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Now That’s a Chunk of Change

By: Tanya Foster

As I was reading last month’s PM Network magazine (yes, I know what month we’re in… so I’m a little behind), I came across an article titled “A Hole in the Fence”.  It’s a fairly small article, not one of the 4 or 5 pagers that I have a hard time getting through, so I decided to read it.  I was shocked by what I read!  It’s about the “virtual fence” along the US and Mexico border.  I mean I’d heard about it on the news, but I’d never really paid much attention to it.  Well… it turns out this project was scheduled to be completed by the end of 2008, and now the first phase is scheduled for completion by the end 2011!!  Wow!  Now that’s a change in plans!  So I was intrigued by the first part of the article and decided to read further to find out just what had transpired to cause this much of a delay.  Let me give you a little background before we go any further. 

Boeing was the original contractor for this large project.  They have already been paid $20.6 million for the pilot project, but DHS has announced plans to move away from the original project design, thus the three year delay.  Boeing has offered DHS a $2 million credit and has admitted that many mistakes were made that could have been avoided.  Boy… that had to be a hard pill to swallow! 

Now… on to what the president of Boeing’s Network and Space Systems, told Congress.  He stated that a “lack of communication with stakeholders contributed in large part to the project’s failure”.  So that’s what it boils down to… lack of communication and stakeholders.  If I remember correctly, two things were mentioned over and over again during my study for the PMP exam.  1) Identify ALL Stakeholders 2) Communication, Communication, Communication!  The end of the article states that DHS and Boeing are trying to avoid the same old mistakes.  I say we should learn from their mistakes and try to do a better job within our own projects of identifying all stakeholders and improving communication.

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