What added value does the services of MEDICALBOARD bring?


An inter­view with Jens Thieme, Head of Group Dig­i­tal Mar­ket­ing & Com­mu­ni­ca­tions at Oer­likon fol­low­ing the com­ple­tion of a long-term project launch­ing a new cor­po­rate web­site includ­ing sev­er­al busi­ness units.

Mr. Thieme, Oer­likon has worked with MEDICALBOARD con­tin­u­ous­ly over the past years. The result of this col­lab­o­ra­tion went “live” a few weeks ago. Could you share details of the nature of the project?

Apart from anoth­er joint project, we have re-designed our cor­po­rate web­site which went live in March 2021. There were mul­ti­ple objec­tives: we want­ed to trans­form an indus­try-focused cor­po­rate web­site into an inter­ac­tive site with clear cus­tomer focus offer­ing a mod­ern user expe­ri­ence and inter­ac­tion. Due to the com­plex­i­ty of the project, we quick­ly real­ized that we need­ed out­side sup­port. When look­ing for a suit­able part­ner, Ulrike Neu­berg­er from MEDICALBOARD was rec­om­mend­ed to us and she took over the pro­gram man­age­ment for both projects. When pitch­ing for the project, Ulrike con­vinced us with her strong pro­fes­sion­al and inter­per­son­al skills as well as her broad and exten­sive pro­gram and project man­age­ment experience.

This sounds like a stan­dard project man­age­ment assign­ment. Wouldn’t you nor­mal­ly assign some­one from with­in Oer­likon to take over the project? Why did you choose to hire exter­nal resources for this task?

We of course also asked our­selves this ques­tion. But we quick­ly real­ized that we didn’t have any resources for such a large and com­plex project. There are a few projects with­in Oer­likon which are man­aged by exter­nal part­ners that are spe­cial­ists with spe­cif­ic com­pe­ten­cies which Oer­likon can­not build up with­in a short peri­od of time. Expe­ri­ence has shown that spe­cial­ists with excel­lent project man­age­ment skills are hard to find: they are either already involved in mul­ti­ple projects, not inter­est­ed in tem­po­rary assign­ments or too inex­pe­ri­enced to real­ly make a dif­fer­ence. MEDICALBOARD was on a short notice able to pro­vide us with the right resources for the dura­tion of the project.

How would you describe your col­lab­o­ra­tion?

In a first step we gave an overview of the team and the project. Look­ing back this was the most impor­tant phase. The more Ulrike and her team under­stood in detail which divi­sions and depart­ments were involved, the eas­i­er it became for MEDICALBOARD to take over the pro­gram man­age­ment. Oer­likon is a het­ero­ge­neous and frag­ment­ed orga­ni­za­tion with many divi­sions – each char­ac­ter­ized by their own dynam­ics, his­to­ry, speed and struc­ture. Con­se­quent­ly, each divi­sion has their own spe­cial require­ments for a new cor­po­rate web­site and espe­cial­ly for their mar­ket spe­cif­ic areas. Fol­low­ing the onboard­ing, MEDICALBOARD put togeth­er a team and took over the project lead and many oth­er impor­tant func­tions with­in the project team. I would espe­cial­ly like to com­mend MEDICALBOARD for the man­ner in which they com­ple­ment­ed our inter­nal IT part­ner and the dig­i­tal agency (Elec­tron­ic Minds) and for the sol­id set up and imple­men­ta­tion of the project plan.

“With the help of MEDICALBOARD the project was well orga­nized and structured.”

Were you inclined to shift the project to inter­nal resources dur­ing your annu­al bud­get nego­ti­a­tions? If yes, why? If not, how did you jus­ti­fy your deci­sion?

Bud­get nego­ti­a­tions are always a good time to ques­tion cer­tain projects. How­ev­er, we were not inclined to with this assign­ment. The project progress and project plan­ning were speak­ing for themselves: 

Project progress:
Short­ly after MEDICALBOARD took over the project man­age­ment, the first divi­sions and the cor­po­rate site could go live. It helped a lot that every­one could see progress and that all pend­ing and com­plex tasks were han­dled quick­ly and com­pe­tent­ly. Some divi­sions were eas­i­er to migrate than oth­ers. That is why we took one step at a time. The larg­er, frag­ment­ed divi­sions (like Met­co or Balz­ers) came at a lat­er stage. For those, mul­ti­ple sites, prod­ucts and details need­ed to be adapt­ed, inte­grat­ed and migrat­ed to the new design.

Project orga­ni­za­tion:
With the help of MEDICALBOARD the project was well orga­nized and struc­tured. We quick­ly real­ized that we could not have made this progress with­out the pro­gram man­age­ment. MEDICALBOARD had tak­en over the lead. A role which none of the team mem­bers could have man­aged with the same qual­i­ty and com­mit­ment next to their dai­ly oper­a­tional jobs. 

Oer­likon is a multi­na­tion­al com­pa­ny with thou­sands of employ­ees, MEDICALBOARD is a bou­tique con­sul­tan­cy with a hand­ful of peo­ple but you still came togeth­er. How do you explain this?

Oer­likon is a multi­na­tion­al cor­po­ra­tion for sure, but we should not for­get, that many of our busi­ness divi­sions start­ed out as start-ups and many of our employ­ees pre­vi­ous­ly worked for small­er orga­ni­za­tions. We ben­e­fit from work­ing with small­er com­pa­nies be it part­ners or cus­tomers. We find new approach­es, get new ideas and an unfil­tered out­side per­spec­tive all lead­ing to new impuls­es which are very impor­tant for us. I am con­vinced that we avoid being trapped in our own dynam­ics by work­ing with small­er part­ner organizations.

“MEDICALBOARD helped us to con­sid­er and adopt the spe­cif­ic inter­ests and opin­ions of each divi­sion. We also sought feed­back from our cus­tomers and took the results into account in our deci­sion mak­ing process which had a sig­nif­i­cant impact on the suc­cess of the project.”

Com­plex, cross-divi­sion­al and exten­sive IT projects are on the to do list of many large and mid­size com­pa­nies. What’s your advice for col­leagues in oth­er large or mid­dle-sized orga­ni­za­tions?

When we first start­ed the project (before MEDICALBOARD came on board), we missed out on the oppor­tu­ni­ty to get suf­fi­cient feed­back from inter­nal and exter­nal stake­hold­ers. MEDICALBOARD helped us to con­sid­er and adopt the spe­cif­ic inter­ests and opin­ions of each divi­sion. We also sought feed­back from our cus­tomers and took the results into account in our deci­sion mak­ing process which had a sig­nif­i­cant impact on the suc­cess of the project. 

For col­leagues who are fac­ing a sim­i­lar project, I would have the fol­low­ing advice:

Get every­one involved (inter­nal and exter­nal stake­hold­ers), show evi­dence, use sur­veys, per­sonas, antic­i­pate and observe user jour­neys and ana­lyze data to get a clear picture.

Give direc­tion and explain why you are tak­ing this path from the start.

A strong and expe­ri­enced project orga­ni­za­tion is cru­cial. Talk and lis­ten to each oth­er. Clear­ly define: who deliv­ers what and by when and who is in charge.

Build up a good and func­tion­ing change man­age­ment process to avoid lengthy discussions.

And last but not least: don’t set your sight too high but ensure that what­ev­er you do is focused and well orga­nized. Do the scale up afterwards.

MEDICALBOARD gave us struc­ture, ensured that time­lines were kept and project mile­stones achieved.

How would you describe the col­lab­o­ra­tion with MEDICALBOARD in one sen­tence?

In one sen­tence? That’s hard. MEDICALBOARD gave us struc­ture, ensured that time­lines were kept and project mile­stones achieved. Their way of work­ing is very col­lab­o­ra­tive. You hire an agency because you need some­one who makes you bet­ter. We couldn’t have real­ized this project with the same qual­i­ty, bud­get and suc­cess with­out the help of MEDICALBOARD.  

Final­ly, I would like to empha­size that we have had exter­nal inde­pen­dent feed­back* con­firm­ing the suc­cess­ful achieve­ment of our project objec­tives (cus­tomer focus, mod­ern user expe­ri­ence and interaction)

*The full Lundquist report is avail­able here.

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