Why use Project Management?

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Hello this is Deasún Ó Conchúir from Scatterwork, and I’m here to bring you an anecdote from my book, Overview of the PMBOK guide.

Once upon a time, as all good children’s stories begin, there was a very important project. It was so important that the advisers convinced this local company with headquarters in Europe to start implementing it immediately. After about 12 million Euro had been spent, the team thought it would be a good idea to develop a specification. To do this, a project team was put together, and there was a large international kick-off meeting, which lasted a few days. Everybody had a very good time.

After some development work the users in North America were contacted to help with the testing. An enterprising manager there suggested that the project should be executed near to the users to improve communication with them. He said he was available to take over the management of the development work, and would be happy with the development manager’s salary. It’s possible this is why he suggested transferring the project to his location.

Instead of transferring the project team from Europe to North America it was disbanded. Except for the European-based project manager the work was passed completely to a new implementation team in North America. The new team grew to over 50 people and worked hard for about two years. They found it difficult to make good progress, because of the poorly defined decision making processes.

There was a senior North American manager, but he was not invited onto the project steering committee, because his line staff were not directly involved. His organization did however, provide office space for the project team. After every project review meeting he asked what was happening.

Sometimes he didn’t agree with the decisions, so he contacted his longtime senior colleague in Europe to get support for changes. This colleague then sent out new instructions, which often reached the team weeks after the original decision. This meant that some work done in the meantime was wasted. Because the development manager had such a big team he earned a really good salary.

During this time the company headquarters in Europe bought a competitor, and their managers became new project stakeholders. This was because they were expected to use the output of the project. Even so they were not convinced, and they said they wouldn’t use it. This made the company rethink the project and send in the auditors. They found out that the value of the deliverable minus the cost of development was nearly zero. The project was then terminated, and the project manager was fired, although he was paid his salary for some months without having to come to work. The total cost of the project was about $100 million Euro.

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