Which type of organizational structure is best suited for developing a new product which requires a high level of specialization in several functions and the time to market represents a critical factor?
Forming a concurrent development team is most suitable for this assignment. The steps to take are:
(1) Name experienced staff of major functions (e.g., marketing and sales, design engineering, product development, customer service, and production) as members,
(2) Set objectives,
(3) Define time and budget constraints, and
(4) Declare a top priority for all supports the team might need.
Question # 3.2
A materials manager suspects that the quality of work being done within his department was steadily deteriorating. He wanted to introduce a program of change to improve quality. What steps should he take?
He should take the following steps:
(1) Benchmark externally to define the current level of in-house quality performance and pertinent metrics to assess quality performance,
(2) Set up a quality improvement team (quality cycle), comprising of representatives of the workers, who have hands-on experience and skills in handling different materials, with no participation of management people,
(3) Define team objectives,
(4) Specify time and resources constraints,
(5) Hire an external consultant to offer ideas of best practices in materials handling, only if the team makes little progress over a reasonable period of time,
(6) Support the team recommendations and make resources available for its implementation,
Six months ago, the company hired an engineer for his expertise in hydraulic drives, based on a product development plan with a forecast for needing this expertise. Market conditions have suddenly changed in favour of sophisticated electric drives. The engineer involved turns out to be very good in his area of specialization. But it is difficult to retrain him for other assignments in the company. Should the company discharge this engineer?
Change in business conditions is a valid reason for force reduction. Yes, the engineer should be discharged with severance pay. The company may want to retain the service of an outplacement consulting firm to assist the engineer in finding a new job. Furthermore, the company may offer a very positive reference letter to support the engineer in his search for new jobs.
Question # 3.5
The company has been making most of its sales to a few large customers. The company president wishes to broaden its customer base. To do so may require a change of company culture, its product line strategy, its marketing/sales program, and its service organization. How should he go about making the required changes?
The company president should take the following steps:
(1) Authorize market research to verify the existence of an enlarged customer base for the company's products.
(2) Conduct an external benchmarking program to validate the company's marketing practice is compatible with the best in industry.
(3) Communicate the results to all employees via a town meeting, electronic bulletin board, company newsletter or other such means.
(4) Form a high-level team, which contains a representative of all major functional groups (e.g., marketing, design engineering, product development, production, finance, and service) to develop a strategy for broadening the customer base (e.g., segment size, growth rate, new product features, competition, marketing/sales program, service organization to ensure customer satisfaction, etc.)
(5) Form a New Products division, whose primary objectives are to produce, market, sell and service the enlarged target customer base.
(6) Authorize resources and delegate the responsibility and authority of program implementation to the New Products division.
(7) Review results regularly to monitor progress.
Question # 3.6
The company is considering a plan to upgrade its current product line. The cost of a product upgrade is high. There is a small company which has developed the technology required for this product upgrade. What strategy should the company follow, if it wants to continue selling into its current market with the new upgraded product?
Acquire the small company to shorten the time to market, thus more readily to preserve its marketing position in the marketplace. Integrate its technology into the company, modify the production line to accommodate the upgrade, and utilize the current marketing, sales and service staff to manage customer relations. In this way, the company can take advantage of its established brand name and expand its current customer base.
Question # 3.8
A loyal and high volume customer has warned the company’s Marketing department that Project X is extremely critical to their need and that if this project is late, they may be forced to buy elsewhere. The project manager knows that the best estimates available to date from various in-house groups indicate that at the current rate of progress the Project X will be late by about 6 months. What should the project manager do?
Meeting customer's requirements must always be the primary goal of every company, even it may mean a loss of profitability sometimes. Re-organize the project to utilize external resources (e.g., drafting, model making, testing, design of specific parts, quality control, etc.) for supplementing in-house capabilities in order to shorten the time to market. Estimate the additional costs involved and get an authorization. Assure Marketing that Project X will be delivered on time. Understand the real causes of project delays (e.g., poor initial estimates, poor execution, special unanticipated events, delivery problems of vendor-supplied parts, short of skilled staff due to resignation, etc.), develop the pertinent contingency measures, and document these findings for future use.
Question # 3.9
Steve Lee, the Engineering Manager, delegates tasks as a good manager should. However, Mark Hayes, the Engineering Director, has the bad habit of calling up Steve unexpectedly to get detailed reports on various on-going activities in Steve’s department. Steve does not want to hold daily staff meetings in order to satisfy Mark’s information needs, because Steve is quite certain that requiring his professional staff to make daily reports will definitely upset them, as all of them are known to prefer independence. What should Steve do?
(1) Since the Director's need for knowing details may be created by the need of his boss, the VP. It is not a good idea for Steve to question Mark's wisdom of asking so many detailed questions. Read all progress reports, make notes at a staff meeting, and tabulate the major milestones and results of all projects. Have this table on the desk, so that some details can be extracted from it when the Director calls.
(2) If Steve can not answer specific questions, offer to call in the professional staff involved and have a verbal report made in Steve's presence. Make notes on additional details so reported.
(3) Resist an increase in review frequency, as Steve should protect his staff from diverting too much time to communications.
Question # 3.11
In an organization offering dual-ladder career progression system, technically trained people may opt to progress along a technical ladder, instead of the traditional managerial ladder. How does it work?
Answer # 3.11 Vice President Director Fellow Manager Manager
Once the functional manager and project manager agree on a project schedule, who is responsible for getting the work performed? Who is accountable for getting the work performed? Why the difference, if any?
Because of the individuality of people, there always exits differing views of what project management is all about. Below are lists of possible perspectives and a selected group of people. Match the people with their views on project management.
Because of the individuality of people, there always exits differing views of what project management is all about. Below are lists of possible perspectives and a selected group of people. Match the people with their views of project management.
A cause of unwanted changes in ongoing procedures A means to an end
A significant market for their services A place to build an empire A necessary evil to traditional management
An opportunity for growth and advancement
A better way to motivate people toward an objective
A source of frustration in authority
A way of introducing controlled changes
A means of coordinating functional units
m. A means of deep satisfaction
A way of life
Question # 3.15
DepartmentNumber of Employees
The organization chart of Company X reveals that a different number of employees reports to its five departments shown. How would you explain the difference?
Question # 3.16
Some people feel that working as a team, instead of allowing experts to produce more creative outcomes, actually resulted in watered-down compromises and bland solutions. They view teamwork as a series of exercises in “sharing ignorance.” Do you agree or disagree and why? What can be done to improve the technical qualities of the team outcomes?