DIY Digital Transformation — Part 3: Mapping Current and Future State in Engineering Consultancy

Anita Gisch
Long. Sweet. Valuable.
3 min readFeb 21, 2024

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Image by DALLE

Introduction

Part 3 of this little series draws inspiration from the valuable insights of Prior & Leaney’s (2020) ethnographic study and inspired by the reflections of Star (1996) on the intricate relationship between infrastructure and work practice.

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The Engineering Consultancy Challenge

The Engineering firm in this article, much like the architectural firm we discussed in Part 1, aimed to streamline their project management. They chose a new software system, only to hit a snag when it wasn’t compatible with their existing Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software. There are similarities as well to the challenges faced by Creative Design Agency in Part 2 with managing unintended consequences.

An engineering consultancy, we’ll call them Southwest Engineering, known for its excellence in managing physical asset projects, faced a dilemma with the introduction of new project management software aimed at enhancing project-level P&L tracking. Their current approach segregated ‘clean’ physical projects from ‘soft’ consulting (i.e. people) projects, with each category operating with completely separate forms, processes and expectations.

Finding Common Ground

We worked through steps 1 and 2 to help them recognise that while their projects differed in nature, there were underlying similarities that could serve as a foundation for a unified project management approach. By closely examining the aspects that aligned and those that diverged, such as the tangible ROIs of capital projects versus the fluid dynamics of consulting endeavours, the consultancy embarked on designing a system that accommodated both, without compromising the integrity of either.

Key Takeaways: Create Windows and Doors

The solution lay in creating “windows and doors” — metaphorical pathways that allowed the ‘soft’ projects the flexibility they required while maintaining the structured integrity crucial for ‘clean’…

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Anita Gisch
Long. Sweet. Valuable.

As an Organisational Anthropologist and Business Transformation specialist, I love finding innovative ways to improve systems and processes.