case study

Case Study - Small Software Product Development Company


Thinktank Consulting was approached by the management of a relatively small software development company that was looking for some help with their issues. At the time they had approximately ten to fifteen small clients that they sold their product to and were obligated to support these clients to generate cash flows to sustain the company. At the same time the firm was selected to participate in a tender for a very large contract with one of the larger players in the Asian telecommunications market. The management felt that they had a very good chance of winning this contract providing they can produce a major upgrade to their product.


The issues mentioned by the executives of the software house included: excessive workloads, projects (both from Professional Services and Product Development areas) frequently being late, Change Requests implemented for customers frequently required rework and “buggy” upgrades to the existing software product.


Quality and richness of features of the new version of the product was of the first priority to the company, because of its Asian bid. At the same time the management was concerned about maintaining the cash flow generated by the CRs requested by the existing small customers. Time factor was also important; however the senior management has indicated that they were willing to be somewhat flexible in order to obtain superior quality.

Case Study – Portfolio Scoring Model - Western European Bank

This case study focuses on a Western European subsidiary of a large multinational banking and financial services corporation. While the subsidiary operates only in a medium-size European country, the parent organization is present in dozens of countries and serves millions of customers.

The subsidiary in question has managed to survive the financial crisis relatively unscathed, but still had certain performance issues including stagnant income numbers and even a slight dip in 2012.

As a result of these issues the senior management decided to analyze and prioritize their projects as well as to better align them with the company strategy for the next three to five years.


Considering its previous challenges the executive management team developed the following strategy:

  • 50% of the future “simple” sales should be offered online in order to cut operating costs
  • 100% of future simple services should be offered online, again, in order to cut the operating costs
  • All of the products and services offered should be described using “easy language” in order to improve transparency and understanding
  • All of the products and services introduced by the global headquarters should undergo product nationalization in order for them to conform to local laws and standards
  • The bank wants to become a top employer in the country

The Scoring Model

The senior management team has agreed on the following scoring model for the company project proposals (see also Table 1):

  • NPV
  • Payback
  • Strategic fit
  • Technical project risk
  • Customer impact (importance for customer)
  • Employee impact (potential decrease in the headcount)

Table 1

Selection Criteria

Points Awarded (Maximum possible 60)


61 points

Case Study - Global Financial Instituation


Our company was commissioned to take over a large portfolio including several regulatory projects ($50,000 to $250,000) and a flagship infrastructure overhaul project ($15,000,000). Also Thinktank Consulting was requested to provide its expertise and assistance in the rollout of the mew project management methodology and the establishment of the Project Management Office (PMO).


There were several problems associated with the above-mentioned goals. Firstly, the company culture and organizational structure (functional) provided the newly-hired project managers with a very complex environment. Furthermore the new PM methodology developed in the European headquarters needed fine-tuning for the local conditions.


Most of the bank's IT portfolio consisted of the regulatory projects mandated by the various North American, European and international governing bodies. One of the main aspects of such projects is that the scope and deadline is fixed by the government leaving little room to “manipulate” the project management triangle. In addition the number and the size of the IT portfolio has grown by approximately 50% compared to the previous year while the technical team has grown by only 10-20%. This factor has obviously increased the pressure on the management team with respect to project resource allocation.


Thinktank Consulting determined that the only way to deliver the regulatory project on time and with the limited resources was to concentrate on quality Requirements Engineering, Project Prioritization and Project Management. Special attention was dedicated to the involvement of our business counterparts in the requirements gathering and management processes.

Our company has also participated in the deployment and fine-tuning of the new project management methodology. The work, among other things, included enhancing the standard Requirements Document, adding several sections to the Project Plan and collaborative development of the Project Roadmap document.

We have also provided several training sessions in the areas of Negotiations, Estimation and Requirements Engineering.

Case Study - Global Imaging Company


Thinktank Consulting was requested to provide its expertise on a flagship strategic project initiated y a global digital imaging corporation. The project was expected to involve basically every area of the business and focused on building a web-based front-end system that would allow business customers search, select and order various products offered by the company. The new system was also required to have a real-time interaction with a complicated ERP system that has just been deployed in North American headquarters.


Although the company had some basic project management methodology in place, the level of sophistication was insufficient for the upcoming project. Documentation was available, however different project teams used different templates. There were no key documents identified by the IT department. In general following project management was more voluntary rather than obligatory. For example, sign-offs on key documents were very frequently obtained after the development process has already started thus causing misunderstandings and confusion. In addition there were no clear guidelines on the relationship between IT and Business sides. Thinktank was notified that the senior management was considering using this project as a pilot for gauging and planning all future project management and business analysis practices.


Quality of the product was of the first priority in this project. In order for the system to be accepted and used by the customers and all the internal departments involved it had to be attractive, user-friendly and efficient. It also had to integrate seamlessly with the existing ERP system.

Time factor was also important; however the senior management has indicated that they were willing to be somewhat flexible in order to obtain superior quality. The budget part was a bit more complicated: the executives were prepared to be generous with resources but did not want to invest in any kind of business analysis or project management software packages.

Case Study - Biotechnology Start-Up


In 2001 we were contacted by a small bioinformatics company started by group of biotechnology scientists and computer programmers. The company was in the process of developing a new bioinformatics platform for the biotechnology sector. The team was expected to develop a working prototype of the platform as soon as possible in order to test it at several locations including Centre for Disease Control, UBC Medical School and Canada Genome Centre. The next logical step was to present their platform and independent reviews to the venture capital companies.


The main challenge facing the team was that the biotechnology experts had very differing ideas on how the system should work and what it should do. Developers on the other hand, did not have any background in cutting-edge biotechnology science and had a very difficult time understanding the requirements. The process that started with great fanfare and enthusiasm has stalled after about one month.


As was mentioned before time was of an issue. The window of opportunity was defined to be 6 to 12 months. Furthermore, due to tight financial situation the company could not afford to invest in additional resources or provide developers with biotechnology training. Quality and the scope of the product were somewhat less of an issue since the company was expected to produce a working prototype with relatively few functions. However the prototype was expected to perform exceptionally well in order to gain acceptance and positive reviews of independent experts.


One of the first issues that became obvious to Thinktank Consulting was the fact that the company had a very weak understanding of the system development life cycle (SDLC) process. And while full-scale implementation of project management and business analysis methodologies would have definitely benefited the company, lack of time and budget warranted a simpler and leaner approach.

ThinkTank Consulting developed a customized course covering key areas of Requirements Gathering, Vision and Scope and Software Requirements Specifications documentation and their relationship to the basic Project Plan.

Case Study - Large European Telecom


Close to the very end of the last year Thinktank Consulting has completed a very exciting project that has been two years in the making. We have successfully finished a very large project and portfolio management implementation initiative at one of the leading European telecom providers.

The company has experienced a significant growth in the number and size of their projects. Currently a typical project portfolio at the organization consists of approximately fifty ongoing large endeavours. As a result of the above-mentioned developments the company started experiencing problems in the areas of resource planning, allocation and management. Furthermore, there are certain issues with proper planning of the projects, adequate project control and performance reporting.

Company management has contacted Thinktank Consulting Inc. to assist them with an independent, unbiased assessment of the situation and provide its expertise in addressing their problems.

Problems and Challenges

Project Portfolio Management

  • Lack of strategic planning/ portfolio management/ project prioritization
  • Lack of strategic resource allocation

Project Management

  • Lack of proper project planning
  • Lack of unified project management methodology
  • Lack of qualified (trained) and dedicated (full time) project managers
  • Poor Interdepartmental communications on projects
  • Lack of proper requirements elicitation, documentation and management
  • Lack of proper and/or fair estimation

Freestyle Comments from Participants

Portfolio Management/Resourcing

Case Study - North American University


A president of one of the North American universities e-mailed me to chat about the issues they were having and see if a potential solution can be found for them. The university was located in one of the smaller towns near US-Canada border and had approximately 15,000 on campus students.

The university management has undertaken a significant expansion of their services including a massive distance education portal, as well as opening of the Law and Medical faculties. The president also mentioned that one of the most important goals of the university was to attract more Canadian, American and international students to their university as the competition was getting very stiff due to their proximity to the border and a number of both American and Canadian schools located nearby.

Problems and Challenges

Among the issues mentioned by the president and later confirmed by all other executives of the university were:

  • We are experiencing stiff competition from Canadian and US universities. We need innovative and effective projects to fight this battle. How do we identify such opportunities?
  • Value of our projects is low. We have no way of measuring, but the proverbial “gut feel” tells us that we are not getting our money’s worth. Is there a way to remedy this situation?
  • We have too many projects in our pipeline since we say “yes” to every initiative. How do we cut unattractive ideas?
  • Our resource pool is fixed, but the number of projects is growing and they are getting more complex. How do we prioritize them and address the resourcing constraint?


As always there were several external and internal constraints limiting our ability to find quick nd efficient solutions to the organization’s problems:

Case Study - Telecommunications Product Company


Thinktank Consulting was contacted by a medium-size European software company producing various value-added services for the telecommunications industry. The organization has experienced a very fast growth in terms of revenues, full-time employees and the portfolio of services it offered.

The executives felt that now was the time to venture into the non-telecom domain by providing professional IT services to other organizations and by developing their own mobile apps business line.

Problems and Challenges

The senior management of the company had several concerns about the future development of the organizational goals. They included:

  • Our projects are getting bigger, especially the professional services ones. Do we have the in-house skills and capabilities to handle them?
  • We started experiencing certain problems with our projects already. They include poor quality of product, need for rework and missed deadlines. What are the root causes of these problems?
  • We are entering two new business domains with very steep learning curves. How do we balance our best resources without damaging the existing business lines?
  • We seem to have too many project ideas. How do we handle the resource allocation?
  • We need more project managers and business analysts, but they are not readily available in our market. What options do we have?


As the company employees have been already heavily involved in multiple projects already, the time factor had to be considered as we did not have the luxury to “remove” the resources from their projects for a prolonged period of time.


Thinktank Consulting has identified three problem areas for the company. They included:

  • Lack of project management capabilities
  • Lack of requirements management (aka business analysis in the IT and software development world) capabilities
  • Absence of project proposal prioritization and strategic resource allocation (project portfolio management)

The following steps were undertaken: