UNCERTAINTY AND PROJECT MANAGEMENT: BEYOND THE CRITICAL PATH MENTALITY Arnoud De Meyer1), Christoph H. Loch2), Michael T. Pich3) 1) Professor of Technology Management, INSEAD (arnoud. de. [email protected] edu. sg) 2)….
Project Management at HLR Company
Currently HLR Inc. has a growth rate of 25%. The target for the succeeding year has been set at 35%. But there are many issues that are to be dealt with in order to meet this target. The process of project management at HLR is not organized. Project management is seen as limiting. The business unit managers are not knowledgeable about business processes. Lower level staff is more in touch with the processes but are no recognized by the unit managers. Also each business unit involved uses a different information system. Marketing feels that many opportunities are lost due his disparity in systems. HLR Inc.
has now decided to implement Standard Customer Relationship Management Processes to standardise the procedures followed and the data stored by each business unit. It is also expected that implementing this project will ensure timely delivery of customer projects within budgetary limits. The time frame for this project is eighteen months. Sales, Product Fulfilment, Customer Service, Billing and Marketing are the business units that will be involved. The technical staff for the project will be recruited from a software vendor. Marketing will one of the business units that will welcome the project management initiative.
This unit feels that due to a lack of unified systems across units involved in servicing customer orders, many lucrative orders are lost. They face difficulties in gathering data from across multiple systems. The accuracy of the data is also not certain. By conforming to a single system marketing’s job will become easier. They data they have access to will also be more accurate. The whole process will also be speeded up making it easier for the company and the customer. Sales will be affected in terms of the accuracy of the data they maintain.
They will have to make sure that the data they collect from the customer conforms to the requirements of accuracy that the new system will implement. Product Fulfilment will be the most affected. They are the business unit that services customer orders. The complaints of deliveries that are not on time and not within the set budget are mostly aimed at this unit. The implementation of the new system will mean that Product Fulfilment will have to make the most change in its way of operation. Customer Services will also be similarly affected. Order shipping and invoicing are under the purview of this department.
This implies that this department shares responsibility for late deliveries. By implementing the new system here, delivery of orders on time can be guaranteed. Billing follows up invoice issues and passes on financial information to sales and executive management. This unit will be positively affected by the implementation of this project. The accuracy of the data they pass on to sales is now a certainty. The business unit managers will also be affected by the implementation of this project. Currently they are not knowledgeable about the business processes. Instead they are dependant on lower level staff for the same.
When this project is implemented, they will have to wok in coordination with managers of other units. They will also have to be more aware of the various processes involved. The lower level staff will also be affected by this project. So far the staff at HLR Inc. had been involved in maintaining the legacy systems that the company was suing. When the new system is in place however, the staff will have to learn how to work within the framework of the new system. They will also have to learn the newer technology that will be used. Coordination between business units will also become the order of the day.
All the concerned business units must be notified of the new project that is to be implemented. A suitable way to do this would be to initially call a meeting of all the managers of the concerned business units. The project must be explained in detail to them. They must also be given an overview of the technology that will be used and the processes that will be put in place. This is to ensure proper communication between the managers and the lower level staff. The next step would be to call a meeting of all the lower level staff who will be involved in running the system. They must be given a thorough and detailed explanation of the project.
If necessary, training sessions must also be organised to make sure they are comfortable with the system. As with any change, this project too will initially be met with suspicion and scepticism. The various business units must be informed about the shortcomings in the system currently in place. The benefits of the new system and the benefits the business units will accrue by using the same must be explained. A memo might be considered for the same. This will serve to ease the transition from the old to the new system and will ensure that the staff approaches the change with an open mind.