A paper originally presented to the PMSA Global Knowledge Conference,
Monday May 10, 2004,
Midrand, South Africa.
Published here January 2005.

Introduction | The Project | Project Management Processes | Progress
Things Start to Go Wrong | Workshop Outcome | Next Steps | What Went Wrong?
The Purchase Process and Buyer's Remorse | Suggestions to Avoid Similar Situations
Commentary | Issues for Discussion

Workshop Outcome

The workshop proved to be far from a routine affair! All participants were asked what they thought should be the objectives of the meeting. The following, an extract from the minutes, showed that there was a very hidden agenda.

  1. To find alignment between [the Client's] expectations and the SP's offering
  2. To agree on a common way forward
  3. To determine if the system is able to satisfy [the Client's] needs
  4. To remove barriers and ensure open communication and mutual support going forward
  5. To clarify issues perceived by all parties and agree how to resolve them

All the emails, meetings, workshops, demonstrations and even the project review had not managed to uncover what the Client was thinking but had never actually expressed. The "hidden agenda" was that the Client felt that its expectations were not being addressed (point 1). Doubt was expressed if the system was able to satisfy the Client's needs (point 3). It was felt that there were barriers that were preventing open communication (point 4). None of these issues had been expressed until then.

The Client project manager said that it was possible that the upgraded version of the software would not suit their business needs. The facilitator then said that the project should be put on hold and a "package evaluation and selection" project be done. The SP representatives objected and said that this had never been within the scope of the project. Possibly the setting provided a forum for the Client to express nagging doubts that it had in its mind. The following extract from the minutes shows the actions documented.

  1. The SP needs to perform an industry analysis and benchmark to determine if the System compares with industry standards with regard to overall functionality and cost effective performance
  2. Industry standards should be assessed against the base functionality in the system. A gap analysis should be performed and presented to the Steering Committee for a decision
  3. [The Client] needs to make a strategic decision to continue with the implementation of the project provided the product offers reasonable ability to deploy changes quickly and cost effectively. This decision will be based on a functionality comparison between the current system and the upgraded version of the System. The anticipated outcome is an appreciation by [the Client] that the system does, in fact, offer more functionality/features than the current system
  4. Next steps will be determined based on the results of the analysis
Part 2: Things Start To Go Wrong  Part 2: Things Start To Go Wrong

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