The risks of Mega Projects for team members

The risks of Mega Projects for team members

By Rajesh Setty on Mon 10 Dec 2007, 1:10 AM – 5 Comments

Mega projects provide a huge leverage for the company (technology services firm) that is executing the projects. This gets amplified when the projects are executed offshore in locations like India or China.

Mega projects have hundreds of team members and are typically extend for a few years. Services companies love these projects. Some of the reasons for loving these projects are obvious and they are:

  • long-term visibility
  • profitability
  • provide a gateway to get other projects in adjacent areas
  • establish their identity to win similar projects from other clients

If you are one of the team members in a mega-project (especially if you are low in the value-chain) be aware of the risks associated with it. Here are some of them:

1. Possibility of being commoditized: This is the biggest risk. You may be engaged in performing a task that can be commoditized easily.

2. Possibility of being part of statistics (only): This is another risk where you are treated as one of the three (or, pick a number) hundred employees working on this project

3. Lack of variety: In your early career, it is best to get a variety of experience. A mega project may not provide this if you are low in the value-chain.

It is YOUR responsibility to mitigate this risk. One way to do this is to aggressively invest in developing yourself by learning the business aspects of the project. Nobody has the time to provide you the big picture and there is no incentive for them to do that. You can, of course, make the most out of this by being proactive. Side benefit from this may just be that you may move up higher in the value chain quickly.


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5 Comments so far, Add Yours

Sathish  on December 10th, 2007

This is a good piece of info. I had been in one of Mega Project. I agree with you. In mega projects visibility is hard to achive.

Dan Roam  on December 10th, 2007

Now you’re talking Raj! (Actually, now you’re *drawing* — but in my world, they’re the same thing!)

I love the sketch. Clear, to the point, nicely drawn. Excellent!

Ram  on December 10th, 2007

Hi Raj,

I totally Agree with your point. But, this is mainly because of the “Brand Name” the so called Big Guns carry with them, that attracts the young engineers to join. Even though after joining they come to know that they are last in the crowd, but, still people are going with that.

This again is associated with the Brand, Personal family Reasons, Peer Pressure,etc. And in country like India, an individual or even an individual’s family members are proud to say that i m working for “Such and Such a company” or my son or daughter is working for ‘Big’ Company, irrespective of the fact that they are sitting on Bench!

So,please let us know your comments/opinions/comments on this.

Thanks & Regards,


Anthony Mersino  on December 11th, 2007

Rajesh, I agree with your premise. Here are a couple of other things to think about.

There is one more reason that individuals should be concerned with being part of a megaproject. The odds of a megaproject failing are much higher than any other type of project. And each individual has less influence or control over the outcome in a megaproject. So if you want to take on more risk and have less control over it, the megaproject is your ticket. I was on a large technology outsourcing program years ago that was like riding on a huge aircraft carrier. I could not see where it was going and wasn’t able to control the direction in any way.

On the flips side, megaprojects often have wider scope and advanced technologies. So you might find that on a mega project you do bigger things or utilize the newest technical approach or programming language. Four years ago I lead the IT portion of a program that was helping to reform education in the country of Qatar. We attracted people who wanted to make a difference for the kids in that country.

Thanks for the post!

Anthony Mersino

PS: Are you going to put together a portfolio of your sketches anytime soon?

Rajesh Setty  on December 11th, 2007

Thanks to all of you.

@Dan – your book is inspiring and started me on the journey of visual thinking. Thank you.

@Ram – I agree with you. That just adds to the problem.

Anthony – great to hear from you. I agree with you on the point about the positive side of mega projects. On the sketches, I have just started sketching inspired by Dan’s work. So it is a few years out :)

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