High Tech Case Study

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Project Management Case Study

Read the following case and provide a minimum of three reasons why problems occurred on this project, and what should have been done to prevent these occurrences. Problem and Associated Reason #1. _______________________________________________ Action(s) to prevent Problem #1.__________________________________________________

Problem and Associated Reason #2. _______________________________________________ Action(s) to prevent Problem #2.__________________________________________________

Problem and Associated Reason #3. _______________________________________________ Action(s) to prevent Problem #3.__________________________________________________


On a Friday morning in late December, 2002, Sam Lacy, Head of the Physical Sciences Division of Hi-Tech Research Laboratory (HRL) thought about two letters which lay on his desk. One, which he had received a few weeks before, was a progress report from Robert Kirk, recently assigned project leader of the Exco Project, who reported that earlier frictions between the HRL team and the client had lessened considerably, that quality research was under way, and that the prospects for retaining the Exco project on a long-term basis appeared fairly good. The other letter, which had just arrived in the morning’s mail, came from Gray Kenney, a Vice President of Exco, and stated that the company wished to terminate the Exco contract effective immediately. Lacy was puzzled. He remembered how pleased Gray Kenney had been only a few months before when the Exco project produced its second patentable process. On the other hand, he also recalled some of the difficulties the project had encountered within HRL which had ultimately led to the replacement of project leader Alan North in order to avoid losing the contract. Lacy decided to call in the participants in an effort to piece together an understanding of what had happened. Some of what he learned is described below. But the problem remained for him to decide what he should report to top management. What should he recommend to avoid the recurrence of such a situation in the future? Company Background

Hi-Tech Research Laboratory was a multidisciplinary research and development organization employing approximately 1,000 professionals. It was organized into two main sectors, one for economics and business administration and the other for the physical and natural sciences. Within the physical and natural sciences sector, the organization was essentially by branches of science. The main units were called divisions and the subunits were called laboratories. A partial organization chart is shown in Exhibit 1.

Most of the company’s work was done on the basis of contracts with clients. Each contract was a project. Responsibility for the project was vested in a project leader, and through him up the organizational structure in which his laboratory was located. Typically, some members of the project team were drawn from laboratories other than that in which the project leader worked; it was the ability to put together a team with a variety of technical talents that was one of the principal strengths of a multidisciplinary laboratory. Team members worked under the direction of the project leader during the period in which they were assigned to the project. An individual might be working on more than one project concurrently. The project leader could also draw on the resources of central service organizations, such as model shops, computer services, editorial, and drafting. The project was billed for the services of these units at rates which were intended to cover their full costs. Inception of the Exco Project

In October, 2001, Gray Kenney, Vice President of Exco, had telephoned Mac Davidson of HRL to outline a research project which would examine the effect of microwaves on various ores and minerals. Davidson was Associate Head of the Physical Sciences Division and had...
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