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PARTHENON CONSULTANCY LTD


PROJECT MANAGEMENT SPECIALISTS 

10 Project Pitfalls to Avoid

These observations were compiled by Parthenon employees. The items are in no particular sequence but they highlight the importance of project planning, stakeholder management and human interactions to achieve project success.
 

 Parthenon Consultancy for project management, safety training and business books The importance of stakeholders
A software system was designed without reference to the technical or usability requirements of the user business units. Parthenon was called in to implement the software and train the users. The first thing done was to advise that the system was not fit for purpose and modifications were proposed.

 Parthenon Consultancy for project management, safety training and business books Incomplete planning is a hallmark of many failing projects 
Parthenon was called in to manage the completion of the fitting out of a computer centre and discovered that the transfer of the computer applications had been planned in great detail but no attention had been paid to power supply, fire alarm system, emergency power or security. These were attended to and the centre was opened with just two days to spare.

 Parthenon Consultancy for project management, safety training and business books Only accept contractual responsibility for things under your control
A client had arranged for a computer system delivered to a competitor's premises to undertake acceptance testing. Parthenon was contracted to manage this process and immediately warned that this represented a significant commercial risk, but it was too late to get the contract changed. The computer was delivered to the Goods Inwards gate and mysteriously took three weeks to arrive at the designated location. 

 Parthenon Consultancy for project management, safety training and business books Failing to plan is planning to fail
A perpetual problem is being called in to implement, within a fixed timescale and budget, a system that has not been designed or agreed. This is fine in some environments where important functionality can be implemented first, but is a disaster when a whole system needs to be delivered at one time. This is a common cause of project failure and Parthenon is often called in to recommend how best to recover the situation.

 Parthenon Consultancy for project management, safety training and business books Make desired outcomes entirely clear
An engineer was assigned the task of reporting why certain legitimate computer communications were being blocked by the firewall. But instead of reporting back, the engineer changed the firewall settings to allow all communications to get through, thus eliminating the company's security system.

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 Parthenon Consultancy for project management, safety training and business books Beware of suppliers cutting corners
A cabling contractor saved money by ignoring a contractual requirement to install supports to hold the wires off the floor. This would eventually have been discovered when the work was inspected but unfortunately before that could happen an air conditioning unit sprung a water leak and the cabling was ruined through exposure to water.

 Parthenon Consultancy for project management, safety training and business books Need to check that all completed work really was completed to specification
Parthenon was called in to complete the commissioning of a new computer centre and was assured the doors, windows and cable routes through walls had all been fireproofed. A survey of the situation confirmed that they had indeed done this, but only between the false floor and the false ceiling. This left unobstructed routes along which a fire could spread. Remedial work was put in hand to correct this and was only just finished in time for a visit from the insurance inspector.

 Parthenon Consultancy for project management, safety training and business books Beware of staff covering up mistakes
During commissioning of a new computer centre it was necessary to take down the power supply in order to cut in a back up generator. The application teams gave assurances there were no live systems running on the new computers in the centre. But some of the technical staff covered up the fact that they had broken the rules and had transferred live systems to the new computers ahead of schedule. As a result a number of live systems were brought down for half a day.

 Parthenon Consultancy for project management, safety training and business books Instructions must be fully understood
A company had their card access control located at their HQ. This held a database of valid card numbers and the areas the holder was authorised to access. An engineer was directed to integrate a new building's access control into the HQ system by transferring the card access data from the temporary new system. However the engineer transferred control of the doors to the HQ system a few hours before transferring the data. The result was that all work at the new site ceased due to the fact the HQ computer denied everyone access.

 Parthenon Consultancy for project management, safety training and business books Sometimes clients ignore advice
When modifying the configuration of a data network Parthenon strongly recommended the labelling of all communications ports and cables. The client decided not to do this. Days later one of the client's own staff accidentally pulled the plug on a business critical system.

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