Brief Qualitative Assessment
Having drawn out the more subtle, though highly influential, attitudinal environmental and launch conditions shown to be important for project success, it is useful to examine how these nine factors are addressed in practice.
For this, I selected three large radio-astronomy projects from the fieldwork studies. Although similar in terms of being remotely located giant radio telescopes with large and complex information technology (IT) requirements, they are differentiated primarily by project budget, infrastructure size, and execution stage.
In preparation for the comparative assessment, I examined the data collected during detailed on-site investigations, as described in the study approach & methodology. The data were sorted to expose relevant examples of situations or events that fell within the special factor categories identified in the present study. Against each factor, I describe a challenge that faced each of the three cases, and the method and extent of the response from each project.
Space limits preclude an in-depth data analysis here; however a summary presents useful insights.
- Cost, schedule and performance optimism was universal, and each project introduced constraints to meet budgets.
- Little effort was evident to learn from analogous high-tech projects.
- All three cases struggled at some point to deal with project ambiguities and uncertainties, though responses showed these challenges are surmountable.
- Some disconnect was apparent between lofty science goals and practical execution, later bridged through individual project initiatives.
- Both reporting and decision-making processes, and project information control, were competently managed, but with room for maturation to industry standards.
- Risk and contingency factors were handled only moderately well, exposing the ASKAP and
- SKA projects especially to the effects of unforeseen disasters.
- While the important external project landscape was managed well in all cases, the potential advantages of a formal mission assurance program have yet to be exploited.