UPDATED 14:00 EST / MAY 06 2013

Why Did EMC’s Project Propel Work? Kate Parson Explains, and Offers CIOs Advice

On July 4, 2012 EMC deployed project Propel, an SAP application stack that replaced the legacy Oracle environment it relied on for the greater part of the last two decades. Kate Parsons, a senior director and project management officer at EMC IT, provided her unique perspective on the initiative in a recent interview with Wikibon’s Dave Vellante.

Parsons says that the motivation behind the upgrade was scale. The old system was designed for a “very different EMC”, she explains, and the company has grown a great deal over the years. Her crew started deleting data a quarter before the launch because the database hit its integer limit.

Vellante asks Parsons about the approach EMC’s project methodology. She responds that her department adopted a “crawl, walk, run” mantra to minimize development time: the team focused on getting the core capabilities right before it started implementing more advanced functionality.

Parsons credits the success of Propel to strong company-wide support. The higher-ups recognized that a new type of system is required to accommodate future growth, while business users also acknowledged the need for a change (albeit somewhat grudgingly.)

After going over a few additional details, Parsons offers some advice to CIOs with similar projects. She says that her countermarks must commit sufficient HR to their initiatives and mark user engagement as a top priority. The latter is a lesson that EMC learned firsthand: employees were not as familiar with the system as they should have because business users who played an active role in the development process were too few and far between. They also were effectively off from their colleagues for the duration of the 27 month project.

For the full highlights, including Parsons’ advise to vendors and more insider info about Propel, check out the video below.


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