Saturday, November 22, 2008

Europeana - "A victim of its own success"


Just a brief posting this morning, my Project Management peers.
I was intrigued by an article from The Boston Globe, taken from the International Herald-Tribune, about the European digital libarary, Europeana. The library, a website including over 2 million documents, audio and video clips, and images, completely crashed after being on line for just a few hours.
The site was inundated with hits, receiving a factor of 3 times more than the 5 million per hour that were forecasted.
I tell my PM students to ask this question: "What happens if success breaks out?". This was an example of an organization not really asking that question - or at least not prepared to answer it. The site was "a victim of its success", said Martin Selmayr, a spokesman for the EC, responsible for the project.
So if you are a PM planning a website, a bridge, a product - whatever, think freely and openly about the POSITIVE side of risk - opportunity. In this case, not thinking about opportunity yielded a threat. The site will now be down for at least a month, and after a very public introduction, this was an embarrasing failure.
To see the evidence, just go here: www.europeana.eu . Note that if you do this after mid-December, you run the risk of finding a perfectly operating, cool, full-fledged, and rich website. But you planned for that success, didn't you?

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