Failure Feature: How to ruin projects and influence customers

Friday, November 8th, 2013 By Jack Nevison

There are always aspects of any large business that could use the input of a skilled project manager, and they are easy to spot. They tend to be categorized by questionable decision making and sometimes rank incompetence. Here are a couple of examples from big names that you'll recognize.

  • Always low prices—and low inventory. Since 2008, Wal-Mart has added hundreds of new locations, but cut its workforce by 120,000 during that same period, according to a report by Bloomberg. This cost-cutting action appears to have had a negative effect on sales. A recent Business Insider article features a number of photos that show how sparsely stocked some Wal-Mart shelves are. The article adds that, without abundant inventory, customers are less likely to buy anything. In fact, the photographer Brian Sozzi, from Belus Capital Advisors, points out that Wal-Mart's worst-performing stores are seeing same-store sales in the negative numbers. (Same-store sales compare this year's sales to last year's sales in stores that have been open over a year.) Not great news for this retail behemoth.
  • "OK Glass, where's my permit?" Google has made a lot of promises related to its forthcoming product, Google Glass. Apparently, the company also wanted to deliver a memorable promotion as well. According to Business Insider, the search-engine giant has reportedly built a Google Glass store on a barge in the San Francisco Bay, with plans for it to float to different cities to sell the Glasses. But it won't be going anywhere until Google gets an important docking permit from the city of San Francisco, which it apparently forgot to do. Whoops.

A detailed project plan, including a WBS and a risk-assessment, could have raised questions that might have prevented these gaffes. New Leaf Project Management's program "Managing Risk & Making Decisions" can show you how to avoid these mistakes.

Our free white papers, such as "Good Estimates and Bad Biases," feature tips and techniques to help you avoid such embarrassing (and costly) project errors. In addition, our white papers offer a way to earn convenient and affordable PDU credits for PMP recertification.

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