Project management is an essential aspect of organizational strength, particularly in assessing how new projects will resolve issues, meet the needs of stakeholders, and where decisions may have unwelcome ethical implications. Many organizations struggle to meet the changing environments – micro and macro – due to the inability to understand the numerous issues surrounding the problems they face; preventing successful project implementation. Risk management walks hand-and-hand with project management and all aspects of organizational management are interdependent on successful evaluation of problems and implementation of plans. The following is an example for Harrison-Keyes Inc., a University of Phoenix sample company, and focuses on analyzing the changes in the industry and project management to meet those changes successfully.
Problem Solution: Harrison-Keyes Inc.
Harrison-Keyes is a “global publisher of print products” who “specializes in scientific, technical and business books and journals, professional and consumer books, textbooks and other educational materials for all levels of study” (Harrison-Keyes, Inc., n.d., para. 1). Harrison-Keyes is regarded as a leader in their industry and have recently determined that development of e-books would further their hold on their title, a long with enabling the company to move forward with technology changes that are impacting the industry. Meg McGill, a new CEO, was able to convince the Board to develop the e-publishing strategy in an effort to revive sales and encourage continued growth within Harrison-Keyes; however, the project developed problems.
In order to develop successful projects that enable Harrison-Keyes to obtain market share of the e-book industry and continue to compete on a leadership level, they will need to make changes to operational strategies and develop clear plans on how to move forward. We will examine the issues and opportunities that are present with Harrison-Keyes, as well stakeholders perspectives and ethical dilemmas. Following that we will examine the best practices of other companies, solutions and alternatives, timelines and implementation strategies, and additionally we will develop end state goals that descriptively focus on Harrison-Keyes objectives for the future.
Describe the Situation – Issue and Opportunity Identification
The first problem that impeded the progress of the project was the dissatisfaction of the authors in regards to their work being used in e-book formats. The second problem was issues with Asia Digital Publishing in regards to communication, deadlines, and project progress. The third problem came about when the problems with the authors became published. The final problem developed with the attempt to upgrade systems and enable Harrison-Keyes to add e-commerce to their website. Each of these problems requires careful consideration and changes to the plans in development. E-books are being developed by many of Harrison-Keyes competitors; however, in order to be successful it is imperative to understand how to undertake the project successfully.
While the more obvious issues that Harrison-Keyes faces are listed, there are underlying issues that lead to these problems. For instance, development of the e-books project did not have enough information to maintain project consistency, and therefore will require additional research to reach completion. This also uncovers an opportunity to benchmark other companies who have developed e-books or changed technologies, as well as develop information that demonstrates the success and safety of e-books to the authors.
An implementation strategy “provides a framework for launching and implementing project activities within a parent organization” (Gray & Larson, 2006). Some of the issues that have plagued the project are buried underneath the lack of a clear project implementation strategy. This is an opportunity to develop a strategy that can enable the continued progress of the project in a productive direction.
One of the most successful ways to grow a project is to align it with organizational strategies and company missions and visions. Harrison-Keyes has not developed their e-book strategy in a way that demonstrated the alignment with Harrison-Keyes company missions and vision statements. This gives Harrison-Keyes the opportunity to examine the company strategy to ensure they are current and continue to grow with the needs of the company. “Every project should have a clear link to the organization’s strategy.” (Gray &Larson, 2006).
In addition, Harrison-Keyes did not clearly investigate the risks involved with the project, present clear communication channels to express the project and its goals, nor develop sound project strategies from formal planning and step-by-step development. These failures open opportunities for this company to analyze the different aspects of the project for possible changes that will revisit the goals of the project and develop it along the lines that will allow for success.
Stakeholder Perspectives/Ethical Dilemmas
Many stakeholders make-up a company’s ability to succeed, these stakeholders include employees, customers, stockholders, government, community, and more. Harrison-Keyes must understand the needs and values of the stakeholders in order assess the ethical dilemmas they face in making decisions. For instance, one of the primary issues facing the Harrison-Keyes e-book project is the needs and values of the authors who write the books they wish to publish. Authors have a need for security of their work, issues of how the digital format will provide this security has caused disagreement with this stakeholder group. Additionally, customers and stockholders (as well as investors) have different value systems that determine their happiness with the success of the company. Balance in pricing systems and quality must be met to ensure value is maintained with both of these groups. Finally, employees need to understand the goals of the company in order to successfully enable the company to reach their objectives.
Ethical dilemmas exist in determining if previous submissions by authors can be changed into e-books without the consent of the authors even though the wording of their contracts suggests it can be. Questions of fairness, honesty and integrity bear heavily on these decisions. Ethical dilemmas exist for authors in regards to their responsibility to the company – their responsibility to enable the continued growth of the company. In order to address this issue, communication and development of digital copyrights and protection will be necessary. Additionally, Harrison-Keyes will need to determine how far they are willing to take the “letter of the contract” without upsetting this group.
The quality of the e-book project will need to be value orientated towards consumers even if the stockholders and investors become more concerned with the completion of the project. Some ethical considerations is the needs of the investors and stockholders to see value in their investment, and increased product sales will enable these stakeholder groups to see their value increase with the value of the product to the consumer. Additionally, the same value must be present for employees and the company, who both will benefit from the success of this project. Clear communication will enable this project to be properly identified to the stakeholders and maintain stakeholder support.
In addition to successful communication to keep the project moving successfully within the company, it is also imperative to keep the communication open to stakeholders who are directly impacted by the success of the project. The key to communication is managing the relationships with the stakeholders by taking these key steps: Identify what each stakeholder expects to gain from the project; rate each stakeholder’s individual impact on the project’s success or harm from failure; and create communication strategies that are designed to address the needs of each of the stakeholders on an individual basis (Ladika, 2007).
Frame the “Right” Problem
Harrison-Keyes will become an industry leader, with e-book technology, by developing organizational strategies that reflect the company’s goals and is able to adapt to changes within the industry with successful project management. In order to make this vision a reality, Harrison-Keyes will develop a strategy that embodies the necessary changes to their organization without compromising the needs of stakeholders or the needs of the company itself. Careful management of a project enables an organization to move a long a course of action that brings growth and success.
Describe the “End-State” Vision
Organizational strategy is the development of a successful company, capable of handling challenges, recognizing industry changes, adapting to new technologies, and embracing changes that can be both productive and rewarding. Harrison-Keyes will become an industry leader with the ability to adapt to future needs of the industry by developing organizational strategies that focus on project management and risk assessment. Projects are a part of an organization’s ability to maintain growth, with these new strategies projects will be successful.
Identify the Alternatives and Benchmarking Validation
Time Warner sought to develop a “box” that would “help consumers pull together all the digital content they keep at home, including music, photos and video file” (Stump, 2005, para. 1). The project was named “Santa Monica” and Time Warner needed to find a manufacturer that could develop the box (Stump, 2005). This project successfully created a DVR system which is now among the offerings available to Time Warner customers. This project was successful for a variety of reasons; however, one of the reasons is most imperative to the success of any project – it aligned with the goals of the company. “There’s no more important strategic priority for our businesses’ future success than making the most of the growing digital opportunities.” (Time Warner Inc., 2007).
Strategic planning and project management involves understanding how projects align with the specific goals of the organization. “Strategy is implemented through projects. Every project should have a clear link to the organization’s strategy.” (Gray & Larson, 2006, Chap. 2). Time Warner implements the strategic goals of the company throughout all projects developed. The strategies include development of technology that fits into the missions of the company – such as VOD – Video On Demand (A Series of Industry, n.d.). This project aligned with the company mission statement – “Time Warner Cable is committed to making itself the company people choose for in-home entertainment, communications and information, because we deliver superior customer care and quality products that create the best possible customer experience.” (Our Mission and Values, 2008).
In order to successfully implement the project for Harrison-Keyes to move to e-books, it must fit into the mission statement of the company and provide for opportunity to move forward with the industry or as an industry leader. Many organizations develop implementation planning for the company to set standards based on the missions, values, and strategies the company has already developed for itself. Harrison-Keyes must determine how their recent projects align with the goals and strategies of Harrison-Keyes itself; additionally, they must work out the details of how this enables the organization to succeed in their missions.
AMD (Advanced Micro Devices) is an electronics company which develops “processing solutions for the computing, graphics and consumer electronics markets.” (Advanced Micro Devices Inc, 2008, para. 1). Competition in the electronics market has always been fierce due to industry standards changing very rapidly. These changes required AMD to be able to respond to changes and constantly be moving forward to stay with the market, and to be pushing harder to get in front of the market. They began the company in 1969 by redesigning products made by other companies, and then began developing their own facilities in the 1970’s (Advanced Micro Devices Inc, 2008). Over the years they increased their research and development teams, bought out similar companies, and increased their facilities to create better equipment and enable their growth through today.
In general, AMD is faced with great risks with every project they undertake due to the industry that they are involved in; however, some risks are greater than others. One of the biggest competitors for AMD is Intel, whose share of the market is often higher than that of AMD. In order to gain control of the market AMD created a chip that was able to “run both 32- and 64-bit applications”; unfortunately, Intel was quick to respond by creating their own version of this chip (Thibodeau, 2007, para. 3). In order to prevent completely losing market share on this new product, AMD joined forces with Dell to market and implement this chip into the computers (Thibodeau, 2007). This ability to move past unforeseen obstacles enabled AMD to keep this project moving forward as well as keeping with the company goals and missions.
There are “seven deadly sins of strategy” that demonstrate some of the do’s and don’ts of project management (Corboy & Corrubi, 1999). “Sin No. 6” involves recognizing that most planning does involve risks of circumstance or situation changes that will create a need to change the strategy and the changes or difficulties to be managed (Corboy & Corrubi, 1999). Harrison-Keyes (H-K) should have been better prepared for the possibilities that did arise and complicated the strategy. Additionally, because problems can arise that are not planned for, H-K would benefit from careful understanding of the problems and making changes to the strategy to overcome the problems. AMD’s change to their strategy involving the marketing of the chip is an example of how strategic changes can save a project from failure.
Evaluate the Alternatives
Harrison-Keyes is facing many challenges with the implementation of the e-book strategy. In order to be successful with this plan it will be imperative to develop project management. While this strategy alone will not resolve all the issues, there are two initial projects that could be implemented to increase the success of the plan. “Precise planning and terminology forces focus in the planning process…” (Nucifora, 2004). Formal planning enables a company to view each aspect in full detail, each detail examining possibilities and future looking statements. Should H-K develop the strategic planning using the terminology and precise planning, they would have a chance to examine the details and cover the plan more completely.
An implementation roadmap can assist the communication of a project by giving clear developmental goals and aiding essential facts and project information. For instance, the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) subdivides the project into smaller sections which enables the project to be communicated and monitored in manageable sections (Gido & Clements, 2006). The Responsibility Matrix assigns each portion of the project to a person or team and enables the communication to effectively target each section or level of the project (Gido & Clements, 2006). Together these two strategies make a powerful tool that enables the project to move along smoothly and each part to get the necessary attention it needs. Communication flows along with each step of the project due to clearly defined goals and objectives that move the project along and prevents sections of the project from “getting ahead of itself”.
Successful projects need planning and research; however, to successfully complete a project it is imperative that communication is thorough, developed, consistent, and constant. Companies who bring projects to completion are often careful to develop each aspect of the project with clear and definitive goals which are communicated to all personal and stakeholders who will be responsible for carrying out the project. Additionally, companies who are successful maintain communication throughout the process of the project – right through completion.
Narrowed List of Alternatives
Value to stakeholders can make or break a company, due to this it is imperative that Harrison-Keyes come to some type of agreement with the authors. Recently we had a major strike with television writers which caused many shows to be put onto re-runs and other shows to delay their season premiers. Writers are an essential part of publishing companies as well as television companies, because without the authors there would not be new books to sell to consumers. Therefore, it is imperative that Harrison-Keyes take time to meet with the authors and determine the reasons for their reluctance to join the project of e-books and find some compromise that will enable their support. While this strategy did not rank highest in the chart, it should be a primary focus.
Next, the success of any projects that Harrison-Keyes hopes to accomplish is completely reliant on the organization’s ability to prepare for projects and changes. This can only be accomplished by careful review of the company goals and the development of organizational strategies that recognize the importance of continued growth. Combining strategies with the needs of all stakeholders will enable Harrison-Keyes to achieve their goals. Therefore, it is recommended that a WBS model be developed with a responsibility matrix to support it.
Identify and Assess Risks
All projects incur risk and risks must be weighed out to determine how they will impact the organization. However, in the case of the implementation of strategies and compromise with the authors, the biggest risk comes from failure to communicate the goals of the company with the stakeholders and the people responsible for implementing the plans. In order to mitigate the risks involved with implementing these new strategies, Harrison-Keyes will need to maintain quality communications with all members involved.
Make the Decision
In order for Harrison-Keyes to be able to successfully met their goal of industry leader and maintain growth with the e-books they will need to develop project management solutions. These solutions include the Work Breakdown Structure and Responsibility Matrix to be assigned to both the e-book project and the development of an organizational strategy. Additionally, communication with the authors will be necessary in order to bring them on-board with the strategies and determine what measures would secure their needs and commitment to the project. Finally, many of the problems will need to be addressed in the WBS – Work Breakdown Structure – and the Responsibility Matrix that shows how each step of the development of the company and e-books will be productive. These projects should take priority over everything other than the normal business operation. Finally, selling the e-books in an online website may not be productive as a project with the e-books and should be analyzed separately to determine viability.
Develop and Implement the Solution
The Work Breakdown Structure that will be implemented to bring solutions to the problems Harrison-Keyes faces contains five steps which are essential to its success. “Step 1: Defining the Project Scope” involves analyzing what is involved by defining the end result – which we have done here by determining the end result of the first WBS is to develop Harrison-Keyes updated mission and vision statements (Gray & Larson, 2006). This step requires “project objective”, “deliverables”, “milestones”, “technical requirements”, “limits and exclusions”, and “reviews with customer” (Gray & Larson, 2006). The second step establishes the priorities that will guide the success of the project, for instance a priority in the e-books would be to determine outsource companies who are productive and to find a compromise with the authors (Gray & Larson, 2006). Next the organization would create the groupings and structure that would determine that the project covered all the necessary ingredients of the end goals (Gray & Larson, 2006). Step four is “Integrating the WBS with the organization” and involves how the company will be reflected in the project and how it benefits and promotes the goals of the company (Gray & Larson, 2006). Finally, step five is the part where all the aspects of the project become coded to help maintain order throughout the process of implementing the plan (Gray & Larson, 2006). Using this process will enable Harrison-Keyes to maintain formal paperwork that demonstrates the goals of the project and enables effective communication. In addition, a Responsibility matrix will be done to show who will be responsible for each aspect of the project and this will further enable constructive communication as it assigns people directly to portions of the project and enables clear communication directly with the person who will know the most about each section.
Additionally, it would be best if Harrison-Keyes were familiar with the “Project Management Top 20” which describes essential factors in making any project successful (Turk, 2008). This describes how both planning and clear objectives are essential to the success of any project (Turk, 2008). In addition, it describes the importance of quality and consistent communication, stakeholder involvement, and the importance of “The three primary dimensions – cost, schedule, and quality” (Turk, 2008). Responsibility for the right amount of authority as needed, priorities which are consistently revisited, creating the appropriate metrics, bringing essential parties on-board, and giving people the things they need to be successful are also listed in the top 20 (Turk, 2008). This article would be a great benefit if provided during the initial meeting that introduces the new project planning.
One of the greatest risks to this or any project is failure to communicate the goals of the projects. The next greatest risk is failure to gather enough information to make the project successful. It is imperative to understand how important it is to have essential and key members of the stakeholders as members of the projects to ensure its success, but it is also important to understand all the issues that are a part of the success of the project. In order to better develop this project the company will need to do the formal planning of the WBS to better understand the goals and factors.
Evaluate the Results
In order to measure the success of the implementation plans and the communication of the goals of Harrison-Keyes it will be essential to measure the success. For instance, if the communication with the authors has been successful the goal would be to have at least 90% of the current authors staying with the company. Additionally, to be truly successful 85% of those same authors would need to be in agreement with the changes to e-books and submitting work for it. These figures may seem low compared to the 100% goal for employee awareness of strategies impacting the company or goals meet for the WBS; however, it is reasonable to believe that some authors will not except the new technology regardless of what compromises are made. It is imperative that stakeholders are all in accordance with the mission statements and vision statements of the company because the stakeholders have a great impact on the success of Harrison-Keyes and recent studies show that company objectives can impact their success with consumers and other stakeholders.
Finally, the success of every project can be weighed by the completion of goals with the least amount of controversy or changes to the objectives and timelines. Harrison-Keyes should develop realistic timelines and goals to better enable the employees to meet their deadlines successfully. Meeting deadlines gives employees a feeling of accomplishment and can increase the chances of future goals being meet on time. Additionally, if the employees have an involvement on creating the goals and the timelines it will increase the likelihood that the project will be successful.
Development of organizational strategies enables a company to fully realize their potentials. Harrison-Keyes will be able to realize their goals of industry leadership by developing projects that follow or lead the competition into the future. E-books are being developed throughout the world and are becoming very popular in online communities such as colleges and resource applications. In order to remain competitive and take a part in the market share, this technology will need to be developed; however, Harrison-Keyes has not made the necessary changes to their own mission statements and vision statements to encourage this growth. By working diligently with project management tools, Harrison-Keyes can successfully move the company into the future, obtain market share in e-books, and continue to be ready for future challenges.
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