A clothing company sells 40% of its goods directly to customers through
its website. The marketing manager of the company (MM) has decided that this is insufficient and has put a small team together to re-design the site. MM feels that the site looks 'amateur and old-fashioned and does not project the right image'. The board of the company has given the go-ahead for the MM 'to re-design the website'. The following notes summarise the outcomes of the meetings on the website re-design. The team consists of the marketing manager (MM), a product range manager (RP), a marketing image consultant (IC) and a technical developer (TD).
Meeting 1: 9 July attended by MM, RP, IC and TD
The need for a re-designed website to increase sales volume through the website and to 'improve our market visibility' was explained by MM. IC was asked to produce a draft design.
Meeting 2: 16 August attended by MM, RP, IC and TD
IC presented a draft design. MM and RP were happy with its image but not its functionality, suggesting that it was too similar to the current site. 'We expected it to do much more' was their view.
Meeting 3: 4 September attended by MM, RP and IC
IC produced a re-drafted design. This overall design was agreed and the go-ahead was given for TD to produce a prototype of the design to show to the board.
Meeting 4: 11 September attended by RP, IC and TD
TD explained that elements of the drafted re-design were not technically feasible to implement in the programming language being used. Changes to the design were agreed at the meeting to overcome these issues and signed off by RP.
Meeting 5: 13 October attended by MM, RP, IC and TD
The prototype re-design was demonstrated by TD. MM was unhappy with the re-design as it was 'moving too far away from the original objective and lacked functionality that should be there'. TD agreed to make a technical report to explain why the original design (agreed on 4 September) could not be adhered to.
Meeting 6: 9 November attended by MM, IC and TD
It was agreed to return to the 4 September design with slight alterations to make it technically feasible. TD expressed concerns that the suggested design would not work properly with all web browsers.
At the board meeting of 9 December the board expressed concern about the time taken to produce the re-design and the finance director highlighted the rising costs (currently $25,000) of the project. They asked MM to produce a formal cost-benefit of the re-design. The board were also concerned that the scope of the project, which they had felt to be about re-design, had somehow been interpreted as including development and implementation.
On 22 December MM produced the following cost-benefit analysis of the project and confirmed that the word 'redesign' had been interpreted as including the development and implementation of the website.
*These benefits are extra sales volumes created by the website's extra functionality and the company's increased visibility in the market place.
On 4 January the board gave the go ahead for the development and implementation of the website with a further budget of $25,000 and a delivery date of 1 March. TD expressed concern that he did not have enough developers to deliver the re-designed website on time.
Meeting 7: 24 February attended by MM, RP, IC and TD
A partial prototype system was demonstrated by TD. RP felt that the functionality of the re-design was too limited and that the software was not robust enough. It had crashed twice during the demonstration. He suggested that the company delay the introduction of the re-designed website until it was done and robust. MM declared this to be impossible.
The re-designed website was launched on 1 March. MM declared the re-design a success that 'had come in on time and under budget'. On 2 and 3 March, numerous complaints were received from customers. The website was unreliable and did not work with a particular popular web browser. On 4 March an emergency board meeting decided to withdraw the site and reinstate the old one. On 5 March, MM resigned.
Most project management methods have an initiation or definition stage which includes the production of a document that serves as an agreement between the sponsors and deliverers of the project. This may be called a project initiation document or a project charter. Defining the business case is also an important part of the initiation or definition stage of the project.
a. Explain how a business case and a project initiation document would have helped prevent some of the problems that emerged during the conduct of the website re-design project.
b. Analyze how effective project management could have further improved both the process and the outcomes of the website re-design project.