ASSIGNMENT I: Multi Projects Inc.
EVALUATING THE CASE STUDY AND PROPOSING A SOLUTION
Student Names: Clement Nsala, Thapelo Monyere, Samuel Phiri, and G. Chabane DUE DATE: 16th March 2011 Executive Summary This report evaluated the current problems being faced by Multi Projects, Inc. which is a well established consulting firm employing a strong workforce of 400 people and is enjoying good business from previous clients as well as targeting projects from growing companies. The report identified problems that are affecting the smooth running of the firm.
It identified the main problems affecting the firm as over utilization of resources, poor communication and failure to call project kick off meeting. Other problems identified were, over reliance on one resource person, misrepresentation of facts by personnel as well as Problem of running a matrix organization structure. The report recommended the firm to continue using the matrix organizational structure and explore the possibility of creating a position for a programme manager, improve on its communication skills across all functions.
There is need for a management development programme for all their project managers. It further suggested the firm to develop more of their systems engineers support and expose them in challenging projects so that they gain the experience and exposure. There was another recommendation to manage people’s working hours and overtime carefully so that they are within legal limits. Introduction There are various organisational structures that firms can use to mange their business.
These include functional, pure project and matrix type organizational structure. Matrix-Type Organisation Structure is a mixture of functional and pure project organisation structure and is used by companies that work on several projects at the same time. It is a structure that provides projects and customer focus as well as retaining functional experts and individuals can be assigned to various projects at the same time depending on the situation at hand.
Both the project manager and the functional manager have responsibilities on the project team where the functional manager identifies who to be assigned to the project and how tasks will be implemented and where the project manager is the link between the customer, the project and the company. Multi Projects Inc. is a consulting firm with a complement of 400 employees which has a multiple projects running at the same time for various clients most of which are from previous projects due to its good reputation in customer satisfaction.
It also needs to expand its customer base by targeting growing companies for future business and has adopted the matrix type organisation structure. Evaluation of the Case Study Although Multi Projects Inc. embarks on several projects at the same time and has a good reputation of satisfying its customers, it is faced with a number of challenges and upon evaluating the Multi Projects Inc. the following challenges were identified as discussed below. It has been observed that Multi Projects Inc. as been awarded a project by the Growin Corporation which it has been long proposed and no feedback has been heard for some time and it was good news to Multi Projects Inc. since it was also their wish to do business with Growin Cooperation. Upon receiving the news from Growin Cooperation, the project manager (Jeff Armstrong) who was drawing the project proposal on behalf of Multi Projects Inc. got too excited as he has been looking forward to embark on a challenging project as well as the Growin Cooperation Project.
However, the Project Manager did not call a project kick-off meeting which its aim is to involve all stakeholders and map a better way forward to better handle the project within all agreed budgets and time frame. Project kick off meeting is the best opportunity for a project manager to energize his or her team. Although a project kick off meeting appears to be a simple meeting with stakeholders of the project, a successful project kick off meeting requires proper planning. Available: http://www. tutorialspoint. om/managementy_concept/project_kick_off_meeting. htm, 2011 The other challenge facing the firm is poor communication skills displayed by Jeff. It has been discovered that there are no proper communication channel and plans in the firm. This is evident because in the case study, Jeff displayed un professional conduct by knocking on everyone’s door and inspiring Tyler to his project despite the fact that he is engaged in another project which is of utmost importance to the firm. His approach was unbecoming and it is lack of respect for others in a work place.
In a work place and for a company to achieve its objective, it should have a proper communication skills and plan in place so as to build trust and confidence for both employees and clients. Jeff has been seen interrupting Jennifer without considering what Jennifer was doing to tell her he wanted to have Tyler in the Growin’s project. This was not good communication and also lack of respect for others. Jeff also implied that Tyler wanted to work on the Growin Project whereas in the actual fact it was not the case. This was misrepresentation of facts which was a result of poor communication skills.
Jeff Armstrong failed to display interpersonal relationship with his work mates/peers. The way he approached Jennifer about engaging Tyler on the Growin project was like giving her instruction on what to do in her department whereas Jennifer being Tyler’s functional manger was the one to assign a system engineer to that project. The way he approached Julie on the same issue also is a cause for concern as he interrupted her in her meeting. It has also been observed that Jeff was an ambitious and arrogant individual who would do anything he could to get what he wanted.
This is unhealthy for an organisation and can lead to the possibilities of loosing existing and prominent clients. If all other managers go with Jeff, chances are that they may lose business from both Growin and Goodold projects. Goodold awarded Multi Projects Inc. the project because they were promised that Tyler will be working on the project and once he is moved to the Growin Project, Multi Projects Inc. would not have honoured their agreement and Goodold may feel betrayed hence terminate the agreement. Another identified challenge was over reliance on one resource person to implement projects.
Over reliance on one resource person is very risky for a company and was a result of lack of delegation and transfer of skills. It is very crucial in an organisation to transfer skills between team members so that the organisation functions fully under any circumstances. The dangers associated with gate keeping (keeping all to oneself) are that if the person that is being relied upon resigns from the company or otherwise, the firm is going to face huge problems in executing projects at hand as well as those, that it intends to acquire as this is going to lead to lead to not satisfying the customer or the project sponsors.
It is very imperative for a firm to adopt an in house development aimed at skill transfer so that it positions itself better for any circumstance that may arise. If Tyler had transferred his skills to other team members, conflict regarding the Growin Project would have been avoided and hence assign one of the system engineers. Over reliance on one person is unhealthy for both the institution and an individual because he would be over worked and over stretched and in the final analysis the production would be lowered and customer satisfaction is compromised.
Once customer satisfaction is compromised, existing, prominent and aspiring clients may lose trust in the firm and eventually terminate deals with them. Since Project managers in Multi Projects Inc. over rely on Tyler Bonilla and managers wanted him to work on their projects at the same time, it is likely to experience a situation where other projects would not meet deadlines thus resulting in schedule overrun. The effects of this schedule overrun will ultimately result in the executive spending more time in building customer relations.
Another identified challenge was the Problem of running a matrix organization structure. A Matrix Organisation Structure is very good for organisations that are conducting multiple projects all at the same time. This type of organisational structure has a dual reporting structure which requires establishing guidelines for communication plans. If there are no guidelines established lack of balance of power between project and functional mangers may create conflicts between them regarding priorities, work assignments, technical approaches to the work and changes of team members between projects.
It is stated in the ehow. co. uk that “drawbacks of matrix structure include unclear reporting channels and orders, according to the International Journal of Project Management. Since the workforce is responsible both to the departmental manager and the project manager, there is a danger of confusion and duplication of effort. For example, an individual assigned to a particular project may find it difficult to work efficiently because of conflicting orders given by the department manager”. Available: http://www. ehow. co. uk/list_6706504_basic-types-organizational-structures. tml#ixzz1G6J8UkEl Another challenge identified during the case study evaluation is that Multi Projects Inc. does not have the position for the programme manager who is the overseer of all projects in an organization. Projectmanagementcertification. com states that “the programme managers role include resolving any outstanding issues among project teams that cannot be resolved within the team as well as assigning project managers and assisting in project team staffing”. Available: http//projectmanagementcertification. org/managernotes/rules_and_responsibilities. html.
If Multi Projects Inc, had this position conflicts caused by Jeff would not have been experienced because the programme manager would have guided Jeff Armstrong on how to go about it rather than moving around and displayed his ignorance before his peers. PROPOSED SOLUTIONS 1. Project Kick – Off Meeting It is imperative for the kick off meeting to be called by the project manager so that he takes all stakeholders to the project on board. Project kick off meetings are aimed at avoiding conflicts that may arise during the project implementation as well agreeing with functional manager’s about resources allocation.
Dennis Lock (2007:325) states that, “The first execution action of the project manager is usually to call an initial meeting, often called the ‘kick – off’ meeting, which gives the project manager the opportunity to outline the main features of the project to managers whose departments will work on the project, and to the most senior design staff and other key people”. This is the meeting Jeff Armstrong was supposed to call for after his appointment as the project manager so as to assemble his project team and get support and commitment to his project from the functional managers.
A lot of issues regarding the project are discussed in this meeting and chief among others is the project risk. The newly assembled project team has to assess all the risks that they might face which might affect the progress of the project and then develop ways to minimize or overcome them. “If the organization is a matrix, the task is more difficult – even getting people to attend the meeting becomes a question more of invitation and persuasion rather than issuing a direct summons” Dennis Lock (2007:325). 2. Lack of Communication Skills
Good communication skills are an essential skill for project managers since they are the responsible for communication with the client, project team and executive management in the company. Meredith and Mantel (2003:137), defines the benefits of good communication as “In order to meet the demands of the job of project manager – acquiring adequate resources, acquiring and motivating personnel, dealing with obstacles, making project goal trade – offs, handling failure and fear of failure, and maintaining the appropriate patterns of communication – the project manager must be a highly skilled negotiator”.
Suppose Jeff had practised some of these fine skills therefore there wouldn’t have been any conflict at all regarding the request for the release of Tyler for the Growin project. Jennifer as the systems manager was supposed to call for an urgent meeting with Jeff, Julie and all her systems engineers to explain the criticality of the Goodold project and solicit for alternative ideas regarding secondment of a systems engineer to the Growin project on a temporary basis until Tyler completes his assignment on Goodold project.
Tyler is supposed to be sent for some short courses on delegation skills soon after the Goodold project. Julie was supposed to postpone her trip so as to attend this important meeting because it has an effect on her project. Clements and Gido (2009:310) state that, “Effective communication establishes credibility and builds trust”. Jeff needs to learn and improve on the soft skills of communication so as to gain credibility and trust among his new project team so that they could all pull together for the deliverance of the Growin project objective. Projectsmart. om states that, ‘communication is so important to project success that it has been referred to as the lifeblood of a project by more than one practitioner. Jack Vinson talks about the importance of communication across project interfaces – interfaces being boundaries between different groups within an extended project team. He views interfaces as constraints that limit project success. On reflection, I realised that many project communication issues I’ve encountered have, in fact, occurred at interfaces. In this post I explore the notion of an interface as an obstacle to project communication’.
Available: http/www. projectsmart. co. uk/obstacle-to-project-communicatio. html Projectmanagementskills. com also states that ‘an accomplished manager in any capacity must be able to communicate effectively whether you are getting the latest budget figures from accounting down the hall or contacting the CEO of a large corporation with the updated schedule’. Available: http/www. projectmanagementskill. com/communication. html 3. Over – Reliance On One Resource Person / Lack of Delegation Tyler is expected to take advantage of the matrix organization structure that Multi Projects, Inc.
Company is using so as to impart and transfer his knowledge and skills to the junior systems engineers in the company. Clements and Gido (2009:412) states that “The matrix type organization provides opportunities for people in the functional components to pursue career development through assignment to various types of projects”. This is the opportunity that Tyler must be utilising in knowledge transfer, coaching and mentoring junior system engineers so that he doesn’t carry most of the workload. Failure to implement that will only cause him “burn out” due to working on too many projects and spending too many overtime hours.
In his case he could delegate responsibility but still retains accountability so that he maintains the excellent reputation he has with the clients for Multi Projects, Inc. Company. “Great delegations build trust, develop skills in those to whom the tasks have been delegated and free the leader to work on other things”: http://www. teal. org. uk/EasyPrint/epdelegati. htm Tyler should be encouraged to meet regularly with Jennifer instead of once a month so that he keeps her updated on his progress and problems that he is encountering.
This can help Jennifer realise what intervention methods she can implement so as to help him. She can send him to short courses on delegation among other development courses. 4. Lack of respect / Misrepresentation of Facts Successful project managers need to be very good leaders and managers as well at the same time. Jeff needs for to be a good manager so that he command trust from his project team members as well as work colleagues. Lack of respect and misrepresentation of facts can cause people to loose trust in him. Multi Projects, Inc.
Company should be best, advised to run a competency based assessment system to evaluate all their project managers’ skills. It might not only be Jeff who in any case has showed his lack of respect and misrepresentation of facts which must be taken seriously because consultancy firms are more customers – focused. The project manager needs to gain credibility amongst customers as well as the project team that he is leading by being honest. Once a need is identified, amongst all the project managers for training and development, therefore there is need for training to be scheduled as soon as possible.
This will ultimately transform Jeff to not only earn his team’s respect but also their trust and commitment, as well to the project. 5. Problem of Running A Matrix Organization Structure A matrix organization structure is a hybrid set up consisting of a functional and pure project type organizational structure. There is team work between the project manager who is responsible for delivering the project and the functional manager who is responsible for availing the resources needed to deliver the project. Multi Projects, Inc. Company is encouraged to continue running their business using the matrix organization structure.
This set up is more customers focused and lines of communication are very clear and dual in nature. The project manager is the one who communicates with the customer and top management. When problems are imminent the project team communicates directly with the project manager as well as their functional managers. In this way there is a greater chance that problems will be identified and rectified on time. There is efficient utilization of resources and skills are transferred from project to project because people with common discipline are grouped together and learn from one another.
Multi Projects, Inc. Company runs too many projects all at the same time and this matrix organization structure is more ideal for their operations. Clements and Gido, (2009) relates that, “It’s appropriate for companies that are working on multiple projects at any one time and projects that vary in size and complexity” for using matrix organizational structure. 6. No Position For A Programme Manager The programme manager is the head of the projects management office and project managers report to him as well as the projects support office staff.
When projects come up in the organization, he assigns a project manager to the project and at times one project manager can be assigned several different projects depending on the criticality of the project. If Multi Projects, Inc. Company had a position for a programme manager, the conflict that was caused by Jeff would have been solved amicably because one of the responsibilities of the programme manager is to resolve priority conflicts between projects competing for resources within the same organization. Clements and Gido (2009), re-enforces the importance of the position of