1) What are the roots causes of the problem that VCS faced during the V.3 project?

Carry out a review of the project to determine what went wrong. Through V.3 project, the root causes of the problem that VCS faced are regarding documentation, communication, appraisal and relocation of staff and satisfaction of stakeholders. Firstly, one of the key issues raised is about documentation. A proper documentation is very important to provide evidence that the project has been completed in a proper manner. However, VCS failed to produce proper documentation for reference in future. For instance, the 200-page proposal which was circulated to the technical staff during 1997 was unable to be copied by development team. As the result, the V.3 project has ever been officially launched. Besides, a proper documentation is important to allow any future work on a similar project to have a good starting point as knowledge of what was done in this project. If it is left to the end to write documentation much information can be lost, as staffs is already reassigned to other activities and the task gets left to certain individuals to complete. This happened to the VCS when the Cardiff technical director left in June 1998 where so much of the product knowledge left with him. They lost the knowledge due to none of this was down in writing. In addition, due to no proper documentation regarding the project, there were many parts of the product that nobody knew how they were supposed to work. The staff doesn’t have fundamental guidance and a really clear picture of the product. Secondly, VCS also experienced a big problem regarding its communication. Its splitsite working ,which one firm based in Blackburn (north-west England) and the other one in Cardiff( South Wales) caused the communication simply did not work very well. There were lots of tests made early on to define standards to be used in both working sites regarding ways of doing things, the method to transfer the knowledge. After lots of attempt have been made and a numbers of meeting have been held, it was just a struggle all the way along. Towards the end, the communications broke down badly. This problem contributed to the unbalance condition between both working sites where there was too many projects for the Cardiff staff to work on, even have a whole list of projects to deliver before the end of the year, while , the staff in Blackburn have only one project to work on. The whole staff in development department at Cardiff was grossly overcommitted. Thirdly, there were something went wrong in the appraisal and relocation of staff of VCS. Conducting staff appraisal is a vital part of nurturing the human capital of project organisations. Having carried out appraisal, many project managers will themselves move on to other projects. While, the relocation of staff is one area where project managers may have little direct influence, but provision of support and help during this process is desirable. Many project managers note the importance of such activities in building a network of good people who can be called upon to carry out particular project activities in the future. In VCS’s case, there were several of its staffs had left the company due to some weaknesses in the appraisal and relocation of staff. For instance, two members of the team from Blackburn already departed from VCS. One of these had been promised a project management role in this project, but was given charge of only one of programmers. When his management role did

not materialise, he started looking for work elsewhere. Besides, Steve Timms, a technical director at Cardiff also left the company when he sensed the mounting problems and the impending product disaster. Meanwhile, Dave Grant at Blackburn dissociated himself from the project. In addition, the staffs of VCS which less committed and had low motivation brought to no teamwork spirit. Last but not least, another root of the problems faced by VCS is related to the satisfaction of stakeholders. It is vital for managing the customer expectations’. However, VCS failed to satisfy its key client, though the product was nowhere near ready. It experienced ’lose-lose’ condition which if deliver any later, it will lose the client, if it deliver and the product doesn’t work, it still will lose the client. This problem raised was due to the weaknesses of the management to plan wisely and always having overoptimistic estimation which hardly achievable.

2) How do you suggest that it ensures that these problems ‘never happen again’? Use an appropriate framework to structure your arguments. Based on the root causes that had been identified and stated in question 1, at last we were able to come up with a few suggestions. They are put up an immediate post-mortem, get feedback from the team member, carry out staff evaluation and systematic staffs’ relocation, and ensuring the satisfaction of all stakeholders. The most important step before ending a particular activity or projects is conducting a post-mortem. Its main purpose is to provide a case history of the project which then can guide the documentation process and in the long-term perspectives, its can be a guideline to future similar projects. It can give the staff a clearer view or flow on what should be done and so on. Besides that, it also acts as a backup if any unexpected circumstances happen for example, the departure of technical director, Steve Timms who were well known for having everything in his head only without writing it down on paper; can be backed up through the documentation and it helped in smoothing the flow of the project. In addition, it also gives the project team a chance for calm reflection of the overall project activities, to talk about what went well and what could be done better for the next time. In order to hold a successful postmortem the project manager should ensure that it is listed as a task on the project planning and bring in an independent reviewer or facilitator into the post mortem so that they can give independent judgements from their point of view. Next, project manager should get feedback from all parties involved so that improvement or corrective action can be taken immediately. This is helpful to identify the satisfaction levels among the staff. In the context of this case, by gaining feedback from the team members, the project manager will be able to know what they desired actually. Afterward, proper improvement action should be taken. For example, maybe after knowing what actually happen on both sites, the upper management can delegate the project evenly between Cardiff and Blackburn’s staff. Moving on to third suggestion, the management should hold a transparent and comprehensive staff evaluation in order to give comprehensive feedback on their work quality. This way, it will prevent them from keep on being doubtful whether their work has met the company's standards or not. Whereas, a systematic relocation of staff will help in building a pool of good, committed people who can be called to carry out particular project activities for upcoming event. Last suggestion, ensuring the satisfaction of all stakeholders might be the most crucial factor especially the customers’ satisfaction as they are the ‘king’ in business world. In this case, the VCS product Version 3.0 should prioritize their customers’ satisfaction above anything else, by doing what had been promised and release the product right on the promised time. This is because the key element of a project success lies with the stakeholder, as they have the greatest potential to affect the work in progress, either positively or negatively. Ignoring them will only causes a bigger chance to lose them and at the meantime,

giving a greater opportunity to our competitor in gaining our customers’ attention.

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