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Purolator Courier's CIO: Why We Shuffled Execs

Purolator Courier's CIO: Why We Shuffled Execs

When it came to a major overhaul of its business operations, the company allowed leadership of the initiative to migrate from one executive to another as the project moved to different phases. In the midst of it all, Jim McDade found himself in the role of prime contractor.

The second was to gain endorsement from a representation of key internal and external stakeholders, creating an opportunity for them to review the design principles and framework, endorse the direction, and prepare themselves for the deployment activities to come." At its peak there were over 300 people on the project, including staff from Innovapost, CGI, Microsoft, Kewill, SAP, Accenture and Avanade. There wasn't a pre-built solution for the things Purolator was doing, so the team had to work through and think through how to make the changes effectively.

About 40 of Purolator's core business staff, including Cooper and key members of the Marketing department, were assigned to the project and relocated to a floor of one of CGI's development centers, about ten minutes from Purolator's head office.

This, of course, created some anxiety for the affected staff, who naturally voiced many of the concerns heard frequently on such projects: Why me? What if this doesn't go well? What if someone comes in and does a great job in my role?

"We knew that this was an issue and we worked hard with everyone to make things very transparent. We didn't want people worrying about their future here, so we spent a lot of time with them, explaining that they had been hand-picked because they're among our leaders and we want to invest in them," said McDade.

"Just because someone started on the project didn't mean that they ended on it," he added. "And if they left it, it didn't mean that there was any kind of a problem with that person. It just meant that we were entering a different phase and we needed different skills."

The CIO as Prime Contractor

While Cooper led the design phase out of the off-site facility, McDade worked with his peers at head office, ensuring that the company got the design right, tackling such issues as how best to do point-to-point pricing, what should the shipping channels look like, and how should the business intelligence layer be done. In essence, he became the prime contractor for the project.

When he joined the company in September 2005, most of the project work at Purolator was done on a fixed-price basis. But McDade wasn't a believer in fixed-price contracts, so he took a different approach, opting to avoid customization and go the time-and-materials route.

"My thought was if we go fixed price and we get into a problem, it's probably going to be because I didn't make a decision on time or I did something that took the IS folks in the wrong direction," he said. "So why should I pay a premium to have them cover themselves when it's my fault anyway?"

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