Project failure is a classic conundrum. Quite often, companies fail to understand the root cause. Krushna Sahoo however wanted to take the bull by the horns. At Motilal Oswal Securities, Sahoo along with a team of key people including Kamlakar and Harish, innovated a completely new framework for FTR (First Time Right) process and IT Governance. This framework, according to Sahoo, promises to deliver near 100 percent success rate.
"Achieving perfection is a mind-set. Making things First Time Right (FTR) is a habit. Every day, there are better ways of doing things quicker and more efficiently. Quickness and efficiency equal a better product or service, a happier customer, and higher profits for the company," says Sahoo, who now serves as the SVP (IT) at Motilal Oswal Securities.
In this exclusive interview, Sahoo shares, what he believes is the secret mantra for Technology Leaders in doing everything “First Time Right”.
What are the basic tenets of the First Time Right approach?
First Time Right (FTR) is not a defined approach that has already been there. This is something we have developed internally - a well-established process similar to the CMMI process (Capability Maturity Model Integration). People generally say that you need to follow project management, the CMMI process, the agile methodology, etc. But today we are seeing that 50 to 60% of the projects fail not because of the project management but because we don’t have the involvement of the end-user to set his expectations.
In our case, we did a lot of studies on value-driven issues with a lot of providers and vendors. We saw that most companies lacked a collective approach, and everyone followed some well-defined standard processes such as the agile project management methodology, Six Sigma process, etc. But every process has some starting limitations.
FTR involves making sure that all activities are carried out in the right manner – ie., first time right. The goal we had for FTR is to minimise the number of production issues and improve customer experience. To achieve FTR, the teams of IT (Application development team including Project Manager and CIO or CTO); Quality Assurance (Software testers, Test Lead and QA head), and Business (A product team or Business solution team) must work in tandem. These teams are responsible for 100% quality delivery using the FTR mechanism, where ownership is the key factor to drive results and excellence.
When did the FTR process begin and how has it evolved?
We started the FTR process six months ago, and slowly it was implemented across the organisation. It is a major responsibility of the IT project manager, QA project manager, and the business team. When everybody delivers according to their responsibility, we achieve at least 90 per cent of the end objective.
FTR is not a mechanism, it is a methodology like Lean Six Sigma, promoting the use of work standardization and flow, thereby creating a competitive advantage.
The secret is we created three cards - 1. IT Card 2. QA Card and 3. Business Card where each has separate responsibilities of their own and each one must ensure adhering to the five points or the checklist created for each of them involving 10 to 12 processes. If all stakeholders of the project team strictly follow the IT Card, QA Card, and Business Card, it’s highly likely that we will achieve FTR results.
So, the heads of these three teams will handle their respective cards from day one itself till the implementation of the project. This process was set up similar to Six Sigma. Meanwhile, we studied all the mismatches that happened during the project development stage and realised that this was not discussed with the end-user. For IT, the advisory is the user. But the advisory never discussed with the end-user to understand what he really expects from us. So, we put in place a process where the advisory will discuss with at least five end-users and give feedback.
What benefits have you derived since implementing the FTR framework? How has it helped teams internally?
We have been using the FTR process for the last six months. Earlier the accuracy and project delivery achievement stood at around 60%. After implementing the FTR, it takes minimum of three months for the process to mature, yet we are continuously improving the process from day one. The accuracy has improved from 60% to 90% across teams.
Earlier our delivery used to be after a couple of months, but now we are doing it phase-wise every month. During the delivery itself, we are checking the Business Requirement Document (BRD) and technical feasibility; we are showing the prototypes and getting the sign-ups for every stage. That way, all the users – IT, QA, and business - are on the same page and there is transparency.
Before implementing the FTR process, we were doing everything in Excel. Now we have developed software where the project manager logs in to commence the project. We are picking all the projects from JIRA software, a proprietary issue tracking product that allows bug tracking and agile project management, and by default, they all follow the FTR process in each step.
Finally, we link this process to the KRAs of the respective teams, where ownership becomes important. To encourage them to adhere to the process, we also did a lot of promotional activities regarding the scorecard by announcing awards for scoring 100 %. For completion of each point, they get some score. This way, we have created some sort of a competitive environment. The scorecard which used to be achieved at 70% to 75% is now being achieved at 95% to 100%. And any project with a score below 80% will not be accepted.
How do you draw a corollary between the FTR framework and customer satisfaction?
Whatever is the product vertical, we need to first understand the customer experience related to that vertical. We must have the expertise to understand the user experience. Using this process, we can minimise the huge errors post the delivery of the product. Indirectly there is a tremendous improvement in customer experience. If we put efforts to minimise the errors in whatever products, services, or results we are providing to the end-user, and if we exactly understand and provide what they need, definitely there will be an improvement in customer satisfaction.
This process is nowhere seen in the industry and is developed by our in-house team of around three to four people including me who have 10 to 15 years of experience with relevant expertise.