In November 2006 Bank of America acquired US Trust; this was with the aspirations that Bank of America would get a stronger foothold to enhance their Private Banking portfolio, which serviced the ultra-wealthy. A part of this acquisition was to bring all of US Trust’s proprietary computer systems that manage client’s investments and trust account data into TrustWeb, which was Bank of America’s proprietary database. Bank of America had just made the decision to utilize TrustWeb because they had just made significant investments.They also considered the contracts and number of employees it would affect in the TrustWeb system, so they decided that they could merge two existing US Trust systems (PMW+ and AMS) into their own. However, TrustWeb lacked functionality that US Trust associates were accustomed to having, which helped them provide customer service to their clients. TrustWeb was in need of updates because multiple systems were necessary to complete the tasks US Trust could easily, but if these ‘gaps’ were not addressed there would be a lack of associate’s abilities to meet the level of customer service that US Trust clients became accustomed to over the years.
The key players in TrustWeb were, Ken Lewis was CEO of Bank of America and Brian Moynihan, President of the Global Wealth Management segment. Next was the Transition Leadership Team (TLT) headed by Robert Sandberg, and Peter Santos was the change execution lead for the integration of all client facing tools, of which one was TrustWeb. Mike Morris was the PM; he had two direct reports who were more junior change analysts as well as a Tech Lead who was responsible for taking business requirements and turning them into functional systems.
This was not in keeping with the way BOA ran projects, the higher the priority the more dollars and resources a PM was to have at their disposal, which didn’t happen in this particular case. The project had some fundamental issues from the start of which the PM Morris did not take part in. This was the definition and planning process of the TrustWeb project, he was put in place when the execution phase was already starting. He was working on five projects in total and the one major project being TrustWeb, which was a top 10% project.
Mike was a novice and likely had too many projects running at the same time, when he should have been focused on TrustWeb. One of the first tasks that are imperative to the success of the project is to select the PM before any of the definition or planning has started, this will allow the selection of the team and identification of the stakeholders. The next issue was that the PM on this project had no formal authority to make decisions, of which were back-office operations and business stakeholders from client servicing.
The previously mentioned stakeholders were very vocal about the short-comings of TrustWeb, but were not in any further meetings. The PM had very little experience in the IT forum which was a glaring weakness, and his Technical Lead was not used to working with such complex issues. He also did not have the resources that were commensurate with a project this size. There were also some other issues that were axillary to the process, Morris took a week off during a critical meeting in Dallas and he missed new project requirements which he had to catch up on later.
This cost his team valuable time, which affected his ability to deliver the final project on time. The previously mentioned issues may not all have been able to have been averted, but there certainly could have been some processes put in place to mitigate them. One of the major shortfalls that were obvious was not identifying the PM first before the definition stages began. By not finding the PM first he was working from a disadvantage by not being able to facilitate the definition and planning phases of the project. This responsibility would have fallen directly on the TLT Santos because the PM directly reported to him.
The next issue was the PM’s lack of knowledge in IT, coupled with being a newer PM and having such a high worth project needed full attention. He was also unaware of the complexity of the system that US Trust utilized, it was user-friendly, but it pulled data from several databases, which were being upgraded simultaneously. The aforementioned issues would have been the PM’s responsibilities to understand the importance of this particular project; he was brought in after he had an opportunity to select his own team that had the necessary expertise.
In the future if a project is going to be a success there needs to be an identification of who the PM will be from the first day of planning. It is my opinion that this this where this project first fell down. There also seemed to be a lack of direction from the sponsor, Robert Sandberg, who would have been ultimately responsible for the success or failure of this project. There was a definitive lack of IT knowledge by the PM in this case; I would have brought in someone with the breadth of knowledge that had IT expertise in databases.
Also, as stated in the case study Bank of America typically utilized the systems that worked from the organizations they acquired. In this case it felt as though they had significant funding behind TrustWeb and they were not going to budge from their proprietary system. In this case I would have suggested looking at the system that US Trust was using and why it worked well and to see how one may affect the other. Finally, Mike Morris was an unseasoned PM and he could not put all of the effort that was required of this high worth project that was necessary.
The rule was as you became more experienced within the organization then you would get more project to handle. If he was indeed the right person, then the right path would have him manage TrustWeb only, and to surround him with IT resources that understood the process from both sides. I would have required him to attend the Dallas meetings, because this cost him valuable time and created rework which could have been utilized in other ways.