We can learn a great deal from looking at projects which have actually finished. The lessons might be general ones – such as how to maintain the support of a project sponsor – or ones specific to the sector the project is in – such as how to get private funding support for an arts festival.
This coursework exercise asks you to look at a project and examine it from five perspectives:
1. How well was the project tied into the vision and strategy of the organization that sponsored it; did the output from the project lead to a positive outcome for the organization?
2. What special challenges did the project present? These might be physical (perhaps it was in space), geographical (maybe it needed a multi-national team), or temporal (there was a very short deadline). How were these challenges dealt with?
3. Who were the stakeholders, and how well did the project leaders engage with them, even to the extent of modifying the project to answer their concerns?
4. What were the major risks in the project, and how were they managed?
5. What are the main lessons you personally take from learning about this project?
The project can be anything you like so long as:
• It is finished, and the benefits (or lack of benefits) are apparent. It could a be project that finished last year, last century or in history.
• Information about the project is in the public domain. This can be in the form of books, on the internet, and in the news media. You could also talk to people associated with the project if you have such contacts.
The project does not have to be considered an outstanding success; nor does it have to be an unmitigated failure. Most finished projects lie somewhere in between. Projects from around the world are encouraged. The project does not necessarily have to have a physical output – a major organizational change programme or an immunization project would count just as well.
You should select a project which meets the criteria above and produce a short report which addresses the five questions listed above. You can write about a very famous project like Sydney Opera House, the London Olympics or the Apollo space programme but you are likely to get extra credit for writing about a less well known project even if there is less information available about it.
It is not compulsory, but you may find the following models helpful in analysing the information and explaining your answers:
• Project shaping models such as PESTEL and the Shenhar and Dvir diamond (or NTCP) model of project dimensions
• A stakeholder engagement matrix (include no more than 10 stakeholders in the analysis)
• A risk table (include no more than 10 risks for the project).
You will be expected to justify your conclusions with reference to recognised sources of expertise and analysis in the field of project management, such as textbooks, journals, news media and government reports.