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Multi-projects case study Essay

1. Executive Summary

This submission identifies the various challenges portrayed in the case study. It presents an evaluation of these challenges and seeks to identify the causes which led to the challenges. Multi Projects Inc. is an organization that operates in a Matrix-type Organization but does not effectively and efficiently utilize this type of organizational structure to its fullest potential and this becomes disadvantageous in this particular scenario.

This is illustrated through a number of problems identified in this report such as a lack of project prioritization, no clear and appropriate balance of power between project- and functional managers, inefficient utilization of resources, lack of a personal development and knowledge growth programme and a display of dysfunctional behavior by individuals.

The primary causes of the above stated problems were a lack of leadership and no formal system to facilitate effective project integration. There also seems to be a lack of team culture in the organization and a limited understanding of the operating guidelines by which the organization should operate the Matrix-type Organization. There also appears to be no formal communication lines between various stakeholders in the organization.

The recommended solution is the creation and implementation of a Project Management Office (PMO). The creation of a PMO has advantages that would simultaneously solve a number of the systemic problems inherent in the Multi Projects Inc. organizational structure. This would of course require a strategic transformation project to be initiated but the long term benefits of the change are significant and are illustrated in the report. In conclusion, the problems faced by Multi Projects are not significant enough to become detrimental to the profitability of the organization in the short term. Recommendations as to what and how change should be affected are provided in order to drive behaviours which are perceived as more favourable when considering effective project leadership.

2. Assumptions

Despite having a matrix structure, Multi Project inc. does not have a Programme Manager. No portfolio managers are evident for clients, as Projects are simply handed out. Multi Project inc. lacks an effective People Development Process. No project prioritization.

Multi Project inc. a well established consulting firm, has large pools of resources for projects. Lack in the governance process, is evident.

3. Problems Identified

3.1 Resource Constraints

It is clearly evident that employees are stretching themselves far too thin to keep both old and new clients satisfied; furthermore Project managers are assigned to too many projects. From Gido & Clements (2009:453), opportunities are provided for people in the functional areas to pursue career development through being assigned to various types of projects. They further indicate that individuals become more valuable as they gain more experience, thereby improving their eligibility for higher-level positions within the company.

Tyler is the senior systems engineer and has been with the company for 8 years, he is highly recommended and his broad knowledge and experience has placed him as a valuable asset to the company. It appears that Tyler is the only system engineer who is a “guru”. Therefore, it seems like there’s a lack of skills development, knowledge transfer and also employee’s individual personal development plan.

Training is intended for the creation and sharing of knowledge, which can be termed as creation of intellectual capital. There appears to be an overreliance on Tyler as the system engineer of choice on various projects. This reveals a possible lack of skills development and knowledge transfer between experienced employees and those with limited skills and knowledge. This problem also manifests itself in the company making promises to prospective clients that Tyler will be assigned to their projects, without even taking into consideration his existing workload. Tyler has developed his own skills and knowledge during execution of previous projects, however there was no skills transferred. Employee satisfaction and development can be better catered for within a new improved organisational structure.

3.2 Organizational Structure Challenges

It is evident that no Programme manager is evident which results in project priority not being identified. Consulting services may be too broad; the organisation should consider sticking to core competencies. Clients are far too influential on who their projects team consists of. Lack of / or poor communication between team and staff in general. Rapid growth has resulted in the structure of the organisation being compromised. There are no visible Policies; Processes & Procedures and there is no evidence that indicate otherwise. Jeff’s approach of demanding Tyler to work on his project and Jennifer’s decisions based on Tyler’s re-assignment indicate that they discard the organisation’s policies, procedures and processes. It’s assumed that this happens because there’s a lack of continual awareness (campaigns, workshops and feedback mechanisms) and also quality assurance or total quality management.

It seems Multi Projects Top Management and HR is not doing enough to reinforce policies, procedures and Processes on Employees as Jeff has been with the organization for 1 year and should be aware of them. This indicates that Skills Development and Talent Management are not taken into account. It appears that there is poor strategic support and leadership. This is revealed through the lack of strategic direction and support for the business in general and the projects in particular. It is assumed that the leadership does not take accountability to ensure that communication is properly cascaded down to middle management and lower level staff.

There is also a lack of alignment of business strategic objectives with the projects or operational objectives. There is no alignment between business strategic objectives with availability of resources. These misalignments or misinterpretations within Multi Projects result in frustration among employees and hinders the organisation from achieving its strategic objectives. Jeff informed Jennifer to reassign Tyler into his project and to assign somebody to the Goodold project. The strategic leadership is not even involved to give direction regarding which project to prioritise based on the priorities of business strategic objectives.

3.3 Communication

Communication flow in the organisational matrix structure is not working. . Tyler has been unable to communicate to Jennifer, who is his functional head, that he is unhappy in his current position. Clements & Gido (2009: 454) “Ah, well now that you asked I am getting tired of working on the Goodold projects, replies Tyler.” I am not learning anything new. I mean, it’s okay, but I’d like a change.” “Jennifer is astonished. You never mentioned it to me.” Clement & Gido (2009:453) “but because of his heavy workload and associated travel, he does not get to see Jennifer often other than at staff meetings.”

The Poor communication leads to resources being overbooked and mismanaged. There are poor team interaction, lack of team work and irregular and unplanned meetings. The poor structure or lack of leadership leads to stronger or more vocal individuals having their way. Kelly (2000) as cited in Werner (2007:163) defines organisational communication as “the process by which information is exchanged and understood by two or more people, usually with the intent to motivate or influence behaviour”.

Not adhering to this form of communication in the work place as explained by Werner is seen as unethical and unprofessional. These components are key as this is the moral standard that governs an individual or organisation. Jeff’s behaviour is unethical and unprofessional. This is illustrated by the manner in which Jeff tries to communicate with Tyler, Julie and Jennifer. 3.4 Ineffective PMO.

Project Management Office is ineffective as the structure doesn’t seem to have a programme manager who’s managing all the project managers and assisting the project managers in resource allocations. Clements and Gido (2012:409) highlight the importance of a Project Management Office (PMO) with regards to providing overall direction and support. The fact that project managers determine the importance or prioritise their individual projects or customers above others shows that the PMO at Multi Projects is ineffective. There are no guidelines from the PMO with regards to how resources are assigned to projects as well as a lack of service level agreements between project and line functions within the company.

The organization seems like they do not have a programme manager or if they do he is not visible the problem with this is that no one is accountable for the project manager’s decision. There is no project governance in place so that means project managers can do as they please. The project management office (PMO) is a central support office that manages multiple projects and establishes procedures and develops best practices. A programme manager can be assigned to facilitate decisions regarding prioritising projects based on risk to the company and the customer. It is proven that the organisation replicate support arrangements as programmes and projects come and go.

The above definition of the Programme Office proves that the Multi Project office is ineffective. The PMO ineffectiveness of the PMO results in Communication not being filtered down because of the workload of employees. There is no ability to collect and hand over vital lessons learned from one initiative to the next. There are no continuity and maintenance standards. There are too many projects running and they cannot keep up even though staff compliment has grown.

4. Proposed Solutions

4.1 Organisational re-alignment – Matrix Organisational Structure

Matrix Organization Structure

(a)It allows efficient utilization of resources by having individuals from various functions assigned to work on specific projects. (b)Because they have a functional home, individuals can be moved among projects. (c)It provides a core of functional expertise that is available to all projects. (d)Knowledge stays with the company, ready to be used on future projects. (e)People experience greater learning and growth, and their knowledge and skills are transferred from project to project. (f)The matrix structure also facilitates information flow.

(g)Project team members can inform the project manager and the functional manager. (h)The matrix organization is customer focused.  The PMO (Project Management Office) will enable an effective communication structure that will facilitate a transfer of knowledge , improve experience within each project team, promote team work, and will ensure that a unified and accepted consensus is reached on which resource shall be utilised to its utmost potential, creating uniformity and a minimisation of disturbance to the project. PMO will also help in provide guidelines on how projects and customers can be prioritise in order to optimally use company resources, while providing clear customer focus and minimising potential conflict and project ranking model will assist in prioritizing the projects.

The responsibilities of a PMO can range from providing project management support functions to actually being responsible for the direct management of a project. The primary goal of a PMO is to achieve benefits from standardizing and following project management policies, processes and methods. Over time, a PMO generally will become the source for guidance, documentation, and metrics related to the practices involved in managing and implementing projects within the organization. A PMO may also get involved in project-related tasks and follow up on project activities through completion. The office may report on project activities, problems and requirements to executive management as a strategic tool in keeping implementers and decision makers moving toward consistent, business- or mission-focused goals and objectives. A PMO generally bases its project management principles, practices and processes on some kind of industry standard methodology such as PMBOK (Project Management Body of Knowledge) or PRINCE2 (Project in Controlled Environments).

Such approaches are consistent with the requirements related to ISO9000 and to government regulatory. How a project management office (PMO) is designed and staffed for maximum effectiveness depends on a variety of organizational factors, including targeted goals, traditional strengths and cultural imperatives. Projects must be properly assessed before they are accepted, allocated and a proper communication structure must be in place to ensure the customer is kept informed and receives the best possible project/service. Primarily the initial argument is that a Project Management Office be introduced, with the priority that a Programme Manager, be assigned and implemented with immediate effect. This individual can resolve the priority of the conflicts between two or more projects within the organisation1.

This would enable him to make a decision on which project would take preference over the latter, and a final decision reached based on the situation on which project Tyler Bonilla should be allocated to. He will therefore clear the prioritisation of the projects at hand within the terms of overall risk to the firm, as well as the risk to customer relationships whilst ensuring they align to the firms overall goals, strategy and objectives. Part of the responsibility of the Head of Projects would be to introduce a balanced scorecard system.

This will allow members of management to rate new projects on critical keys to ensure they align with the overall short and long term goals and objectives of the firm. The balanced scorecard furthermore defines managerial performance requirements and measures the desire to be achieved from these projects. These can be measured inter alia, financial performance, customer value performance, internal business process performance, learning and growth performance.

Priority matrix: this tool provides a way of sort a various set of items/project into an order of importance. It also identifies their importance by deriving a numerical value for the priority of each item.

This allows you work on project that important.
It will great a better work balance
This takes some of the emotions out of the process
Its adaptable for multiple priority setting needs (production, project, service etc) This will reduce reactive approach and bring in more proactive one With a group of people, it facilitates reaching agreement on priorities with key issues. Establishes a platform for conversation about what is important.

4.2 Governance

Having governance framework can play an important role in helping gain a better understanding of the company objectives. It also provides a clear evaluation of how employee’s responsibilities fit into the whole overview of management oversight accountabilities. Its help to clearly define the roles
and responsibilities of top management, functional management and employees. Etc It allows the company to properly prioritize it’s time and resources effectively. The framework allows a structured way for collaboration, when dealing with issues that company is faces with minimal risk of confusion and loss of productivity. Multi project must invest in educating their employees on their policies, procedures and processes HR and top management must take responsibility in this. The main objective of strategic leadership is strategic productivity. Another aim of strategic leadership is to develop an environment in which employees forecast the organization’s needs in context of their own job.

Strategic leaders encourage the employees in an organization to follow their own ideas. Functional strategic leadership is about inventiveness, perception, and planning to assist an individual in realizing his objectives and goals. An effective strategic leadership is what is needed to provide the vision and direction for the growth and success of Multi Projects. To successfully deal with change, all executives need the skills and tools for both strategy formulation and implementation. Managing change and ambiguity requires strategic leaders who not only provide a sense of direction, but who can also build ownership and alignment within their workgroups to implement change. Projects are often utilized as a means of achieving an organization’s strategic plan and are typically authorized as a result of one or more of the following strategic considerations; market demands, strategic opportunity or business need, customer request, technological advance, and legal requirements.

The first step in formulating the leadership strategy is to review the business strategy for implications for new leadership requirements. This analysis usually requires a team of experts composed of some people who know the business intimately and others who are familiar with processes for acquiring, retaining and developing leadership talent. Beginning with the business strategy, the first step is to identify the drivers of the strategy. Drivers are the key choices that leaders make about how to position the organization to take advantage of its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in the marketplace.

They are the things that make a strategy unique to one organization as compared to another and dictate where trade-offs will be made between alternative investments of resources, time and energy. Drivers are few in number and help us understand what it is absolutely essential for leaders and the collective leadership of the organization to accomplish. A few main traits / characteristics / features / qualities of effective strategic leaders that do lead to superior performance are as follows:

Loyalty- Powerful and effective leaders demonstrate their loyalty to their vision by their words and actions.

Keeping them updated- Efficient and effective leaders keep themselves updated about what is happening within their organization. They have various formal and informal sources of information in the organization.

Judicious use of power- Strategic leaders makes a very wise use of their power. They must play the power game skillfully and try to develop consent for their ideas rather than forcing their ideas upon others. They must push their ideas gradually.

Have wider perspective/outlook- Strategic leaders just don’t have skills in their narrow specialty but they have a little knowledge about a lot of things.

Motivation- Strategic leaders must have a zeal for work that goes beyond money and power and also they should have an inclination to achieve goals with energy and determination.

Compassion- Strategic leaders must understand the views and feelings of their subordinates, and make decisions after considering them.

Self-control- Strategic leaders must have the potential to control distracting/disturbing moods and desires, i.e., they must think before acting.

Social skills- Strategic leaders must be friendly and social.

Self-awareness- Strategic leaders must have the potential to understand their own moods and emotions, as well as their impact on others.

Readiness to delegate and authorize- Effective leaders are proficient at delegation. They are well aware of the fact that delegation will avoid overloading of responsibilities on the leaders. They also recognize the fact that authorizing the subordinates to make decisions will motivate them a lot.

Articulacy- Strong leaders are articulate enough to communicate the vision (vision of where the organization should head) to the organizational members in terms that boost those members. Strategic leadership is critical in providing direction and support from strategy formulation through to strategy implementation. It is the Executive’s responsibility to ensure the project’s objectives, costs; benefits, etc. are aligned with the Multi Project’s business strategy and objectives. The focus of the Business Case should be on the totality of business change, not just one element of it

4.3 Communication

Combination of meetings can help the employees to understand the role of everyone in the organization. The matrix structure facilitates improved communication, allowing for timelier problem identification and conflict resolution. The dual communication paths increase the chances that problems will be identified rather than suppressed. This clearly shows that communication must have intent, it must be effective, and the message that is communicated must be devoid of ambiguity and must lead to the desired results. Communication is the most essential instrument of success in business and social world. While a rightly and timely communication can keep things running smoothly and bring in greater benefits to the organizations. Miscommunication or lack of it can prove lethal for it.

No company can last long without proper means of communications. Proper communication is vital to the success of a project, Harold Kerzener. According to the American Management Association (2011) there are four forms of communication, namely: verbal, non-verbal, written and visual communication. Linked to the mentioned four forms of communication, different communication tools that can be used which include but not limited to meetings, email, telephones, memos and regular reporting can be linked to one or several of the mentioned communication forms. Effective communication will eliminate misunderstandings that cause conflict between people and poor quality workmanship.

It will also reduce time and resource wastage. Effective communication will be an important element in the success of Multi Projects, leaders, managers, supervisors and employees. In the project environment, “it has been estimated that project managers spend about 90 percent of their time just communicating: with the project team, the customer, functional managers, and upper management” (PM.Ideas). Effective project communication will ensure that Multi Projects get the right information across at the right time and in a cost-effective manner.

4.4 Resource

According to Noe, Hollenbeck, Gerhart and Wright (2006:257,260) training is a planned initiative by an organisation, to assist its employees by providing them with job-related education, so that they can improve their work performance. An important part of any firm is skills management and development. The Human Resource department together with the Functional Managers need to play a vital role in the development plan of individuals at Multi Projects. They need to ensure that a proper talent management processes are carried out and management/supervisors are continuously coaching/mentoring their junior staff.

Knowledge and skills development is vital to the growth and stability of the organisation. Organisations are routinely valued not just on their physical but on their intellectual capital. The knowledge needs to be transferred not only for other individuals to pursue their career development but also to ensure business continuity within the organisation. An integral part of skill development is training, and training will unlock hidden potential of the firm’s employees.

5. Conclusion

Clear objectives

Knowing what you’re aiming for creates the likelihood of reaching the destination. Without a clear objective, your project is doomed to fail. It will be difficult to determine milestones and even more difficult to prioritize tasks.

With this solution the company will have its own unique criteria and weights those criteria based on values, strategic direction, organizational goals, available resources, and so on. Projects are then scored and prioritized based on the criteria. Once projects are prioritized and those priorities are reviewed and discussed, the department can evaluate the results to determine funding and resource allocation for the higher priority projects. A final step involves assessing how and when (or if) to fund the lower priority projects in the future if/when more resources become available.

6. Lessons learnt

1. Don’t do everything yourself. Delegate to your team members, but don’t forget to coordinate their actions. Find the right balance for it.

2. Don’t let your plans sit on the shelf. Keep all the project information in one place and the project schedules up-to-date.

3. Don’t keep your multiple project plans disconnected. Create a master plan for all of your projects.

4. Don’t let the project management job become a project secretary job. Leverage technology and make sure to find the right tool that will perform your routine operations for you.

5. Don’t neglect flaws in communication with your clients and within your team. Integrate your communications with project planning to ensure your project plans are up-to-date.

7. Bibliography and References

1. Effective Project Management – Clements Gido
2. www.wikihow.com
3. www.bizconnect.standardbank.co.za/start/business-planning/reference-documents 4. www.smallbusiness.chron.com
5. Fellow colleagues and workgroups

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