Power Projects

High-impact systems upgrades required both top-notch leadership skills and sharp execution for success.

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Vose says he developed "an extremely detailed project plan to make sure nothing was left to interpretation and that no critical tasks were overlooked."

To do that, he picked team members who were subject-matter experts, and he involved stakeholders from the start so that all issues could be addressed early in the process.

The goal was to have a system with the functions and features needed for the sales and ad operations departments to work more efficiently while delivering more to their clients — the advertisers themselves, Vose says. The system — enterprise-class Dart for Publishers, which is hosted software from DoubleClick Inc. — does that by supporting improved accuracy in delivery and expanded reporting capabilities, for example.

There's no question that the project was a large undertaking, and Vose says that one of the biggest concerns was messing up orders already in the system during the migration to the new one.

He says careful planning prevented that. "It was understanding how the systems interfaced and making sure the correct information was being passed across," he says, adding that his project team modified the existing order entry system to accommodate the migration to the new one.

Vose says one of the top three factors for the project's success was making sure orders were entered accurately; he hired an accounting agency to provide temporary workers to do data entry, rather than asking salespeople to re-enter needed information on top of their existing duties. Vose's IT team also wrote a program to compare raw data to the new entries nightly to ensure accuracy.

Another factor in the project's success was getting senior management support and fostering buy-in among team members. Vose says he gave people a voice in the project, which "provided them with a better sense of ownership."

The decision to make additional technology improvements that empowered the sales team, rather than just converting to a new ad-serving system, also helped ensure success, Vose adds. That created efficiencies in the process that "save a ton of time in the overall process."

Vose also credits his connection to his counterparts in other business units. Working with the salespeople from the start to understand their needs helped him win project approval from senior management and made it easier to select the right vendor, he says.

Moreover, Vose's connection to other departments didn't wane as the project progressed. He sent out weekly e-mail updates to about 75 stakeholders, a process that prompted open dialogue that generated ideas on how to deliver the strongest product possible.

The end result, Vose says, is an ad-serving system that supports senior management's goals for aggressive revenue growth and new advertising opportunities.

"It's allowed us to manage our campaigns more effectively than in the past," says Joe Farrell, director of advertising sales for Chicago Tribune Interactive.

Pratt is a Computerworld contributing writer in Waltham, Mass. Contact her at marykpratt@verizon.net.

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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