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Kansas DMV Project Debacle

Waiting Line

I don’t live in Kansas but I live close enough to Kansas to read and hear about their Department of Motor Vehicle replacement system project problems. From my perspective, the problems they encountered are not unique to Kansas. It’s just that their system go-live is recent enough and disastrous enough to make headlines. Does this sound familiar to you?

  • A 3 year project funded with $40M from the state and a $4.00 computer modernization fee.
  • Sold to the public by creating this expectation:  “Our ultimate goal is improved customer service and efficiency.” The new system was to “improve how services are delivered to drivers and vehicle owners throughout Kansas.”
  • A fixed-cost contract with the option to assess penalties on the vendor for delays.
  • Extensive customization of the selected vendor’s software.
  • Nearly a one year delay in the system rollout.
  • One month before go-live, the Director of Vehicles wrote “With a little bit of planning the upgrade will not be a major problem for Kansas”.
  • Went live on May 7, 2012.
So what happened when the new system went live? Read more

Behaviors That Foretell Project Trouble

By Wayne Strider

People tell me they often know when a project is in trouble long before the project is openly declared a failure or out of control.  They know it in different ways.  Some get an intuition or hunch. Others feel it their bodies– a tight chest, frequent sighing, clinched fists, digestive tract irritations, or unexplained rashes.  A few tell me they are able to associate their intuitions and body signals with certain behaviors they notice on projects.  That is when they see the behaviors they know trouble is not far off.

While there are lots of behaviors that foretell project trouble, here are five that can make it difficult for you to effectively manage day-to-day problems and opportunities.  Important project work can fall through the cracks and put your project at risk if these behaviors are allowed to persist.

Issue logs not being worked

High priority issues reported as open on issue logs week after week should always show up on your worry radar.  Some of the reasons why an issue remains open week after week could include:

  • The issue has not been assigned to anyone.
  • The issue has been assigned, but the responsible person does not have the skill, experience, or resources to resolve it.
  • The responsible person is overloaded with higher priority work.

When issue logs are not being worked, it points to a general lack of management attention. Read more

When Does a Project Start?

by Marie Benesh

This might seem like a silly question, but oftentimes we think a project starts when funds have been allocated, resources committed and a project plan is in place. We have Kick-Off meetings to tell everyone about the project and try to garner commitment and buy-in. But often, by then, it is nearly too late.

The project starts long before the project kick-off!

Projects can begin as an idea, a need, or even a request from someone in the organization. Sometimes the request goes to IT who is then expected to “get started.” Sometimes a team of department heads or functional leaders decide to “do a project” and then select someone from their ranks to lead it. But “getting started” should not mean putting a plan together and moving resources to begin development or implementation. Read more

What To Do When What You’re Doing Isn’t Working


by Eileen Strider

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. But what if what you’re trying isn’t working?  If you keep trying the same things that worked for you in the past, and they’re not working for you now, try something new.

Most of the time, we do what we know how to do and everything turns out as we expect. Then there are the times when we try everything we know, but nothing seems to work. What do you do then?

First, acknowledge that your actions are getting nowhere. Sometimes, you can see that your efforts are not working by the lack of results. Sometimes, others make you painfully aware that your actions are not effective. Whatever causes your awareness, the first thing that has to happen is to admit there is a problem. This awareness I call “the pain of recognition.” Read more

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