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Project Libra: To Terminate or Not to Terminate
Visit www.itweek.co.uk/News/11329438 to see the string of news stories related to Project Libra. Identify some of the sources of the problems the project faces.
Project Libra exemplifies several attributes of failed projects the most notable of which is the breakdown in project team, Fujitsu Services (ICL) system integrator and enterprise software vendors. Most evident of a filed project management structure is the ballooning size of payments made during the project with literally nothing to show for it.
These are the most significant lessons learned from the failure of Project Libra. First, the British government should have had a series of measurable goals and objectives in place first and required monthly updates on project status and delays. This would have drastically reduced the confusion over just what the status of the project was, as is evident from background readings on this topic. It would have also forced greater ownership of the project with the system integration partner and also ensured the applications being used more clearly and completely aligned to the needs of the government. None of this happened because the government failed to require the necessary reporting and level of accountability to gain greater insights into how the project was proceeding.
Second, there was no clear project owner in the government. Even if measures had been taken to better manage the project from an accountability standpoint, there was confusion as to just exactly who was responsible for the project's progress internally. There was also rampant confusion over roles within the project as well. All of this led to a chaotic project environment as there was no single, clear leader in place.
Third and in conclusion, the original department and user-based needs that drove the project from a casework system integration standpoint failed to stay at the forefront of all development efforts. This ultimately led to the project falling apart over time and nothing of value being delivered. The project teams had lost sight of who they were there to serve with the new project.
2. If you were to decide whether to terminate this project, what would your decision be? Justify your position.
I would have terminated it after progress appeared to be in reverse and the costs were accumulating and nothing was getting done. After two months of no deliverable seeing done and ready for testing I would have cancelled, citing internal chaos and confusion. In choosing the cancel the project so quickly I wiould have also concentrated on the value of clear metrics of project management performance and dissected the situation to show how far behind the project was, and more systematically, how it lacked focus and a clear objective. On top of all these factors the drain of millions of pounds would have accelerated my decision.
The Project That Wouldn't Die
1. What termination method does it appear the company is using with the Regency Project?
None, seriously they are not taking any steps to kill the project as it is the brainchild of a recently promoted Harry Shapiro and everyone is afraid for their jobs. The lack of progress on ending the project will eventually force Harry to deal with its many problems and eventually completely end it. One cannot tell if this project was integral to harry being promoted or not. If it was, there's going to be a big fight to end it. The need for internal audit of business practices is essential for any business, and to allow this project to go off course is cause for c concern within the company.
2. What are the problems with motivation when project team members perceive that a project is earmarked for termination?
No one wants to be affiliated with a failing project because the morale and culture often turns negative and people start baling each other for the failing project. Second, failing projects are often hidden on resumes and are not valuable for career progression. They are often also completely left out of professional conversations as no one wants to be affiliated with a losing effort. Third, everyone on the project will be focused on job security and stability, especially in these challenging times. The need for economic security will drive the best people on the project to seek jobs elsewhere immediately. A failed project can prove to be toxic over time within an organization as well.
3. Why would you suspect Harry Shapiro has a role in keeping the project alive?
It's his brainchild and he owns it, so naturally he is not going to want to let it go. This is going to be interesting for everyone else involved in the project, as he will defined it vigorously if this was the reason he was promoted. If not, there is still going to be major problems with his acceptance of the failure of the project.
1. Imagine you are a team member on a project that has missed deadlines, has not produced the hoped-for technological results, and has been a source of problems between your team and the customer. You have just been informed that the project is being cancelled. In what ways is this good news? How would you view it as bad news?
When a customer cancels a project, there are ample opportunities for post-mortem analysis of what happened internally from a process standpoint that caused the failure. Clearly the loss of revenue is painful for even the largest companies as time- and project-based resources have been dedicated to the project. The positive aspects of having a project cancelled by a customer include the abrupt, alarming signal it sends through an entire company that processes, systems and project plans need sot improve (Frame, 2008). Second, it shows that there are major disconnects between critical parts of the company that need to be resolved and repaired to hold onto projects in the future (Gardner, 2000). The lack of interprocess communication and collaboration within a project is a cancer that needs to be removed, and a failed project from a customer's perspective illuminates the need for rapid action as well. While painful, a failed project also signals to senior management that the project team's perception of time and priorities are completely misaligned to customers' (Tsoukakas, 2001).
The negative aspects of a project are, as stated before, the lack of revenue and the reputation earned with the customer of being out of step with their needs. Those two aspects alone are reasons for any company to redefine their project management processes and seek out new ways to excel on behalf of their customers.
2. Comment on the following statement: "In deciding on whether or not to kill a project, it is critical to continually monitor the environment for signs it may no longer be viable.
Too often projects are defined in very broad, vague goals that seek to either capitalize on a rapidly evolving market dynamic or opportunity, or they are designed to avert risk. In both situations the market conditions and risk factors often move much more rapidly than a project team can in addressing them. In projects aimed at new market opportunities, the broader economic trends, competitive strategies and continual adoption of new technologies all drive greater levels of uncertainty and accelerate change (Sutterfield, Friday-Stroud, Shivers-Blackwell, 2006). The need for monitoring market dynamics is essential for a project aimed at profitable growth to stay on track and meet objectives. Continually monitoring market conditions can also tell a project team if and when a given subcomponent or subset of activities need to be completely modified or not. This can lead to scope creep over the long-term and often does if a project leader does not manage the project schedule closely (Gardner, 2000). The external environment can keep a project on schedule and focused on key goals and milestones by also underscoring the urgency of taking advantage of rapidly changing market opportunities. The same holds true of projects that are designed for mitigating and minimizing risk as well. Monitoring risks through the continual development of feedback systems is highly effective at battling scope creep as well (Gardner, 2000). Most important, stakeholders need to continually be informed as to each aspect of a project's status with respect to environmental factors (Sutterfield, Friday-Stroud, Shivers-Blackwell, 2006).
3. What are the four main reasons a project may be terminated?
The four main reasons why projects may be terminated include lack of alignment and clarity of goals, little or no executive sponsorship and support, communication breakdown between team and project members, and conflicts over goals, processes and task completion strategies. When any of these four factors are present in a project, the probability of failure increases significantly and when all four areas, a project will most likely fail entirely. Starting with the lack of clarity or goals, often this occurs when a project team and the stakeholders and customers have very wide differences of opinion in how a project will be managed and completed (Frame, 2008). This lack…[continue]
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