This case study is a fictitious project situation and any resemblance or similarity to actual events, dates, places or names is purely coincidental. It was submitted for publication and is copyright to A. Lathif Masood© originally published 2005, updated 2006.
Published here April 2006.

Introduction | Explanatory Glossary | Friday - December 16, 2005
Monday - December 19, 2005 | Tuesday - December 20, 2005 | Wednesday - December 21, 2005
Friday - December 23, 2005 | Assignments | Sample Charter Template

Monday - December 19, 2005: SNE HQ - Ottawa

As soon as you walk in to the company office in Ottawa, you realize that Alfred's project must have been really bad. There is no welcome from anyone after your successful Barbados project. Your boss calls you immediately for a closed-door meeting.

It appears that the $1,300,000 project for delivering a computer system to locate precious minerals has repeatedly identified incorrect drill sites. The contract cost is relatively small. The eventual business from this project would generate revenue close to $10 million. You raise an eyebrow and make a mental note "So why did Alfred become PM for this, if it was such an important project? Didn't anyone read his 'Lessons Learned' reports from past projects?"

The new algorithms used by Alfred's team had presumably been tested on the labs but had never been used on the field. Although the charter had mentioned that these were new algorithms, it did not state that the algorithms had never been tested live outside the laboratory. The Director admits that this still an unknown: was it or was it not tested in the field? You make another mental note: "Why is this critical feature still an unknown fact to the Director? Such information should have been communicated well".

In addition, the processing of identifying the rock veins took, not days as mentioned in the charter, but weeks. The performance of the system has surprised the system developers Brainy Systems (BS) Inc. Your company had contracted BS Inc to provide the system to the project and to provide the training to Alfred's team. Even after taking weeks to find a vein, none of the 12 identified so far had turned other than sludge and sand. This was costing SNE Heavy Equipment thousands of dollars a day as the invoicing can only be done on successful discovery of the minerals.

Cold Stone Minerals was unhappy, as months have gone by with the drill crew mining in the wrong places.

The Director of Consulting also tells you that at the start of the project certain risk items have been kept confidential from Cold Stone Minerals. Alfred had known that key test results done at the test labs at Brainy Systems Inc. had been misplaced or lost. No backups existed. These were never found at the start of the project and had been identified as a medium risk item. Now, officials from Cold Stone Mineral wanted to know if your company could share initial test results with them. This was never a contractual agreement so Alfred had kept avoiding this subject altogether. However, it did not improve relationships between the two companies.

To complicate matters further, Alfred's team of ten, who had been trained on the BS computer system, are not capable of solving the performance issues or at finding out why there were no hits at all as advertised. The warranty period for the computer system had expired but BS Inc was still helping them now and then whenever their lead developer was available. Alfred had neglected to purchase maintenance for the computer system, as it would have reduced profits by $300,000. Instead he had his team trained for a fraction of the cost, $50,000. However, the classroom training has proved ineffective.

Alfred, the PM, was in the middle of it all, totally stressed and unable to bring his ten team members back into the project fold to fix the problems. They were working for the last 7 months straight in Iqaluit trying to get the project back on track. That's when the president called the Director of Consulting. He wanted Alfred out and you in. He wanted you to get this highly visible project not only back on track but also turned into a success!

You leave the meeting shaking your head. That's a tall order! Bring this back from the dead and make it a success! You decide to start by writing down a report on the current situation. You are doing this so as to get all the facts down to be sure that there is a clear understanding of the problem and what you've been asked to do.

Friday - December 16, 2005  Friday - December 16, 2005

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