Case Study – The Blue Spider Project
1. Discuss the project management organization on the project. Strengths? Weaknessess? Recommendations. Parks Corporation used a matrix project management organization on the Blue Spider Project. It was a multi-disciplinary team where the members came from different functional units such as Research and Development, Engineering, Manufacturing, Quality Control, Purchasing, and Finance. Gary Anderson, the Project Manager, was responsible for the project but his responsibility for performance of the individual phases of the work to be accomplished on the project remained with the functional managers. Anderson assigned, monitored, and coordinated work among the project team. But, the functional managers had the last say on would be involved in deciding who would work on the project team and remained responsible for long-term administrative issues. All the people working on the Blue Spider Project had two bosses and if they were working on more than one project they could have had even more. If all the key players involved with the Blue Spider Project had understood the distinction between what and how, the conflicts between Anderson and the functional managers would have been greatly reduced. Success of the Blue Spider Project depended on the ability of Anderson and the willingness of the functional managers to cooperate. But this did not occur very often if at all. Personnel working on the project reported to their functional managers who had objectives that sometimes did not coincide with Anderson’s objectives on the Blue Spider Project. There was also little or no understanding of the relationships between the different functional organizations and this created communication problems between Anderson and the other team members, as well as the other functional managers. The team’s ability to react quickly was hampered by the poor communication and a lack of priority control over facilities and other projects that were being worked. Cost control on the project may have been better due to the flexibility of man-loading personnel but it was less effective because of the lack of direct control Anderson had over the performance of personnel involved in the project. There were also times when Anderson failed to realize the many and varied demands that were placed on the functional managers and they found themselves in a position where the demand for their resources could not be adequately met. The functional managers had limited resources at their disposal and they had to juggle these resources in order to satisfy most of the demands for most of the time. They often had deadlines, relating to both departmental work in progress as well as to each project that they were supplying resources to. The Blue Spider Project had changes that affected the agreement and commitment of the required functional resources and these had important implications for the functional managers. It was human nature for Anderson’s requests to be over prioritized because he was trying to ensure that he got the best resources available. Strengths of Parks Corporation’s matrix project management organization: A flexible reservoir of technical specialists was retained Technical and managerial integration One focal point in project management. Unfortunately the management was weak. Consistent management approach to the project. Unfortunately the approach was reactive and not proactive. People were reassigned to the project without changing the organization
Weaknesses of Parks Corporation’s matrix project management organization: The project manager had no line authority over the functional organizations Planning and control systems were required, but not used A large number of task and organizational interfaces were created and these were not communicated There was a delicate balance of power between project and functional organizations, and it seemed like the functional organizations had the power most of the time There...
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