Archive for the 'Case Studies' Category

Stakeholder Management and Travel Card System Failures

Posted by Peter on Aug 04 2008 | Case Studies

London Queue

Interesting to read about the ‘chaos’ affecting public transport systems in both New York and London recently, caused by faulty contact-less travel payment cards and readers.

Apparently, thousands of subway and bus riders in New York City were unable to use their cards, as up to 2,000 vending machines failed last week, making it impossible for them to use their credit and debit cards to buy tickets. Similar difficulties also affected travelers in London in late July. This is further to the article here on RFID tags used as travel payment card.

One traveler had an interesting comment when interviewed:

… she said she does not carry much cash because I fully expect these kinds of machines to always be working’.

That’s a good example of how stakeholder expectations nowadays can be very high. And it’s also a reminder that we do need to take great care with the technical implementation of our projects.

  • Stakeholder management alone won’t help if the system keeps breaking down!

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Stakeholder Management and electronic plane tickets

Posted by Peter on Jul 19 2008 | Case Studies

Here’s a case study showing how a large number of stakeholders can be managed with a simple communications exercise, in a project with a clear benefit.e-ticket
Many of you will by now have used an electronic ticket (or ‘e-ticket’) for your plane flights. Those of you who prefer to hold your paper or card tickets are now officially out of luck, as the International Air Transport Association (IATA) completed it’s program to switch the airline industry to 100% electronic ticketing at the beginning of June 2008 (delayed from an original target of January 2008).

E-Ticketing allows a customer to book flights through an airline’s Web site or by phone. The customer gets an email or downloadable document with a confirmation number, flight number, date, departure location, and destination location. The customer only needs to bring a passport for identification at the airport check-in counter. The incentives for airlines to adopt e-ticketing were huge. A paper ticket costs around $10 to produce, whereas an e-ticket costs only $1. IATA’s members airlines issue over 400 million tickets each year - a lot of paper!

So printing and mailing costs of airline companies have been significantly reduced, and for travelers there is the benefit that lost or forgotten documents can be easily retrieved.

This is interesting from a project stakeholder management perspective, as the people who travel (all 400 million of them) do not seem to have been consulted about the switch to e-tickets. So all of us are in the ‘Low Influence’ part of the stakeholder classification grid and were informed but not consulted. How did they get away with this? Probably because the benefits are clear, especially as we move towards minimising resources and not cutting down all those trees just to print tickets which are thrown in the bin after use. There are, of course, some airports that won’t let you in the departure area unless you have a ‘ticket’ in your hand that proves you’re a traveler. We then have to print the e-ticket ourselves!

The future

IATA is now working on a similar system to reduce the amount of paperwork accompanying air freight, which is more good news. Some airlines are experimenting with systems to send your e-ticket to your phone as a two-dimensional bar code for scanning at the gate and as a boarding pass.

Physical tickets are also undergoing a revolution, with increasing use of contactless plastic cards. Access to the opening and closing ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics is being controlled with a sophisticated smart-card system that even stores a person’s passport data and a photograph, making it impossible to transfer or sell the ticket to someone else.

Lesson learned for project stakeholder management:

  • When the benefits are clear to everyone, a simple communication exercise is all that’s needed to manage a huge number of stakeholders in your project.

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Case Study of Project Stakeholder Complaints When Replacing old Street Lights - Dusseldorf, Germany

Posted by Peter on Jul 07 2008 | Case Studies

Here’s a case study showing the importance of finding all the different requirements of stakeholders before embarking on a project.

Dusseldorf

The municipal power utility in the German city of Dusseldorf recently started a project to replace 10,000 of the 17,000 gas street lights in use in the old city with the latest LED (”Light Emitting Diode”) technology. Good idea. The LED’s are very reliable and cheaper to operate than the current gas lights, although they are more expensive to install and have less light output than the equivalent fluorescent or sodium lamps. This is expected to change as the technology improves in the coming years. Another advantage is that the light beam may be directed very accurately, unlike sodium lamps which throw light all over the place - including through the bedroom windows of people living along the streets!

LED LightYellow LED Light

But not everyone is pleased with the idea of losing the gas lamps. Ulrich Kuipers from the South Westfalia University of Applied Sciences, which developed the Dusseldorf lamps, now admits to ‘making a mistake’ with the initial design, as many residents complained that the light from the new lamps was too cold, as compared to the soft glow of the original gas lights. Luckily, another useful characteristic of LED’s is their ability to produce different colours and hues, which can be used to imitate the old friendly glow.

Lesson Learned:

Get all stakeholders involved as soon as possible with your project design, as they might have concerns that never occurred to you.

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Providing Information to Stakeholders: Singapore Bus Services

Posted by Peter on May 18 2008 | Case Studies

Bus_Stop

This morning I noticed a new feature at my favourite Tanah Merah bus stop: An information panel showing arrival times of buses. The information is intended to “help commuters better manage waiting time and transfers, and make more informed travel decisions”, says the Singapore Land Transport Authority (LTA).

LTA installed the first 30 real-time bus arrival information panels in July 2007, followed by customer surveys. Nine out of ten commuters polled felt that the panels were useful and important, and hoped to see them at more bus stops. Based on this feedback, another 20 panels are now being installed.

For those interested in the technical details, data for the display panels is sent from the bus operator’s system via cellular-phone networks General Packet Radio Service (GPRS). The system uses the bus operator’s Automated Vehicle Management System (AVMS), which tracks all 2,850 SBS Transit buses in 222 services. The AVMS tracks the exact location of a bus on a given route,and monitors problems like bunching and buses which are too fast or early.

Lessons Learned for Project Stakeholder Management:

  1. If you are implementing a new service, it is best to perform an initial installation followed by stakeholder surveys. If the service is deemed to be useful, then incorporate any suggested changes and continue the expansion of the service.
  2. People like to have information made available. No more standing at a bus-stop with no idea when the next bus will arrive. This could apply to projects that you are running; always give people relevant, timely, useful information about what is happening, to enable them to feel in control of the situation.
  3. As usual, execution is everything. The information needs to be accurate to be useful. You will also hear some stakeholders grumbling about your service, as they now have the information to complain (”so the bus will arrive in 35 minutes - I can’t wait that long - why aren’t there enough buses?”). Be prepared to tackle these awkward questions that arise in response to the information you provide.

I’ve found that it’s always best to provide information than attempt hide it. We already knew that some buses were infrequent, so posting the information in public on a big display is actually a step in the right direction.

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Case Study - Swiss Deep-Heat Geothermal Project

Posted by Peter on Apr 25 2008 | Case Studies

Deep Heat Drilling Rig

Here’s one of my favourite case Studies, showing what happens when you fail to apply good Risk and Stakeholder Management to a potentially dangerous project.

In 2006, The Swiss Government and a number of regional power producers invested in a scheme to produce geothermal energy with the aim of providing heat and electricity to several thousand homes in the Basel area. The energy would be obtained from geothermal sources by a system known as deep heat mining, where hot water from deep below the earth’s surface is forced upwards and used to drive turbines to make electricity.

The pilot project was supposed to be completed by 2009.

Unfortunately, the drilling triggered some earth tremors at the turn of the year 2006-7, causing the project to be halted for safety reasons. Local residents were very worried, as Basel is one of the areas in Switzerland most prone to seismic activity. In 1356, the city was almost entirely destroyed by a 6.5-magnitude earthquake.

Local resident Armin Fretz, talking to the press:

I don’t understand why such a project was accepted in a city known for being located on a seismic fault

The question of whether Geopower will be allowed to return to drilling remains under evalution, with US$50 million already spent.

Here’s a quotation from a local report; see if you can spot the inconsistency:

Last week the Basel government took a first step by announcing that it was going to carry out a full “quantitative” risk analysis based on new data to help decide whether or not the project should be resumed.

Yes, they actually proposed to do Risk Analysis AFTER the drilling started and the problems became evident, rather than in the planning stage of the Project Lifecycle!

And they are still compounding that error by neglecting Project Stakeholder Management, which states that we need to communicate early and often. Take a look at the Deep Heat official website - which is closed down - ensuring that rumours and misinformation rule.

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