Mentored Graduate Project Case Study
About the Graduate
Kyle joined me as a business graduate in March 2013.
He had sent out over 100 CVs with no success and was interested in working in a smaller business. He was one of only two who responded to an advert through the University.
Just over a year later, after being contacted through LinkedIn, he was headhunted by the international consultancy firm Accenture, a move that doubled his market rate.
About the Clients
Kyle worked full time on site for me on two similar consecutive projects, the first for 5 months and the second for 8 months.
Yamato Scale Dataweigh (UK) Ltd in Leeds is an engineering subsidiary with 26 UK employees assembling, repairing & selling capital equipment and providing after sales service, spares and training. It supplies weighing equipment primarily to the food manufacturing industry.
Austin Hayes Ltd in Leeds is an independent company with 120 employees providing refurbishment and surface coating solutions to the Ministry of Defence and other engineering companies.
Scope of the Project with Yamato
Initially Kyle started on a few tactical “easy-win” projects in Excel to improve business processes. After a month Kyle took responsibility for developing the IT helpdesk and the company intranet under my guidance.
We then agreed with Yamato to take responsibility for reviewing their existing business system and if appropriate, introducing a replacement business, customer & management information system.
Scope of the Project with Austin Hayes
The initial agreed scope was to identify and introduce a document management system to automate a lot of the manual paperwork processes. However the business case I created after initially meeting the senior team identified a desire for much wider improvements.
After commencing the project, the scope quickly expanded to the introduction of new servers, an upgrade of much of the software and the implementation of a company wide business system.
How did we deliver the projects?
Kyle worked at the clients premises full time. I was in regular contact primarily by Skype and monitored project progress through Basecamp. I was on site once or twice a month for a steering meeting with Kyle and the directors.
We agreed the timelines with the client and dovetailed these in with the supplier.
Kyle created a Business Requirements document with input from all staff. This formed the basis for a “Request for Quote” from suppliers and for the selected supplier to create their Technical Requirements.
When we began, the clients were operating dated systems & were not up to speed with the kind of business solution currently available. We set aside some time in the project to bridge their understanding to ensure full buy in to the benefits available.
Kyle acted as business project manager managing contact with the suppliers and in doing so, reducing the number of consulting days they charged.
We use Basecamp as the project management tool to coordinate tasks and timelines between the client’s staff, Kyle & myself.
What was the outcome and lasting benefits for the client
After completing the Business Requirements for Yamato, ready for placing the order, the head office declined to give approval for the spend. The project was subsequently mothballed for a year. I put Kyle forward for a similar role at Austin Hayes.
The project at Austin Hayes was completed to time in 7 months. The scope evolved into a company wide business system for phase 1. This included Kyle persuading and agreeing with the client directors of the benefits of a modern integrated system, replacing the old IT architecture with new servers and software that were compatible, gathering full business requirements, identifying the solution and supplier then acting as business project manager through the implementation process.
Kyle left the project after completion of phase 1 with the client operating live on SAP Business One. He had also agreed the phase 2 rollout plans.
Feedback by the Graduate
My time at Yamato has been an interesting and enlightening experience thus far, providing me with insight into a number of key business expertise such as people skills/management, thinking on my feet, time management, psychology and strategy.
The scope of my work has centred around process improvement within Yamato where, after quickly identifying my skill set, Martyn set me to work on a number of projects ranging from tactically fixing internal IT and programming issues within the office and providing tutelage on these issues, through to financial and sales analysis and onto programming an intranet from scratch and ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) systems, all of which were managed through Basecamp.
Basecamp, which is essentially an online “to do” list combined with an internal discussion forum for all those involved with a specific project, has proven to be invaluable for improving internal communication and collaboration but also for providing a solid learning platform. The reason for this is Martyn’s utilisation of the tool; being able to control the direction and scope of projects whilst maintaining a certain distance from them, has provided me with the freedom to approach and manage my own projects as I see fit. By employing this methodology I have felt that Martyn has instilled a great amount of trust in me and given me a level of responsibility I’ve found refreshing, empowering and greatly fulfilling.
In addition, Martyn has provided me with a great level of support and backing throughout the process, and has always encouraged me to express my opinions and come up with my own ideas, which have always been taken into consideration during his decision making and has allowed him to tailor projects to my interests and future goals.
This approach combined with my experiences with IT systems within Yamato, soon led to Martyn re-scoping the focus of my work and gave me the lead on a project to completely revamp the ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning), CRM (Customer Resource Management) and Business Intelligence systems and software within Yamato and it is now my responsibility to drive this project through from inception to implementation and support beyond that point.
The opportunity for almost sole responsibility on a project like this is something that simply wouldn’t happen in a larger firm but, Martyn’s focus on SME’s (Small and Medium Enterprises) for this scheme has facilitated my regular involvement in Management meetings, decision making and great responsibility. This combined with Martyn’s business insights and wealth of knowledge has allowed me to develop my skill set very quickly in a comfortable environment where I am treated like an individual, not as a forgotten member of a large graduate intake and as such I am thoroughly enjoying my time as one of Martyn’s Mentored Graduates.