When the wheels come off...

The Airbus A380 may be one of the best known recent large projects that have run into difficulties, but it is definitely not the only example of a project that has gone wrong in spite of large budgets and professional experienced management. The reasons for the problems the development of the mega liner has faced are, at least in some areas, quite obvious.

Quotes from different sources explain that some of the reasons why the big bird has been grounded longer than planned can be found in the disregard shown for some basic project management principles. »Die Welt« wrote at Oct. 5th 2006 that »the technical complexity of the project was underestimated by the former managers Noël Forgeard and Gustav Humbert«. A similar statement of the »Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung« at Oct. 8th 2006 reads that »luxurious high tech cabin options where agreed with customers. The consequences regarding electronics and wiring were simply underestimated«.

Another major problem was the use of different versions of essential CAD design software. While Germany and Spain were still using CATIA V4, France and UK were already working with CATIA V5 which is not 100% compatible. Transfer of essential data was therefore limited and important information got lost.

Communication as a basic function of project management was neglected. The question »who needs which information at which point of time?« gets more and more important with growing project complexity. When the complexity of the product and as a result the complexity of the development process itself is underestimated and not communicated sufficiently in the beginning, no other part of the project team ever has a chance to identify the problem and trigger effective counter measures. Therefore it is necessary to know the subsequent steps of development to plan and carry out the necessary communication processes respectively.

Looking at the structure of the project from an external perspective, regarding reporting, controlling and communication often helps to make processes more effective and efficient and also optimises the project in terms of personnel, financial and material resources over its duration. An external view thereby offers several advantages; it provides an unprejudiced view to create new approaches to solve existing problems; a neutral moderator often achieves faster results when conflicting opinions and positions have to be joined to reach a common goal.

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When the wheels come off...

The Airbus A380 and how the basics of project management are still being ignored with even seven-digit project budgets.
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The new MINI

The internationalisation of complex projects like BMW R56 significantly affects efficiency and may have other unexpected consequences.
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