

With advisement from the Company Director that hitting our deadline was the most important factor we decided to do two things:

  1. Bring in extra resources to help manage the gap that now existed
  2. Reorganise the workflow in order prioritise essential work to hit compliance requirements over their internal requirement to have their network able to move away from the problem employee mentioned in our last case study.

The plan was originally to hit those two requirements simultaneously. By migrating some of their technology to an outside firm for management as well as some other minor tweaks we were going to be able to mark off some compliance checkpoints and become far less reliant on the employee in question.

With the clock ticking it became far more important to the client that they not be fined for their non-compliance in the short term.

With plan set and in motion we were able to work to our schedule and achieve the requirements for a signed Attestation of Compliance by the date of the deadline.

Once completed we worked with the SMB to identify some of the best ways for them to transform their business to over the coming year.  Used our wealth of experience to assist with the putting together a fresh round of work for them to shop to market and sat down for a pizza night and lessons learned discussion about our experience over the course of the project.

In the last part of our series of Case Studies for this SMB we are going to talk about how we assisted with their Labour Management and Hire. Please click through to read.

But before you do that, lets look at some of our lessons learned providing the End To End Solution Management for this organisation:

  1. Undertake a lessons learnt post solution review allows many Client personal to understand and reflect on key growth learnings
  2. Re-iterates key lessons and important information to focus on in coming months, and how best to manage employees through the changes they will be dealing with in their day to day duties.
  3. A lessons learnt paper documents and provide a go-to learning tool for all to ensure what and how key learnings have been agreed.