Practicing What They Preach
Those fears are typical of many large corporations. "There was fear of an unknown [and potentially] adverse impact to the overall production process," says Bill Dugan, a Brewster, N.Y., consultant that helped with the transition. "People would say, 'I'm getting the job done now independently of a centralized system. Will this cause new problems?'"
Adding to the internal resistance: BusinessWeek did not have a history of successful collaboration on projects. Department managers feared their input would be ignored, that some other department might reign supreme, or that the project would take too long, Dugan says.
Managers also knew that any new system would temporarily impact data sharing with suppliers. Then there was cultural momentum, which, back then, did not generally embrace change.
"Putting out a large weekly magazine means very tight deadlines week in and week out for every department involved in the process," says BW's Masterson. "People tend to be reluctant to mess with something that is working and getting the job done. It's the old saw about 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it.'"
Despite the concerns, the business case for modernizing the system, and the imminent retirement of a key employee, won the day. "I suppose we could have trained another individual to take over the print order, but I felt it was a good time to automate the process and upgrade."
Ultimately, Pragmatix helped the cross-disciplinary teams at BusinessWeek clearly define their requirements. For example, when the consultants discovered how certain operations were dependent on key employees, they worked to extract that knowledge through debriefings. The knowledge was then integrated into the new system.
"A key element in the software design was the need to interface effectively with two domestic and international service bureaus, as well as BusinessWeek's production management system," says consultant Dugan. "Pragmatix spent the many weeks needed to meticulously define the dataflow requirements for all these related systems."