Case Analysis and Report
The Blue Spider project was of great importance to Parks Corporation since it assured the company of substantial profits over an extended period. Henry Gable’s interest in the project stemmed from his desire to try out some new concepts he had in mind. His personal concern compromised the project because he instituted parallel chains of command, hired incompetent program managers and ignored ethical concerns surrounding material specifications. These aspects led to a deteriorating relationship with the client, necessitated fundamental design changes and contributed to project overruns.
The inexperience exhibited by the program manager was evident in the lack of adequate inter departmental communication and the absence of delegation in such tasks as documentation and report writing. By taking on several tasks at the same time, Gary became inefficient in pursuing the project’s goals and objectives. Matters were not helped by Henry’s involvement in the project without informing Gary. This lack of coordination further compromised the success of the project since the director of engineering and the program director were working at cross purposes.
Project Goals and Objectives Winning the Blue Spider contract was important to the company because of the potential income streams it would bring for over a decade. This would also assure the company of work for the period the contract was in force. As a stepping stone to other contracts, success in the Blue Spider project would enhance the company’s profile in the defense industry and make it a subcontractor of choice. However, test results revealed that the company’s design could not meet products specifications without altering the materials used in the manufacturing process.
Despite encountering these challenges, Parks Corporation on the advice of the Henry claimed their design could achieve certain thresholds outlined in the RFP. This position was arrived at with the knowledge that the only way the project could succeed was if the design was fundamentally altered to incorporate other materials and additional R &D. The failure to communicate this information to the management board resulted in an assumption of profits for the project. In the final analysis, project overruns due to testing of alternative materials and new designs wiped out expected revenues and ate into company savings.
Lord’s management became increasingly wary of Parks Corporation’s conduct when it was revealed that the firm was testing new materials despite claiming that the original ones could withstand temperatures specified in the RFP. This lack of transparency jeopardized the integrity of the firm and put into doubt the likelihood of Park’s securing other contracts with the contractor. Project Management The entire process of managing the project was flawed since basic factors were ignored or concealed in a bid to secure the contract.
During initiation, a detailed financial analysis was not carried about or a budget developed to meet the requirements of the project (Ireland, 2006). By operating in secrecy, certain expenditures popped up that were not factored into the ten month effort which was fixed at $2. 2 million. Additional expenses to meet project overruns were sourced from company reserves which should not have been the case if the project had catered for redesigns. Gary’s inexperience was evident in the ad hoc planning of the project. He would surprise departmental heads with requests for resources without prior notice.
This would throw them in to disarray as they had to redistribute personnel and resources to meet his demands. By keeping them in the dark until the last minute, he squandered a good opportunity to benefit from their experience and advice. Because he did not define the duties and responsibilities of stakeholders involved in the project, he ended up doing most of the work by himself (Adams & Campbell, 1990). This compromised research and development activities as a well as contributing to unnecessary delays in presenting project updates to the client.
Gary failed to maintain a balance between his administrative and technical responsibilities, and as a result lost control of the project to his boss. He was unaware of what was going on in the lab and was too busy to give valuable input to resolving the project’s challenges or offer effective leadership. This lack of coordination hampered the teams’ effectiveness and led to communication breakdowns which compromised the project’s success. From a managerial point of view, Gary was a total failure as head of the project since he was unable to manage the project management processes with any degree of professionalism.
Ethical Considerations. A major factor contributing to the problems faced by the project was the decision to deceive the client of the project’s capabilities (Badaracco, 1997). This necessitated a review of the main components and required additional testing of alternative materials to establish a matrix that would meet the specifications outlined in the RFP. Based on the company’s assertion, a FFP contract was signed that did not take into account expenses related to testing of new materials to replace the original design. This dishonesty culminated in project overruns as research and development into viable options required more funds.
Loss of integrity and an environment of distrust was another offshoot of this deception (Badaracco, 1997). Lord’s management was less willing to believe official communication from the project office and insisted that their engineers interact with project staff so as to get the real picture. By stationing one of their employees at the plant to oversee progress and report back to them, Lord’s was effectively communicating their displeasure with the entire process and suggesting that the firm could not be trusted to report objectively on the progress of the project. Recommendations
In future, project managers should be people with proven skills in managing successful projects (Hamilton, 2004). Hiring engineers without the requite knowledge in management will compromise the effectiveness of the project and jeopardize the company’s reputation. Detailed plans outlining every stage of the project should be presented to the various stakeholders so that they know their responsibilities beforehand. Time frames indicating what actions need to be addressed will assist departmental heads in allocating required resources to meet the stated requirements.
With regard to project control, the project manager should retain full responsibility for all activities (Kousholt, 2007). Parallel chains of commands diminish the authority of project managers and compromise efficiency by having two centers of power. Conflicting instructions from different heads will lead to confusion and institutional paralysis. To avoid this situation, a clear chain of command should be established for all future projects. Poor communication and lack of consultative forums hamper the effectiveness of a team’s progress.
On many occasions, Gary failed to keep his colleagues informed about the projects performance and only approached them when faced with challenges. A regular briefing session with all stakeholders would have ensured a steady flow of ideas on how to optimize the use of available resources and manage existing problems. A company code of conduct entailing acceptable behaviors of all staff will eliminate incidences of unethical practices (Hamilton, 2004). The Blue Spider Project was plagued with challenges arising from the assertion that the materials could withstand temperatures of over 1550 F when in actual fact the threshold was only 1300 F.
Telling the truth would have led to a review of the contract terms and provided some additional funding for testing of new materials. A guideline for project management methodology should be established to help in formulating structures for effective implementation (Ireland, 2006). These guidelines will be based on practices observed on successful projects and serve as a framework for the planning and execution of future projects. It shall assist project managers in evaluating their progress and assessing whether they are on track to achieve the stated goals and objectives.
Conclusion The Blue Spider Project ran into problems because of unethical practices which were used to secure the contract. Park Corporation’s reputation and integrity were jeopardized as a result of this deception. This could adversely affect future contracts with the contractor. Budget overruns were incurred in a bid to resolve the underlying problems of material inconsistency. Because other stakeholders were unaware of the magnitude of the challenge, profit assumptions were made which had to be revised at a later stage.
Hiring the wrong person for the job led to inefficiency and long delays in dissemination of information. This contributed to a dysfunctional team where most stakeholders were unaware of their responsibilities. To avoid such a situation recurring, the company should introduce a code of conduct for all employees. Hiring of project managers should be done professionally and qualified personnel picked for the job. Frequent consultations between the contractor and the company should be held to iron out and issues that threaten the success of a project.
Stationing a representative from the client’s firm as an observer will reduce distrust arising from misplaced perceptions. References Adams, J. R. , & Campbell, B. (1990) Roles and Responsibilities of the Project Manager. Institute. Upper Darby, Badaracco, J. (1997) Defining Moments: When Managers Must Choose Between Right and Right. Harvard Business Press Hamilton, A. (2004) Handbook of Project Management Procedures. TTL Publishing, Ltd. Ireland, L. (2006) Project Management. McGraw-Hill Professional Kousholt, B (2007). Project Management? –Theory and practice. Nyt Teknisk Forlag.Sample Essay of Edusson.com