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Project management plays a crucial role in the success of a given project. A number of companies have currently adopted different project management methodologies and processes such as Managing Successful Programmes, Six Sigma, and Prince 2 to ensure that their projects objectives are achieved within the given limitations. Despite the latest technology and various tools, a large number of Information Technology projects are doomed for failure at their early stages (Chulkov & Desai, 2005). The failure rate of large projects is considered to be 50% to 80%, though the rate could be even higher since people rarely expose their failures (Dorsey, 2005). This is a catastrophe and IT industry need to do something because it is failing in its jobs. Some of these projects may be worth a couple of hundred dollars, however a large portion of them run into millions and billions of dollars, thus failure could be tragic.
Moreover, project teams are no longer made up of nationals from just one country. It is quite common that global project teams have resources several nations. It is hence fundamental that project managers have a deeper comprehension of the qualities and beliefs of these resources if they wish to deliver their projects successfully. After all, managing a project team and leading them to be an effective team is a main factor of success (Anon., 2012). Regardless of such failures, huge amount of money continue to be invested in IT projects and written off. Therefore, there is need to understand the main causes for such devastating failures.
The most common causes for information technology projects failures are linked to project management. Project management has emerged as a critical factor that influences the success of a company. Some of the primary causes of failures in IT projects include unrealistic resource or time estimates, objectives changing during the project, unclear goals and objectives, poor testing, inappropriate skills, failure to act and communicate as a team, lack of executive user and support involvement, and poor planning (Dorsey, 2005).
The purpose of this paper is to examine the factors that contributed to the failure of the Department of Defence (DOD) lighter amphibian heavy-lift (LAMP-H) project. It highlights how the project management team could have analysed and planned for these factors. It also sheds the light on how improving people management could have helped the decision makers in avoiding the catastrophic failure.
LAMP-H Project Background
The U.S. Army initiated the LAMP-H project to acquire crafts with amphibian and heavy lifting capabilities. These requirements had been identified as significant for logistic resupply missions around the globe to back the ground troops in the course of amphibious assault missions. Troops from large carrier ships would be followed by LAMP-Hs to land and provide them with the supplies required to support their ground assault. For the LAMP-Hs to be effective, it had to meet certain speed and payload requirements.
There were some internal disputes concerning the capabilities of LAMP-H vehicle in terms of airspeed and payload. Some were arguing that the LAMP-H was supposed to have the ability to carry two M-70 tanks, a payload of approximately 140 tons, at a relatively low airspeed. Others were arguing that it was supposed to have a lower payload and have the capability of flying at a greater speed. Another internal dispute concerned how the LAMP-H should be propelled. Some were of the position that it was supposed to be powered by paddlewheels that could propel it through the water till it touched the beach, and thenceforth by large deeply treaded tires in the sand. Nonetheless, other internal stakeholders were of the position that two large Archimedean screws could power it, while others still argued that it was supposed to be driven with ducted propellers.
In addition to all the differing opinions from different project stakeholders, there were also wide discrepancies concerning how many units of LAMP-H were supposed to be bought and at what price per unit. Lastly, the Transportation School (T-School), which was the user of the system, was not sure whether it required the LAMP-H system. Though the program had staggered along for almost ten years, it probably survived due to the ‘seductive appeal of collective belief’ (Royer, 2003) by those interested with the projected because of their perceptions concerning the significance and importance of possessing LAMP-Hs in the Army’s arsenal.
From the initial program development, the project manager understood that he had to manage several LAMP-H stakeholders. Nevertheless, the manager was stunned at the differing opinions surrounding the LAMP-H project. As a result of the diverse opinions, the project manager immediately initiated the project with an independent system analysis organization. Soon after the project was identified as a viable project, critical changes took place in the senior leadership of the project manager’s organization. New leadership positions were created making the previous project manager become deputy project manager and he also believed in this approach and supported it. This created in direct conflict between the project manager and his deputy, and the functional managers and workers whom the project managers relied upon.
(Fisher, 2011) (Cadle, J., & Yeates, D, 2008)
Stakeholders can be either internal or external to the project scope or they can be internal or external to the project team. Hence, determining whether an individual or a group of individuals is external or internal to a project depends on the position of the observer. Though there are several perspectives of stakeholder theory, they do share a common perspective that all stakeholders perceive that they have stake in the task or entity. Due to their stake in the task or entity, they have specific expectations, and as a consequence engage in certain types of behavior, sometimes positive and sometimes negative (Bourne & Walker, 2006).
In a project management process, varied stakeholders see it to that they have several stakes in the project. On basis of their perceived stakes in the project, stakeholders behave in a manner in which they think will assist them achieve their project goals, which could be incongruent or congruent with the project manager’s project objectives, vision, or mission. Hence, it unavoidable for the project manager to understand the objectives of every project stakeholder so as to effectively manage his desires and needs. So as to attain a successful project outcome, the project manager is supposed to be adept at handling the interests of different stakeholders throughout the whole project management process.
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