Three years ago, DFS Group initiated a project to completely restructure its IT services. Faced with a faltering global economy, the luxury goods retailer with hundreds of stores in major cities and international airports saw an opportunity to reduce overhead by slimming down its IT processing functions and focusing on what it does best—selling luxury goods to international travelers.
DFS turned to MindManager software from Larkspur, Calif.-based Mindjet to facilitate the design and implementation of a "transformational offshore outsourcing" program. Using MindManager, DFS was able to dramatically accelerate the project timeline, finishing a projected 16-month plan in just four months. By the project's end, DFS's IT department had set a new standard for collaboration and cut its average meeting time in half.
Key to the restructuring project's success was the decision to begin the process by tossing out the company's traditional meeting structure, says Rick Hamilton, DFS's IT vice president. The classical approach of five people in a row giving one-hour slide presentations with the audience in total receive mode wasn't going to get IT where it needed to be fast enough, he explains.
"Twenty people from all around the world, from different lines of business and with different reporting relationships, had three days to figure out how to meet what we called the 'and' challenge," Hamilton says. "We had to reduce overall operating costs and improve productivity, quality, speed and agility—and do it with a team representing 13 different nationalities."
Working with Hong Kong-based consulting group Quicksilver, Hamilton and DFS senior vice president and CIO Ron Glickman found a more productive way to run the initial meeting as well as future DFS meetings. Using Mindjet's MindManager and the information-mapping methodology behind it became the cornerstone of the IT department's transformation.
Projecting a MindManager map on a large screen in the meeting room, the DFS team watched the restructuring plan come to life before their eyes as participants' insights and ideas were keyed in to the interface, allowing team members to not only receive information, but to interact with it as well.
Using the MindManager, DFS's IT group has reduced its meeting times 40 to 60 percent, cut global IT expenses by 35 percent, and increased staff participation and project buy-in exponentially—all of which has dramatically increased group and individual productivity. "The biggest benefit we get from mapping is the way it creates a participatory meeting environment, enabling our teams to quickly capture the best thinking and make those ideas immediately available," Hamilton says. "And it does it in a way that drives commitment and buy-in—representing a whole new way of thinking about collaboration."