Multi Projects was created at least 15 years ago, over this period the firm grew to come a well-established consulting firm with a good reputation, enabling it to maintain the business relationship of 30% of its previous clients. The firm ensure continuous growth by targeting growing companies. The employee count increased from 300 to 400 over the past two years. The firm operates within a Matrix type organizational structure where resources are shared between several projects. Rapid growth was identified as the probable trigger that instigated a series of problems at Multi Projects.
During rapid growth the management style, techniques and processes that worked well before are no longer effective and need to be adapted. During the analysis of the case the authors identified several problem areas impacting the effectiveness and efficiency of the firm. These problems range from a lack of leadership to people skills, communication and process issues. These problems are analyses under the following headers: 1 . Structurally related issues 2. Behaviorally related issues 3. Operationally related issues If these problems are left unattended it will impede the future growth and success of the company.
Various detailed recommendations are made by the authors to rectify the problems. As an initial step it is recommended that a Programmer Management Office is implemented to drive self improvement initiatives and change in the organization. INTRODUCTION Multi Projects, a case study presented by Clement & Good (2012), references a consulting firm that was created at least 15 years ago. Over this period the firm grew to become a well-established consulting firm with a good reputation, enabling it to organizational structure where resources are shared between several projects.
The authors of this document identified growth as the probable trigger of the problems experienced at Multi Projects. Growth represents one of the greatest risks a company can face, creating an unstable business environment. All growth phases consist of two periods. Firstly the evolutionary period during which growth can be maintained with only modest adjustments to the overall pattern of management. This is followed by a revolutionary period where the management style, techniques and processes that worked well during the peaceful evolutionary phase are no longer effective and needs to be adapted (Charlie & McConnell, 1989).
Due to the growth during the past 2 years Multi Projects moved into a revolutionary period. As a result structural, management, process and people problems which were not evident during the evolutionary period surfaced and need to be addressed as a matter of urgency In the ambit of the analysis of the case the authors identified the following problem areas as presented by Steen and Van Dyke (Module MI), impacting the effectiveness and efficiency of the firm: 1 . Structurally related issues Chapter two of this document expands on these identified areas.
ANALYSIS OF THE MULTI PROJECTS CASE Multi Projects experience various problems which can be ascribed to a lack of basic organizational management principles within the Matrix structure. Examples of these are: Jeff is not using the correct channel of communication. The first mistake Jeff made was to promise that Tyler would be assigned as the lead systems engineer, during the proposal presentation to Growing, without prior consultation with Jennifer. Secondly, after being informed of the Growing project, Jeff informed Tyler instead of Jennifer and asked when Tyler can start on the project.
Thirdly, Jeff interrupts Julie during her project meeting to inform her that Tyler will now work on the Growing project and not on the Goodly project. The question is why was Jeff assigned as project manager? Was he the best person? Were other project managers considered? It is evident that there is no official project or programmer management office through which the communications procedures and processes are governed. There seems to be no clear roles and responsibilities for project managers and functional managers.
If roles and responsibilities were clearly communicated, Jeff would have known that his actions were inappropriate and unprofessional. Jeff actions are causing conflict between functional managers and project managers as well as between project managers. The Matrix structure brings with it challenges or disadvantages. According o the (IMPEDE) Project Management for Development Organizations (2011 : Online), the main disadvantage is the complexity of reporting relationships. Other disadvantages which came forth very strongly in the Multi Projects case are the inability to balance administrative and technical matters.
It is also difficult to balance managers. There may be a power struggle between the project managers and the functional managers where each one looks after his own interest, which is causing conflict. This may be related to the perceptions that Jeff is an ambitious person who will do whatever it takes to make himself look good. . 1. 2 Communication It is noted that communication within the organizational structure of Multi Projects, from the Partners to Functional Managers and Project Management teams, is poor and ineffective, contributing to the communication problems.
Communication with their external customer, Growing Corporation, is very inconsistent. After Multi Projects responded to a Request for Proposal they did not follow up on the progress of the proposal and were quite surprised when they were awarded the project nearly six month after it was submitted. Management in Multi Projects had made unfounded assumptions about the project Ewing “dead” because they did not enter into a dialogue with their customer.
This failure to communicate the risks associated to the proposal provided from a project perspective, upward to the Multi Projects executive sponsors and across to the customers executive sponsors, in a timely manner may compromise the proposed offering and increased the risk of the project failing. 1. 2 Behavioral Related Problems 1. 2. 1 Vision and Purpose Multi Projects does not have a clear purpose and vision. The current approach of Multi Projects to provide a diversified range of unrelated services and “bending over awkward” to accommodate new customers indicates the that the company is focused on growing and generating revenue.
However money cannot be the prime reason a company exists. If money is the only goal the company will be like a rudderless ship (Little, 2005). For enduring success a company must have fixed core values and a fixed core purpose. The core will remain unchanged while business strategies and practices are continuously being adapted (Collins and Operas, 1996). The company vision will be a guide to determine the type of work the company will accept. (Clemens & Good, 2012) 1. 2. 2 Communication From the case it is evident that communication channels within Multi Projects are not well defined, resulting in undesirable communication behavior.
This behavior is causing conflict between Functional Managers and Project Manager and if not corrected may result in organization chaos. Jeff exemplifies many of the areas in which the Multi Projects communication plan is failing. Jeff communication has been opportunistic, dishonest or at least totally ambiguous and vague. According to Clement & Good (2012:309) “Communications by project managers needs to be timely, honest and unambiguous, while maintaining discretion regarding any influential information. Jeff communication with his colleagues in this case, can therefore be seen to be the complete opposite of how a project manager should behave. Jeff has not scheduled a project “kick-off’ meeting during which the entire project scope and project charter should have been discussed with all identified team members. Jeff instead approached people individually causing confusion. It is members lack knowledge about what is happening on a project and individuals do not share information”. This dysfunctional behavior exhibited by Jeff is causing disruptions in both the Growing and Goodly projects. 2. 3 Leadership According to Clement & Good (2012) able leaders are people who build a trusting environment by fostering motivation, inspiring their team and avoiding circumstances that cause their team members to become dispirited. Their participative and consultative leadership style creates a supportive environment. Their optimistic and positive attitude builds confidence in their team members, motivating themselves and each other. They lead by example. From all the problems identified earlier in this document it is evident that Multi Projects experience a lack of leadership. . 3 Operational Related Problems 1. . 1 Skills and Knowledge Clement and Good (2012:304) points out that, “Effective project managers have strong leadership ability, the ability to develop people, excellent communication skills, good interpersonal skills, the ability to handle stress, problem solving skills, negotiating skills and time management skills. ” It is evident from the case that the management and operational levels of Multi Projects lack various skills. Jennifer does not display all the necessary qualities of a strong leader because she doesn’t manage Tyler effectively.
She should have been more involved in his projects and picked up that he ay not be totally engaged. Jeff does not display the communication skills, personality, the desired characteristics and profile of a Project Manager. His attitude and personality does not align with the new economy organization in terms of leading. He provided incorrect information to Growing, has ulterior motives, is very manipulative and has a negative stigma attached to him. It is evident that the working environment within Multi projects needs some attention.
Jeff and Jennifer are easily stressed because they are not able to recognize and deal with the changing conditions; they panic easily and do not remain calm. There is no evidence in the case study of skills transfer, development and mentoring of employees occurring within Multi Projects. 1. 3. 2 Project scheduling and procrastination It is evident from the case that Multi Projects does not follow the correct Project management processes when responding to Request for Proposals and does not proactively follow up on proposals which they have submitted. Proposed Solutions for identified problems 1. Structural Related Proposals According to the PM Study Circle (2012: Online), the disadvantages of a Matrix organizational structure can be overcome with well-defined and strong immunization. It is important that all levels from executives to managers and operational staff are committed to effective communication. Organizations must communicate all roles and responsibilities as well as their vision, objectives and goals, clearly too all employees. Cooperation between project managers and functional managers is important to avoid confusion and conflict, which should be resolved as quickly as possible and in private.
Organizational challenges. Challenges Proposed Solution Conflict among managers Top level management should ensure that conflict among managers are minimized Status meetings with employees There should be regular status meetings with functional managers, I. E. On weekly or bi-weekly basis Communication between managers and employees Communication between managers and employees should be transparent Unclear roles and responsibilities Develop written agreement on common expectations upfront. Be specific on roles and responsibilities.
Managers must define the scope and objectives of the mattering partner which they will staff and manage. Unclear organizational goals, objectives and mission There should be well defined and communicated organizational goals, objectives, and mission. Top management involvement Top management must ensure that all organizational functions support managers and employees in their work efforts and that all managers cooperate with and support each other. 1. 4. 2 Communication It is recommended that communication to external customers, especially regarding RFC responses, is followed up much more regularly.
Feedback to the executive sponsors should be in the form of regular reports. Project charters should be available to all employees who may be affected by a project and there should be an open line of communication to the project manager to discuss any concern other takeovers may have. Executive project sponsors must communicate the relative importance of the projects to all stakeholders on a regular basis. This is to ensure that subordinates can priorities the resources they control to meet the strategic objective set by the business.
It is recommended that the project managers develop a communication plan. This communication plan should start with the resource requirement plan which should be completed in the initial RFC process and should continue throughout the life cycle of the project. Where resource constraints are identified, like in the case of Teller’s availability, alternative resources must be identified early in the planning phase. A formal meeting should be held with the relevant parties to agree on a mutually acceptable compromise for resource utilization. 1. Behavioral Related Proposals 1. 5. 1 Vision and Purpose The company must initiate an internal project to build a vision. According to Collins and Operas (1996) a well-conceived vision consists of two major components: core organization, providing the glue that holds the organization together as it expands. The core ideology cannot be created; it must be discovered by focusing within the many. The Core Ideology consists of two parts: first the Core Values, which is a maximum of five timeless principles defining what the company stands for.
These values should never change even if it becomes a competitive disadvantage in certain situations. Second the Core Purpose; defining the company’s most fundamental reason for existence. It should guide and inspire, capturing the soul of the organization, reflecting the motivations people have for working at the company. The purpose should last at least 100 years and be something that can never be fully realized. The envisioned future must excite and keep the organization motivated even after the leaders who set the goals left the organization. The envisioned future also consists of two parts.
The first is a 10-to-30-year goal that is very bold with a 50% to 70% probability of success, however the organization must believe that the goal is achievable even though it might require an extraordinary effort and some luck to be achieved. (Collins and Operas 1996) 1. 5. 2 Communication Communication between functional managers like Jennifer and project managers like Julie should be more frequent. Also communication between Jennifer and her subordinate, Tyler, needs to be improved because too little time is spent with him and she is not aware of his career goals and the Job related matters which may be frustrating to him.
Jeff communication style, as per Serener (2009: 242) may be described as, “Disruptive: breaking apart the unity of group, an agitator”. The perceptions about Jeff are that he is ambitious and will do anything to make himself look good. Jeff perceptions of Tyler, Jennifer and Julie and vice visa are creating barriers in their communication. According to Serener (2009) the distortion of the information shared could be as a result of these “Perception barriers” between Jeff and his co-workers. These barriers can be minimized by using more precise words when communicating with Jeff.
An example of this barrier with reference to the case, is when Jeff tells Jennifer, “l goat have Tyler Vanilla on my Growing project”, and she responded, “That’s impossible, he is assigned to Julie Capricious Goodly project for the next four months”. This answer may have given Jeff the impression that Jennifer would reassign Tyler but did not know how, so he takes it upon himself to “work it out tit Julie”. What Jennifer should have said is “No, I will not reassign Tyler until Vive spoken to both Julie and Tyler about your request. The authors recommend that all discussions should be held face to face with all people impacted by the project. Jeff apparent disregard for his colleagues may be as a result of low level of interpersonal skills. It is essential that these deficiencies in Jeff Project management communication style be discussed with him. If this is not brought to his attention he may not regard his behavior as problematic. Honest, open and constructive feedback just be shared between all managers in Multi Projects.
This will provide team members with honest feedback of how they are perceived by their colleagues and allow them the opportunity to improve themselves, their management style and interpersonal skills. 1. 5. 3 Leadership The leadership within Multi Projects should engage regularly with the team to identify and resolve potential problems that could affect team members and the work Although a leader requires a certain degree of analytical and technical skills, emotional intelligence is the key to success.
Emotional intelligence consists of 5 incepts: The Five components of emotional Intelligence. Source: Coleman (1998) 1. 6. 1 Skills and Knowledge It is recommended that Jennifer adopts a participative and consultative leadership style by engaging Tyler more often. She should have regular feedback sessions with her team members to ensure that they are engaged and aware of their progress on projects. It is further recommended that Jeff attend Emotional Intelligence training and development programmer.
Sys & Cote, (2004), states that “Emotionally intelligent staff tackles the four interpersonal challenges, which are alignment of different goals; lariat of roles and responsibilities; making appropriate and valued decisions; and lessening of their silo mentality and communicate and work together with others”. Team building sessions and Emotional Intelligence training will aid Jeff and all other managers to learn proper listening techniques and skills to influence their team’s thinking and actions and maintain excellent relationships throughout projects.
According to Sys & Cote (2004) it is normal to experience frustration and stress when goals are misaligned. Stress and frustration negatively affects the standard of interpersonal relationships. Emotionally intelligent individuals have the ability to manage their frustration and stress which enable them to communicate effectively and keep focus. At the end of all projects, knowledge and lessons learned during the project must be captured in a knowledge data base. It is also important that skills are transferred between people.
The lack of skills transfer is the reason why customers prefer Tyler and this creates a dependency issue on a single resource. It is essential that a programmer is initiated to address the inability to develop people from a learning and Roth perspective. Multi Projects can also address this lack of skills transfer and mentoring by enabling the new resources and/or Junior staff to shadow more experienced staff. This will create a wider team of skilled resources to consider for certain functions and roles that are required to complete different projects.
Tabor, Macaulay & Cook (1997:6-9) is also of the opinion that “The rapid pace of organizational change, and the need for people to network together and build a culture of continuous improvement, has meant that mentoring is being given increasingly serious consideration”. . 6. 2 Project Scheduling and Procrastination Clemens & Good (2012) suggests that a company needs to have appropriate resources, scheduling and procrastination when preparing a proposal for submission and to engage the human resources that will be involved in delivering the work during proposal writing.
It is apparent that although Tyler is a senior systems engineer and has excellent reputation, he was not involved in the compilation of the proposal. This would also prohibit the project manager from pushing and lobbying for resources once the bid is won, as indicated by Jeff behavior. Or submissions as well as the date to inform the contractors whether their bids were successful or not. If the contractors are not informed in time there must be a trade- off between the target date stated in the proposal for completion of the work, the quality of work and some features of the work.
This should be apparent because when a proposal is submitted there needs to be a project schedule. Clemens & Good (2012:66) suggest “the project schedule can be provided in any of the several forms such as: Gaunt chart, Work Breakdown Structure (WEBS)”. It is recommended that Multi Projects acquire a programmer management office to acclimate cross-functional collaboration, coordination and integration of projects as alluded by Steen and Van Dyke (Module MI).
One of the advantages of programmer management is to provide flexibility and action items to cater for emergent occurrences which would work well in this particular case of the Growing project. Roy Burke (2011) recommends, for contractors to use better project selection processes. The execution of a project will tie up company resources and as an opportunity cost the selection of one project may prohibit a company from pursuing another project. Since Tyler is a required resource and is currently working on the Goodly project, a trade-off between Growing and Goodly should be done if there are not enough resources.
Summary of Priorities Recommendations The authors of this paper recommend that a Programmer Management Office is implemented as an initial step. The Programmer Management Office will implement and drive self improvement initiatives and change in the organization. 1. 7 Establish a Programmer Management Office A Programmer management office should be established in the matrix organizational structure of Multi Projects. It is evident from the case study that a Programmer management office does not exist in the Multi Projects structure.
The Programmer management office will perform two main functions. Firstly it will coordinate and drive internal self improvement projects. Secondly it will coordinate the implementation of all external customer projects. The proposed Matrix organizational structure with the Programmer management office included. Source: Steen and Van Dyke (Module MI) 1. 8 Internal Self Improvement Projects The following internal improvement projects should be implemented: a) Create a Vision, Mission and Purpose for the organization. The Vision, Mission and Purpose will provide guidance to the company.
It will also facilitate adequate resource allocation based on the project priority and overall benefit to the organization. This will lead to improved customer satisfaction. CONCLUSION This paper dealt with the problems experienced at Multi Projects. The problems identified are impacting the organization on various levels, from structural to behavioral and operational. If these problems are left unattended it will impede the future growth and success of the company. Various detailed recommendations are made by the authors to rectify the identified problems.
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