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BK Magazine BK Business
Posted by Jeevan Sivasubramaniam, Managing Director, Editorial, Berrett-Koehler Publishers Inc.
Do we really need project management? Or if we all did the work we were supposed to do, maybe we wouldn't need to coordinate things? Yeah, that's wishful thinking. The following examples prove why project management is essential and what can happen without it:
1. Mile-High Fail. The world's largest commerical aircraft, the Airbus A380 required various parts to be designed and built in different parts of the world. Unfortunately, no one coordinate the entire project efficiently enough to see that all of the global teams were using different CAD programs. Inevitably, when they tried to install the parts, they found that the parts just did not fit together. This oversight cost Airbus two years and an additional $6.1 billion in costs. Proper project management oversight would have ensured that all teams used the same design software and fostered more regular communications between parties during the design stages instead of waiting until the end to see if the parts would "fit."
2. The Ugly Problem. Remember the Pontiac Aztek car? Probably not, because it appeared and disappeared very quickly. Rather than being a team effort, the product head, employing aggressive intimidation and a totalitarian attitude, quashed concerns about design. The whole idea focused on pleasing Pontiac executives, not the actual customers who would buy the car. Sure, the executives liked what they saw, but what rolled off the production lines was a weird semi-SUV-thing was dubbed "one of the ugliest cars ever made" and sold only about 27,000 units. Proper project management oversight would have faciliated better communications between teams rather than a dictatorial management style.
3. Worse than Ishtar. Waterworld is notorious for being a potential blockbuster film that went on to lose millions for its studios and distributors. The original production schedule was supposed to run 96 days and cost $100 million. But then production started before the script was even final and rewrites kept getting introduced, then an AWOL director and a tropical storm compounded the problem. further. The result was a shooting schedule that was 150 days long and a budget that came to $235 million. Proper project management oversight would have seen to it that production didn't start until a final script was confirmed and sufficient metereological research had been conducted to look for potential storm patterns.
4. The OS Nobody Liked. Windows Vista was heralded as the big new thing in PC operating systems, but it has been estimated that over one-third of all new PC owners abandoned Vista and reverted back to Windows XP. What made Vista fail so miserably was the whole "forced upgrade" approach in tandem with the OS's incompatibility with other existing software. Also to blame was its bloated, memory-hogging functionality and its lack of speed. Proper project management oversight would have resulted in an on-time release that also took into account compatibility issues while also looking at all those features that made XP such a favorite.
5. Doomed Olympics. The 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi will forever be remembered as a complete disaster on many fronts. Hotels were not able to provide basic amenities, equipment and venues were insufficiently prepared and often malfunctioned, all of which generated a rather humiliating showing for the hosts. On top of that, spending ballooned to $51 million instead of the budgeted $12 million. Proper project management oversight would have planned for the logistics of the crowd that was to attend and made sure that all amenities and venues were operational by then. Doing so would have also resulted in not having budget strains when running to plug all the holes later on.