Executive Summary Project management is the science of planning, organizing, executing, and managing the resources needed to achieve a specific goal. Effective project managers (PM) strategically facilitate the entire project management process to ensure the project’s success. To do this the PM must adequately meet the specific requirements (i. e. , time, scope, quality, and cost) set forth by the project and its stakeholders. It is theorized that PM must possess a set of core competencies in order to successfully manage a project.
Those competencies are development of project management knowledge areas, application of appropriate project management tools and techniques, understanding of the project environment, possession of leadership skills, and general managerial and human relations skills. This paper will critically analyze the performance of a newly appointed project manager, Gary Allison, through his response to various issues that arose during the management of The Orion Shield Project. In my analysis, I will thoroughly discuss the technical, ethical, legal, contractual, and change issues and Gary’s response to each.
I will conclude my analysis with a reasoned deduction of what competencies Gary lacks that prohibit him from being an effective project manager. Technical Issues Gary identified the presence of technical issues during the initiating stage of the project. According to the request for proposal (RFP) released by Space Technologies Industries (STI), the technical specification required that the design should be able to operate at temperatures ranging from to F. Gary spent two months trying to get the design to meet the required specifications; however, he was unable to get the preliminary design to operate over F.
Armed with this knowledge, Gary should have informed the sponsor at STI of the potential problem so it could be dealt with efficiently. Instead he allowed the Director of Engineering, Henry Larson, to coerce him into bluffing the proposal submission. Had he properly reported the discovery of not being able to meet the specification requirements, STI may have made an allowance in the contract by changing the contract type, scope, or cost to accommodate the additional research and development efforts.
At the onset of the project Gary showed that he lacked a very vital competency – understanding of the project environment. The project’s environment is the cultural, social, and organizational elements of the project. A keen understanding of a project’s environment would allow a project manager to identify the project’s stakeholders, learn whose opinion matters, and who benefits and suffers from the work performed (Bach, 2006). If Gary had possessed this understanding he would have known that most projects experience resources, constraints, and other forces that both enable and prohibit a project from being successful.
Ethical Issues After spending a very extensive and rigorous amount of time working on meeting the desired specifications of the RFP, Gary was confident the design SEC manufactured wouldn’t work unless the materials were changed. Although after a brief meeting with Larsen he decided to deceive STI. He deceptively submitted the proposal stating the model SEC had constructed will remain operable in temperatures reaching up to Based on this submission SEC was awarded the contract.
Another ethical issue that arose was when Henry Larsen interfered in the spec requirement problem and created what he thought was a solution – JBX3. To fund the testing of the new product, JBX3, Larsen insisted Gary tell STI that SEC had used independent research and development funds. When instead they had used STI’s money. Gary felt uneasy about both accounts of deception and felt it would surely lead to conflict and customer dissatisfaction. However, he did nothing. Gary’s inability to effectively act when the abovementioned ethical acts occurred shows that he lacks the leadership skills to lead a project of this size.
An effective leader inspires a shared vision, is a good communicator, is emotionally intelligent, possesses team building skills, delegates tasks well, and have excellent problem solving skills. They also know when to “stand up to top management…, support team members, and encourage new ideas” (Schwalbe, 2010). F. Legal Issues In addition to intentionally deceiving the stakeholders in various areas of the project, Gary also ran the risk of dealing with other behavior that is deemed contractually illegal.
When SEC took on the obligation of the contract they agreed to fulfill the requirement set forth by the scope of work, in the time allotted, and within specific cost measures. This is the one area Gary managed to somewhat succeed. Being conscience of the project’s time and scope he performed a lot of the duties himself that should have been delegated. He also spent numerous off-peak hours ensuring duties were complete. It also appears that he possesses knowledge of quality and communications management because he was able to quickly understand and communicate the issues with the product specifications.
Although there was a slight breakdown in the use of the proper program management tools and techniques. For example, he failed to deliver concise status and progress reports and did not excel in communicating managerial plans. All in all Gary’s effective display of project management knowledge areas saved SEC from having the client take legal measures to offset and recover the costs associated with a failed project. Contractual Issues Project success is not only measured by the ability to meet time, quality, scope, and cost measures.
It is also measured by how satisfied the stakeholders are with the performance of the contract. While Gary managed to somehow succeed in meeting time, quality, and scope requirements. He failed in meeting satisfactory levels with the customer. At the initial interchange meeting STI’s rep, Sarah Wilson, communicated disappointment with Gary’s inability to properly balance the administrative and technical roles of the project. For example, he primarily focused on the technical aspects of the project and failed to deliver standard administrative forms (like the meeting agendas) in a timely fashion.
Due to this discontent in several areas the customer began to micromanage the project. They required Gary to have his engineering staff report to STI’s engineering staff on a regular basis, they also set up a customer office to follow Gary’s work closely. Since the prime contractor, STI, had more at stake and started to distrust Gary’s management they had to dedicate more time and resources than expected to make sure the project was run properly. This could have easily been alleviated with the properly application of human relation techniques.
Human relations is “the cornerstone of getting along with people and is one of the most important career skills” (Cook, n. d). Known as one’s soft skills, human relations allow one to understand human behavior, establish rapport, clarify misunderstandings, and create an environment of social interaction. All of which would have been helpful in Gary’s dealings with the STI rep, Sarah Wilson. Change issues Throughout the entire project Gary experienced one change after another. Initially it was the promise of Henry Larsen to be heavily involved in the project management of The Orion Shield Project.
However, once the project was awarded Larsen involvement was very sporadic and not much help. Next, came the change in material to meet spec requirements. Then, came staffing changes along with the change in customer requirements. Not to mention the fact that Larsen had assured Gary that SEC would be able to get the customer to change the specification and accept a tradeoff analysis to keep the project from being overrun. Or the biggest change of all was Larsen’s complete outlook and endorsement of Gary. When he brought Gary onto the
project he congratulated him on being bendable with his ethics, values, and morals. However, after receiving a hefty bonus and word from the customer that the project had overrun and the dissatisfaction of the spec changes. Larsen quickly changed how he viewed Gary. He proceeded to criticize the very areas that he once encouraged – lack of communication and honesty. The fact that given all of the changes Gary incurred in the project he was still able to meet scope, quality, and time goals really says a lot about Gary’s managerial skills. In today’s society the ability to adapt and manage change is highly sought.
Conclusion Gary Allison has the potential to become an effective project manager. However, he exemplifies a lack of many core competencies required for effective project management. The fact that he was easily persuaded to desert his personal ethical beliefs and lacked the ability to stand up for what’s right shows that he needs additional development in leadership skills. He also could use training in the project management environment and tools and techniques. This would help him secure the knowledge of the social, political, and physical environment of project management.
It will also assist in the understanding of change within the project and build confidence on how to lead and handle change once it arise. Lastly, Gary needs additional instruction on adapting human relations skills. This will assist him in building a comfort level and trust into his involvement with the project management team, project sponsors, and project stakeholders. In conclusion, Gary has potential to be an effective project manager but he must continue his growth in certain areas before taking on another project the size of The Orion Shield Project.
Resources Bach, J. (2006). Heuristic Test Strategy Model. Retrieved from http://www. satisfice. com/tools/satisfice-tsm-4p. pdf Cook, Y. (n. d). Human Relations Skills for Succeeding in a diverse workplace. Retrieved from http://www. chatham. edu/pti/curriculum/units/2001/Cook. pdf Schwalbe, K. (2010). Chapter 1: An introduction to project, program, and portfolio management. USA: Kathy Schwalbe, LLC. UMUC. (n. d). The Orion Shield Project. Retrieved from http://polaris. umuc. edu/cvu/orion/12 complete. html