Introducing Cloud Telephony and Modernising Ways of Working

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The Client: Scottish Water, a 4,000 FTE Scottish utility was facing a challenge. It had a short deadline of July 2021 to move to cloud telephony on the M365 platform – and at the same time, create a culture change within the utility to take advantage of the new functionality offered by its extensive and expensive M365 licensing. I was imbedded within Scottish Water as their Project Manager, taking this project through its extensive technical and financial governance models and processes.

The Challenges for me: As Scottish Water PM, I had to create a matrix organisation comprising of a project core team, drawn from Scottish Water, CompanyNet, their M365 partners, and Exactive- now Gamma – their telephony provided.

I had to quickly establish a knowledge of telephony infrastructure, in particular the benefits of moving away from on-premise to cloud, and the technical implications. This was required when we had to change our technical designs around the cloud configuration at the last minute when challenges were uncovered during discovery and design work.

I had to quickly establish a knowledge of Scottish Water’s commercial practices, and programme management expectations.

I had to quickly establish a knowledge of Scottish Water’s technical governance expectations, including their Change Management processes, their Technical Design Authority, their Change Control processes and their Risk Management processes.

I also had to quickly establish the people and stakeholder landscape, understanding conflicting stakeholder perspectives, requirements, and power mapping.

Outcomes: The initial hope that we could progress both projects through the governance processes at the same time was overly optimistic – one contractor could not start as quickly as hoped so I had to split out the work into two parallel projects, working on different timeframes.

We achieved go live on the telephony project three months ahead of deadline, switching over 4000 lines to cloud over a period of a week with only two defects recorded – both on legacy lines.

We achieved high levels of adoption of Teams Collaboration Areas, moving from 8 experimental sites to over 250 sites by the time we decided to close the programme in June 2021.

By proactive risk and scope management, I was able to hand back nearly 7% of underspend on the plus £1m budget.

Lessons Learned:

  1. Spending time on upskilling personally on infrastructure paid off when participating in discussions around revising designs due to new information emerging in Discovery and Design sessions.
  2. Extensive use of video and a rolling series of face to face drop in clinics were a key success factor in driving high levels of adoption.
  3. Understanding power structures and personality types is important in negotiating stakeholder conflict.
  4. Proactive management of risk allowed budget to be handed back to the wider programme for re-allocation elsewhere.
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