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3.17. PROBLEMS

3-1 Much has been written about how to identify and interpret signs that indicate that a new organizational form is needed. Grinnell and Apple have identified five signs in addition to those previously described in Section 3.6[]:

[] See note 16.

  • Management is satisfied with its technical skills, but projects are not meeting time, cost, and other project requirements.

  • There is a high commitment to getting project work done, but great fluctuation in how well performance specifications are met.

  • Highly talented specialists involved in the project feel exploited and misused.

  • Particular technical groups or individuals constantly blame each other for failure to meet specifications or delivery dates.

  • Projects are on time and to specification, but groups and individuals aren't satisfied with the achievement.

Grinnell and Apple state that there is a good chance that a matrix structure will eliminate or alleviate these problems. Do you agree or disagree? Does your answer depend on the type of project? Give examples or counterexamples to defend your answers.

3-2 One of the most difficult problems facing management is that of how to minimize the transition time between changeover from a purely traditional organizational form to a project organizational form. Managing the changeover is difficult in that management must consistently "provide individual training on teamwork and group problem solving; also, provide the project and functional groups with assignments to help build teamwork."

3-3 Do you think that personnel working in a project organizational structure should undergo "therapy" sessions or seminars on a regular basis so as to better understand their working environment? If yes, how frequently? Does the frequency depend upon the project organizational form selected, or should they all be treated equally?

3-4 Which organizational form would be best for the following corporate strategies?

  1. Developing, manufacturing, and marketing many diverse but interrelated technological products and materials

  2. Having market interests that span virtually every major industry

  3. Becoming multinational with a rapidly expanding global business

  4. Working in a business environment of rapid and drastic change, together with strong competition

3-5 Do you think that documenting relationships is necessary in order to operate effectively in any project organizational structure? How would you relate your answer to a statement made in the previous chapter that each project can set up its own policies, procedures, rules, and directives as long as they conform to company guidelines?

3-6 In general, how could each of the following parameters influence your choice for an organizational structure? Explain your answers in as much depth as possible.

  1. The project cost

  2. The project schedule

  3. The project duration

  4. The technology requirements

  5. The geographical locations

  6. The required working relationships with the customer

3-7 In general, what are the overall advantages and disadvantages of superimposing one organizational form over another?

3-8 In deciding to go to a new organizational form, what impact should the capabilities of the following groups have on your decision?

  1. Top management

  2. Middle management

  3. Lower-level management

3-9 Should a company be willing to accept a project that requires immediate organizational restructuring? If so, what factors should it consider?

3-10 Table 2-6 identifies the different life cycles of programs, projects, systems, and products. For each of the life cycles' phases, select a project organizational form that you feel would work best. Defend your answer with examples, advantages, and disadvantages.

3-11 A major steel producer in the United States uses a matrix structure for R&D. Once the product is developed, the product organizational structure is used. Are there any advantages to this setup?

3-12 A major American manufacturer of automobile parts has a division that has successfully existed for the past ten years with multiple products, a highly sophisticated R&D section, and a pure traditional structure. The growth rate for the past five years has been 12 percent. Almost all middle and upper-level managers who have worked in this division have received promotions and transfers to either another division or corporate headquarters. According to "the book," this division has all the prerequisites signifying that they should have a project organizational form of some sort, and yet they are extremely successful without it. Just from the amount of information presented, how can you account for their continued success? What do you think would be the major obstacles in convincing the personnel that a new organizational form would be better? Do you think that continued success can be achieved under the present structure?

3-13 Several authors contend that technology suffers in a pure product organizational form because there is no one group responsible for long-range planning, whereas the pure functional organization tends to sacrifice time and schedule. Do you agree or disagree with this statement? Defend your choice with examples.

3-14 Below are three statements that are often used to describe the environment of a matrix. Do you agree or disagree? Defend your answer.

  1. Project management in a matrix allows for fuller utilization of personnel.

  2. The project manager and functional manager must agree on priorities.

  3. Decision-making in a matrix requires continual trade-offs on time, cost, technical risk, and uncertainty.

3-15 Assume that you have to select a project organizational form for a small company. For each form described in this chapter, discuss the applicability and state the advantages and disadvantages as they apply to this small company. (You may find it necessary to first determine the business base of the small company.)

3-16 How would each person identified below respond to the question, "How many bosses do you have?"

  1. Project manager

  2. Functional team member

  3. Functional manager

(Repeat for each organizational form discussed in this chapter.)

3-17 If a project were large enough to contain its own resources, would a matrix organizational form be acceptable?

3-18 One of the most common reasons for not wanting to adopt a matrix is the excessive administrative costs and accompanying overhead rates. Would you expect the overhead rates to decrease as the matrix matures? (Disregard other factors that can influence the overhead rates, such as business base, growth rate, etc.)

3-19 Which type of organizational structure is best for R&D personnel to keep in touch with other researchers?

3-20 Which type of organizational form fosters teamwork in the best manner?

3-21 Canadian bankers have been using the matrix organizational structure to create "banking general managers" for all levels of a bank. Does the matrix structure readily admit itself to a banking environment in order to create future managers? Can we consider a branch manager as a matrix project manager?

3-22 A major utility company in Cleveland has what is commonly called "fragmented" project management, where each department maintains project managers through staff positions. The project managers occasionally have to integrate activities that involve departments other than their own. Each project normally requires involvement of several people. The company also has product managers operating out of a rather crude project (product) organizational structure. Recently, the product managers and project managers were competing for resources within the same departments.

To complicate matters further, management has put a freeze on hiring. Last week top management identified 120 different projects that could be undertaken. Unfortunately, under the current structure there are not enough staff project managers available to handle these projects. Also, management would like to make better use of the scarce functional resources.

Staff personnel contend that the solution to the above problems is the establishment of a project management division under which there will be a project management department and a product management department. The staff people feel that under this arrangement better utilization of line personnel will be made, and that each project can be run with fewer staff people, thus providing the opportunity for more projects. Do you agree or disagree, and what problems do you foresee?

3-23 Some organizational structures are considered to be "project-driven." Define what is meant by "project-driven." Which organizational forms described in this chapter would fall under your definition?

3-24 Are there any advantages to having a single project engineer as opposed to having a committee of key functional employees who report to the director of engineering?

3-25 The major difficulty in the selection of a project organizational form involves placement of the project manager. In the evolutionary process, the project manager started out reporting to a department head and ultimately ended up reporting to a senior executive. In general, what were the major reasons for having the project manager report higher and higher in the organizational structure?

3-26 Ralph is a department manager who is quite concerned about the performance of the people beneath him. After several months of analysis, Ralph has won the acceptance of his superiors for setting up a project management structure in his department. Out of the twenty-three departments in the company, his will be the only one with formalized project management. Can this situation be successful even though several projects require interfacing with other departments?

3-27 A large electronics corporation has a multimillion dollar project in which 90 percent of the work stays within one division. The division manager wants to be the project manager. Should this be allowed even though there exists a project management division?

3-28 The internal functioning of an organization must consider:

  • The demands imposed on the organization by task complexity

  • Available technology

  • The external environment

  • The needs of the organizational membership

Considering these facts, should an organization search for the one best way to organize under all conditions? Should managers examine the functioning of an organization relative to its needs, or vice versa?

3-29 Project managers, in order to get the job accomplished, need adequate organizational status and authority. One corporate executive contends that an organizational chart such as that in Figure 3-6 can be modified to show that the project managers have adequate authority by placing the department managers in boxes at the top of the functional responsibility arrowheads. The executive further contends that, with this approach, the project managers appear to be higher in the organization than their departmental counterparts but are actually equal in status. Do you agree or disagree with the executive's idea? Will there be a proper balance of power between project and department managers with this organizational structure?

3-30 Defend or attack the following two statements concerning the operation of a matrix:

  • There should be no disruption due to dual accountability.

  • A difference in judgment should not delay work in progress.

3-31 A company has fifteen projects going on at once. Three projects are over $5 million, seven projects are between $1 million and $3 million, and five projects are between $500,000 and $700,000. Each project has a full-time project manager. Just based upon this information, which organizational form would be best? Can all the project managers report to the same person?

3-32 A major insurance company is considering the implementation of project management. The majority of the projects in the company are two weeks in duration, with very few existing beyond one month. Can project management work here?

3-33 The definition of project management in Section 1.9 identifies project teams and task forces. How would you distinguish between a project team and a task force, and what industries and/or projects would be applicable to each?

3-34 Can informal project management work in a structured environment at the same time as formal project management and share the same resources?

3-35 Several people believe that the matrix structure can be multidimensional (as shown in Figure 3-12). Explain the usefulness of such a structure.

3-36 Many companies have informal project management where work flows horizontally, but in an informal manner. What are the characteristics of informal project management? Which types of companies can operate effectively with informal project management?

3-37 Some companies have tried to develop a matrix within a matrix. Is it possible to have a matrix for formal project control and an internal authority matrix, communication matrix, responsibility matrix, or a combination of several of these?

3-38 Is it possible for a matrix to get out of control because of too many small projects, each competing for the same shared resources? If so, how many projects are too many? How can management control the number of projects? Does your answer depend on whether the organization is project-driven or non–project-driven?

3-39 A government subcontractor operates with a pure specialized product management organizational structure and has four product lines. All employees are required to have a top secret security clearance. The subcontractor's plant is structured such that each of the four product lines occupies a secured area in the building. Employees wear security badges that give them access to the different areas. Most of the employees are authorized to have access only to their area. Only the executives have access to all four areas. For security reasons, functional employees are not permitted to discuss the product lines with each other.

Many of the projects performed in each of the product lines are identical, and severe duplication of efforts exist. Management is interested in converting over to a matrix structure to minimize the duplication of effort. What problems must be overcome before and during matrix implementation?

3-40 A company has decided to go to full project management utilizing a matrix structure. Can the implementation be done in stages? Can the matrix be partially implemented, say, in one portion of the organization, and then gradually expanded across the rest of the company?

3-41 A company has two major divisions, both housed under the same roof. One division is the aerospace group, where all activities are performed within a formal matrix. The second division is the industrial group, which operates with pure product management, except for the MIS department, which has an informal matrix. If both divisions have to share common corporate resources, what problems can occur?

3-42 Several Fortune 100 corporations have a corporate engineering group that assumes the responsibility of the project management–project engineering function for all major capital projects in all divisions worldwide. Explain how the corporate engineering function should work, as well as its advantages and disadvantages.


  

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