THE already-twisted tale of the incomplete construction of the St. Jude Hospital in Vieux Fort took a turn for the worse recently with ministerial comments fueling widespread speculation of the prospect of demolition of the $118 million facility and replacement with a new fit-for-purpose structure costing roughly the same amount.
The mere fact that we could be having these discussions suggests a serious failure of oversight, project management, engineering principles, and standards. In media interviews, the consultant engineer reported issues with room sizes, low ceilings, and corridor widths, among others. These suggest a litany of issues that a barely-literate person could have avoided if armed with a pencil and metre-rule.
This does not bode well for reputations of all involved in the chain of responsibility for this misuse of taxpayer money, for the several years that this project was running before being interrupted. It is also a stain on the capability of our skilled workers, craftsmen and women, and managers, too! The principles of good project management require that the project manager evaluate daily, whether the project is still worthwhile and able to deliver on its goals.
Under the PRINCE II project management methodology, ‘directing a project’, the project board has the authority to prematurely close a project — at any time — if exceptional conditions arise.
Unfortunately, ICT projects do not fare much better! On average, large IT projects run 45% over budget, 7% over time, and deliver 56% less value than predicted (according to a 2012 report by McKinsley and Company in conjunction with Oxford University). Therefore, the oversight of projects is an important aspect of maintaining order. If not followed correctly, unmanaged projects become uncontrolled monsters that rampage through trust, resources and reputations!
To do otherwise is to be a hostage to fortune and to hope that, somehow, a failing process corrects itself! What may be done to avoid your own projects from meeting a similar fate? If we ignore prayers and appeals to the Patron Saint of Lost Causes, St. Jude himself, we may arrive at the following:
*) Have strong representation of the end-users on any project;
*) Carefully review reports at each stage of the project; and, of course;
*) Faithfully follow an established project management methodology.
Whether building bridges, buildings, or large software products, you should recognise the value in following such a process to arrive at your intended goal and avoid being sidetracked into an unwanted, undesirable state.
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(About the Author: Dr.Lyndell St. Ville is an ICT Consultant based in Saint Lucia, offering expertise in systems design, backup, and business continuity planning.)