Project Management

IT Project Lessons from Titanic (Part 4)

Durham Highlands Chapter

Most people are very familiar with Titanic's 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 stages, and their significance in the disaster.


Let us go back to 1909 and re-examine White Star's project to build three super liners based on new emerging technologies. These would go into service in 1911, 1912 and 1913 for at least 20 years. They were major investments based on what appeared to be a solid business case, but in fact did not cover the risks adequately (see Part 2).


Titanic's architects had many design choices and followed a strategy of incorporating all the latest and advanced safety technologies to provide the highest levels of safety. However, they made compromises to these safety features because of business pressure from executives,   who wanted to create the ultimate passenger (first-class) experience. For example, four of the bulkhead walls did not reach the top deck and were only 10 feet above the water line, to make room for a spacious 200 foot ballroom (see Part 3).


By the time the planning for testing stage started, the perception amongst White Star staff was that Titanic was invincible. In fact, this was used actively as part of the marketing for Titanic. As Titanic neared completion, tests were …

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"Better keep yourself clean and bright; you are the window through which you must see the world."

- George Bernard Shaw