Greetings from PMI Bangalore India Chapter!
During last month, the demonetization drive was launched by our honorable Prime Minister and it still dominates conversation in India. Demonetization, intended to remove black money out of the economy can be easily considered as one the most challenging and complex project in our country. Since the night of November 8th, 2016, the top denomination currency, the 500 and 1000 notes ceased to be considered as legal tender. This led to confusion and anxiety on how the businesses, especially the ones which are primarily cash based, (e.g. vegetable vendors, toll gates, casual laborers, small Kirana stores) would run. Off course the big businesses like, jewelry, real estate, were also severely impacted.
People started making serpentine queues at the ATM’s and hoped thing would ease out with passing days. Here the Project Manager is the Prime Minister, who made public announcement on why this was needed and requested people to show tolerance and patience to overcome this pain.
Why there were not enough cash printed to take care of money removed from the economy? Why the ATM’s were not configured with the new notes? Why the cash transaction centric businesses were not given Point of Sales (POS) machines on time? The stark fact is that in a country of 1.2 billion, we currently have only 2.12 lakh ATM’s and 1.3 million POS machines. In other words the project could not assess the scale of the impact clearly? Since the planning and related preparation for this project was done in secrecy, can we argue that the expectations of the people impacted should still have been managed better? Parallel to this, as per reports, people resorted to some ‘juggad’ way of converting the black cash in to other forms like gold, loans to other (jandhan) accounts and colluding with bank officials, which defeated the very purpose of demonetization. So is this demonetization project successful? In my opinion, while the intention is good, the execution could have been done much better. I cannot comment from a political standpoint, but can say that given the nature of the project where ‘secrecy’ was the key to the mission, risk assessment and development of mitigation plan of impact at the ground level could have been done better. Trying to instill massive cleanup project can be compared to a chemotherapy session, which is intended to take out cancerous cells out of the patient.
Side effects, which cause severe pain, are bound to come. Citing ‘this-is-good-for-you’ alone to justify the pain only accentuates the weakness in the project plan. Any Project Manager, needs to acknowledge and understand, all the pain areas and develop necessary actions to assuage the pain faced by the people impacted. Did all the black money (cancerous cell) got flushed out or it got converted into other form of black money? Experts say, not all the black money would ever come back into the system.
Was there a target in mind? This is probably another area where the objective of the project in quantitative terms could have helped measuring the project success better. Whatever is the political outcome, the demonetization project has certainly provided plenty of ‘lessons learned’ for Project Managers like us.
Soumen De, PMP
Technology Support : : Ramesh Chandra Pathak, PMP
Murali Santhanam, PMP
Namita Gupta, PMP, PMI-ACP
Rama K, PMP, PMI-ACP
Shikha Vaidh, PMP, PMI-ACP
Soumen De, PMP
Sujata Sahu, PMP