What Fears Do Executives Have About Project Management

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10-1 Should age have a bearing on how long it takes an executive to accept project management?

10-2 You have been called in by the executive management of a major utility company and asked to give a "selling" speech on why the company should go to project management. What are you going to say? What areas will you stress? What questions would you expect the executives to ask? What fears do you think the executives might have?

10-3 Some executives would prefer to have their project managers become tunnel-vision workaholics, with the project managers falling in love with their jobs and living to work instead of working to live. How do you feel about this?

10-4 Project management is designed to make effective and efficient use of resources. Most companies that adopt project management find it easier to underemploy and schedule overtime than to overemploy and either lay people off or drive up the overhead rate. A major electrical equipment manufacturer contends that with proper utilization of the project management concept, the majority of the employees who leave the company through either termination or retirement do not have to be replaced. Is this rationale reasonable?

10-5 The director of engineering services of R. P. Corporation believes that a project organizational structure of some sort would help resolve several of his problems. As part of the discussion, the director has made the following remarks: "All of our activities (or so-called projects if you wish) are loaded with up-front engineering. We have found in the past that time is the important parameter, not quality control or cost.

Sometimes we rush into projects so fast that we have no choice but to cut corners, and, of course, quality must suffer."

What questions, if any, would you like to ask before recommending a project organizational form? Which form will you recommend?

10-6 How should a project manager react when he finds inefficiency in the functional lines? Should executive management become involved?

10-7 An electrical equipment manufacturing company has just hired you to conduct a three-day seminar on project management for sixty employees. The president of the company asks you to have lunch with him on the first day of the seminar. During lunch, the executive remarks, "I inherited the matrix structure when I took over. Actually I don't think it can work here, and I'm not sure how long I'll support it." How should you continue at this point?

10-8 Should project managers be permitted to establish prerequisites for top management regarding standard company procedures?

10-9 During the implementation of project management, you find that line managers are reluctant to release any information showing utilization of resources in their line function. How should this situation be handled, and by whom?

10-10 Corporate engineering of a large corporation usually assumes control of all plant expansion projects in each of its plants for all projects over $25 million. For each case below, discuss the ramifications of this, assuming that there are several other projects going on in each plant at the same time as the plant expansion project.

a. The project manager is supplied by corporate engineering and reports to corporate engineering, but all other resources are supplied by the plant manager.

b. The project manager is supplied by corporate but reports to the plant manager for the duration of the project.

c. The plant manager supplies the project manager, and the project manager reports "solid" to corporate and "dotted" to the plant manager for the duration of the project.

10-11 An aircraft company requires seven years from initial idea to full production of a military aircraft. Consider the following facts: engineering design requires a minimum of two years of R&D; manufacturing has a passive role during this time; and engineering builds its own prototype during the third year.

a. To whom in the organization should the program manager, project manager, and project engineering report? Does your answer depend on the life-cycle phase?

b. Can the project engineers be "solid" to the project manager and still be authorized by the engineering vice president to provide technical direction?

c. What should be the role of marketing?

d. Should there be a project sponsor?

10-12 Does a project sponsor have the right to have an in-house representative removed from his company?

10-13 An executive once commented that his company was having trouble managing projects, not because of a lack of tools and techniques, but because they (em-

ployees) did not know how to manage what they had. How does this relate to project management?

10-14 Ajax National is the world's largest machine tool equipment manufacturer. Its success is based on the experience of its personnel. The majority of its department managers are forty-five to fifty-five-year-old, nondegreed people who have come up from the ranks. Ajax has just hired several engineers with bachelors' and masters' degrees to control the project management and project engineering functions. Can this pose a problem? Are advanced-degreed people required because of the rapid rate of change of technology?

10-15 When does project management turn into overmanagement?

10-16 Brainstorming at United Central Bank (Part I): As part of the 1989 strategic policy plan for United Central Bank, the president, Joseph P. Keith, decided to embark on weekly "brainstorming meetings" in hopes of developing creative ideas that could lead to solutions to the bank's problems. The bank's executive vice president would serve as permanent chairman of the brainstorming committee. Personnel representation would be randomly selected under the constraint that 10 percent must be from division managers, 30 percent from department managers, 30 percent from section-level supervisors, and the remaining 30 percent from clerical and nonexempt personnel. President Keith further decreed that the brainstorming committee would criticize all ideas and submit only those that successfully passed the criticism test to upper-level management for review.

After six months, with only two ideas submitted to upper-level management (both ideas were made by division managers), Joseph Keith formed an inquiry committee to investigate the reasons for the lack of interest by the brainstorming committee participants. Which of the following statements might be found in the inquiry committee report? (More than one answer is possible.)

a. Because of superior-subordinate relationships (i.e., pecking order), creativity is inhibited.

b. Criticism and ridicule have a tendency to inhibit spontaneity.

c. Good managers can become very conservative and unwilling to stick their necks out.

d. Pecking orders, unless adequately controlled, can inhibit teamwork and problem solving.

e. All seemingly crazy or unconventional ideas were ridiculed and eventually f. Many lower-level people, who could have had good ideas to contribute, felt inferior.

g. Meetings were dominated by upper-level management personnel.

h. The meetings were held at inappropriate places and times.

i. Many people were not given adequate notification of meeting time and subject matter.

10-17 Brainstorming at United Central Bank (Part II): After reading the inquiry committee report, President Keith decided to reassess his thinking about brainstorming by listing the advantages and disadvantages. What are the arguments for and against brainstorming? If you were Joseph Keith, would you vote for or against the continuation of the brainstorming sessions?

10-18 Brainstorming at United Central Bank (Part III): President Keith evaluated all of the data and decided to give the brainstorming committee one more chance. What changes can Joseph Keith implement in order to prevent the previous problems from recurring?

10-19 Explain the meaning of the following proverb: "The first 10 percent of the work is accomplished with 90 percent of the budget. The second 90 percent of the work is accomplished with the remaining 10 percent of the budget."

10-20 You are a line manager, and two project managers (each reporting to a divisional vice president) enter your office soliciting resources. Each project manager claims that his project is top priority as assigned by his own vice president. How should you, as the line manager, handle this situation? What are the recommended solutions to keep this situation from recurring repeatedly?

10-21 Figure 10-5 shows the organizational structure for a new Environmental Protection Agency project. Alpha Company was one of three subcontractors chosen for the contract. Because this was a new effort, the project manager reported "dotted" to the board chairman, who was acting as the project sponsor. The vice president was the immediate superior to the project manager.

Because the project manager did not believe that Alpha Company maintained the expertise to do the job, he hired an outside consultant from one of the local colleges. Both the EPA and the prime contractor approved of the consultant, and the consultant's input was excellent.

The project manager's superior, the vice president, disapproved of the consultant, continually arguing that the company had the expertise internally. How should you, the project manager, handle this situation?

10-22 You are the customer for a twelve-month project. You have team meetings scheduled with your subcontractor on a monthly basis. The contract has a contractual

Central Station Monitoring Panel
Figure 10-5. Organizational chart for EPA project.

requirement to prepare a twenty-five- to thirty-page handout for each team meeting. Are there any benefits for you, the customer, to see these handouts at least three to four days prior to the team meeting?

10-23 You have a work breakdown structure (WBS) that is detailed to level 5. One level-5 work package requires that a technical subcontractor be selected to support one of the technical line organizations. Who should be responsible for customer-contractor communications: the project office or line manager? Does your answer depend on the life-cycle phase? The level of the WBS? Project manager's "faith" in the line manager?

10-24 Should a client have the right to communicate directly to the project staff (i.e., project office) rather than directly to the project manager, or should this be at the discretion of the project manager?

10-25 Your company has assigned one of its vice presidents to function as your project sponsor. Unfortunately, your sponsor refuses to make any critical decisions, always "passing the buck" back to you. What should you do? What are your alternatives and the pros and cons of each? Why might an executive sponsor act in this manner?

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