The Blue Spider Project Case Study Sample

Published: 2021-07-06 13:55:05
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The blue spider project presents a scenario where no formal project management processes is in place. The project systems and procedures are poorly defined. In essence, the whole project management process is not clear and is generally characterized with project creep, existence of culture where blame is the order of the day, fighting between project managers and departments, and revitalization of leadership. It is evident that the project lacks clear communication lines as well as cost, poor utility, quality and problems of scheduling. There are communication problems between the functional departments. For instance, there is existence of communication breakdown between the production department and the engineering integration department. The blue spider project could have been approached at strategic level through first of all, undertaking a swift differentiation of the company and decentralization of management and project responsibility.
How “Super Spider” Project could have been approached at strategic level
Contrary to the project scenario, i.e. the backward sequence of steps put in place to complete the project, at the strategic level, the project ought to have taken a direction where the voice of the client or customer is incorporated in a systematic manner; existence of a closely controlled way of effort prioritization and trade off resolution. Besides, all the project aspects need to be worked on in tandem with the involvement of the multifunctional project’s departments. For instance, at the meeting one functional manager says, “This is a hell of a way to run a program. I like to be kept informed about everything that’s happening here at Parks. How can the project office expect to get support out of the functional departments if we’re kept in the dark until the very last minute?” This is sure lack of communication between functional departments and some departments are not locked out. There should an increase in the customer focus. The project should be customized in such a way that there is that close working relationship between the contractor and the subcontractor. Essentially, it evident that The Blue Spider Project is run traditionally, where traditional management methods are the order of the day in problem resolution. Strategically, there is need of teamwork in problem resolution. The facts on the ground are characterized by lack of strategic emphasis. For example, it is evident that there is project creeps. There is need for clear process of project selection to help arrest project creep. Strategically, the project manager’s appointment need not to be accidental as this make them fall victims of circumstances which results in the blame game culture noticed in the Blue Spider Project. Besides, as a matter of fact, before an employee assumes project management position, his knowledge should fit with the norms of the organization as this definitely avoids unplanned project managers training. There should be the support of upper management at to avoid the fighting of project managers and departmental blame culture. Therefore, the occurrence of the witnessed ad hoc, haphazard and methods which are obsolete to turn ideas into actionable plans should be curtailed.
The project managers should view the whole project from a point of its competitive advantage, tacit knowledge needed as well as the company’s strategic capabilities. Also, the senior project leaders should be in a position to show the willingness of bending rules and occasionally take eccentric action to get the project running. There is ought to have been closer management of relationships across the departmental functions and clear cut boundaries to get rid of inertia and organization. This leads me to how Super Spider Project could have been approached at strategic level.
First, there is need for goal setting. This will serve as a direction of the company. There should be in place a road map or a strategy development plan. Basically, through strategy development, answers to where the company is and where it should go as well how to accomplish tasks are obtained. The customer or the client should have been the lifeblood of the company. Valid, good and regular information should be communicated to the customer as this promises successful project management. Well defined lines of communication of ideas and trade-offs is the point. The customer should be constantly put in the know. The customer asserts that, “We’ve just read your handout. Where did this new material come from? How come we were not informed that this work was going on? You know, of course, that our customer, the Army, will be at this meeting. How can we explain this to them? We’re postponing the review meeting until all of our people have analyzed the data and are prepared to make a decision.” This implies that the customer is not involved in the whole process which shouldn’t be the case.
Internal company analysis, strategic choices, strategic thinking and implementation of strategic choices should then follow to accomplish project management using the strategic approach. The individual objectives noticed in the case study should be transformed to company-wide strategy.
What should the project do to become a modern project oriented organization?
Basically, for the project to become a modern project oriented organization, the first strategy must be to manage by prospect. “Super Spider” Project managers need to have some vision. An eager to meet customer needs through open communication should be the underlying prospect. Typically, they need to manage by project. Besides, the culture of management by vision or prospect should be the company’s strategy. The responsibilities need to be decentralized and differentiated. Departmental project managers’ responsibilities should be well defined and differentiated to avoid the blame culture. There is need for a holistic definition of project. Project teamwork, control and quality planning, well defined goal and development of personnel are observed. In addition, it must be capable of managing different range of varied project types and be able to perform complex processes without alteration of clients’ specification. This calls for constant training of lead project managers to avoid accidental training. As always been the case, there need to be close relationships of the project departments where information sharing through information systems is upheld. This promises integrative departmental functionality which typifies project oriented organization where integrative functions are continually provided. For instance, arguments by engineering team member signify this failure. He says, “This is the first time that I’ve seen this schedule. You can’t expect me to make a decision in the next ten minutes and commit the resources of my department. We’re getting a little unhappy being kept in the dark until the last minute. What happened to effective planning?”
The weaknesses and possible causes of failure in the project
The general weakness in this project that may lead to failure is lack of open communication lines and the absence of integrative departmental functionality, or simply put, the lack of organizational decentralization and differentiation of management responsibility, for instance, the customer asserts that “We, at Lord, don not think that you’re maintaining the proper balance between your technical and administrative responsibilities” It is common to see in the project that Gary decides to develop the bill of materials himself simply because he wants to reduce the cost. He as well contemplates rescheduling the mix without sure informing the production department in time. There is a general communication breakdown due to lack of well established information systems. Therefore, the major possible cause of the failure of the project is the avoidance and failure to involve the client--the contractor in the whole process. As signified by the customer’s statement, “…First of all, Gary, we’re quite pleased to have a project manager who has such a command of technology. That’s good. But every time we’ve tried to contact you last month, you were unavailable or had to be paged in research laboratories. You did an acceptable job presenting the technical data, but the administrative data was presented by your project office personnel”. Ineffective planning describes the whole failure. As is testified by engineering team member, departmental decisions should not be made by individuals as is the case in this project, but should be a departmental ‘team thing’. Constant project rescheduling results in project creep and waste of resources. This is also a major weakness perceived in the project. In a nut shell, lack of defined project objectives, undefined scope of work, poor project scheduling and rescheduling without client’s consent, unbearable project costs, lack of supportive project culture as well as the sustainability of the project are weaknesses that are likely to cause project failure.
1. Select project on the grounds of its contribution to the competitive benefit and not on the financial benefit grounds. A well defined project selection process should be put in place.
2. Need to recognize projects that results in learning, innovation and multi-oriented.
3. Establishing a support of a senior management. Project manager’s ability in managing the project all through should be developed at the onset.
4. Putting in place a structure for autonomous input.
5. Encouraging and developing a culture of project learning in the organization.
However, without teamwork and company-wide cooperation, the weaknesses will persist hence teamwork is very essential.
How to move the project from informal project management to formal project management
A complete overhaul of the project from informal project management to formal project management would begin with the installation of the project management information systems and then proceed to:
1. Development of senior management support
2. Establishing organizational structure where autonomous input is guaranteed
3. Development of clear process of project selection
4. Development of project managers’ skills and abilities for gaining knowledge
5. Making the company a learning project organization
Undertaking the above will definitely transform the organization from the informal operation to formal operation characterized with decentralization and differentiation of responsibilities through teamwork.
FALLS ENGINEERING
Fall engineering project is not exceptional with regard to poor project management strategies. . It is evident that the project lacks clear communication lines as well as cost, poor utility, quality and problems of scheduling. There are communication problems between the functional departments. A survey done with the employees show that there is discontent in project coordination. Consider the excerpt:
Project coordinators need access to various levels of management, in both divisions.”
“Our line managers do not realize the necessity for effective planning of resources. Resources are assigned based on emotions and not need.”
“Sometimes a line manager gives a commitment but the project coordinator cannot force him to keep it.”
“Line managers always find fault with project coordinators who try to develop detailed schedules themselves.”
“If we continuously have to ‘crash’ project time, doesn’t that indicate poor planning?”
“We need a career path in project coordination so that we can develop a body of good planners, communicators, and integrators.”
There are numerous small projects that present the company with scheduling problems. The company cannot therefore be competitive in its undertakings. Resources are not effectively planned either. General project managers’ commitment is nowhere in the case as employees notice that resources are only assigned as per line managers emotions and not commitment. Also, decentralization and differentiation of responsibility is abused in this project. Therefore, to approach this project from the strategic level, these factors need to be considered. The project aspects need to be worked on in an in-tandem with the involvement of the multifunctional project’s departments. Strategically, there is need of teamwork in project accomplishment. The facts on the ground are characterized by lack of strategic emphasis. For example, it is evident that there is project creeps. There is need for clear process of project selection to help arrest project creep. Besides, effective project is essential for it to be accomplished as strategic project management. Resource use is another approach of strategic project management. Resources should be used strategically and not just for the sake of it. This should be taken with seriousness it deserves as from it, accountability is accomplished. Departmental project managers’ responsibilities should be well defined and differentiated to avoid the blame culture. There is need for a holistic definition of project. Project teamwork, control and quality planning, well defined goal and development of personnel should be observed. In addition, it must be capable of managing different range of varied project types and be able to perform complex processes without alteration of clients’ specification. Also, the senior project leaders should be in a position to show the willingness of bending rules and occasionally take eccentric action to get the project running. There is need for closer management of relationships across the departmental functions and clear cut boundaries to get rid of inertia and organization.
For the project to become a modern project, the whole management should be management by project. The prospect of management should be the project; where commitment is uphold by line managers and project coordinators. There is need for decentralization and differentiation of responsibilities which should be entrenched in teamwork. Line managers should be committed to their roles as this avoids the culture of blame. The whole project should as well be defined holistically where teamwork, quality planning, total quality management, lean management, process re-engineering and integrative departmental functionality is well stipulated. Personnel development should be undertaken continuously to avoid the instances of accidental training. This calls for constant training of lead project managers to avoid accidental training. As always been the case, there need to be close relationships of the project departments where information sharing through information systems is upheld. An employee’s testimony is a clear indication that there is lack of information sharing, i.e. “I have absolutely no knowledge about who is assigned as the project coordinator until work has to be coordinated in my group. Somehow, I’m not sure that this is the way the system should work.”
Last but not least, a culture of project management should be instilled in the employees. These are summarized with putting in place: committed leadership, being customer focus to raise efficiency and quality, general integration of the process and the departmental reams around the project, and always instilling the need for quality by having it done right first time’. These sure makes the project a modern project oriented organization.
The major weaknesses noticed in this project are the small projects as stipulated with employees and also reflected in the projects breakdown. For instance, from the project break down it evident that the number of small projects is numerous, i.e. the breakdown of the 300 plant projects is shown below:
It is always cumbersome to remain competitive while handling small projects. The rate of change needed to remain competitive is hard to accomplish in small projects. There is also the problem of communication and lack of commitment which results in poor coordination of the whole project. Ineffective planning describes the whole failure. As is testified by an employee, departmental decisions should not be made by individuals as is the case in this project, but should be a departmental ‘team thing’. Constant project rescheduling results in project creep and waste of resources. This is also a major weakness perceived in the project. Lack of defined project objectives, undefined scope of work, poor project scheduling and rescheduling without client’s consent, unbearable project costs, lack of supportive project culture as well as the small projects are weaknesses that are likely to cause project failure.
The following should as well be adopted to avoid repeat of the same weaknesses in the future.
1. Select project on the grounds of its contribution to the competitive benefit and not on the financial benefit grounds. A well defined project selection process should be put in place.
2. Need to recognize projects that results in learning, innovation and multi-oriented.
3. Establishing a support of a senior management. Project manager’s ability in managing the project all through should be developed at the onset.
4. Putting in place a structure for autonomous input.
5. Encouraging and developing a culture of project learning in the organization.
How to move the project from informal project management to formal project management
A complete overhaul of the project from informal project management to formal project management would begin with the installation of the project management information systems and then proceed to:
1. Development of senior management support
2. Establishing organizational structure where autonomous input is guaranteed
3. Development of clear process of project selection
4. Development of project managers’ skills and abilities for gaining knowledge
5. Making the company a learning project organization
Undertaking the above will definitely transform the organization from the informal operation to formal operation characterized with decentralization and differentiation of responsibilities through teamwork.
Reference
The given case studies.
Strategic Project Management: from maturity model to star project leadership.2005. Retrieved at http://www.projectscenter.com/projectmanagementsoftware/documents/strategicprojectmanagement.pdf
Schmidt, T. Strategic Project Management Made Simple: Practical Tools for Leaders and Teams. 1st edition. 2009. Wiley.

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