Premier 100: Jumbo Projects, Big Risks

The bigger the project, the bigger the risk. These IT leaders kept up with multiple stakeholders and deadlines.

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"The challenge was to make sure that everyone's criteria for success was going to be addressed," says Smith.

That meant harmonizing the needs of key stakeholders, such as the business executive responsible for MVCI's resort management activities. For Smith, it also meant determining which features were essential for the reservation system for the short term while limiting the level of customization done so that the system could be implemented fast.

"We had to get to market quickly," says Smith. "We demonstrated to people that this wouldn't be the be-all, end-all' system. We'd learn from the market and then add functionality" later, he says.

To identify and balance varying priorities from different constituents, Smith met early and often with a mix of business unit and business process leaders.

"The biggest thing that I needed to do in the beginning was make sure what success' was for [the Asia- Pacific business team and the business process owners] and create a bridge between what I was seeing going on in the market and what was going on internally at MVCI," says Smith, a 20-year Marriott veteran. That process included promoting the needs of MVCI's IT organization, he adds.

It also required diplomacy to ensure that those priorities were, in fact, balanced. The project "could have easily gone off track if any one group became the dominant voice," says Smith.

For example, he made sure that the software vendor MVCI selected didn't meet or speak solely with executives from its Asia-Pacific business unit and disregard the needs of the company's business process owners when designing the system.

Smith also played a central role in making sure that all of the key stakeholders were involved in the governance of the project. It required those players to study the market to determine which features would need to be added to the system during the first few years after its implementation and mapping that against available funding.

Smith's role in the effort has earned him praise from his boss. "Within an aggressive time frame, Dwight led a highly collaborative, cross-functional business team in implementing the technology required to enable a successful launch," says MVCI President Steve Weisz.

Although MVCI is still getting to know the Asia-Pacific time-share market, Smith says he's upbeat about its accomplishments thus far. "We feel pretty good about it," he says. "We've been able to achieve our plan."

Adrian M. Butler
Vice president of IT, telecommunications and support services, Accor North America, Carrollton, Texas

  • Project at a glance: The hotel operator expanded network bandwidth and made other technology enhancements, such as adding Wi-Fi for its Motel 6 brand.

  • Signature leadership move: Marshaled support for a network upgrade by identifying key business-unit leaders.

Butler, 37, knew that the aging frame-relay network that had been supporting Accor North America's Motel 6 business "wasn't fitting the bill anymore," as he puts it.

Problem was, any proposal to upgrade the existing frame-relay network infrastructure would have to compete for funding with other projects throughout the company. And unlike the types of IT projects that would have a more visible impact on the business, a network upgrade didn't carry a clearly quantifiable return on investment, notes Butler.

"So I worked with business counterparts in dissecting their needs and worked through the organization politically," says Butler. "It came down to finding people in the organization with a voice."

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