The Business Context
As per the earlier discussions by the Senior Management Executives of the company, it has been decided to launch an 1100cc touring bike (country not specified).
Touring bikes has its own characteristics. A brief, about a‘touring bike’ the company is going to manufacture, will very much help in project planning. A ‘focus group’ by the design and marketing team with the prospective customers indicates that there exists no relationship between fast straight line speed and rider skill. In pure and simple terms bigger bikes have higher top speeds. Because they have more horsepower. Straight line speed is the work of sheer horsepower and the willingness to use it; it has nothing to do with skill. Inexperienced riders think that if they go fast in a straight line they are good riders. The real skill of operating a bike is displayed in various types of turns. The engineering and design team has devised a unique proposition to make the turns easier to handle, with reduced time for speed recovery.
The proposed touring bike has the following characteristics.
- Bike must be having high reliability, which means a failure free bike. Wear and tear may be there, but the bike will not fail during the ride.
- Wind and wind noise are the major irritants for the riders; the company has decided to design a light weight, compact and aesthetic windshield for the bike.
- The bike is intended for optimum carrying capacity. A touring rider will have baggage to be carried along, the weight and volume of the expected luggage is taken as the basis for designing light weight high strength saddle and tail trunk.
- Since the rider covers big distances in multitude of weathers, the company has decided to have rider comfort as the key feature of the bike. Special research is going on to find out the right seat, seating position and ride quality for the intended bike.
The team that is going to design and manufacture switch system for the bike must keep these features in mind and must not carryout anything that is in contradiction to these characteristics.
This project is to outline the process of developing a team needed to set up the plant for manufacturing ‘switch for motorcycles with large motors’. Switch of a higher power motor is a system, and it consists of a starter motor, a solenoid, a relay, switch on handle bars, a battery and electrical wiring. Making this is simple engineering, but the mandate is to make a failure free system, which can withstand all weather conditions and be highly durable. The bike is targeted to males, who earn $55,000 or more a year, with age range of 30-60 years of age and who have intrest in adventure.
There are two tasks the proposed team has to accomplish. First set up the plant and then carry out the manufacturing of the Switching system. The switch making plant will require a capable management team consisting of a design engineer, Production manager, Sourcing cum Materials manager, Quality inspection manager, Accounts cum Finance Manager, an HR manager, Computer systems manager, Public / Internal relations manager and a CEO or General manager. The CEO / GM will take the role of the Project manager till the plant is commissioned. The managers can then decide jointly, how many mid level and operational level workers are required.
Team Building Strategies
Managers play a central role in effective team building, and they require a framework to guide them in selecting team members and to build an effective team. It is strongly believed that there are identifiable team characteristics, that , if present will lead to team success. The strategies presented here will enable the managers to select, sequence and monitor team building activities. In this company team building is an ongoing activity within the organization, and it is one of the primary responsibilities of the manager working here.
In order to achieve the objectives of the organizations the people must work in teams. There are four common types of teams that are existing in modern organizations. They are, Problem solving team, Self managed teams, Cross functional teams and Virtual teams. In Problem solving team the members of the same department will meet regularly for a few hours to discuss problems associated with quality, efficiency and working conditions and then find and implement a solution. In this team, members share their ideas and suggestions on work processes and methods.
The self managed teams take responsibility of collective control of the operations, prioritization of work assignments, norms of resource allocation, etc. They select their own members and members evaluate each other’s performance.
Cross functional teams are formed by managers from various departments to accomplish a task. Such teams are intended to exchange information from diverse perspectives, develop new ideas, solve problems affecting all, and coordinate complex projects.
Virtual team are connected via IT enabled platforms such as Internet, mobiles, iPads, etc. whose team members are dispersed physically and temporally. Virtual team do not meet physically but may have teleconferencing or share documents via internet. This kind of teamwork has limited social context and are highly task oriented.
For our project of setting up a plant and then running it successfully, a combination of self managed and cross-functional team is recommended. The tasks at hand are very complex and challenging, hence the team should have the liberty to decide quickly and carry on the operations. But they must always keep the business objectives of the company in mind and must not do anything that contradicts the overall strategy. A self managed and cross functional team may initially have hassles but once established the productivity of the organization would increase manifold. Indications from top management to follow relationship managing culture throughout the company makes self -manged and cross functional team the most suitable choice for the company.
Stages of Team formation
The team members are going to be together for a fairly longer period ; hence it can be considered it as an intact team. It must be noted now that once a team member is selected , the management cannot have the luxury of removing the member if he/she is not as expected. Hence the management has to be very prudent while selecting the members. Also, the team is a new one and the members would hardly know each other. It is likely that the team would undergo the Tuckerman’s stages of team development (1965) i.e. Forming, storming, norming and performing.
The forming stage of a team is important as the members of the team get to know each other, exchange information about themselves, and make new friends or rivals.
In the storming stage the team addresses issues such as what tasks they have in hand and what problems they are going to solve, how they will function together, and what leadership form they will accept. In this stage, the team members open up their view points and confront each other's ideas and perspectives. This stage will have more conflicts than any other stage. If the conflicts are too unmanageable then team may break up also.
Once the team crosses the storming stage, next stage is ‘norming’ where in the team sets a goal and make plans for achievement. All team members will come to some common understanding, take specific responsibility and show enthusiasm to work for the success of the team.
The final stage is the performing. If a team reaches this stage, the chances are that they may succeed in their task also. High-performing teams function as a unit, and they somehow find ways to get the task accomplished effectively without personal conflicts.
The Project Manager
The project manager has tremendous responsibilities, ownership and authority, and they must be carefully selected as the job they do are very critical. A typical project manager is responsible for the outcome of the project. For this he / she has to ensure that project members clearly understands the purpose, schedules and the resources available in the project. Directing , creating, approving and controlling project plans puts the project manager in a leadership position. Constant tracking of the progresses of the project, taking corrective steps, communicating it to the stakeholders of the project are yet another functions of the project management.
A project manager need not be a genius, but a practical person with determination to complete the job / task within the stipulated time. Excellent time management and discipline are the two qualities that are expected of a project manager. Successful planning, execution, monitoring, control and closure of the project are the major roles of a project manager.
Good project managers are rare to find as they need to have multiple skills and competencies. Effective Project managers command authority naturally, and this does not come by position or reflected power. They just know how to do it, and they somehow do it, of course, with the help of other resources. A study conducted on project managers suggests that the effective project managers display a blend of the following traits. They are honest at all levels of communications, focus on the most important tasks, are organized and give attention to details, have self confidence and higher self esteem, even tempered and are end customer focused. Analysing data and finding information from it is yet another skill of a project manager. If the economy has to progress, the project managers need to be very sharp and effective. They can build the infrastructure with least costs and resources.
In our project of setting up and running the manufacturing plant, the project manager must possess high customer orientation / business acumen as the company has decided to enter into a niche passenger segment : touring bike. Second, the project manager must have leadership skills to inspire and unite a set of highly qualified managers. Third, the incumbent must be shrewd in utilization of resources. A manager with these three suggested combinations will be a great asset to the company.
Critical Path Method
The critical path method (CPM) is a step by step procedure for scheduling project activities. It is an important tool for effective project management. This method has been developed in 1950s by Walker and Kelley and is found to have an application in all kinds of projects. For CPM the following information are required.
- Identifiable activities required to complete a project
- The time required to complete an activity
- The start and end activity, and the dependencies of the activities on between
- Identifiable deliverables for each activities
With an information about these, the CPM process calculates the longest path of activities to the final deliverable. This process determines which activities are "critical" (i.e., on the longest path). In project management, critical path is a sequence of project related activities that are appended to make a longest chain of activities and duration. This chain of activities determines the shortest time possible to complete the project. Any delay in the critical path directly impacts the project completion schedule.
CPM helps to map the tasks needed to complete the project and its schedules. Some tasks are critical while others are not. CPM helps a project manager to determine the duration of the project and the amount of resources required to complete the project. Since the project manager will know the activities that belong to the critical path, it will help him to allocate resources on priority basis. The critical path activities must receive the resources on time , so that the project is not delayed.
Work Breakdown Structure and its relation to cost and pricing
Work Break Down Structure is an hierarchical decomposition of the project into stages, deliverables and work units. WBS is a tree structure, showing division of efforts required to achieve larger objective. In a project the WBS is created by viewing the end objective and then subdividing it into manageable work units based on size, duration, and resources required.
The work breakdown structure provides a framework for planning and control of the project. It is the basis for dividing work into definable unit which can determine a schedule, cost, and labor time needed. It also allows calculating costs of sub activity, materials, etc., to “parent” level tasks, materials, etc. The key point to be noted is that a WBS must be organised around the primary outcome of the project instead of the work needed to produce the action. The planned outcomes are the desired outcomes of the project. WBS has the information on elements of the works; resources utilized, etc which can offer inputs to costing. On the basis of costing and market information, proper pricing can be applied on the product / services produced.
For this project of setting up plant and running it , it has two costs, one is the capital investment to set up the plant and second is the costs to operate the plant profitably. The plant and operations are to be designed based on the projected outcome i.e. the failure free switching systems for the touring bike. If the WBS is applied for this outcome, the project manager will be able to delineate the plant required, the resources required to produce the switches and what systems are required to maintain the product standards. Based on the costing of the facility, the project manager can provide inputs for pricing the switches.
Having this information, the project manager has to recruit a top managerial team, select appropriate managers suited for the project and the organization, induct them into the project, entrust them with the task of setting up the plant, facilitate them to come up with a project plan for the plant, help them to build a team, monitor the implementation and suggest corrective steps to bring back the project in the right track. Repeat the monitoring job until the construction of the plant is completed. A Gannt Chart and WBS diagram is attached for reference. This project is a peculiar one, because the project manager is not a person who executes the project , but the managers who are going to run the plant are going to set it up. Hence the project manager has to have a high degree of leadership skills.
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