Kellogg students Derek Yung and Alex Gershbeyn prepared this case under the supervision of Professor Mark Jeffery as the basis of class discussion rather than to illustrate either effective or ineffective project management. Some facts within the case have been altered for confidentiality reasons.
A&D High Tech Case A: Managing Projects For Success
OVERVIEW Chris Johnson arrived at the A&D High Tech headquarters in Cupertino, California to attend a meeting with his senior managers. It was early May and the previous months had been long and difficult for him. He had just led a project team that successfully revamped the supply chain systems in less than six months. He was especially proud since many inside observers had doubts that the project could be completed on time. As part of the strategic initiatives set forth by its CEO and Founder, Ted Walter, A&D was to be second-to-none in utilizing technology to increase operational efficiency and reduce cost. The supply chain project therefore received notable attention in the boardroom and with its competitors. After a well-deserved vacation, Johnson received an urgent message from the CIO, Matt Webb. He asked Johnson to join him for a meeting to discuss taking over the on-line store project. Johnson realized that the company’s top brass had ignored the Internet until recently. As Webb explained, the VP of Sales had advised Walter that A&D was losing its competitive advantage by not selling on-line. Walter had put this project on the highest priority. Specifically, Walter wanted to know whether this was something that could be completed in time for the Christmas shopping season, a time when A&D’s cyclic business has traditionally boomed. The current project manager, Eric Robertson, was taking a 1-month leave of absence due to a family emergency, just as he was about to begin formulating the project plan and make staffing decisions. In his twelve years as a technology project manager, Johnson had a strong track record delivering projects on time and on budget. His techniques for project planning, estimating and scheduling had become best practices at A&D. Time and time again, he had been asked to tackle difficult assignments that were critical to the company’s growth and profits. With the pending retirement of the VP of eBusiness, Chuck Gagler, Johnson was already mentioned as his successor. See Exhibit 1for the A&D high tech organizational chart. As he waited in the conference room, Johnson wondered about the best way to ensure the on-line store’s project success. Since he had focused so much on the supply chain project, he was concerned that there was too little time to get up to speed. Given the urgency put forth by Webb and Walter, Johnson was already feeling pressure to come up with solid recommendations in short order. Copyright 2002 by Professor Mark Jeffery. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, used in a spreadsheet, or transmitted in any form or by any means – electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise -- without the permission of Mark Jeffery.
Kellogg School of Management
COMPANY HISTORY A&D High Tech is in the business of selling computer products, accessories and services to consumers and small businesses. A&D had its roots in Lincoln, Nebraska, where Ted Walter, started its first store in 1988. A&D’s made-to-order products were very innovative at the time. They were the first to be introduced in the personal computer industry. Walter emphasized friendly, customer service; values which were deeply ingrained in the culture of the heartlands where Walter had lived his entire life. A&D’s revenues grow consistently in the last 10 years and approaching $400 million for fiscal year 1998. A&D was a primarily regional player with over 90% of sales coming from customers in the Midwestern states. However, Walter has been strategically seeking to grow its distribution nationally. A&D sales had been...
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