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PM Essence

AB......CD......of a project gone wrong

By - Abhishek RVRK Sharma, Member, PMI
About the most overused, abused, purchased, talked about, seen-oncomputer- screens project management tool is Microsoft Project. Funnily enough, while many other alternatives exist in the market now (some free) that do the exact same things, this Project lives on! Relying on MS Project (As it is more popularly known) can have its pitfalls, as you’ll see from the following incident. There was a time when Microsoft used to distribute a CD for a trial version of Project.

Back then, an entire team of peers would use the trial version for the duration of the project, uninstall the trial once done, and repeat for the next project. On one of these projects, a strange situation emerged. Inevitably, this project timeline ran longer than the duration of the trial period for MS Project. So now, the team had a whole bunch of constantly modified Project files, with no application to open them. Not only could they not update the schedules, but they couldn’t even open the file. Everyone eventually ended up referring to one printed sheet of the plan, with so many edits made over in various ink colours that at the end, it looked more like a web than a plan. Every once in a while, some contingency would end up making a change in the schedule necessary – but there is only so much white space in a project plan printout, only so much room for changing timelines. Also, folks had to recognize who changed what. So everyone decided to pick an ink colour, and make edits in those – a brilliant plan in theory, not so much in execution. The final project plan sheet ended up becoming a tattered, unreadable relic.

At the end of the project, the team had missed every single deadline, overshot resources and not delivered on 50% of the project scope. The lesson here was well learnt – making sure the tools you use are available throughout the lifecycle of the project, not just for a fixed period, because quick fix solutions during project execution hardly ever work out well. Hope your project goes off better than this one.

The Lighter Side of PM