Project Failure Case Studies

I research project failures and write 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.

To be notified about new Project Failure Case Studies just sign up for my newsletter by clicking here. You will receive a free copy of my Project Success Model ™.

On the first day was launched, four million unique users visited the portal, but only six successfully registered. Over the next few days, the site experienced eight million visitors, but according to estimates, around 1% enrolled in a new healthcare plan. Even the users that did sign up experienced errors, including duplicates in enrollment applications submitted to insurers.

Case Study 16: Nike’s 100 Million Dollar Supply Chain "Speed bump"
This is what you get for 400 million, huh?”, Nike President and CEO Phil Knight famously raised the question in a conference call days before announcing the company would miss its third-quarter earnings by at least 28% due to a glitch in the new supply chain management software.
The program started with projected savings of £200m to the authority and Police Scotland. However, the program ended in July 2016 with wasted resources, wasted money, wasted time, and has set Scotland’s police forces back several years.

Case Study 14: How Texas Wasted $367 Million on an Unusable Child Support Enforcement System
After investing $367.5 million in a child support enforcement system, the only thing that the state of Texas has to show for is some hard-won lessons. 

Case Study 13: Vodafone's £59 Million Customer Relationship Disaster
In October 2016 the British multinational telecommunications company Vodafone achieved an unwelcome milestone - the single biggest fine for “serious and sustained” breaches of consumer protection rules in the UK. It was the result of a troubled CRM and billing consolidation project.

Case Study 12: Lidl’s €500 Million SAP Debacle
It was to be a monumental and transformative project for grocery store chain Lidl. And success appeared certain. Lidl and German software giant SAP are leaders in their respective fields. But after 7 years the project was pronounced dead before arrival. Lidl would need to revert to its old inventory system. All this after spending an estimated EUR 500 million on the new system.

Case Study 11: How BBSI Blew Millions on an Oracle Cloud Solution
Oracle quoted BBSI a cost of $5.4M to implement their HCM Cloud Solution. The new quote was $33M and would take twice as long. But the critical functionality gaps in the cloud solution could also not be cured with the additional dollars and months.

Case Study 10: LeasePlan Paid $100 Million for a SAP System That Never Went Live
International automotive fleet management company LeasePlan has been hit by a massive bill for a failed SAP implementation. LeasePlan has since dropped SAP to pursue an alternative IT infrastructure, citing the “monolithic nature” of the ERP system as being incompatible with its more agile needs – but not before sinking almost €100 million into its SAP efforts.

> Case Study 9: The Payroll System That Cost Queensland Health AU$1.25 Billion
The payroll system implementation disaster at Queensland Health in 2010 is said to be the most spectacular technology project failure in the Southern Hemisphere and arguably the worst failure of public administration in Australia’s history.

Case Study 8: How Hertz Paid Accenture $32 Million for a Website That Never Went Live
Car rental giant Hertz is suing consultant mammoth Accenture over a website redesign that ended in something that never saw daylight. Hertz is suing for the $32 million it paid Accenture in fees, and it wants more millions to cover the cost of fixing the mess.

> Case Study 7: The $2.5 Billion Cross-Border Expansion Mistake by Target
Less than two years after entering Canada, Target shocked the retail world by pulling out. After accumulating $2.5 billion in losses, the Minneapolis-based company shut down all of its 133 Canadian locations and laid off 17,600 employees. Unmanageable deadlines and disastrous IT wrecked this top U.S. retailer's attempt at international expansion. Just another proof that nowadays technology can make or break an enterprise.

Case Study 6: 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. 

> Case Study 5: 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. 

Case Study 4: 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 3: 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 2: 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 1: 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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