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We landed a contract to develop a documentation program with a small firm from Italy. The program was to replace a current program in use that is over 15 years old.  Everything started off fine.  The customer explained to me exactly what was needed and what steps he wanted to take.  This fulfilled step one of Larson and Larson’s 10 Steps to Creating a Project Plan.  I then gathered the necessary skilled people for the project and defined the roles and responsibilities.  Not everyone was going to work on the project at the same time but rather at different stages due to the different experiences needed as the project developed (Step 2).

Next we held a kickoff meeting with the customer so that everyone got to know one another and we would all be in sync with what needed to be done.  Additionally, questions were asked to clarify some points (Step 3).  During this meeting, the customer provided us with a scope and an estimated timeline for the project.  We made some minor adjustments to the timeline and the customer consented.  One note, the customer is also a software engineer.

For the first few months we were on track and then all chaos broke loose.  Things that we had not planned for happened.  First thing to go was the main server.  A ransomware virus attacked it.  We lost everything.  However, I had backups of the work the engineers had done.  I had to reformat the computer and reload everything.  Bang!  We were hit again by the ransomware.  And still, one more time we were hit again.  However, this time I was able to catch it in action and I found the weak link in the system.  After I covered it up we were never hit again.

Unfortunately, the customer fell gravely ill and we could not receive any further support from him on the project.  After a month in the hospital he was finally discharged but the medications he was taking would make in groggy and sleepy.  We had a difficult time scheduling meetings with him because he would fall asleep and miss the meetings.  On other times he would forget about the time difference.  Anyways, we are now a year into the project and we have only completed the first two months’ worth of work.  The engineers are disillusioned and do not want to work on the project anymore.

Can I say that this project had Scope Creep? Most definitely!  What could I have done differently to prevent scope creep? Nothing.  For one, the Ransomware was circumventing the antivirus program that was installed and it was not until I saw it in action that I found how it was getting into the system.  As for the other, I had no control over the customer’s illness.  This project was jinx from the get-go.



Larson, E., & Larson, R. (2012). 10 Steps to Creating a Project Plan. Retrieved from

This article has 2 comments

  1. Angelica Reply

    Hello George, I sure do believe you guys had quite the time getting hit with the malware. Aside from that I do believe that you guys started the project in great terms. But like you mention there are things that are sometimes just out of the realm of your control. Like your client falling ill. Did the project still go to completion or was it cancelled?

    • George Reply

      Hello Angelica.

      The project is way off course. I last talked to the client about a month ago and I told him to give me a call when he was ready to continue working on the project. At this point, I do not know if we will ever complete the project. Until he calls, there is nothing we can do.

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