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Case Study on the Failure of Denver Airport Baggage System Project Management

Autor:   •  March 26, 2017  •  Thesis  •  1,379 Words (6 Pages)  •  1,320 Views

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Case study on the failure of Denver Airport Baggage System project management

1. Abstract

This report aims to figure out the underlying reasons of the failure of Denver Airport Baggage System project in a project management perspective and propound some suggestions related to project management on how to avoid or reduce the effects of the troubles this project encountered.

Throughout this report, the detailed analysis on project initiating, project planning, project executing and  project monitoring will be performed based on the knowledge that we have learnt from the course of  project management and quality assurance.

2. Introduction

A project involves uncertainty (Schwalbe, K., Managing Information Technology Projects, 8th Edition, Course Technology (Cengage Learning), 2016). Each project contains its special purpose and the objectives, scope, schedule, budget and risk are hard to measure with a fast and hard template. Besides, unexpected external factors may cause big changes to a project, especially for the IT project. Therefore, a well-designed and flexible project management holds a leading role to project success.

In order to release the high pressure of  airport capacity, city of Denver wanted to develop the Denver airport into a transportation hub which would be able to handle more than 50m passengers annually.

The baggage handling system of Denver airport was a critical success factor in this development plan.  The automatic baggage handling system can reduce the turnaround duration of the aircrafts and increase the whole operational efficiency.

The construction plan was commenced in 1989, and the expected deadline is 1993.

However, due to the ineffective project management, the automatic baggage handling system can’t be launched on time within budget, and as a result the open date of Denver airport was postponed 16 months, what’s more the expenditure on maintaining this empty airport and other financial cost was $1.1 million per delaying day.

Another dilemma of this case is that the airport had already demonstrated the detailed expected deliverable functions to the press, which included how the system crushed bags, disgorged content and how two carts moving at high speed reacted when they crashed into each other. However, on the expected opening date, the system could not accomplish their goal. Rather than automating all 3 concourses into one integrated system, the system was used in a single concourse, by a single airline and only for outbound flights.  All other baggage handling was performed using simple conveyor belts plus a manual tug and trolley system that was hurriedly built when it became clear that the automated system would never meet their goal.

3. Analysis

The failure of this project mainly caused by the following reasons:

Initiating stage:

(1) underestimation of the complexity of the project

The project charter of this project had not been well-prepared. The key schedule milestones, budget and constraints need to be illustrated in the project charter. However, the information in the project charter was not accurate enough. The complexity of the automated baggage system was not being identified, and a corresponding underestimation of the effort engaged caused by the misidentification of complexity.  The underestimation meant that the project management team had allowed the baggage system to become the airport’s critical path without realizing it.


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