Harvard Business School Case Study BAE
Harvard Business School Case Study BAE
Harvard Business School Case Study BAE
BAE systems handling of the baggage system at Denver International Airport (DIA) was a blunder from the beginning. Many reasons made the project unsuccessful. It was obvious to BAE that the project was complex and covered a large scope and that it would require heavy investments in terms of time, expertise, and financial resources. These factors included political, economic and project management plans and communication, which I believe is the most important one. Communication in project management does not only involve exchange of information, but it also ensures that all project information such as project plans and risks are gathered, recorded, stored, and disposed of when required (Heldman, 2009). Communication lines in the project were not streamlined. This meant that all the people working in the project had different sources of information, and they responded to different authorities and this made the project a disaster. There was an additional problem of having too many stakeholders involved in the decision-making and unrealistic expectations from the city office. The quick decisions made did not allocate enough time to test the product, and this made it impossible to identify any potential problems and solve them before the system became fully functional.
If I were a project manager in this situation, my motto and emphasis would be on the communication factor. Having well defined and controlled communication channels between the project team, consultants, and the city would reduce some of the problems experienced. The project team would inform the city on its progress and any forthcoming challenges and difficulties it is facing. This would give the city time to allocate the required resources. The consultants would be in a position to determine how the work is progressing, and offer alternatives and solutions on how to proceed with the project. The different teams have to work together for the project to succeed. Working as individual entities only brought chaos and confusion to the project.
Creating a communication plan would have helped in this process. The plan would show the people that needed to be informed about any details concerning the project and it would have identified the methods used to deliver and receive information. Some people require more information than others do and the project manager may need to communicate with them frequently on a daily basis. Others require information periodically, and their communication needs are different (Badiru, 2008). I would ensure that every person involved in this project, from the people directly working in it, to the financiers and politicians knew the right communication channels. Conducting meetings with different heads of departments and sectors involved in the project would go a long way towards ensuring that all communication is streamlined, and problems are identified and solved. Considering the extent and scope of the projects, such meetings would happen on a weekly basis. The meetings would enable the team to know the progress of the project, and we would be able to know whether we are on the right track and if we will be able to meet our objectives. Creating a weekly progress report and communicating it to the relevant stakeholders would have helped to identify some of the problems encountered during the duration of the project.
Ensuring proper coordination is recognizing that projects do not exist in isolation and that they require the efforts of different stakeholders to be successful (Badiru, 2008). The problem with the project is that lack of coordination prevented it from noticing any problems in the beginning. Employees in the city office formed their own team, and the consultants had their team. The different teams did not collaborate from the beginning of the project. Forming a team composed of individuals from all the sectors involved will help in ensuring that the project runs smoothly. Effective teams work interdependently, and they cooperate to realize the goals of the project. The project manager has the responsibility of helping the team members to grow and become cohesive.
An effective team understands the objectives of the project clearly. It has a high degree of collaboration, and is result oriented. Team members work on trust, and they understand their roles and responsibilities clearly (Gido & Clements, 2014). The team members do not necessarily have to consist of heads or managers of specific departments. The different sectors involved in the project can select the person to represent them in the team. Such members should be experts in their area of operation, understand the project, be willing to work with others, and be committed to the goals and objectives of the project. The team members should be willing participants in the project, and this means that they should offer suggestions, identify problems and be active participants during meetings. Having the team is essential, as it will assist in the brainstorming process during meetings. Since all the different departments are represented, it will be easier for the project manager to make decisions that will contribute to the progress of the project.
The project manager makes decisions concerning budgeting and scheduling. Having a clear and comprehensive plan from the beginning will give an approximate time on when the project should be complete and the costs expected before the project becomes operational (Maserang, 2002). The main problem in this case was that BAE was not involved in the process from the beginning. Instead, it had to work when the airport design had already been completed, and work had already started on the project. This gave it little chance to determine how its system would be incorporated in the greater whole. Scheduling is one of the most important processes once a manager has decided to proceed with it. It enables the manager to identify all the tasks to be considered in the project and the resources that will be needed. Scheduling indicates the realistic or unrealistic nature in time imposed projects. If the manager finds out that it will not be possible to complete the project by the identified time, he can take effective measures in time. He should contact the sponsor immediately, and he can choose to ask for more time, use additional resources, or reduce the scope of the project (Haughey, 2014).
This was a main problem for BAE, but it did not have enough time to execute any of the available options. Reducing the scope of the project would have meant a reduction in terms of complexity and the costs. Getting additional resources in this case would not have been a preferred option as it would have increased the cost significantly, and it would have led to greater project delay. Renegotiating the time to deliver the project would have caused the delay. This option would have been appropriate if the project manager felt that it would be possible to deliver the required project. However, there were many hurdles facing him especially on matters requiring coordination and cooperation and delaying the project would not have been a practical option under the prevailing circumstances.
As a project manager, I would ensure that I point out the mistakes and challenges expected to the person commissioning the project. In this case, I would have informed the mayor about the problems of having to work on something that had already been designed. Before giving a time estimate on the completion of the project, I would have first ensured that I take enough time to determine its scope. I would have pointed out the importance of testing the system and it would have been a major part of the considerations presented to the city office. Testing is one of the most important stages in terms of identifying errors and streamlining operations. The project manager acts as a leader and a decision maker. This means that he or she has to make tough choices when necessary (Gido & Clements, 2014). If the city did not agree to the recommendations given, I would have considered the impractical nature of beginning the project and I would have offered different alternatives. BAE made compromises in its approach, including changing its management structure to suit that of DIA and its project manager failed to get restricted access to all the areas, which hindered the progress of the project.
Part of my responsibility as a project manager is to control the schedule. I would have defined all the activities involved and the resources that would be required to complete them. I would have determined the sequence of the work and the duration it would take to complete the project. These actions would have been made possible by creating a Gantt chart. BAE did not take the time to research other companies who had worked on similar projects previously. Consultations with the experts would have given the company a realistic expectation of the project, especially in the time taken to complete it and in the estimated cost. It lacked the necessary experience, as it had never had such an undertaking before. Seeking expert advice is important in any project especially those that will require breakthrough technologies or technologies that are used for the first time. Such advice is also useful when no one in the organization has experience using the technology. Some of the people who can assist the company in such a situation are vendors and non-competing companies (Wysocki, 2011).
Although the city had learned that the project would require more time to complete, it refused to heed the recommendations given. The Franz Josef Airport in Munich had a similar system although it was smaller in magnitude. It had spent two years testing the system and it had allowed it to run for six months before the airport was finally opened. BAE did not have such an advantage because the city refused to give them more time. The company was pressured by different stakeholders to complete the project as soon as possible and this meant that it lacked adequate time for testing. As a project manager, I would have conducted research before beginning the project. Working with an airport like Franz Josef would have given me the information I needed instead of just speculating on the estimations. Moreover, I would have been in a position to make negotiations with the city before the project started. The terms laid out in the contract would have ensured that I did not have to work under pressure from the different stakeholders, as I would have used the information received to create a proper working schedule.
Part of the problem that BAE faced was human resources. In this case, there were too many people working on the project and this made coordination difficult. The fact that stakeholders from different sectors were involved and that people reported to different managers made the situation worse. As a project manager, I would have solved this problem by developing a human resource plan. This would have included identifying all the people who would be involved in the project by name as well as the organizations I would be working with during the time. I would have known the roles and responsibilities of all the individuals and all the people required to complete the task. This would have helped to streamline operations by making sure that all the people in the project were able to perform their duties as required. The plan would have helped me to know the start date and identify any instance of slackness in job performance. Knowing the task for each organization would have increased accountability and responsibility on their part. It would have ensured that they deliver what they are meant to deliver on time and this would have avoided project delays and other inconveniences.
The project manager realizes the importance of working with competent individuals who are experts at what they do. Every person involved in a project has to understand his or her role and responsibility. Any one who fails to meet such criteria is considered a liability to the continuation and completion of the project. It is understandable that the city would want to give the jobs to local residents and businesses. However, considering the scope of the project, it would have been wiser for the officials to expand their scope in search for talent. Giving every person a fair chance to present his or her qualifications would have ensured that only the best people are employed for the task ahead.
Risk management plans are essential for every project. A project manager should identify all the risks to be expected in the duration of the project. He should find ways of countering them if a problem occurs. Some of the risks include cuts in the budget, much optimism regarding costs and time, lack of clear roles and responsibilities, failure to understand stakeholder needs, change of requirements from the stakeholders, poor and ineffective communication, and lack of adequate resources. Creating a risk log is essential in tracking the risks. The log enables the project manager to know what to do incase the identified risk occurs. It also helps him in finding ways of preventing the risk from occurring (Haughey, 2014). Every project has its own risks and the project manager should review the risk log to reflect any changes. One can only identify some risks after the project has started and he will need to add them in the risk log. Project managers have to engage with other stakeholders to identify all the risks involved. They have to ensure that the sponsor is aware of the risks and that he accepts his part of the responsibility (Roberts, 2012). As a project manager, I would have involved the city in every process of the way. The authorities did not seem to be aware of the scope of the project and involving them would have made them have realistic expectations
BAE employees faced serious challenges after the airport chief engineer they were working with died. In one case, a BAE employee who asked a truck to be moved from site was given a forewarning that that would not happen since the company did not have operations at that particular site. In another instance, BAE employees had to flee their site of operations when they could no longer deal with the concrete dust and chemical fumes. Furthermore, the company had to deal with the fact that the airlines were breaching the agreement made before the start of the program by demanding changes to the system design. The project manager has the responsibility of motivating employees. Motivated workers perform their work better. He can do this by ensuring that employees have favorable work conditions and that the work environment is conducive for their performance. It is clear that the project lacked quality management because it did not meet the requirements of the clients, was not delivered on time, exceeded the budget, and it did not meet all the specifications. A project manager should ensure quality in the planning, assurance, and control processes. This will ensure that the people will not have to redo the work after the client rejects it (Wysocki, 2011)
Badiru, B. A. (2008). Triple C model of project management: Communication, cooperation, and coordination. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press
Dinsmore, C. P., & Brewin, C. J. (2010). The AMA handbook of project management. New York, NY: AMACOM Div American Mgmt Assn
Gido, J., & Clements, J. (2014). Successful project management. New York, NY: Cengage Learning
Haughey, D. (2014). Project planning a step by step guide. Retrieved from http://www.projectsmart.co.uk/project-planning-step-by-step.php
Heldman, K. (2009). PMP project management professional exam study guide. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons
Maley, H. C. (2012). Project management concepts, methods, and techniques. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press
Maserang, S. (2002). Project management: Tools & techniques. Retrieved from http://www.umsl.edu/~sauterv/analysis/488_f02_papers/ProjMgmt.html
Nicholas, M. J. (2004). Project management for business and engineering: Principles and practice. Burlington, MA: Elsevier
Roberts, P. (2012). Strategic project management: Creating the conditions for success. Kogan Page Publishers
Wysocki, K. R. (2011). Effective project management: Traditional, agile, extreme. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons
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