Evaluate the implementation of the Denver International Airport Baggage Handling System.
The initial system was technologically advanced and would see Denver Airport become a world leader in baggage handling; however, the system that was implemented was mostly manual and a shadow of the original. The initial design had the aim of integrating concourse A, B and C into a single system but what was implemented could only support outbound flights on the united concourse only. The system was aimed at automating baggage handling in the entire airport but what was implemented was a small portion and system used more was a manual tug and trolley system. The Baggage handling system was to be ready by the end of 1993, but the implementation of the system was delayed causing opening to be postponed repeatedly, in the end the complete airport sat idle for 16 months waiting for the system to be completed. The delays in the implementation of the baggage system added an estimated $560 million to the airport construction cost causing it to fall further over budget.
What do you believe were the top 3 factors that contributed to the project's failure?
The project was complex and huge requiring extensive planning which should have been done from the conception and initiation of the overall project. Implementing the project midway, caused conflicts with other teams as they did constructions on their parts. Underestimation caused the project to face challenges that could have been avoided and not resulted in costly delays. For example, the baggage system needed a clean supply of electricity which the city could not provide because it had not planned for it from the start.
The scope of the project was not clearly developed from the start. The deliverables and the expectations of the stakeholders kept changing throughout the project. For example, the United requested that the entire loop of tracks be eliminated and instead have ski-claim and odd size baggage elevators added. This resulted in failure because the project team had to keep implementing changes that varied in magnitude in order to meet the clients’ new demands. The baggage system project failure was attributed to delay in developing the necessary programs and software. The constant change in demands required that new programs be developed every time causing the project to fall behind schedule and go over budget.
Lack of clear and timely communication amongst all concerned parties contributed to the failure of the project. There was no clear communication between the management and the stakeholders causing delays in the decision making process. There was no clear communication between teams and contractors working on different parts of the airport project. The baggage system team had limited access to some areas and effort to have such issues addressed by management, were put off.
Who do you feel is most at fault?
Webb was most at fault because he was the city mayor and can be held responsible for all the shortcomings of the city during the entire project. As one of the major stakeholder in the project, he should have led the city in defining the project scope clear by providing specific goals and objectives that the project was to deliver. He should have led the city in defining deliverables that the project should deliver at every milestone. He should have held the project team accountable by monitoring the project progress so as to ensure the project remains within estimated time schedule and budget. Webb should have offered the project team all the support needed and given them the authority and the mandate to make project decisions. The city council did not give Gail the autonomy and authority she needed to manage the project efficiently. She had to seek approval on decisions which slowed the decision making process.