Project Management

IT Project Lessons from Titanic (Part 2)

Durham Highlands Chapter

Most people are very familiar with the Titanic story from movies or documentaries that focus on the last two days of the voyage and the last hours of the disaster itself. But little is known about the four-year construction project, the project investments and business case--and their significance in the disaster.


Let us go back to 1909 and re-examine White Star's business situation. White Star embarked on a strategy to invest in new emerging technologies and create three super liners. These were major investments as the liners were likely to be in service for at least 20 years. But how solid was the business case and did it cover the costs and risks adequately?


Likewise today, before you commit to an IT project you need to make a "go/no-go" decision on whether your "online operation" will be viable--i.e., the proposed IT solution has enough value to pay for and support itself and is not a "risk" to the business.


White Star's business case was very solid when viewed from a simple cost-benefit analysis. A staggering 75 percent of the total revenue was based on first-class passage. The three liners were viable within two years of operation. But was this enough, and did it cover the necessary risks and provide the adequate safety features needed?


Most IT projects go through a quick cost-benefit analysis to highlight their viability and draw on a three-year payback.…

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If you haven't got anything nice to say about anybody, come sit next to me.

- Alice Roosevelt Longworth