Project Management and Operational Failings

Subject: Tech & Engineering
Pages: 9
Words: 2285
Reading time:
8 min
Study level: College

Executive Summary

After the information technology meltdown at the TSB bank, about 1.9 million customers were locked out from accessing their bank accounts. This problem resulted from the bank’s information technology system migration from its former parent company Lloyds banking group. In my previous report, it was clear that the bank failed to fully assess whether its internal information and technology wing could deliver an effective system. The bank failed to question the system’s readiness for the rollout. In summary, my earlier report outlined that the testing of the new system was flawed and was not enough to support the migration of the five million clients since the new system mainly consisted of new software. As noted in the report, the bank planned to migrate clients into the new system within a single weekend which was also a big risk. I also found that the bank was warned about its ambitious plan because the migration from the old system to the new system was a high risk as it required nearly 450 million euros which was too high for the bank. Also, the system to be migrated was a combination of many systems, which further complicated the transfer. I further indicated that the system allowed others to access other people’s private information, which was a big risk to the clients and the bank.

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Any organization or any project can experience project failure, and there are several causes of project failure, with others out of the control of the project team. Most of the unsuccessful projects and people involved in the failure have some common characteristics; in both cases, the botched project and the people involved these projects tend to provide a hasty solution as a remedy for the cause of the letdown, which has been typically ineffective and can sometimes result into a disaster (Herz and Krezdom, 2021). Project management aims to provide a successful product or service to the clients, and often this goal is always hindered by the errors of omission and commission, which always originate from the project stakeholders who are directly associated with the project, such as the company management, project team and project managers. On the other hand, operation management is a function of any business, which is managing processes of creating goods and services. The role of operation management for the TSB project was to manage human resources involved in the project, equipment being used and technology, and other resources needed for the project’s success, for instance, during the transfer phase from the old system to the new system. For successful operations, the operational manager needed to clearly define the objective of the planned activity, the resources required, what needs to be delivered and the timeline for a successful transfer to occur.

Project Management Failings

Project failures are decided based on stakeholders’ judgment and satisfaction with the final product; however, project failure can be considered a failure to deliver what was required at the agreed-upon budget and time (Herz and Krezdom, 2021). Other projects are considered a flop based on their inability to meet their financial forecast or return on investment target. Some of the key project failures in the TSB information migration included:

Setting Unrealistic Timeline

The Sabadell group initially set a date for the TSB project to be completed and released into the market for the clients to utilize in November 2017. The bank accepted the set timeline claiming that the Sabadell group had initially completed a similar migration project onto the Proteo platform within the same timeframe. The company failed to understand that the integration at the Proteo project and the TSB project were not similar; thus, setting a similar timeframe was a disastrous act (Krasner, 2018). The bank acknowledged the differences, but the board of the bank did not fully understand the complexities of the initial project of the Lloyd banking group and thus pushed forward with the same timeline set. As the project continually improved, it became clear that the bank did not plan for the failures of some of the integrated parts of the system during functional testing, which prompted them to push forward the project to April 2018.

To migrate the issue of setting the right timeline for future investment, the company will first need to conduct a critical path analysis for the project. The company failed due to poor scheduling of the tasks. Critical path analysis will enable the project team for the next projects to consider starting from the earliest task to be performed and determining which task cannot be performed before completing given parts. In this way, they will track errors within the project due to its great work organization, allowing the developers to meet the timeline. They will also identify the tasks that will require a lot of time and float.

Stakeholder Management

Clear communication at any project should be given priority at all project phases. This is vital to ensure that all the project’s key stakeholders are on the right page. This ensures that no item is left assumed or covered. Lack of communication between the Sabadell management and TSB Bank led to the problem, which led to the meltdown of the information technology system. The system was delayed by about 18 months, but the TSB board failed to ask the Sabadell management about the technical issues which caused the delay. The bank management could also have asked why the contractor thought the platform was ready for migration four months later behind schedule (Ahmed, Bangassa and Akbar, 2020). Due to a lack of communication between the two teams, TSB went ahead with the updated timeline, which the contractor provided.

To mitigate the risks arising from lack of communication in future investment the company will have to develop a communication plan for any project it will be undertaking between its management, the project team, and the contractor to ensure that there is no further delay due to lack of communication channels. The communication plan to be developed in the future must entail how the project manager will be reporting the performance to help the project team and the stakeholders understand the project’s status. The performance reporting will let the stakeholder know the project’s progress. The TSB software failed because there was no transparency between the stakeholders and the project developers. Creating the performance reporting procedure would have been minimized as the reports relating to performance offer transparency, track productivity, create less room for error, and help in tracking productivity.

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Budgeting Failures and Failure to Learn from Past Mistakes

Budget is one of the critical items for the successful execution of a project to produce the desired outcome. For the TSB banking system migration from Lloyd, the banking group paused a threat to the project’s success. The organization had an unrealistic budget which was also inadequate. TSB received around 450 million euros from the Lloyd banking group to develop the new system. They were warned about the budget since it was not for the size project and the nature of its complexity. The Sabadell group also failed to learn from the mistakes made by other firms, which led to an IT meltdown.

For instance, the bank could have considered the failure of RBS bank, which was a victim of the failed IT system in 2012, which led to a challenge that affected around 17 million people. There are several historical events that the bank could have put into consideration before embarking on their projects of relocating its system from Lloyd group. As a result of mega changes or updates to the bank’s legacy IT systems, these events have shown glitches, errors, and a total breakdown in its internet banking system and mobile banking services. This occurs because the older banks are still using the old model information technology platforms to help manage their operations, which the bank would have considered before implementing mega transfers.

To mitigate the risks, the bank in the future investment can learn from its failures, such as the allocation of the insufficient fund, the failure to conduct detailed research on similar events conducted by other companies within the similar industry where they operate and try to understand the potential risks associated with the project and how it can be solved. This could be achieved through the analogous estimate technique and scope management processes. The processes involved in the analogous estimation start by identifying the company with a similar project, the project manager then gathers the historical data and experiences of these companies. After gathering the given information, the project manager will compare them to their suitability to the current project. The project manager will then select the analogous estimate methods to help choose the best project suiting the current project. On the other hand, scope management will ensure that the project scope is accurately defined and mapped. This way, the project manager will have the ability to identify the areas where resources are required for the project’s success.

Operations Management Failing

All the sectors where the companies operate usually experience operational failure. The operational failures experienced by these industries may include but are not limited to errors, and disruptions in materials, information, and equipment maintenance. All these causes may originate from inadequate maintenance of equipment, lack of coordination from the company management and the project team, and inspection and repair (Ahmed, Bangassa and Akbar, 2020). Operational failures can be very catastrophic to the organization or result in a minor consequence in the organization’s reputation. It adversely impacts the service delivery to the clients, thus causing direct harm to them. The IT meltdown at the TBS bank directly hit the client since it made it difficult for the bank’s operation, making it difficult for the clients to access their money. The operation failures affect the brand reputation and productivity, but they also plunge the organization into impaired financial performance.

Failure to Understand the Importance of Pilot Testings’

For any project to be successful, it must undergo a series of tests before it goes live for the clients. This series of tests is vital to ensure that all the technical aspects of the project are smoothly running. The tests are vital in revealing how they affect the users and other processes. TSB Bank admitted that they did perform the pilot’s test, which would have given them an insight into how the system would operate in a real-world scenario. Still, the pilot testing was not conducted at the required scale. The bank pilots in transition events mainly targeted the main migration event but were insufficient to create a real-world scenario (Hodge, 2018). To mitigate this risk for future capital investment, the company can conduct a pilot test to ensure smooth operation throughout the system design and implementation phases. This will allow the company to identify the problems and inefficiencies of the system that might need further improvement also provide the employees with the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the system at the design phase.

The development of new products or services should always consider utilizing the product development life cycle. It involves sourcing ideas regarding the new product, which is very important for laying the foundation for the rest of the phases of product development. After the idea has been generated, the business needs to screen the idea to obtain viable ones by engaging the employees and customers. This will help the company only to retain practical ideas.

Before beginning the actual development of the product, the business will also conduct a SWOT analysis to identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats which exist in the product market. This is important for the firm to set marketing strategies and identify the niche in the market. The business then proceeds to actualize the product by first developing the prototype for market testing. Based on the product’s performance, the business can decide whether to produce the product on a large scale or not. If the result is satisfactory, the business can then move to a full-blown rollout by launching promotional campaigns for the new product or service.

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TQM, Costs of Quality

Sabadell bought TSB bank from the Lloyd group in 2015, and the bank information management system is still linked to the parent company. The bank was conducting all of its operations on a cloned version of the Lloyd group information system, which they rented at the cost of 100 million euros per year. But during the mitigation of the system to their system at Sabadell, the company failed to recognize that the initial system they were operating on was developed due to the merger of the various systems from a multiple bank system, which made it complex sclerotic. The Sabadell team lacked experience and awareness of how they were trying to migrate their data. The company will have to plan and control essentials carefully to migrate the risks from occurring in the future. It is impossible to manage a complex task without careful and appropriate planning. The company should, in the future, allocate this task to a more experienced team with the necessary skills.

Incorrect Assumptions

The project team, including the stakeholders, assumed so many things about the project, which led to the operation failure of the system. Faulty assumptions such as the timeline setting based on the Sabadell group’s initial project. The bank accepted the set timeline claiming that the Sabadell group had initially completed a similar migration project onto the Proteo platform within the same timeframe. This assumption contributed to the operational failure of the project as they failed to acknowledge that the two systems were different. Thus, giving them the same timeline was not realistic. The company in the future should treat each project as distinct and use other projects only as learning tools but not copying.