Project Management 7
Cultures and Management Practices that Facilitate the Management of Innovation Projects 2
Team Development 6
The Five Stages of Team Development: A Case Study of ART 7
Significance of Accurate Estimates in Project Management 10
Importance of Communication Plan in Project Management 13
Culturesand Management Practices that Facilitate the Management of InnovationProjects
Innovativeproject management involves strategic process and organizationalplanning and control of resources and procedures with an overridingobjective to accomplish specific targets. This endeavor is guided bythe set goals and objectives, which necessitate that managers planand coordinate certain specific mechanisms through which the goalswill be realized. More aptly, the planning and organization involvesoptimizing of resources allocated for the specific targets, whichencompasses four critical variables: time, quality, scope and costs.The essence of this is that project management is a deliberate andspecific process, which requires managers to adopt equally specificmanagerial practices and organizational cultures as the operatingelements towards the success of projects, more so innovativeprojects.
Managementof innovative projects is usually characterized by many setbacks thatare inherent in the development and use of new technologicalprocesses. The cultural practices at Applied Research TechnologiesInc. considered this factor owing to the nature of the industry inwhich the company operates. The organization adopted as a culture the“celebration of failure” in which ambitious projects failed tomaterialize for the reason that the projects were aimed at the “sky”and as such, that was a worthy failure (page 2). This organizationalculture is significant for the management of innovative andtechno-based projects since it serves to motivate employees toundertake challenging and ambitious projects thereby reducing theeffects that come with uncertainty in project development. Moreover,the “failed” projects may not have lived up to the desiredexpectations but the processes through which they were developed andeven the eventual downfall may form a firm managerial base toleverage further innovational projects which may augment from thebenefits of the failed project.
Tomanage techno-based and innovative projects in general, there is needfor organizations to create an atmosphere and space that allowsmanagers and employees to engage their subjective constructs and comeup with different solutions to problems (Irwin, 2013, p.34). This isnecessary due to the fact that the management of innovative projectsdoes not require a flexible framework (Heagney, 2012, p. 78).Innovative project management is a process that calls for a delicatebalance between meeting organizational timelines and constraintswhile at the same time ensuring quality and efficiency in of theeventual designs (Irwin, 2013, p.34). At Applied ResearchTechnologies Inc., it is a common organizational practice foremployees to spend at least half a day every week to brainstorm,think “outside the box” and experiment so as to generate newideas necessary for the development of innovative projects by thecompany (page 2). In fact, David Hall, the Chief Executive Officer ofApplied Research Technologies Inc. observed that this concept, whichis referred to as “tinker time”, was necessary for employees andmanagers alike. He observed that in particular, managers wereexpected to employ these techniques at the organizational setting tocreate, promote and collateralize promising ideas for the progress oforganizational projects (page 2). Essentially, the organizationrecognizes the need to incorporate fresh and new thinking into theprojects, fresh and new thinking, which is the fundamental tenet ofinnovative products, and projects (Gido, 2014, p.157).
Additionally,the management of innovative projects is a multifaceted task thatrequires the efforts and direct inputs of different interdisciplinaryknowledge (Reiss, 2013, p.233). The input of interdisciplinaryknowledge into a project at each and every process of the projectdevelopment ensures that the ultimate product is holistic other thanachieving all the other conventional aspects of quality, time andcost effectiveness (Reiss, 2013, p.233). This is probably the reasonwhy the managerial practices at Applied Research Technologies Inc.emphasized on the sharing of knowledge and dissemination ofinformation both horizontally and vertically (page 2). The sharingof information, as a managerial practice at the company, probablyenabled the different departments to work together as a team in thecompletion of the various projects more so the Filtration Unit. Moreover, the organizational practice went over and above the sharingof information and knowledge to encompass the sharing of profitsaccountability and human capital and technology (page 2). Thispractice is a strategic management practice that was employed byApplied Research Technologies Inc. as a means of resource sharing butthis time not expressly for cutting production costs but as adeliberate strategy to enhance project management. Thisorganizational norm was significant at the company for it enabled anemployee from a different unit to undertake tasks in another withoutthe concept “on loan” employee being witnessed at AppliedResearch Technologies Inc. (page 2)
Thedelay in funding of innovative projects has been found to be a majorfactor that stalls the take-off of projects (Reiss, 2013, p.235). Funding, it is argued, is the lifeblood of a project that enablestechnocrats to give ideas a practical shape (Young, 2013, p.113). Inthis regard, not only the funding of projects but also the timelyfundingof projects comesacross as an important factor in the management of innovativeprojects. A majority of literature on project management haveemphasized on the need to adopt an integrated managerial practicethat incorporates rigorous feasibility scrutiny as well as promptfunding of promising ideas. This could be attributable to the factthat what we, in common parlances conceive as innovative products inmost circumstances become obsolete owing to the dynamic nature oftechnology (Lietnz, 2012). The managerial practices at AppliedResearch Technologies Inc. were consistent with this projectmanagement practices as far as project funding is concerned. Thecompany management adopted strategic project management practicesthat allowed for ‘quick funding of feasible ideas’ that usuallyculminated in “beta batch” productions (page 2). In this manner,the organization ostensibly seeks to harness the power inherent innewly conceived ideas that breed successful projects. Moreover, thisensures that there are as many projects as there are ideas therebyresulting in a fertile ground for advanced innovation.
Theproduct life cycle (PLC) is a crucial process in the development ofnew products therefore, the management of innovative projects(Martinsuo, 2013, p.91). The different approaches that organizationsapply to the basic product life cycle (PLC) framework in coming upwith the most efficient products usually differ depending on theprojects but there it is important that for innovative projects andprocesses, the flow time between idea conception andcommercialization is made as short as possible. The projectmanagement practices at Applied Research Technologies Inc. ensurethat product life cycles are shortened. This idea is was especiallyemphasized by David Hall, the Chief Executive Officer who espousedthat Applied Research Technologies Inc. had to shorten the ARTproduct life cycle (PLC) between new technology’s conception andits commercialization (page 3). The company therefore, came up with“Fast Track Pipeline”, a program that laid more emphasis on thehighest priority projects by providing them with additional resourcesand managerial assistance (page 3). This is a deliberate strategyundertaken by Applied Research Technologies Inc. to ensure efficientinnovative project management by minimizing the time in the ARTproduct life cycle through various mechanisms like the provision ofadditional resources and managerial good will.
Therole of a diversified, creative and competent team in the developmentand management of innovative projects cannot be underestimated. Atalented workforce complete with professional ethics and competencyhave been found to be critical in the management of innovativeprojects (Mir & Pinnington, 2014, p.215). Applied ResearchTechnologies Inc., just like any other competent techno-basedcompany, has a management policy of going over and above broadeningmarket access to broaden talent access, a policy that saw theestablishment of India Technical Center (ITC) in India (page 3).Moreover, Applied Research Technologies Inc. motivates this workforceby setting high performance benchmarks to which executiveremuneration and rewards are attached. All the systems, cultures andmanagement practices espoused herein are critical in the managementof innovative projects as revealed in the context of Applied ResearchTechnologies Inc.
Thedevelopment of a new management team at Applied Research TechnologiesInc. by Peter Vyas, the new Business Manager for the Filtration Unitwas informed by twin problems that are typical of any organizationwith poor human resource management practices: low turnovers and ademoralized workforce. Peter Vyas adopted an integrated approach incoming up with the new team that encompassed the selection ofentrepreneurial-minded individuals to fill the vacant positions whichsaw among other appointments. The move saw the appointment of JaniceWagner, who was particularly excited to join a unit that presentedthe opportunity of building a new business from scratch (page 3). Theenthusiasm with which Janice Wagner joined the unit ready to confrontthe challenges abound the building of a business unit that had beengrounded shows that her selection was indeed appropriate. Moreover,Peter Vyas, having realized the significance of innovation inensuring business survival, opted to come up with a technologyevaluation team to focus on technology (page 3). Peter Vyas believedthat the team had the ability to turn things round. For this reason,the dedicated business manager continued to develop the team.However, it is important to analyze the underlying processes andmechanisms that are critical for team development in the context ofApplied Research Technologies Inc.
TheFive Stages of Team Development: A Case Study of ART
PeterVyas, the new Business Manager for the Filtration Unit at AppliedResearch Technologies Inc. was guided by some principles anchored onthe required qualities to turn around the already collapsed unit. Forthis reason, it must have been necessary that a systematic approachbe adopted: this could have been expressly or by implication. Thefive stages of team development is a five-phase procedure thatprescribes a mechanism for developing a human resource team. Thisstages, which are widely used in the corporate world as a strategictool for coming up with a development of a competitive human resourceteam is referred to as “Tuckman Stages”. The five stages are teamforming, storming, norming, performing and finally, adjourning. Thesestages are evaluated below in the context of Applied ResearchTechnologies Inc.
Thisstage takes place at the very first meeting of the team that isundergoing development. At this stage, team members get to know eachother they share information concerning their respectivebackgrounds, corporate experiences and form the very firstimpressions of each other as team members. Additionally, the teammembers get to know about the project that they will be working onand are engaged on the fundamental aspects of the project that theywill be required to undertake. More aptly, the objectives of theproject, the activities to be pursued and the respective roles thateach member of the team will play. The essence of this stage is toenable employees to get to know each other on a corporate platformand try to figure out exactly how they will work together. Duringthis stage, the team leader should be very clear about the expectedroles of each member with respect to the goals to be achieved. In thecase of Applied Research Technologies Inc., Peter Vyas, who wasassisted by Div Verma and Janice Wagner facilitated this process.
Thisstage sets in immediately the team starts to work together towardsthe realization of the set project goals. This stage of teamdevelopment is usually faced by each and every team and cannot beescaped anyway. This stage is characterized by stiff competitionamongst team members for acceptance of perspectives and status. Thisis usually occasioned by the fact that the team members havedifferent ideas and opinions concerning the tasks to be performed andhow these tasks are to be performed. As the team goes through thisstage, they learn to work as a team and undertake to pursue commonorganizational tasks. This process is usually facilitated by the teamleader. In the case of Applied Research Technologies Inc., therearose a gross disagreement between Janice Wagner and Div Vermaconcerning the cooperation between the United States unit and theIndia Technical Centre (page 7). This friction was solved by PeterVyas the overall team leader who noted, “There was a mix of prideand disappointment that needed to be dealt with” (page 7). Thisespouses the role of a team leader at this stage, which in the caseof Applied Research Technologies Inc. is signified by Peter Vyas inmediating between Janice Wagner and Div Verma.
Thisstage of team development is usually characterized by cohesion amongthe team members who now are engaged on the importance ofappreciating each other’s opinions. As opposed to the second stage,members are willing to change their perspectives in favor of eachother and the essence of this is that the members develop trust amongthemselves that binds them together into a team. In this group,members share ideas, solicit, give feedback to each other, andcollectively explore the tasks related to the project. At this stage,creativity is high and the feeling of togetherness is established. Inthe case of ATR, this stage is manifest when Jackson invited managersfrom HVAC division who joined him and they quickly became deeplyengaged in the project (page 7).
Thisstage is not universal for all teams. For the groups that reach thisstage, they are usually characterized by a higher degree of personalrelationships that broadens interdependence in the group. At thisstage, individuals can work efficiently at the group level as well asindividually. The tasks performed are impressive and optimalsolutions are realized. For ART, this stage is clear when Wagner takethe lead in preparing phase 1 of the product concept (page 6).
Thisis the ultimate stage in team development where termination of tasksand professional disengagement of tasks is usually undertaken. Thebet ways of doing this involve bringing the project to a logicalconclusion. In the case of ART, this stage is not evident as theproject being undertaken is a continuous process.
Thepunctuated equilibrium modelprescribes the same mechanisms espoused above only that the fivestages are categorized into two broad groups: phase one and phasetwo. Phase one includes the first meeting where group members meeteach other for the first time and the conflicts therein. There existsa transition period before the second phase where group members arenow an integrated team.
Insummary, the approaches adopted by Peter Vyas in forming the teamsallude to the Tuckman Stages and the punctuated equilibrium model.However, what comes out clearly is that the approaches did not followthe approaches strictly from one stage to another as prescribed inthe two models.
Significanceof Accurate Estimates in Project Management
Projectmanagement involves systematic planning and organization ofactivities in order to achieve specific goals and targets in light ofcertain resource constraints. In this statement lies the significanceof estimation in the process of project management: much less theaccurate estimation. This is very clear in the cautious manner withwhich estimation procedure was undertaken for the filtration unitproject for Allied Research Technologies Inc. (ART). In projectmanagement, estimation refers to the informed assessment of anuncertain activity (Lee & Yu, 2012. p.86). The successfulmanagement of a project, for most managers, is a function of accurateestimates. It is observed that in the project management process,lack of proper estimation leads to systematic failures in theimplementation of a project (Heagney, 2012, p. 78). In this regard,existing literature on project development have espoused that it isimportant for managers to estimate the risks involved in projects,costs, resources as well as the time required to undertake a projectto its completion.
Theproject estimation process for the filtration unit project for AlliedResearch Technologies Inc. (ART) could have influenced the quality ofoutcomes at the unit. This is manifested when the new BusinessManager for the filtration unit, Mr. Peter Vyas put togethertechnology evaluation team that ascertained how a potentiallyproductive model (‘a new exciting technology’) was abandoned bythe previous management (page 3). Ostensibly, this promising modelhad been abandoned in an effort to “cut costs” (page 4). Thisimplies that in the very beginning when the young Indian team thathad been tasked with developing the model with developing thetechnology, the unit’s management had not estimated the costs ofimplementing the project. This implies that not only did the projectstall but also the resources and efforts employed in coming up withthe aborted technology went to waste. From an organizationalperspective, this shows the extent to which not only estimation butaccurate estimation is significant in project management.
Theprocess of project estimation ought to take into consideration thevalidation of project performance as weighed against the entireproject management plan so as to enable the evaluation of estimateaccuracy and allowing for the use of the most appropriate technology.In this process, metrics that are based on the evaluation of projectestimates in comparison to actual figures should be incorporated indecision making that involves the strategic project management. Theestimates made in project management should take into account theapplicable adjustments in the risk management processes asappropriate. The greatest significance of risk incorporation into theestimation in project management is that it serves to minimize theproject uncertainties and additionally enables accuracy in projectestimation.
Estimationis important in the project management process in the sense that itenables the project managers to come up with performance appraisalmetrics necessary for ascertaining the project health therebyproviding a capability to make timely and informed decisionsconcerning the course of the project. Given that Allied ResearchTechnologies Inc. (ART) has as a managerial policy the reduction ofthe time taken between the idea conception and its commercialization,this significance of estimation in project development, would havechanged the quality of outcomes for the filtration process. This isbecause in the development of the “new exiting technology” to beused at the unit, estimation would have provided information to makedecisions on contingencies. In this regard, the quality of futureoutcomes at the ART filtration unit ought to be guided by asystematic estimation at all the phases of the product lifecycle.
Inorder to revive the dysfunctional filtration unit, the new businessmanagement team at Allied Research Technologies Inc. (ART) undertookto carry out a market research in which certain specific estimateswere obtained in order to ensure success of the project. The veryinvestment and effort that the new management put into these studiesto obtain estimates are a clear indication in themselves thatestimation, and accurate investigation for that matter, is animportant process of project management. This is especially so sincethe renewed interest in the process, as revealed by Cynthia Jackson,the newly appointed Vice President of the Applied ResearchTechnologies, was to “fix” the filtration unit (page 1). Thepoint here is that in order to “fix” a broken system, no chancesare taken and rigor is ensured so that the objectives of the projectare realized as desired.
Theresearch undertaken by Janice Wagner on the water plant in the UnitedStates provided estimates to the effect that the residential watertreatment products like from water filters that reduced sediment,rust and chlorine odor were retailed at $50 and the systems thatprovided more a more comprehensive water purification retailed at $1500 with others retailing at $3000. Moreover, the estimates showedthat in-ground sprinkler systems costs ranged between $1,800 and$4,000 (page 6). The essence of this survey is that it enabled JaniceWagner and by extension, the project management team to ascertain“what homeowners were willing to pay” for the lush green lawn(page 6). From the managers’ perspective, the exact, numericalfigures of this research done by Wagner can be translated into exactproject estimates to ensure that the project will not only besuccessful but will ensure profits for the organization. Moreover,the costs will be taken into account in determining the feasibilityof an idea that forms the basis of project management. In this regardtherefore, accurate estimation comes in as an important variable thatis necessary for project management and more specifically, inascertaining the feasibility of promising ideas as potentialinnovative products. This supports the view that accurate estimationforms the foundation on which project management is based (Heagney,2012, p. 78). More aptly, the mechanism through which this happens isby influencing the decision concerning the feasibility of conceivedideas.
Importanceof Communication Plan in Project Management
Thesignificance of an effective communication plan in project managementcannot be overestimated if the events witnessed in the second phaseof the “Thirdlaunch of the mini-oxidation system”are anything to go by. The second phase of the project wascharacterized by sheer disagreement between the organization’sgroups in the United States and the group in India. The problem,which manifested lack of an effective communication structure in theteam headed by Peter Vyas, started when Janice Wagner, who had beennamed team leader by Peter Vyas, became concerned about the team inIndia persistently failing to meet the set deadlines. Wagnerconfronted Div Verma, who was the lab technician in charge of theproject activities in India (page 7). What further exposed the needfor a binding organizational communication plan is the response byDiv Verma that they had received instructions from Peter Vyas, who isWagner’s boss, that they (the team in India) had to make sure thatthe expected “design was flawless”. The excerpt below from thecase study giving the response by Div Verma could not illustratebetter the need for an organizational communication plan.
“Petertold us that he wanted the new design to be flawless. I take that asmy number one priority. We cannot meet this deliverable withoutproper testing. Why is everything so rushed with you? If we do nothave a perfect design, then we run the risk of failing to a thirdtime and that is not acceptable. My team will not provide designs fora prototype until we are sure that all the bugs have been worked out.We don’t want to be involved in another failure” – DivVerma responding to Janice Wagner, page 7.
Thequote above shows that the big boss, Peter Vyas, had communicatedsome information to the team in India, which his immediate assistant,the team leader (Janice Wagner) was not aware of. The implications ofthis unstructured organizational communication is that by instructingDiv Verma and her team to take necessary measures to ensure the finaldesigns were “flawless”, Peter Vyas, had implicitlyinconvenienced the entire process. Inconvenience in the sense thatthere would be delays on one side (the team in India) which cannot beunderstood by the other side of the team (the team in the UnitedStates). This basically is the common organizational problem ofinformationasymmetry inwhich one party usually has more information than the other therebyleading to disruption of optimum transactions and processes.
Additionally,by communicating directly with a member of the team without informingthe team leader, Peter Vyas undermined the status of Janice Wagner asthe team leader. The extent to which this lack of structuredcommunication plan in the team led to disruptions in the operationsand friction between staff only serves to illustrate the role playedby an efficient communication structure in project management.
Acommunication plan is significant for an organization as it enablesthe communication of information and relaying of feedbacks therebyenabling progress for projects. An apt example is provided in thecase of Applied Research Technologies Inc. especially in the firstphase of the “Thirdlaunch of the mini-oxidation system”in which the team of six individuals assembled by Peter Vyasconsistently communicated with the vice president of the organizationconcerning the progress they had made. Moreover, the first phase hadexhibited the significance of good communication at the horizontallevel in ensuring harmony in project management when Janice Wagnerundertook a research and consulted colleagues over the outcomes (page6). The deliberation amongst the team members adopted thesuggestions of Wagner by deciding that the residential irrigationminioxidation system (RIMOS) would retail at $2, 000 and sell at awholesale price of $1, 000. The essence of this deliberation processamongst the team members and the ultimate decision that resulted isthat effectivecommunication in an organization augments the decision-makingprocess.
Aneffective communication structure in an organization enablesemployees to obtain feedback concerning their performance in certaintasks as far as project management is concerned. In the first phaseof “Thirdlaunch of the mini-oxidation system”,Cynthia Jackson, the vice president of Applied Research TechnologiesInc., communicated to the team, which was tasked with the revival ofthe mini-oxidation project concerning its feasibility. This enabledthe team to settle for the use of the residential irrigationmini-oxidation systems (RIMOS) after the vice president had expressedconcerns about the costs of the project.It is important that all stakeholders in a project are involveddirectly in all the processes of the organization that includes beingprovided with the necessary information concerning the activities ofthe project (Larson, 2011, p.89). The table below shows thestakeholders in the thirdlaunch of the mini-oxidation system”.
Figure1.0:Stakeholder Analysis (Thirdlaunch of the mini-oxidation system)
Vice President of ART
Information on progress made from team leader (management)
Cooperation amongst team members
Information from members
Instructions and feedback from management
Respect and dignity
Coordination (sound leadership)
Fromthe figure above, all the stakeholders need a communications plan.The figure below proposes a pyramid-shaped structure of communicationframework for the organization in their pursuit of the thirdlaunch of the mini-oxidation system.
igure 1.1:Project Communication Plan (ART, Thirdlaunch of the mini-oxidation system)
United States Team
-Janice Wagner & Colleagues
-Div Verma & Colleagues
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