Gary completed and distributed the minutes to the customer as well as to all key team members.
For the next five weeks testing went according to plan, or at least Gary thought that it had. The results were still poor. Gary was so caught up in administrative paperwork that he hadn't found time to visit the research labs in over a month. On a Wednesday morning, Gary entered the lab to observe the morning testing. Upon arriving in the lab, Gary found Paul Evans, Henry Gable, and two technicians testing a new material, JXB-3.
Henry Gable: "Gary, your problems will soon be over. This new material, JXB-3, will permit you to satisfy specification requirements. Paul and I have been testing it for two weeks. We wanted to let you know, but were afraid that if the word leaked out to the customer that we were spending their money for testing materials that were not called out in the program plan, they would probably go crazy and might cancel the contract. Look at these results. They're super!"
Gary Anderson: "Am I supposed to be the one to tell the customer now? This could cause a big wave."
Henry Gable: "There won't be any wave. Just tell them that we did it with our own IR&D funds. That'll please them because they'll think we're spending our own money to support their program."
Before presenting the information to Lord, Gary called a team meeting to present the new data to the project personnel. At the team meeting, one functional manager spoke out: "This is a hell of a way to run a program. I like to be kept informed about everything that's happening here at Parks. How can the project office expect to get support out of the functional departments if we're kept in the dark until the very last minute? My people have been working with the existing materials for the last two months and you're telling us that it was all for nothing. Now you're giving us a material that's so new that we have no information on it whatsoever. We're now going to have to play catch-up, and that's going to cost you plenty."
One week before the 180-day milestone meeting, Gary submitted the handout package to Lord Industries for preliminary review. An hour later the phone rang.
Customer: "We've just read your handout. Where did this new material come from? How come we were not informed that this work was going on? You know, of course, that our customer, the Army, will be at this meeting. How can we explain this to them? We're postponing the review meeting until all of our people have analyzed the data and are prepared to make a decision.
"The purpose of a review or interchange meeting is to exchange information when both parties have familiarity with the topic. Normally, we (Lord Industries) require almost weekly interchange meetings with our other customers because we don't trust them. We disregard this policy with Parks Corporation based on past working relationships. But with the new state of developments, you have forced us to revert to our previous position, since we now question Parks Corporation's integrity in communicating with us. At first we believed this was due to an inexperienced program manager. Now, we're not sure."
Gary Anderson: "I wonder if the real reason we have these interchange meetings isn't to show our people that Lord Industries doesn't trust us. You're creating a hell of a lot of work for us, you know."
Customer: "You people put yourself in this position. Now you have to live with it."
Two weeks later Lord reluctantly agreed that the new material offered the greatest promise. Three weeks later the design review meeting was held. The Army was definitely not pleased with the prime contractor's recommendation to put a new untested material into a multimillion-dollar effort.
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What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.