Project Driven Organization

The trophy project is a good example of a 'Project-driven organisation'. There seems to be chances of being a matrix structure involved in the project with Reichart chosen as a Project Manager. But from the inception of the project it was in trouble. There was excessive expenditure and program schedule was started slipping from day one. There was no proper coordination between project manager, line manager and other corporate staff which resulted into failure of the project in terms of excessive cost, wastage of time and resources. It was mainly due to the various reasons such as very low support from top management and line managers, insufficient staffing, lack of communication, no strategic planning, absence of leadership skills of a project manager, no clear project objective, non-allocation of roles and responsibilities, conflicts among manager and customer and no project review at regular intervals.

The basic thing in the success of any project is proper co-ordination among project manager, line manager, top management, corporate staff and customer. The project manager is responsible for coordinating and integrating activities across multiple, functional lines. Before starting the project activities there should be a proper understanding of project life cycle which includes four phases' initiation, planning, executing and closure. These phases help to understand the path of a project from beginning to end and most of the times success of the project depends upon the proper execution of these phases. In project initiation phase, a business problem is identified and the solution is defined, project team is appointed to build and deliver the solution to the customer. In planning phase strategic planning for achievement of project objectives and timeframes are done. At this point project manager creates a risk plan which helps to understand the predictable project risks and can help to reduce the impact of the risk. During execution phase work starts to build the deliverables according to the project plan. It's important to maintain a communication along with proper monitoring and control while deliverables being constructed with the set of management processes such as managing time, cost, risks, changes, quality, customers etc. And in project closure phase final deliverables are handed over to customer with communicating project closure to all stakeholders.

Project Life-cycle Phases

In case of trophy project it was not planned correctly, Reichart was appointed as a project manager and his inexperience might be one of the reasons of backlog of a project from the beginning. According to Stewart, though the project manager's previous experience is apt to have been confined to a single functional area of business, he must be able to function on the project as a kind of a general manager in miniature. He must not only keep track of what is happening but also play the crucial role of advocate for the project. Hence, it is important to assign an individual whose administrative abilities and skills in personal relations have been convincingly demonstrated under fire. (Page 145, Project Management, Harold Kerzner)

In order to the successful completion of the project all the team members of a project team and office need to have an understanding of customer liaison, project direction, project planning, controlling , evaluation and reporting. Project manager's role in the success of the project is vital. Their decision-making must be fast and effective and they should be versatile and tough in order to keep subordinates dedicated to goal accomplishment. Along with the duties such as planning, organising, directing and controlling of the project, project manager has certain responsibilities as below:

  1. Developing the basic plan for executing and controlling the projects
  2. Reviewing the plan and procedures periodically
  3. To accomplish the project objective within the project constraints
  4. To act as the customer, upper-level and functional management communications focal point.
  5. Identifying, monitoring and responding to the risk.

Reichart didn't apply such responsibilities in the trophy project. There was no base plan of the project and within first six months there was not a single review of the project's status which was communicated. After he has been asked to produce a progress report directly to corporate and division staff it was revealed that, the project was forecasted to be one year behind schedule and there was a cost overrun of at least twenty percent. It states that there was no proper planning of the project since beginning. By reviewing the progress of the project according to plan and the actual one would definitely help to know the difficulties in particular area on right time and be able to antidote it resulting in safeguard of the objective.

Project manager must be able to deal with all parts of the system very effectively for which he should possess certain skills such as leadership, team building, communication, motivation, aggressiveness, decision making etc. Reichart was lacking in strategic leadership skills. Project managers have a lot of responsibility and very little authority, they have to gain commitment from team members or they will have to face difficulties in achievement of project objectives. According to Peter Drucker, job of a project manager is to get workers to go beyond the minimum acceptable level of performance in their jobs.(2) To understand the leadership, you must first understand that there is an interaction between the task, the follower and the leader. At the intersection of these three points you have effective performance of the team. To be an effective project manager, you need to lead the project with energy and a positive attitude that make you catalyst for moving your project forward. (Complete Idiot's guide to Project Management, p18) Reichart didn't act as a leader in the induction stage of the project team development, which could have acted as an antidote to the turbulent situation. He as a leader lacks the confidence. When he was told not to interfere in the functional manager's allocation of resources and budgeted expenditure he kept quiet, this decision was very dangerous to the success of the project. At this stage project manager should have been more oriented toward:

  1. Flexibility and adaptability
  2. Significant initiative and leadership
  3. Effectiveness as a communicator and integrator
  4. Balancing technical solutions with time, cost and human factors
  5. Devoting most of his time to planning and controlling

The functional management was not at all involved in the project. Reichart investigated that the functional managers were charging direct labour time on his project whilst working on their 'pet' projects. Adequate staffing is another important stage in the journey of a successful project. From the beginning of the project, there was inadequate staffing done by the line manager. Inadequate staffing directly affects the pace of the project which was realised by Reichart, but he didn't report to the project office for any help or taken any remedial actions to correct the problem. In reality the project office is an organization that is developed to support project manager in carrying out his duties. The project office personnel are generally assigned as full-time members of the project. As like project manager they mostly have same dedication toward the project and good working relationship with both project and functional manager. Project office adds value to the organization by ensuring that projects are performed within constraints and procedures, are in line with organizational strategies, and are completed in a way that adds economic value to the organization. (P. Xii, Creating the project office, R. Englund)

Following are the responsibilities of the project office:

  1. Acting as the focal point of information for both in-house control and customer reporting.
  2. Controlling time, cost and performance to adhere to contractual requirements
  3. Ensuring that all work required is documented and distributed to all key personnel
  4. Integration of work across the functional lines of the organization.

Reichart should have reported to the project office in order to rescue the project but he wasted his time with operations manager in unnecessary reporting.

Later when it was found that there was a cost overrun of at least twenty percent, line managers realized that the project was in trouble and they need to do something to complete the project. Corporate management asked him to formulate a recovery plan. As a remedial action, corporate level managers provided additional staff to help the project manager in preparing the recovery plan and to bring the project back on its schedule. Reichart worked hard on preparing the recovery plan and he did prepare it, but couldn't implement it as he spent most of his time in preparing reports, paperwork and projections for his Monday meetings. At this point again he wasted his time on preparing the paperwork rather than working on project. He could have worked hard on implementing the recovery plan to bring the project back on schedule.

It's noticed that there was no co-operation and proper communication between project manager, line manager and other corporate staff. Apart from project manager, functional manager is also responsible for certain functions in the project such as to provide sufficient resources to accomplish the objective within the project's constraints, responsibility for the deliverables etc. It's noticed that the functional management did provide resources after first backlog but neglected towards deliverables. Later, to cure the problems and to monitor the progress of a project group staff appointed assistant program manager and introduced computerization. Along with that corporate management provided Reichart with additional twelve staff members to work on computer program. This was the thoughtful step taken by top management in order to rescue the project. But there still exist miscommunication, under staffing and misunderstanding problems that can be noticed by non provision of additional staff by functional management to work on a recovery plan assuming that Reichart already had given staff from corporate level. That 'assumption' of the functional manager again took a trophy project in a danger. They spent around $50,000 on the installation of the computer program to monitor the progress. Unfortunately, it was found that another $15,000 was required for programming and additional capacity with two months' time for installation in order to handle the program objective. Finally, after spending time, resources and money management took the decision to give up the computer program. This was again the result of inadequate staffing, non-cooperation from management and lack of aggressiveness skill of the project manager. In order to achieve the objective and fill the backlog of the project the computer program should have been provided. Company already have spent huge amount on introduction of the program, they invested much more time in its functioning and also additional staff has been provided only to work on computer program. Spending another $15,000 and time of two months could have rescued the project from going in deeper trouble. The computer program could have helped project manager by

  1. Keeping everyone informed about the progress or status of the project
  2. Avoiding overlapping of project elements
  3. Reviewing time, cost and resource projections as changes occur
  4. Generating activity outlines, such as work breakdown structure, resource breakdown structure etc.

Project manager should have become aggressive at this stage to keep the computer program in a project which was very necessary to bring the project back on schedule. Corporate staff also didn't pay attention to provide additional staff, resources and to continue the computer program application in the project.

Project was still running nine months behind schedule with the forty percent of project cost overrun. Reichart was doing every possible thing to inform customer about project's status and the recovery plan, but he spent most of his time in preparing and explaining the plan rather than actual working on the problem. Till now only internal factors were affecting the progress of the project but at this stage external factor also started creating problem such as component suppliers running behind schedule.

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