Project Management Practices of the Navy Marine Intranet Case Study

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Project Management Practices of the Navy Marine Intranet Project

Phase II Deliverable

The Navy-Marine Corps Intranet (NMCI) initially included the strategic vision of unifying enterprise voice, video and data integration across U.S. Navy and Marine bases throughout North America. This initiative was launched in October, 2000 with funding from the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Navy Information technologies budgets (VARBusiness, 2004). Electronic Data Systems (EDS) was chosen as the prime contractor with the goal of having the entire Intranet fully operational within two years, or by 2002, complete with application consolidation and drastic reductions in the total number of systems as well. Far more critical was the lack of coordination around change management and resulting massive resistance to the initiative, where those areas of the U.S. Navy and Marines with excellent collaboration and system resources resisted and even sabotaged the development of the NMCI initiative. The resistance to change brought about by fear galvanized both the information-rich and data-starved operating units of the U.S. Navy and Marines. EDS also failed to successfully scope out the size and complexity of the project itself, vastly underestimating the time and resources required to enable it to succeed. In this section of the deliverable, the areas of estimating, quality and communication are analyzed and evaluated. The failure of the NMCI initial project to attain its objectives can be directly tied to the lack of clarity in terms of estimation, quality and communication. Technical requirements proliferated while user needs were ignored.

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Analysis and Critique of Estimating, Quality and Communication

TOPIC: Case Study on Project Management Practices of the Navy Marine Intranet Project Assignment

It is ironic that the term "boil the ocean" so aptly fits the NMCI project, as the initial requirements encompassed 360,000 desktops, 1,000 diverse networks, over 1,000 computing gateways, and over 100,000 separate applications many of which had been acquired without approval of the U.S. Navy's central IT organization (Cross, 2007). Prescient of the many problems that would plague this project, the U.S. Navy had estimated there were at most 10,000 applications across its many installations in North America, and was shocked to learn there were in fact well over 100,000 (Cross, 2007). The NMCI project set the goal of reducing these applications to 3,000, a goal never achieved as efforts bogged down at 31,000 (Rosencrance, 2006). As would be suspected with a project of this magnitude, there was also significant lack of logistical and software support for the myriad of systems that formed the U.S. Navy and Marine Intranet sites even before the project started (Aerospace Daily & Defense Report, 2006). Expectations and perceptions quickly degenerated when the NMCI project was initiated, as military personnel expected the confusion to become even more acute and chaotic with a civilian subcontractor involved in the efforts. The existing architecture was so chaotic and poorly organized that it was impossible to e-mail from one of the 360,000 PCs or workstations to another, often requiring the use of two or more systems to just send a message (Rosencrance, 2006). The users of these systems had developed a balkanized, very territorial approach to managing their own IT resources, which further fueled the strong resistance to change that EDS encountered when they first began working on the project. As would be the case when there are very scarce, very valuable resources, the more the confusion and chaos of the project when on, the greater the level of paranoia and mistrust continued, until EDS was eventually forced to completely re-define the scope and depth of the project (Pinto, Arora, Hall, Schmitz, 2006). When a project begins that fails to take into account the needs of users it is supposed to serve, the project managers or leaders and their teams inevitably suffer a loss of trust and credibility (Baca, 2007).

By not scoping out or estimating the size of the project accurately there was a cascading effect of quality of implementation and communication that occurred. This can be seen from gross oversimplification of network integration requirements, the underestimated costs and complexity of enabling a more secured platform or infrastructure, and the lack of communication that was occurring throughout the entire project team. The initial project plans failed to take into account how to resolve over 16,000 attempted intrusions into the system on average every year, a fact that EDS insisted they knew but after later evaluation showed had escaped their initial project estimations as well (Cross, 2007).

When projects are not accurately scoped at their initial phases, they inevitably proliferate way beyond the boundaries of what was originally expected at the first budgeting and management meetings (Baca, 2007). This is exactly what happened on the NMCI project, with EDS believing that the project could be taken on en masse through the development of a services-based platform (Dignan, 2004). Given the complexity of process and system integration across the more than 100,000 applications and the need to be consolidate these down to 3,000, and the fact each application had a drastically different interface than the next, EDS quickly realized an overarching services-based approach would not work. Their initial definition of the Architecture Management Services for the project is shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1: Proposed Architecture for the NMCI Project

Source: (Cross, 2007)

As if the lack of change management planning and execution weren't enough, EDS also added in a very high level of complexity and confusion to the project by including 23 different Service Level Agreements, each with 51 different categories (Rosencrance, 2006). EDS agreed to this conditions as part of their contract, and also allowed their payment schedule to be defined by the condition of 100% of SLA requirements being met for each of the 360,000 seats installed (Cross, 2007). In retrospect, this virtually guaranteed that the project would encounter even greater scheduling and resource problems as EDS failed to take a more realistic approach to defining estimating, while keeping quality of the actual work in mind. The lack of communication over the number of applications (assumed to be much less than the over 100,000 the Navy discovered) and lack of change management planning and execution in retrospect set the foundation for a very challenging, difficult project for the long-term.


Overcoming the challenges of inaccurate estimating, quality and communication would have required EDS to complete the following Recommendations. First, EDS completely underestimated the challenge to change the cultures and workgroups within the U.S. Navy and Marines that had become very dependent on and defensive about a change. There was little initial interviewing or systems analysis of needs below the fleet level, much less down to specific workgroups or even teams (Cross, 2007). As a result, the initial plans did not capture the most critical unmet needs of system users, and also reflected a top-down based approach to solving the problems with each area of the voice, data and video systems. Second, no active system pilots were taken on which could have severely reduced resistance to change (Baca, 2007). No significant effort was made to overcome resistance to change by allowing those most affected by the system to have a say in how it was being constructed. Third, EDS underestimated the effect and cost of legacy system integration and the time required to consolidate these legacy systems from over 100,000 down to less than 30,000 (Cross, 2007). By taking a more user- and strategy-driven, not technology driven approach, EDS could have been much more successful.

Phase III deliverable

Executive Summary

The intent of this section is to evaluate the NMCI initiative in terms of risk identification and management, scheduling, budgeting and manner of project execution. Each of these factors are analyzed and critiqued in the following sections, in addition to an assessment of whether the project could be considered a success or failure based on EDS' evaluation of its performance relative to those of the industry media and analysts.

Critique and Analysis

Beginning with risk management, EDS chose to have one, all-enveloping project schedule which in retrospect was the most risk-laden strategy to take in such a massive project. Risk management is often accomplished by parsing down projects into smaller, more manageable components, allowing resources to be applied to them judiciously and with a focus on accountable results (Baca, 2007). A second aspect of risk management was the development of schedule, budget, and project execution, which are each discussed in the following sections of this analysis. Another significant factor in risk management was the need to respect and protect the research laboratories and networks supporting them (Cross, 2007). Taking a very broad, unspecific approach to defining the roll-out of the NMCI virtually guaranteed entire research networks would be obliterated or in the very least, all data would be lost (Cross, 2007). The risk of losing data and years of study became a powerful motivator for Navy and Marine research officers to completely block and work to avert the success of the program. This happened throughout many of the locations, causing greater backlash and lack of support (Pinto, Arora, Hall, Schmitz, 2006).

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