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Review of the Failed Hrbase Project at the Deutchebank

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The Domino effect...

Review of the failed HRbase project at the Deutsche Bank.

E.R. van Haag

Executive Part time MBA International Management

Leiden University School of Management (LUSM)

November 2005

Executive summary

This paper gives a review, of each project stage of the unsuccessful development and implementation process of HRbase at the global working Deutsche Bank with their headquarters in Frankfurt. A variety of matters costed the organisation 600.000 euro without the expected benefits. First of all a lack to organise commitment with the stakeholders is noticed. This is surprising because an external consultant had already warned about the difficult issue of commitment, due to cultural differences. Furthermore, there is no track of control on costs, many organisational obstacles, a variety of local legislations and the quality of the business case and on the other hand, the usage of power by Pohtmann to organise the financials for the project No added value to the business was achieved. These facts give a glance of what went wrong. How can this be prevented in the future? This will be discussed on the basics of strategic alignment, reflecting the project management issues with IT Governance and Prince2 with its Governance project structure. This paper intends to identify the strengths and weaknesses per project stage of the chosen approach of the Deutsche bank. Finally, this will bring the main conclusions and advice over the future of the HRbase and the project approach.


A project is successful if the project costs are not exceeding the planned costs, if the project is ready on time and if it meets the expectations of the stakeholders. Reviewing what happened chronologically, beginning with nineteen ninety-nine, the development and implementation process of HRbase.


In nineteen ninety-nine, the campaign "Our identity" started to reach corporate culture. Goals were customer focus, teamwork, innovation, performance and trust. Fisher said that this would lead to stability in the dynamics of change.

August - December 1999, project conceptualisation

Pohtmann and Senff gathered ideas from various HR members. They translated this to the following project goals:

HRbase serves as a corporate directory for internal expertise;

Easy accessible repository of HR employees profiles;

Easy searchable repository of HR employees profiles;

Profiles containing skills and experience;

All HR employees should fill in their own homepage including project sub pages;

The system fosters the creation of knowledge networks;

Employees could meet physically and virtually to exchange and amplify knowledge of practice.

It is unclear what the responsibilities of those two are within this project phase. It seems not a designed Governance structure. It is not clear if at that time, the ICT management and experts from GT&S division were involved with the interviewing. That this is not clear are signs of bad IT Governance and or Prince2 handling. Furthermore, the two also made the IT solution by themselves. The architecture is already identified. They chose the application to reach their (own) project goals. Therefore, a feasibility study is already narrowed within this choice. With this approach, commitment is in general far away. Figure 1 shows that this is a signal of weak governance. A full scope of all the ins and outs of that choice is not realistic. Prince2 has a governance structure for project handling. Project roles and responsibilities are defined and goes down up to team manager level. Compared with Prince2, it is a weakness that just two people are defining the project goals because with Prince2 there is a Project board for making the important decisions. In this Prince2 project board the interest of three parties are represented; business, supplier(s) and user representatives. In this way, a more in-depth study can be achieved. Compared with IT Governance and strategic alignment, a better alignment between the business strategies, (internally and externally) and the IT strategy, (internally and externally) could be achieved:

* Determine what the business wants from IT;

* Define governance principles to achieve the business goals;

* Define governance decision making bodies, roles and responsibilities;

* Define investment prioritisation method;

* Define supporting processes and tools;

* Define supporting measurement and reward.

(Source: Accenture, 2005)

In this way, commitment of all parties seems more logic. In this case, two persons are setting out the lines. Accenture's (2005) Figure 1 represents well what is stated. There is no effective governance.

Figure 1

Source: Accenture, IT Governance Presentation 150905_SITE.ppt, (2005).

Pothmann and Senff thought that those project goals would lead to:

* Transparency of HR department, clear information and reporting lines, functions and titles;

* Better internal HR communication;

* A culture of trust, innovation and teamwork;

* Reduce project costs;

* Easy information sharing;

Strategic alignment shows that the goals and prospected outcomes of the project have an internal focus. The business needs are not included in the project outcomes such as the wanted connections with other systems, etc. to create business value). There is no alignment between



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