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We often hear or read about various success and failure stories of projects, but what is success or failure and what criteria should organisations use to identify success or failure? What factors lead to a successful or failure project? Cleland & Ireland [2004] argue that since each individual or group of people who are involved in a project have different needs and expectations, they likely interpret their project’s success in the context of their own way of understanding.

Thomsett [2002] provides as an example, the Sydney Opera House Project. The Sydney Opera House project went 16 times over budget and took 4 times as long to finish as had been originally planned. However, the final impact of the completed project was so big that no one remembers the original missed goals. The project was a big success for the people involved and at the same time a big failure from the project management perspective. While a project may go over budget and schedule [and deemed a failure], its success may be measured by the response to the actual use of the project over time.

On the other hand, the Millennium Dome in London was an example of a project that was completed on time and on budget, but in the eyes of the British people was considered a failure because it did not deliver the awe and glamour that it was supposed to generate. In the same way that quality requires both conformance to the specifications and fitness for use, project success requires a combination of product success [service, result, or outcome] and project management success [Duncan, 2004].

The difference between criteria and factors is fuzzy for many people. The Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary describes a criterion as "a standard by which you judge, decide about or deal with something" while a factor is explained as "a fact or situation which influences the result of something". The success or failure of a project can be judged differently by people based on their purposes and criteria. It is clear now that critical factors can lead to a series of events that ultimately meet the overall success criteria of the project, so they should not be used as synonymous terms. Davis [2013], Atkinson [1999], and Mir & Pinnington [2013] provide other insights into this topic and suggest many other criteria for success.

This assignment requires you firstly to identify a real world case: either a successful project or a failed project, and then based on the criteria you identified [from the literature] explain why the project either succeeded or failed. There are many references on the theme of project success or failure, and hence you will need to do some research to set up your criteria. The following references will help you start the process.

You can select a case from secondary data available in the public domain or from within your own organisation. The report should include the following information:

  • Background of the company and the project case that you have selected.
  • Discussion of standard criteria, such as those emerging in the reference section.
  • Critical identification and justification of the criteria you think appropriate.
  • Critical analysis of the case based on the criteria chosen.
  • Presentation of appropriate conclusions.
  • Provision of suggestions or recommendations in the event that the project should be re-run in the future.

Overview of Google and its product offerings

Google is the one information and internet providing companies in the world based in California, the United States of America. The product offerings of Google includes advertising, cloud computing, software and hardware. Google provides one of the most sought after search engines in the world under the name ’google.com’. The company is allows its securely exchange files, videos, audio and Microsoft files using its emailing service called ‘gmail’. The company operates under the able leadership of Mr Sundar Pichai as its CEO and Ms Ruth Porat in the capacity of its chief financial officer. The company owns one of the most sought after video streaming platforms in the world Youtube. This immense high quality product umbrella of Google stands on two pillars namely, its capital base and its revenue base. Google is the subsidiary of the American business conglomerate Alphabet Inc which is a public limited company listed on the NASDAQ. The consolidated statement of income of Alphabet Inc clearly shows that the conglomerate earned 32323 million USD in the year ended 2017 which is more than the revenue generated in 2016 which was 27772 million USD (abc.xyz 2018). An analysis of the financial statements of the American business conglomerate and owner of Google clearly shows that its revenue generation capacity has increased compared to the previous. However, the increasing increasing expenditures are eating into the net income of the conglomerate. The net income was in negative due these increase in expenditure figures. The contractual obligations of Alphabet shows steady increase which is affecting its profit earning capacity (Adrian, Covitz and Liang 2015).

The high revenue generation and capital generation form the strong financial base on which operations of Google stand. This strong financial base allows the company to acquire trained technical experts and professionals from diverse fields. This trained talent pool bring about continuous innovations. The products of Google like Youtube and Gmail bear the testimony to the innovative power of the company. The company keeps on upgrading the technology it uses in its products to maximize customer satisfaction. The customer base of Google consist of both business customers and domestic customers.

The hardware products of Google consist of ranges of smart speakers and smart glasses. These are technologically advanced products which combine the technological power and innovative power of Google. Google products in general including both software and hardware products occupy high positions in the global market. However, the company does occasionally face product failure in some of its products due to various reason. One such product of Google which failed to create the expected stir in the global market in spite its formidable backing was Google Glass (x.company 2018).

Google Glass is an innovative and high-end range of smart glasses marketed by Google. It is a part of the hardware series which also includes smart speakers which the American multinational company uses top dominate the smart hardware market. However, Google Glass did not meet with the expected level of success due to several factors. The first factor which led to the failure of the hardware product was health concerns raised by the users. The pair of glasses has embedded electronic components which emitted radiation. The radiation from smart objects has been known to be carcinogenic in nature and hence extremely high threat to the brain and eyes of the consumers. The device has a camera attached to it which enables the consumers to take photographs. This created quite an issue because that raised privacy concerns among the people around.  The third factor which led to the downfall of Google Glass in the global market is lack of aesthetic and product differentiation (ibtimes.com. 2018). Moreover, the marketing mix which Google used to market Google Glass was faulty. This analysis clearly shows that these faults were not expected from a company of the level of Google and its new product bombed in the global market. It can also be pointed out from this failure that the company did not apply the modern standards of project success evaluation and reserved itself to the traditional project outcome evaluation criteria of time and budget. The company failed to judge the success of the modern project evaluation standards like stakeholder interests, project differentiation and appropriate distribution chain.

Analysis of the financial statements of Alphabet Inc

The two standard criteria, key performance indicators or KPIs of project which companies consider are:

Time:

Time is the first standard criteria or key performance indicator which project management companies take into account to measure success rate of projects. Donato et al.(2017) mention in their work that lifecycle of projects have four stages namely, initiation, planning, execution and closure. The company managing the projects outline the activities which they have to achieve within specific time periods. For example, the first stage, the initiation stage consist of project brief, appointment of project manager, preliminary project plan, business and project scope definition.  Similarly, the second phase or the planning phase consist of project schedule, formation of communication matrix and monitoring and control. The project management committees or the project owner predetermine the time frame within which each stage has to be secured. This criterion is of great importance because failure to secure stages within mentioned time attracts cost escalations for the project management company.

For example, as far as Google Glass is concerned, the company aimed to release the product into the market by 2013. However, its successful launch was hindered due to detection of certain technological defects. The company in order to deal with the defect hired technological experts having experience of working other IT companies like Apple. This resulted in extension of the successful launch of Google in the market. It is evident from the discussion that this extension of time undoubtedly led to increase of expenditure. For example, Google had to pay high salaries to scientists it hired to work on Google Glass post detection of the defects (businessinsider.in 2018).

Cost:

The second criterion which project managers take into account to evaluate the success of the projects is cost. The project managers breakdown every stage into segments which are known to form work breakdown structure or WBS.

For example, projects in general have four stages which are initiation, planning, execution and closure.  It has been assumed that the project team working on Google Glass breaks down by four stages and each sub-stage would take a month. It has also been assumed that every month would attract equal expenditure of $100000 as shown in the Gantt chart (attachment no. 788118.). Now, as the case study reports, the project of Google Glass extended due to the need of incorporating new features. If it is assumed that the project extends by a month, it mean it would attract an additional cost of $1 lakh. The time required would be 17 months instead of 16 months which would also attract more expenditure (Attachment no. 788188-after deakThis analysis shows that cost forms an important criteria to measure project performance since extension of time attracts extension of cost. This

The success of modern projects are judged on the grounds of more criteria than merely time and cost. This is because these factors can be responsible for hindering projects for small companies but not for global giants like Google. However, Google Glass failed to win over its competitors and dominate the market unlike other Google products. This justifies there in order to dig into the factors responsible for the failure of the Google project, one has to identify modern project success measurement factors. The following are the contemporary criteria which would point out to the failure of Google Glass:

Google Glass as a smart hardware product

Stakeholder impact:

The impact which projects have on stakeholders have emerged as one of the most important criteria which project management companies need to consider. This is because the stakeholders like the government and consumers make important contributions towards development of products which the projects aim to make. The consumers create demand for new products which provides basis to the companies to initiate projects to develop these products. Similarly, the government offers licenses and the required support in form of land for setting up the project. Products which fail to benefit consumers fail in the market in spite of backing of powerful companies.

Lack of marketing effort:

Lack of marketing can lead to failure of products due to lack of product differentiation. Marketing products create awareness among consumers and enable them to differentiate products from their competitors. This creates ready market for the product which enables the companies to sell them and generate huge revenue (Huang and Sarigöllü 2014). Huang and Sarigöllü  (2014) further point out in this respect that manufacturing of high-involvement products like smart electronic objects requires immense initial investments from the manufacturing companies. Thus, it can be inferred that marketing of these products aggressively in the market creates immense demand for them. This enables the manufacturing companies to gain an immense consumer base to whom they can sell these products to earn immense return on the initial investments.

The graph above explains this importance of marketing to achieve high returns on initial investments. It has been assumed that a firm manufactures 10000 units at $100. The firm in the first case the firm did not carry out aggressive marketing while in the second case the firm marketed the products. The graph shows that the demand rose by 500 units and the profit percent rose to 13 percent from 5 percent in the first case. This analysis clearly shows that it is very important for firms carrying out product manufacturing projects to market their products to gain high returns on their investments.

Stakeholder resentment:

Lack of stakeholder support can result in failure of products even if they are high-end. The failure of Google Glass bears testimony to the fact and failed in the market in spite of the support of a brand name as powerful as Google. The first consumer issue which Google Glass encountered was that the receptor device releases carcinogenic rays which harms the user. Secondly, the product had camera attached to it which allowed the user to take photographs. This created privacy issues with the customers and as a result the product did not gain popularity in spite of its technological advantage it caused to the wearer. It can pointed out that these two issues were enough to repel the customers from Google Glass (Nadvi and Raj?Reichert 2015). It can also be pointed out that Google did not withdraw the product from the market in spite of these proven customer issues. It can also be pointed out that Google overestimated its global brand power to sell Google Glass in spite of the two issues customers faced. Thus, it undermined the interests of its own primary stakeholders, the customers and tried to gain profit by selling Google Glass. This undermining of stakeholder benefits led to failure of Google Glass in the global market. This once again proves that companies carrying out projects should consider stakeholder benefits as success criteria even before their own brand powers (Godey et al. 2016).

Factors contributing to the failure of Google Glass

Lack of marketing:

Lack of appropriate marketing from the end of Google led to failure of Google Glass in the international market. This is because, in the absence of appropriate marketing, the consumers were not able to differentiate Google Glass from its competitor products. This lack of awareness created lack of demand which ultimately resulted in the loss to the company due to low sales (Tan, Carrillo and Cheng 2016). It can be pointed out that since Google Glass combined features of smart phones with pairs of glasses, its demand is dependent on cost of smart phones as well. The demand type of electronic smart goods belong to the cross demand category in which related prices of related products could have significant impact on their demands and prices (Abhishek, Jerath and Zhang 2015). Thus, in this light, it can be pointed out that prices of smart phones would have direct effect on the prices of Google Glass. Moreover, considering the health and privacy issues faced by customers from Google Glass, it is very clear that they would smart phones to it. Thus, Google required to market Google Glass effectively in the market to promote its benefits which it did not. This lack of marketing left the customers confused about the actual utility of the product and it did not generate the expected demand (Thompson 2017). Thus, it is evident that this lack of marketing is largely responsible for Google Glass bombing in the global market.

Conclusion:

Thus, it can be concluded that companies should promote their products and consider their impact on consumers. They should not restrict their project performance assessment to cost and time alone. They should simultaneously assess the impacts the product would have on the consumers. They must market it aggressively to create demand in order to ensure high volume of sales and profit.   The discussion clearly shows that the two new criteria for measuring project performance should not be subdued before the traditional criteria of budget and time. The companies, even global giants like Google should in way undermine the impact their future products are likely to have on consumers. They should not only measure the creation of value financially but also qualitatively. They should ensure that their products do not hamper the health or privacy of the users. They should not only rely on their technological prowess and brand power to sell products. It can be concluded that the companies should ensure wellbeing of their customers while marketing products.

Two recommendations can be made to Google in respect of its new product, Google Glass.

Recommendation 1:

Google can release the product in a new version which should less amount of radiation. The company should ensure that its future products are not detrimental to either the health or privacy of their customers.

Recommendations 2:

Google should either withdraw Google Glass or bring about changes in it. For example, it remove the camera and introduce a version which would emit less radiation.

References:

Abc.xyz. 2018. ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934. [online] Available at: https://abc.xyz/investor/pdf/20171231_alphabet_10K.pdf [Accessed 31 Aug. 2018].

Abhishek, V., Jerath, K. and Zhang, Z.J., 2015. Agency selling or reselling? Channel structures in electronic retailing. Management Science, 62(8), pp.2259-2280.

Adrian, T., Covitz, D. and Liang, N., 2015. Financial stability monitoring. Annual Review of Financial Economics, 7, pp.357-395.

businessinsider.in. 2018. An insider's look at the tumultuous launch of Google Glass. [online] Available at: https://www.businessinsider.in/An-insiders-look-at-the-tumultuous-launch-of-Google-Glass/articleshow/46412182.cms [Accessed 31 Aug. 2018].

Donato, M., Zemella, G., Rapone, G., Hussain, J. and Black, C., 2017. An innovative app for a parametric, holistic and multidisciplinary approach to early design stages. Journal of Facade Design and Engineering, 5(2), pp.113-127.

Glass. 2018. Glass – Glass. [online] Available at: https://www.x.company/glass/ [Accessed 31 Aug. 2018].

Godey, B., Manthiou, A., Pederzoli, D., Rokka, J., Aiello, G., Donvito, R. and Singh, R., 2016. Social media marketing efforts of luxury brands: Influence on brand equity and consumer behavior. Journal of business research, 69(12), pp.5833-5841.

Huang, R. and Sarigöllü, E., 2014. How brand awareness relates to market outcome, brand equity, and the marketing mix. In Fashion Branding and Consumer Behaviors (pp. 113-132). Springer, New York, NY.

ibtimes.com. 2018. ibtimes.com. [online] Available at: https://www.ibtimes.com/google-glass-enterprise-edition-release-date-new-headsets-sell-exclusively-businesses-2567281 [Accessed 31 Aug. 2018].

Nadvi, K. and Raj?Reichert, G., 2015. Governing health and safety at lower tiers of the computer industry global value chain. Regulation & Governance, 9(3), pp.243-258.

nasdaq.com. 2018. Alphabet Inc. Interactive Stock Chart. [online] Available at: https://www.nasdaq.com/symbol/goog [Accessed 31 Aug. 2018].

Schenkel, M., Krikke, H., Caniëls, M.C. and van der Laan, E., 2015. Creating integral value for stakeholders in closed loop supply chains. Journal of Purchasing and Supply Management, 21(3), pp.155-166.

Sigala, M., 2015. From demand elasticity to market plasticity: A market approach for developing revenue management strategies in tourism. Journal of Travel & Tourism Marketing, 32(7), pp.812-834.

Smilansky, S., 2017. Experiential marketing: A practical guide to interactive brand experiences. Kogan Page Publishers.

Tan, Y., Carrillo, J.E. and Cheng, H.K., 2016. The agency model for digital goods. Decision Sciences, 47(4), pp.628-660.

Thompson, R., 2017. Portable electronics and trends in goods stolen from the person. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 54(2), pp.276-298

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