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MBA - Project Management

The development of organizations is highly dependent on their ability to introduce changes effectively. In this respect, the role of the project management can hardly be underestimated since the successful implementation of changes or introduction of innovations in organizations may be effectively conducted in terms of project management since, while working on a project of a specific change, managers can evaluate possible outcomes of the change and forecast the further development of the organization. Obviously, today, the effectiveness of management is one of the major conditions of a successful performance of any company. Basically, the development and progress of a company heavily relies on its management since the ability of a company to use effectively its human resources, time, costs, etc. defines the effectiveness of its performance and, therefore, success. In such a situation, the problem of the development of effective strategies of management arises since it is impossible to manage an organization effectively without any strategic background that could define the general development and the direction of the development of an organization. In fact, the problem of effectiveness is particularly important if such issues as the improvement of the existing information system and optimization of the financial system of the organization are involved. In this respect, it is possible to refer to the case of Tektronix, which has successfully implemented the change and created the solid foundation for the future development and progress of the company putting it in an advantageous competitive position in the modern market. Basically, Carl Neun, the CFO, had managed to introduce the Oracle, the new system which facilitated the functioning of the company consistently and increased the effectiveness of its performance. At the same time, it is important to underline that the speed became one of the main conditions of the successful outcome of the introduction of the change, but, on the other hand, it increased the risk of failure of the change. In such a situation, it is important to carefully analyze the development and implementation of the project which actually allowed Tektronix to take a strong position in the market and opened new perspectives for the company’s development in different regions of the world since the new system and the project of the implementation of the change was successfully applied not only in the USA but also in Europe and Americas.
First of all, it should be said that in the contemporary business environment, the question of the project management is closely intertwined with the development of effective management strategies and their practical implementation. At the same time, the concept of the project management is crucial for the understanding of its impact on the successful functioning of organizations and the success of Tektronix in the process of the implementation of the change. In fact, the concept of project management is consistently larger than just the strategic planning and implementation of the chosen strategies to improve the performance of an organization. In actuality, the project management may be viewed as the basis on which the management of organizations is constructed. In other words, the project management plays the fundamental role in the function of contemporary organizations.
On the other hand, the definition of the concept of the project management evokes certain problems since this concept is so complicated that there is no universal definition of this concept that would be accepted by all specialists working on the problem of the project management (Cerza, 2004). At the same time, while analyzing the concept of the project management, it is necessary to dwell upon the major knowledge areas, including project human resources management and project communications management. In this respect, it is important to underline that Tektronix had developed and implemented the project, which resulted in the introduction of the Oracle and consistent change of its information and financial system, involving different areas which were vital for the performance of the company. To put it more precisely, Carl Neun, while developing and implementing the project, should take into consideration the impact of the project on human resources, the reaction of the personnel on the change, as well as he needed to define the information system the company could employ and use successfully. In addition, it was extremely important that the new information system could facilitate the work of the personnel in the field of accounting that could increase the financial effectiveness of the new system and improve the performance of the organization at large.
On analyzing the project management and its practical implementation by Tektronix, it should be said that this concept is very complex and basically involves the major processes and functions that are related to the management. In actuality, the definitions of the project management vary considerably and all of them have nuances which are really important for the definition of this concept. Basically, the concept of the project management implies the discipline of planning, organizing and managing resources to bring about the successful completion of the specific project goals and objectives (Abrahamson, 1996). This definition reveals the major points of the concept of the project management, but, nevertheless, it is hardly possible to use this definition without defining some terms used in it. To put it more precisely, it is necessary to point out that the project, itself, is a finite endeavor undertaken by an organization to create a unique product or service which brings about beneficial change or added value. In this respect, it should be said that the project management, in such a context, means that the organization should clearly define goals and objectives of a specific project and implement the project that will bring out certain benefit to the organization. In actuality, this means that organizations actually manage the project and the project management incorporates all the major managerial functions and processes that are related to the implementation and fulfillment of the project. In this respect, it is worth mentioning the fact that Carl Neun, while developing and implementing his project, used a very effective approach sharing the work on the project and its implementation with other managers. For instance, the key figure in the implementation of the project was Bob Vance, a technology manager with whom Carl Neun worked in the past and who assisted him in the implementation of the project. This assistance was extremely important because Carl Neun apparently lacked technological knowledge without which the successful implementation of a new information system and the change of the company’s IT infrastructure would be practically impossible. Similarly, Carl Neun used the assistance of other managers in all branches of the company where the project was implemented. In fact, Carl Neun played the role of a head, he was a manager who gave directions and controlled the general implementation of the project, while technical details, where profound professional knowledge related to the subject of the change, such as information system and IT, were under the control of other managers who either were more experienced in these specific fields or more qualified. In such a way, Carl Neun successfully implemented his strategy of sharing responsibilities and functions between the personnel of the company, namely all those people who worked on the implementation of the project.
At the same time, it should be said that such a view on the project management is a bit narrow or even simplified. In actuality, project management is not limited by the effective human resource management or sharing functions between the personnel in the process of the implementation of the project. In contrast, it is also necessary to take into consideration multiple issues which can affect significantly the implementation of the project leading either to its success or failure. In this respect, the point of view on the project management, to a significant extent, determines its definition. For instance, it is possible to view the project management in the context of knowledge management. In such a context, it is possible to define the project management as the application of knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to project activities to meet project requirements. Basically, this definition gives the insight concerning the essence of the project managements as the process of the implementation of certain knowledge and skills that are at the disposition of the organization, though it does not really explain the process how the project management is actually performed. In this respect, it is possible to define the project management as the process of planning, monitoring and control of all aspects of the project and the motivation of all those involved in it to achieve the project objectives on time and to the specified cost, quality and performance (Hill and Wilkinson, 1995). In fact, this definition mainly refers to the process and methodology of the project management that is very important because it does not only complements the essence of the concept of the project management but also reveals the ways in which it can be implemented in practice.
However, some specialists focus solely on the project as the major point in the definition of the concept of the project management. What is meant here is the fact that the project management may be viewed as a part of a project, which is basically focused on the supervision and management of the project. In such a context, it is possible to return to the definition of the project given above, which states that a project is a temporary endeavor with a finite completion date undertaken to create unique product or service (Gitlow, 1997). In this respect, it is important to underline that projects bring form or functions to ideas or needs. In such a way, it is possible to view this definition as a completion to the definition of the project management given from the point of view of the knowledge management, since it make the definition of the project more precise.
Basically, such a view on the project management perfectly reflects the strategy and attitude of Carl Neun to the implementation of the project since the management of the introduction of a new information system, leading to the change of the company’s IT infrastructure, finance, accounting and even involving consistent changes in human resource management, was only a part of the change or project itself. What is meant here is the fact that Carl Neun did only a part of the project since the introduction of a new information system and even the choice of the Oracle was done not by Carl Neun but a small group of specialists who had managed to assess professionally the effectiveness of the Oracle and its prospects after the introduction in the company.
Finally, it is possible to speak about the project management as a complete set of tasks, techniques, tools applied during the project execution (Breneman & Taylor, 1996). In fact, this definition of the project management lays emphasis on the technical aspect of the realization of the management. However, in actuality, this view on the project management is apparently insufficient for the understanding of the essence of the project management. Instead, it would be more preferable to combine the views given above and make it more precise and focused not only on technical aspects of the project management but also its background and theoretical essence. Only in such a way, it is possible to fully understand the essence and significance of the implementation of the project by Carl Neun in Tektronix and assess its effectiveness as well as define possible risks that could lead to the failure of the entire project.
At the same time, it should be said that the successful implementation of the project is often, to a significant extent, defined by the preparation to its implementation. In this respect, the preparation of Tektronix to the implementation of the project was quite risky, but, on the other hand, the approach used by Carl Neun became probably the major condition of the high effectiveness of the project. In fact, the company needed changes and, what is more, the fast introduction of changes and implementation of the project developed by Carl Neun and his assistants was a crucial factor which determined the survival of the company. Otherwise, the slow implementation of the project could lead to the rapid deterioration of the position of the company in the market as well as it could undermine the balance within the company because the longer the implementation of the project occurred the higher was the risk of an aggressive opposition to the implementation of changes in terms of the project.
In such a situation, the decision of Carl Neun to develop and implement the project fast was risky but worth trying because the benefits of the project had outweighed potential risks. Nevertheless, it is still obvious that the preparation stage was not very effective and reliable. To put it more precisely, Carl Neun perfectly realized that the financial, organizational and technical situation in the company was approaching a critical point after which there were no way out but the ruin of the company or, at least, a profound crisis which could make the company an outsider of the market. This is why he, as well as the company at large, did not have much time on the preparation and technically the profound and detailed and analysis of the Oracle, for instance, and prospects and outcomes of its implementation in the company along with the detailed analysis of other, alternative systems and the research of their strength, weaknesses and prospects in Tektronix would almost inevitably lead to the loss of time and, therefore, decreased the effectiveness of the implementation of the change. In such a context, the decision of Carl Neun to concentrate solely on the Oracle seems to be correct. However, in case of the inappropriateness of the Oracle and its inability to meet the demands of Tektronix, the entire project would be more likely doomed to failure. Hence, the risk of the failure was relatively high and the fast implementation of the project with insufficient preparation procedures could be justified only by a very difficult situation in Tektronix and its prospect being ruined before any other, more carefully prepared project was implemented.
Furthermore, it is important to underline that it was only a small group of specialists that worked on the analysis of the Oracle as a system which should be introduced in the Tektronix. On the one hand, such an approach was quite effective since it minimize the risk of disputes, if a larger number of people were involved. Instead, a small group of qualified professionals could take a decision in a short period of time on the effectiveness and prospects of the Oracle in Tektronix. In such a way, the company saved time and probably costs on the analysis, especially taking into consideration the fact that alternative systems were not even discussed or analyzed. On the other hand, such an approach had several drawbacks. Firstly, other systems could be more effective than the Oracle, but Tektronix, being limited in time and choice because of the policy of Carl Neun, could not really make the best choice among the variety of information systems. In addition, the small group of professionals analyzing the effectiveness of the Oracle did not reflect the general opinion of other members of the personnel of Tektronix. In other words, being unable to influence a decision concerning the choice of the new system, some managers and employees could oppose to the implementation of the project, if they were convinced that the Oracle was ineffective or if they simply could not work with the new system. In such a way, the difficulties of the company in the market could be aggravated by the internal conflict within the company, which could apparently undermine its stable performance in the time when company needed solidarity and unity of its personnel to overcome the crisis.
In this respect, the role of communication was crucial and Carl Neun should pay more attention to the communication with the personnel in order to minimize the risk of the failure of his project. In fact, the project communications management plays the crucial role for the effectiveness of the project management at large. In this respect, it should be said that the project communications management should be viewed on two levels: technical and cultural. Speaking about the technical level, it is necessary to point out that the project communications management should provide ample opportunities for the organization of an effective communication between all units and all people working on the project. The communication may be provided due to the use of modern means of communication which open practically unlimited opportunities for the communication. In actuality, with the help of modern technologies, it is possible to organize the work of different specialists that are located in different parts of the world on one and the same project. In other words, employees working on the project may be physically remote from each other but due to modern communication they can consult each other and work out common decisions concerning the project. In such a way, the problem of distance and time is solved.
On the other hand, it is necessary to remember about interpersonal communication between people working within the organization, which plays an important role and defines the extent to which the implementation of the project is accepted or rejected by the personnel. In fact, problems in interpersonal relations may be provoked by problems in communication. As a result, the entire project may be under a threat, if the organizational culture and the atmosphere within the organization deteriorate significantly (Benfari, 1999). Consequently, the project communications management is very important factor which Carl Neun should take into consideration, but, in actuality, he paid little attention to this issue. Nevertheless, the project succeeded and this may be explained by the speed of the development and implementation of the change. In fact, people working in Tektronix did not really have a time to oppose aggressively to the implementation of the change because it was introduced and started to work. Hence, employees had to accept the change and work with a new system, the Oracle. Obviously, such a blitzkrieg strategy used by Carl Neun proved to be very effective and it became the major condition of the success of the entire project.
However, the probability of the failure was very high and it would be difficult to overcome the effects of the failure. In such a situation, it would be possible to immediately start working on the new project, but, taking into consideration a difficult situation in Tektronix, the best alternative to the introduction of the Oracle would be the outsourcing of the provision of IT services. This would save costs and the company would get a professional IT assistance. Also, it would be necessary to communicate with employees and convince them in the necessity of the outsourcing. Finally, it will be necessary to train the personnel of the company to work with the new system in order to refuse from outsourcing in the future.
Thus, taking into account all above mentioned, it is possible to conclude that the development of the project management is not only a popular trend in the modern business but it is also an essential condition of the progress of any organization. In fact, nowadays, the project management is rather viewed as the major objective of the functioning of an organization leading to the customer satisfaction. As a result, by means of the implementation of the project management, a company can benefit consistently from the increasing of the level of customer satisfaction. Obviously, the project management proves to be highly effective because it contributes to the growing effectiveness and productivity of a company and, at the same time, enhances its position in the market by means of developing a positive customer experience that naturally leads to customer loyalty and, therefore, popularity and recognition of the company’s brand. In actuality, it is extremely important to develop effective project management since it may be viewed as the basis for the development of a successful organization leading to its commercial success and stable market performance. The case of Tektronix reveals the fact that the project management is very complex and sometimes risky but essential component of the effective performance of any organization.
References:
Abrahamson, E. (1996). "Management fashion." Academy of Management Review. 21(1):254-285.
Benfari, R. C. (1999). Understanding and changing your management style. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Breneman, D. W., & Taylor, A. L. (eds.). (1996). Strategies for promoting excellence in a time of scarce resources. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Chenhall, RH (2003) Management control systems design within its organizational context: findings from contingency-based research and directions for the future, Accounting, Organizations and Society 28, pp. 127-168.
Cerza, Oliver (2004). Quality management in the medical appliances sector. WiKu Editions Paris EURL.
Gitlow, H. S. (1997). The Deming guide to quality and competitive position. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall.
Hill ,S and A.Wilkinson. (1995). In search of TQM .Employee Relations Vol 17 no 3 pp8-26.
Horine, Julie and Carl Edwin Lindgren. (April 1995). Educational improvement using Deming's profound knowledge. New Era in Education (London), Volume 76, Number 1:6-10.
Horine, Julie, Paul Yvarra, Carl Edwin Lindgren. (Winter/1994). A historical and educational view of the theory contained in Deming's profound knowledge. Education, Volume 115, Number 2: 288-291 & 194.


 

 
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