The Failure Of Baggage Handling Systems Information Technology Essay

From the article it is obvious that the city officials and BAE executives were at loggerheads and blame each other for the failure of the handling systems. BAE president and chief executive, Gene Di Fonso, supports his argument against the Denver city officials by pointing out that frequent alteration of the airport plans, involvement of inexperienced managers (appointed by Denver city officials) and failure to fix electrical flaws had left minimal time for testing out the system; were the major reasons behind baggage handling system failure. On the other hand, city officials blame the BAE for not fixing the software and mechanical problems by the time when the system was to be operational. But as it turns out, neither side is completely denying accusation made by other. So from the article, it is obvious that since neither parties have fulfilled their responsibilities, all the above mentioned factors equally contribute towards failure of the baggage handling systems at Denver Airport. To put it into simple words, the DIA project failed because those making key decision underestimated the complexity involved. Failure to recognize the complexity and the risk involved contributed to the project being initiated too late.

ƒ  What could have been done by all stakeholders to prevent the failure caused by new technology introduction?

It is always possible that unprofessional behavior by the city officials or defective equipment and software malfunction is partly to blame for the failure of the baggage handling system. But searching for a scapegoat is far simpler than trying to understand the difficulties faced when trying to develop large-scale projects. The project management team needed to do a better job of planning prior to the start of the project. The major roadblock was the simple fact that the automated baggage system was designed after the airport construction had already begun while it should have been included in the original design of the airport. Lack of communication between DIA airport designers, city officials, the airlines and BAE further caused damage to the project. Before beginning construction all the stakeholders needed to meet so as to put together a formalized plan. While this did not happen, the communication seemed more like a top down approach.

ƒ  Give one public works (government) project that has similar or different fates since 1995, and draw comparisons.

The much recent failure of the DART mission by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center is an example of a technology project which can be described as a not one with an expected outcome. The DART project’s biggest problem was that it only had one shot to test the technology. Complex hardware and software can fail from just one mistake, flaw, or overlooked factor in millions of actions or components. Mishap Investigation Board investigated the mishap and determined its underlying causes based on hardware testing, telemetry data analysis, and numerous simulations. So to compare with DIA project, we can find similarities in most aspects of its failure, like hardware and software malfunction, and testing problems.

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ƒ  What are the general lessons for this case?

As with any project, the initial step should be to recognize the situation and then work towards it. Had the project management team and the BAE’s executives recognized their lack of knowledge and the complexities they were facing, they could possibly reduced the risk, if not avoid it. It would have been a helpful knowledge to listen to those who did have the necessary prior experience. Stakeholder conflict, as in this case, with poorly defined roles and responsibilities and almost non-existent communication can lead to disastrous project results.

From the article it is obvious that the city officials and BAE executives were at loggerheads and blame each other for the failure of the handling systems. BAE president and chief executive, Gene Di Fonso, supports his argument against the Denver city officials by pointing out that frequent alteration of the airport plans, involvement of inexperienced managers (appointed by Denver city officials) and failure to fix electrical flaws had left minimal time for testing out the system; were the major reasons behind baggage handling system failure. On the other hand, city officials blame the BAE for not fixing the software and mechanical problems by the time when the system was to be operational. But as it turns out, neither side is completely denying accusation made by other. So from the article, it is obvious that since neither parties have fulfilled their responsibilities, all the above mentioned factors equally contribute towards failure of the baggage handling systems at Denver Airport. To put it into simple words, the DIA project failed because those making key decision underestimated the complexity involved. Failure to recognize the complexity and the risk involved contributed to the project being initiated too late. So to sum it all up, the factors that eventually resulted in the failure of DIA project included poor management, conflicting roles and responsibilities, poor communication, no change control process, inadequate testing processes, stakeholder conflict, probably conflicting priorities, and finally scope creep by which I mean expansion of initial project design.

It is always possible that unprofessional behavior by the city officials or defective equipment and software malfunction is partly to blame for the failure of the baggage handling system. But searching for a scapegoat is far simpler than trying to understand the difficulties faced when trying to develop large-scale projects. The project management team needed to do a better job of planning prior to the start of the project. The major roadblock was the simple fact that the automated baggage system was designed after the airport construction had already begun while it should have been included in the original design of the airport. Lack of communication between DIA airport designers, city officials, the airlines and BAE further caused damage to the project. Before beginning construction all the stakeholders needed to meet so as to put together a formalized plan. While this did not happen, the communication seemed more like a top down approach.

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The much recent failure of the DART mission by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center is an example of a technology project which can be described as a not one with an expected outcome. The DART project’s biggest problem was that it only had one shot to test the technology. Complex hardware and software can fail from just one mistake, flaw, or overlooked factor in millions of actions or components. Mishap Investigation Board investigated the mishap and determined its underlying causes based on hardware testing, telemetry data analysis, and numerous simulations. So to compare with DIA project, we can find similarities in most aspects of its failure, like hardware and software malfunction, and testing problems.

As with any project, the initial step should be to recognize the situation and then work towards it. Had the project management team and the BAE’s executives recognized their lack of knowledge and the complexities they were facing, they could possibly reduced the risk, if not avoid it. It would have been a helpful knowledge to listen to those who did have the necessary prior experience. Stakeholder conflict, as in this case, with poorly defined roles and responsibilities and almost non-existent communication can lead to disastrous project results. The most essential factor that helps a project succeed is if the scope of the project is well defined from the beginning. The scope of the project, if at all possible, should not be allowed to expand. Scope creep ultimately destroys budgets and leads to over time, thus undermining the support a project has.

Automation off course in Denver – Melvin Ver

Dysfunctional decision making is the poison that kills technology projects and the Denver Airport Baggage System project is a classic example. The DIA case examines the key decisions that set the project on the path to disaster and the forces behind those decisions. What was supposed to be the world’s largest automated airport baggage handling system; became a classic story in how technology projects can go wrong. The airport’s baggage handling system was a critical component in the plan and by automating baggage handling; DIA was going to ensure faster aircraft turnaround which would have provided a competitive advantage over other airports. Despite the plan being technologically advanced and a possible winner, it rapidly dissolved into chaos due to underestimation of the project’s complexity which resulted in extensive problems and eventually an embarrassment for everyone involved. The missteps that were involved along the way included a demonstration of the system to the media which illustrated how the system crushed bags, disgorged content and son on. While it is challenging to manage and carry out a technology project on such a massive scale, all it requires is precision in planning, scheduling and controlling; by managing critical interfaces with all the stakeholders’ involved.

ƒ  What factors caused the failure of the baggage handling systems?

From the article it is obvious that the city officials and BAE executives were at loggerheads and blamed each other for the failure of the handling systems. BAE chief executive blames the Denver city of frequent alteration of the airport plans, involvement of inexperienced managers and failure to fix electrical flaws resulting in minimal time for testing out the system; for the major reasons behind baggage handling system failure. On the other hand, city officials blame the BAE for not fixing the software and mechanical problems by the time when the system was to be operational. Since neither side is completely denying accusation made by other and have failed to fulfill their responsibilities, all the above mentioned factors equally contribute towards failure of the baggage handling systems at Denver Airport. To put it into simple words, the DIA project failed as it failed to recognize the complexity and the risk involved.

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ƒ  What could have been done by all stakeholders to prevent the failure caused by new technology introduction?

Searching for a scapegoat is far simpler than trying to understand the difficulties faced when trying to develop large-scale projects. The project management team needed to do a better job of planning prior to the start of the project. The major roadblock was the simple fact that the automated baggage system was designed after the airport construction had already begun while it should have been included in the original design of the airport. Before beginning construction all the stakeholders needed to meet so as to put together a formalized plan. Lack of communication between DIA airport designers, city officials, the airlines and BAE further caused damage to the project. While this did not happen, the communication seemed more like a top down approach in this case.

ƒ  Give one public works (government) project that has similar or different fates since 1995, and draw comparisons.

The much recent failure of the DART mission by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center is an example of a technology project that did not end up as expected. The DART project’s biggest problem was that it only had one shot to test the technology. Complex hardware and software can fail from just one mistake or flaw. Mishap Investigation Board investigated the mishap and determined its underlying causes based on hardware testing, telemetry data analysis, and numerous simulations. So to compare with DIA project, we can find similarities in most aspects of its failure, like hardware and software malfunction, and along with testing problems.

ƒ  What are the general lessons for this case?

As with any project, the initial step should be to recognize the situation and then work towards it. Had the project management team and the BAE’s executives recognized their lack of knowledge and the complexities they were facing, they could possibly reduced the risk, if not avoid it. It would have been a helpful knowledge to listen to those who did have the necessary prior experience. Stakeholder conflict, as in this case, with poorly defined roles and responsibilities and almost non-existent communication can lead to disastrous project results.

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