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Winning the Sydney to Hobart: A Case Study in Project Management SYNOPSIS

This case discusses the application of project management to the project of preparing for an ocean
classic yacht race. The author makes specific reference to tasks, which make up the project and relates
them to specific work involved in project management. Campaigning for a yacht race includes
determining the concept of the project (determine scope, risk assessment, review alternatives),
developing the project (select the boat, establish the project team, pre- pare the boat), execute the
project (procure the boat, train the team, enter the races) and finish the project (continually tune the
boat, race the boat, and win). The case offers a novel look at project management in that the application
is interesting and atypical.

I.LEARNING OBJECTIVES Through the study of this case, students should gain a better understanding of:
a. characteristics of a successful project.
b. the importance of all of the phases of a project.
c. the importance of a good project team. the planning of a successful project.
d. the risk assessment of a project.


1. The project initiator believes that winning a yacht race depends 80 percent on the preparation stage
and only 20 percent on the effort in the actual race. Einstein was quoted as saying that a creation is 10
percent inspiration and 90 percent perspiration. Which of these statements do you agree with? Why,
given a project management context?
a. The amount of planning for a project is very project dependent. The planning of a project is discussed
in the PM Literature (especially the "Project Management Body of Knowledge" - PMBOK) that deals
with Planning Processes. It states that the planning of a project is very dependent on the previous
experience in the area of the project, and should be commensurate with the scope of the project and
the usefulness of the information developed. Einsteins 90 percent perspiration should include planning.

2. This project essentially describes a job-shop point of view. How might the creation of a fleet of
championship boats change the described project life cycle?
a. The project life-cycle, described in PM literature (especially the "Project Management Body of
Knowledge" - PMBOK), made up of feasibility, planning and design, production, and turnover and start-
up in this case, would need to be refined to include more emphasis on the prototype and validation
stages of development. Again, the question of 80 percent of the effort spent in planning would come
into question as more work in production monitoring and performance may be required.

3. Cost management was described as subsidiary to time and quality objectives for this project. If this
situation bad been different, i.e., a restrictive boat budget, how might the project results have changed?
a. It is difficult to say that the results would have changed at all. The experienced crew may have made
the difference, and an inferior boat could have still been victorious. Likewise if the objective bad truly
been the enjoyment and pleasure of sailing as described in the case, the project would have been a

4. Had this same project analysis been performed on another boat in the Sydney to Hobart, how might it
have pointed out any deficiencies in the project process? a. By benchmarking versus the Assassin project
process, possible deficiencies in the process could be identified. For example, the funding differences or
the lack of a "well-connected" project leader could have been a disadvantage of the less successful boat.
Likewise, the amount of time spent on various aspects of the project could also be compared.

5. The case mentions the importance of meeting the requirements of five different certifications along
with careful lobbying in order to enable entry of the yacht into the races. All projects face these kinds of
challenges. Review the PM literature to develop your own model for dealing with these issues.
a. These strategic issues need to be identified, assessed, and analyzed, and action should be taken in
order to successfully deal with them. This is discussed by David Cleland in Project Management:
Strategic Design and Implementation, in the section on managing strategic project management issues.
The use of such a cycle, assuring compliance to regulations and restrictions, for managing these strategic
issues allows for the success of a project in the face of project restrictions and requirements

6. This case has shown some important Project Management principles/frameworks. List five PM
principles that you deem to be the most important in this particular case.
a. The case mentions particular Project Management principles very clearly: phases of the project life-
cycle-concept, development, execution, and finishing; the four basic project management functions-
management of scope, quality, time, and cost; and other essential project management functions, such
as human resource management, communications management, contract/procurement management,
and risk management.

ADDITIONAL DISCUSSION POINTS: The case states: Many project managers tackle their task without
conscious reference to the various project management frameworks developed by theorists. This
project was carried out by a project initiator with many years of experience and a reputation in leading
projects in the corporate and financial field. Application of a rigorous and systematic process to a project
outside his normal field of activity was both instinctive and a major reason for the initiation of the
project. Given this, one could also discuss the balance between managing by intuition and a project
management framework.