Introductory note. This assignment is designed to enable you to demonstrate a wide range of communication skills that effective managers need on the job. It presents a realistic scenario of a project that is experiencing some difficulties. After three months of project activity, it is encountering cost overruns and schedule slippage. As you will learn after reading the scenario description, you will be asked to take over the project. As part of your duties, you will engage in writing memos, outlines and reports, and preparing a Power Point presentation to senior management.
In developing this material, your goal should be to communicate your views as effectively as possible. The scenario provides you with data on project budget status. Look at the data and see if you can detect what is happening on the project. Include the data in your communications, when appropriate. If you can convert the numerical data into graphical format, do so, because “a picture is worth a thousand words.”
Your company has a project running at its Midwest division to upgrade its servers and database. It is scheduled to be a six month effort, running from the outset of January through the end of June. Originally, the project manager was to be Mark Wimmer, the senior data processing specialist at the division. However, he resigned to take a position at a consulting company before the project officially started. His planned assistant project manager, Joyce Cutler, was made the acting project manager. To help out, Mark’s consulting company has been contracted to provide technical guidance and services.
The project was approved by the divisional manager, Jerry Stein, who has budget authority for projects up to 1-year in duration and up to $500,000. Projects more expensive than that must be approved by the board of directors at their quarterly meeting. At this point, the end of March, Jerry is worried that the project cannot be completed within the $500,000 budget, so he contacted your boss (Director of the company’s project support office) for a solution.
Of course, your boss sees you as being his best project manager, so he comes to you with an assignment to take over the project and get it back on track. He calls you into his office, gives you a copy of a budget spreadsheet (attached), and asks you to look it over. He says that he wants you to take over the project and see it through to completion. He has limited information on the project at this time because it has been run from the field, but he assures you that everyone will cooperate with you and that you will only need to be on-site perhaps 1 or 2 days per month, starting as soon as possible.
1. 1. Review this exhibit in detail and prepare a memo to your boss that summarizes your initial findings and your planned next steps. This memo will be sent to him the day after your initial meeting with him. (1-2 pages, single-spaced, 12-pt font)
2. 2. Your boss mentions that upper-level management may consider killing the project because they are convinced it cannot be completed on time and within budget, much less meet the needs of users. Prepare a memo that you will send to upper-level managers before the end of your third day on the job. (No more than 2 page memo, single spaced, 12-pt font)
3. 3. You will need to travel to the site in the next week, whether the project ultimately is killed or not. Prepare an agenda and a sentence outline of your planned activities and expected accomplishments for your first site visit to the project. You will share these materials with Jerry Stein and the people at the site with whom you will meet. (1 page agenda & 1-2 page outline, single-spaced, 12-pt font)
4. 4. When you get to the site, you are met by Mark and Joyce. They start talking about all of the problems that have affected the project since it was started, especially the lack of technical knowledge by the business personnel. Prepare a brief memo to the file that explains how you plan to assess the problem and how you plan to overcome the communications problems that appear to exist between the technical and business personnel. (1-2 pages, single-spaced, 12-pt font)
5. 5. Prepare a PowerPoint presentation for a management briefing that gets senior managers up to speed on project status. This memo should be delivered to management two days after your meeting with the project team. Take into account the dynamics and politics of the situation. Note that this is your opportunity to characterize the work that has been done and to set the stage for the work you will be doing. (10-15 slides)