Project management versus the slots machine

Project management versus the slots machine

Project management versus the slot machine

A guide on how to manage your next big slot project and deliver it on time, within budget and without losing your mind or your customers..

(Published in Infinity Gaming Magazine March 2020)

Anyone who has set up a casino from scratch knows that it’s a challenge that involves a substantial amount of effort, teamwork and attention to detail from everyone involved. They may also tell you that there are a million and one thing’s that can go wrong which is why us of effective project management is so essential. A key challenge of organizations today is knowing how to successfully manage the balance between maintaining current business as usual operations and introducing change in order to remain competitive. Adopting the 3 key aspects of project management (Principles, Themes and Processes) will enable your organization to control all facets of a successful project and improve business performance on a consistent basis

The slots department is definitely one of the key project dependencies where disaster can strike at a moment’s notice and take your pre-opening nightmares to whole new level of scary. After a recent consultancy contract overseas I couldn’t help but ask myself why is it that so many projects and products are not delivered on time or budget and why is it that so many projects are destined to fail before they have even produced a single benefit? The answer is simple: “Bad Project management” or sometimes, (and I’ve seen this happen) no project management at all.

So, what can possibly go wrong with your slots project? Following is a list of project disasters that I’ve actually witnessed:

  • Slots installation team flew 1000 miles and arrived one week before the slots.
  • The correct amount of slot machine security locks was ordered, but they were all keyed alike
  • The wrong floor layout and power requirements were given to the electrical contractor which caused a two-week delay.
  • The slot technicians were given the wrong systems specific setup information which resulted in 90% of the floor requiring an additional ram clear and re-configuration
  • Nobody ordered bill validator trolleys or extra bill validator cash boxes
  • Someone forgot to rent a forklift truck to unload the slots on a Saturday morning, so they remained inside the container for the entire weekend

With so much that can go wrong it’s easy to see the value proposition behind the main purpose of project management which is to keep control of the specialist products such as making sure the forklift truck arrives on time. Additionally, projects introduce change to an organization and with these changes comes a much higher risk than with normal business activities, so it follows that implementing a secure, consistent, well-proven approach to project management is a valuable business investment.

So, what is project management and how can it help you avoid some, or all of the project disasters previously listed? A project is defined as a temporary organization created with the objective of delivering one or more business products according to an agreed business justification. Project management is used to successfully plan and execute a project and involves the planning, delegating and control of all aspects of a project (including motivation) to achieve the project objectives within the expected  performance targets for time, cost, quality, scope, benefits and risks.

So how does project management bring your business idea to life? Even before the hands-on work begins you will need the following aspects of project management in place and clearly defined in order to initiate, direct, manage and deliver your project successfully:

  • A valid business case.
  • An experienced project management team.
  • Defined roles and responsibilities.
  • Management approaches for risk, communications, change and quality.
  • Progress monitoring mechanisms.
  • A project plan and project approach
  • A project product description that covers the scope of your business idea.
  • A detailed description of each key product that needs to be created in order to bring your idea to life.

How does project management help you get the work done on time and on budget? Knowing what your next great slots idea looks like and having a justifiable business case is one thing but actually executing and monitoring the work efficiently is a whole new challenge for the simple reason that, just like your slot occupancy percentages, everything is in a constant state of change and change will inevitably creep into to your next slots project so it’s important to know how to measure and control change via its progress which is one of the central themes of project management. The following progress related aspects of project management, when managed successfully, will help your next slots project succeed where others have failed.

  • Focus on products
  • Manage by stages
  • Manage by exception
  • Manage the execution and delivery of work packages
  • Deal with project issues and risks
  • Effectively monitor and report on project and stage progress
  • Focus on continued business justification

What about measuring the benefits of my latest slots project? The benefits management approach is also an essential part of project management as it defines the actions that will be put in place to ensure that the projects outputs are achieved and confirm that the benefits have been realized. In practice benefits are seldom realized unless they are managed proactively during the life of the project and beyond. If the project team don’t understand the benefits that the project will produce from the very start then it’s unlikely that they will be able to develop the correct outputs which can mean that any commitment to change can be overtaken by business-as-usual priorities and lead to ultimate project failure and lost income


Project management best practices use a controlled approach to delivering products based on a business requirement with the objective of improving business performance. Project management also uses lessons learned from previous projects when planning a new one, as the project progresses and at the end of a project to proactively provoke change in the way an organization does business.

Projects introduce change which is one of the consistent elements of doing business. Positive change will add value of your brand and to your customer service experience which in turn will generates growth. Sustaining consistent and successful growth requires good ‘project’ management so what’s not to like? Your competition may already be using project management to steal your customers so what are you waiting for?

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