Thursday, 28 October 2010

The best laid project plans of mice and men...

The business directors had recognised the project was beginning to run wild. The time scales were slipping and costs were escalating. At this point I'd been appointed to revitalise the project to build a new trading floor in the heart of London.
My first meeting was with the incumbent project manager. It was clear he was an excellent technical project manager. He clearly knew all of the correct terms and procedures to be employed when planning a project. He was clear well qualified in the terminology and techniques of Prince 2. He kindly spent a good part of our meeting explaining the plans to me in some detail and what reports I was expected to provide to allow him to monitor the project and hold the required progress meetings so he could report progress to senior management in the approved method.
Unfortunately he was a project manager inexperienced in the complexities of creating a trading floor and the associated data centre. He believed, without checking, the plans that had been provided to him by the architects and other technical managers.
My first question was: "How much protected (UPS) power will you need and what is the required power endurance of the UPS batteries?" He didn't know. I made a few phone calls to key players on the project team and returned to him a couple of hours later.
"You have a magnificent project plan, but the floor of the building cannot support the weight of your proposed data centre. It will collapse when loaded with equipment if it hasn't already melted down owing to insufficient cooling."
The Project Manager flew home to Belgium two days later, no longer controlling the project.

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