Gary Anderson had accepted a position with Parks Corporation right out of college. With a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering, Gary was ready to solve the world's most traumatic problems. At first, Parks Corporation offered Gary little opportunity to do the pure research that he eagerly wanted to undertake. However, things soon changed. Parks grew into a major electronics and structural design corporation during the big boom of the late fifties and early sixties when Department of Defense (DoD) contracts were plentiful.
Parks Corporation grew from a handful of engineers to a major DoD contractor, employing some 6,500 people. During the recession of the late sixties, money became scarce and major layoffs resulted in lowering the employment level to 2,200 employ-
4 Copyright © 1978 by Harold Kerzner.
ees. At that time, Parks decided to get out of the R&D business and compete as a low-cost production facility while maintaining an engineering organization solely to support production requirements.
After attempts at virtually every project management organizational structure, Parks Corporation selected the matrix form. Each project had a program manager who reported to the director of program management. Each project also maintained an assistant project manager—normally a project engineer—who reported directly to the project manager and indirectly to the director of engineering. The program manager spent most of his time worrying about cost and time, whereas the assistant program manager worried more about technical performance.
With the poor job market for engineers, Gary and his colleagues began taking coursework toward an MBA degree should the job market deteriorate further.
In 1975, with the upturn in DoD spending, Parks had to change its corporate strategy. Parks had spent the last seven years bidding on the production phase of large programs. But now, with the new evaluation criteria set forth for contract awards, those companies winning the R&D and qualification phases had a definite edge on being awarded the production contract. The production contract was where the big profits could be found. In keeping with this new strategy, Parks began to beef up its R&D engineering staff. By 1978, Parks had increased in size to 2,700 employees. The increase was mostly in engineering. Experienced R&D personnel were difficult to find for the salaries that Parks was offering. Parks was, however, able to lure some employees away from the competitors, but relied mostly upon the younger, inexperienced engineers fresh out of college.
With the adoption of this corporate strategy, Parks Corporation administered a new wage and salary program that included job upgrading. Gary was promoted to senior scientist, responsible for all R&D activities performed in the mechanical engineering department. Gary had distinguished himself as an outstanding production engineer during the past several years, and management felt that his contribution could be extended to R&D as well.
In January 1978, Parks Corporation decided to compete for Phase I of the Blue Spider Project, an R&D effort that, if successful, could lead into a $500 million program spread out over twenty years. The Blue Spider Project was an attempt to improve the structural capabilities of the Spartan missile, a short-range tactical missile used by the Army. The Spartan missile was exhibiting fatigue failure after six years in the field. This was three years less than what the original design specifications called for. The Army wanted new materials that could result in a longer age life for the Spartan missile.
Lord Industries was the prime contractor for the Army's Spartan Program. Parks Corporation would be a subcontractor to Lord if they could successfully bid and win the project. The criteria for subcontractor selection were based not only on low bid, but also on technical expertise as well as management performance on other projects. Park's management felt that they had a distinct advantage over most of the other competitors because they had successfully worked on other projects for Lord Industries.
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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.