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Riding Wave 2 into the digital age

A hospital in Manchester, United Kingdom wanted to reduce the rate of pressure ulcers, one of the most chronic, vexing problems in patient care, and one that often results in extended stays. It asked nurses to identify the most effective treatment methods and to record how often they rotated and checked on patients. Using Wave, our program-management solution, nurses tracked a set of initiatives that focused on preventing ulcers in the first place—and were able to establish best practices for improving overall care.

A gas utility in northern California wanted to improve its stations and pipelines to better meet regulatory standards and find new ways to deliver service at a lower cost. Electrical engineers first codified design changes in Wave and then transferred them into physical drawings, which more than 3,000 workers used in the construction process.

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Wave goes beyond the central PMO by owning and driving change across all levels of an organization.

Wave is a web-based software and services solution designed by McKinsey to help companies facilitate large-scale transformation programs by tracking initiatives from the idea phase through to execution. Wave aggregates information across thousands of initiatives over multiyear projects, visualizes the content, and reports on what matters most to a business. Launched in 2011, Wave quietly built a following and became our biggest solution, with 80,000 users globally.

This month, McKinsey is announcing the rollout of an updated version—Wave 2—which was redesigned from scratch, based on user feedback, to be faster, more intuitive and more collaborative. “Wave 2 saves users time so they can focus on what matters most in their programs,” said Gregory Schor, the McKinsey partner who oversees the Wave solution. “We also created a continuous feedback loop, which enables us to fully focus on our clients’ needs.”

Used extensively by client teams in our RTS, Operations, and M&A Practices, Wave can be preloaded with key elements such as default configurations, prebuilt initiatives, and templates based on the specific know-how that McKinsey has developed over time.

It can be used to set up roles and responsibilities, track work-stream progress and projection, flag problems, and show actual impact.

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From left to right: Michel Morenville, senior solution leader, and Luca Lanziani and Cristian Ianto from the Product team, pose for a 6:15 AM selfie while tracking the number of first-time-ever Wave 2 users as they logged-in.

Wave’s applications are virtually unlimited. Our clients who work in mining, government, retail, the food and beverage industry, and at airplane manufacturers use it. “Wave gives you the 21st-century tools to manage enterprise programs. It’s all about agility, collaboration, transparency, and helping people be more efficient,” said Michel Morenville, vice president of product and technology and Wave 2’s chief designer.

The engineers behind Wave 2 had to build the software from the ground up the same way it functions—agile and fast. “We engage with a number of our top clients weekly for feedback on the latest features and product road map, and we hear their ideas,” said Rory Walsh, director of engineering, who was responsible for Wave 2’s implementation.

Meanwhile at the UK hospital, “Wave has helped nurses track how much time they spend on administrative tasks versus patient interaction so we can prioritize and improve care; administrators find ways to improve productivity by reducing paperwork or streamlining the choice of medical devices,” said a hospital representative. “Wave makes it easy to follow through on initiatives and see the impact of our efforts.”