Editor's note: What are the best practices in moving data to the clouds? Learn more here!



I have never been shy about taking on a new challenge. So when I was offered the opportunity to be a lead consultant on a BPM implementation project, I jumped at it. I had been out of consulting and project management for a while, but I thought it would be like riding a bicycle, a skill I would never forget. Did it matter that I would be riding that consulting bicycle on the wrong side of the road in Mexico City, with only Spanish language skills picked up during a lengthy stint of tourism? I heard the words "sign me up" escape my mouth while I was still considering these questions.

A few weeks later I found myself in Mexico City, ready for a three month project, with no idea where the client's office was, and a new realization that Google Maps doesn't work well in a city of 21 million inhabitants and about as many different street names. Despite that, my real lessons started about fifteen minutes after eventually finding the office.

Lesson 1: Get engaged early

When I walked through the door of ALICO, Mexico (a part of AIG Foreign Life Division), I was already a little behind on the project. My colleague for the next three months was an extremely smart Argentinian, Gerardo, who had been on-site for the three days prior to my arrival. He had already worked out the lay of the land, and was ready for the challenge of helping me through the obvious language difficulties (even though he spoke less English than I spoke Spanish).

Gerardo's first task was to introduce me to the business analysis team (referred to affectionately as Las Chicas) who had been defining the process best-practices for the underwriting and policy management groups we would be improving. Their welcoming gift to me was a binder containing close to 3 pounds of printed materials, covering every facet of the intended processes: the ACORD standards definitions of the underwriting activities; photocopies of forms and documents used for new business; BPMN standard notation guides; three over-sized Visio diagrams showing the proposed processes, cross referencing the ACORD standards previously mentioned. In other words, it was a gratefully received paper doorstop.

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