Project Failure Case Studies

Project Failure Case Studies
I spend a lot of time relaying lessons I learned about managing technology projects, through the writing of my articles, through giving talks, and through my consulting work.

I do that because I learned so many valuable lessons over the years that I want to help you learn those same lessons without having to go through making the mistakes I made in order to learn them.

The same principle I apply by researching project failures and then writing case studies about them because it is a great way (for both of us) to learn from others' mistakes.

This page is an ever-growing collection of such project failure case studies.

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Case Study: How Revlon got sued by its own shareholders because of a failed SAP implementation
Revlon is the latest in a string of recent SAP enterprise resource planning (ERP) failures. Lidl, National Grid, and Haribo are just a few other companies that have experienced such massive challenges. ERP problems, including implementation failures, are common. But an ERP problem that results in an investor lawsuit is rare. The more common disputes are between ERP customers and the system implementers.

> Case Study: Workday did not work for Sacramento Public Schools
California’s Sacramento City Unified School District thought they were getting a good deal when they hired software as a service (SaaS) provider Workday and their service partner Sierra-Cedar for a program intended to improve the management of the district’s finances, payroll, and human resources. Unfortunately, the school district’s high hopes of cutting costs and increasing efficiency in these areas were more than dashed. They were completely destroyed. The school district alleges that after two years of major financial investment in the project, they were left with zero results.

Case Study: The $440 million software error at Knight Capital
Knight Capital Group was an American global financial services firm engaging in market making, electronic execution, and institutional sales and trading. It took 17 years of dedicated work to build Knight Capital Group into one of the leading trading houses on Wall Street. And it all nearly ended in less than one hour. What happened to Knight on the morning of August 1, 2012, is every CEO’s nightmare: A simple human error, easily spotted with hindsight but nearly impossible to predict in advance, threatened to end the firm.

> Case Study: How a screwed-up SAP implementation almost brought down National Grid
The SAP project that was three years in running and marred by delays and budget overruns was scheduled to go live on November 5. Failure to go live meant a delay of another five months, likely another $50 million in additional spending, and a trip back to the Utilities Rate Commission to request approval to pay for the overruns. National Grid had to know they had a bumpy ride coming when they made the decision to go live. What they clearly didn’t understand was just how bumpy the ride would be.

> Case Study: The epic meltdown of TSB Bank
With clients locked out of their bank accounts, mortgage accounts vanishing, small businesses reporting that they could not pay their staff and reports of debit cards ceasing to work, the TSB Bank computer crisis of April 2018 has been one of the worst in recent memory.

> Case Study: The £10 billion IT disaster at the NHS
The National Program for IT (NPfIT) in the National Health Service (NHS) was the largest public-sector IT program ever attempted in the UK, originally budgeted to cost approximately £6 billion over the lifetime of the major contracts.

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