Factory Acceptance Test Failure Case study

The implementation of a working data processing system to use a modern interface would seem
to be a straightforward project. Little new capability was required, just updated user interfaces
and operational updates.
The contract was competitively awarded as a cost reimbursable – award fee (CP-AF) contract to
move an existing and highly used data processing system from an old infrastructure with complex
interfaces, limited flexibility, and difficult maintenance to a new platform with modern interfaces
and planned improvements. The requirements appeared clear, the problem well-understood, and
the customer-contractor relationship was very good. The existing system documentation consisted
primarily of the algorithms captured in the software and user operational documentation.
The implementation approach was to re-implement all the software algorithms and create a new
user interface, taking advantage of modern technologies to improve operational efficiency and
simplify the user interface. The ability to upgrade is critical since the contract required an initial
implementation of the existing capabilities as phase one with succeeding phases to expand the
capabilities and add algorithms. The future phases allowed responsiveness to evolving user needs
and were a primary driver for the system update. 

The Scenario
The Government project manager was new to the Government organization. The Contractor
project manager had extensive engineering experience with the application environment and the
customer, but was new to project management. The development team was very experienced and
focused on ensuring customer satisfaction and a quality product. The user community consists of
multiple organizations, each using the existing tool as a critical element of their operations.
The program progressed smoothly through the typical project review process (IBR, SDR, PDR,
CDR, TRR) and everything appeared fine until Factory Acceptance Test (FAT). At FAT, the
Government customer was concerned that the new system did not always produce the same
results as the old system when processing the same data. The customer’s position was that the
new system was defective and therefore unacceptable. The Contractor’s position was that the
system accurately implemented the algorithms and that the disagreements were due to
deficiencies in the old system.
This disagreement has become a contest of wills between the two parties. The contractor refused
to implement a “wrong” solution and the customer desired “proof” that the implementation was
correct. The complex data processing algorithms have no “right” answers and are extremely
difficult to verify, except through the implemented software. In this scenario, the definition of
“done” became critical to the successful completion of the project and moving on to future phases.

 Option A: You are the Government Office Director for the organization that holds this
contract. Develop a Termination Brief.
 Option B: You are the Executive Vice President for the Contractor Division that holds
this contract. Develop a Termination Brief