Wang Lab’s tremendous growth left the company with a serious problem. Customers would often wait months for Wang to fill orders and process invoices. Repeated attempts by Wang’s understaffed IS department to solve these problems met with failure. Finally, Wang hired a consulting firm to solve its revenue tracking problems and expedite prompt receipt of payments. The 18-month project turned into a doubly long nightmare. After three years and $10 million, the consultants were dismissed from the unfinished project.
The project failed for many reasons. The systems development process was so dynamic that the failure to complete the project quickly became self-defeating as modifications took over the original design. Second, management did not have a clear vision of the new AIS and lacked a strong support staff. As a result, a number of incompatible tracking systems sprang from the company’s distributed computer system. Third, the project was too large and complex for the consulting firm, who had little experience with the complex database at the heart of the new system. Finally, the project had too many applications. Interdependencies among subprograms left consultants with few completed programs. Every program was linked to several subprograms, which in turn were linked to several other programs. Programmers eventually found themselves lost in a morass of subroutines with no completed program.
The IS department finally developed a system to solve the problem, but their revenue tracking system suffered quality problems for years.

Wang asked you to write a memo explaining the failure of the systems development project.
a. Why did the development project fail? What role did the consultants play in the failure?
b. Identify the organizational issues that management must address in the future.
c. Recommend steps the company could take to guarantee consulting service quality.

  • CreatedDecember 19, 2014
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