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Improving Project Management at Speed Inc: Case Study

Background of Speed Inc

Speed was a fifty-year-old company in the business of developing test equipment for the tyre industry. The company had a history of segregated departments with very focused functional line managers. The company had two major technical departments: mechanical engineering and electrical engineering. Both departments reported to a vice president for engineering, whose background was always mechanical engineering. For this reason, the company focused all projects from a mechanical engineering perspective. The significance of the test equipment’s electrical control system was often  minimized when, in reality, the electrical control systems were what made Speed’s equipment outperform that of the competition.

Because of the strong autonomy of the departments, internal competition existed. Line managers were frequently competing with one another rather than focusing on the best interest of Speed. Each would hope the other would be the cause for project delays instead of working together to avoid project delays altogether. Once dates slipped, fingers were pointed and the problem would worsen over time.

One of Speed’s customers had a service department that always blamed engineering for all of their problems. If the machine was not assembled correctly, it was engineering’s fault for not documenting it clearly enough. If a component failed, it was engineering’s fault for not designing it correctly. No matter what problem occurred in the field, customer service would always put the blame on engineering.

As might be expected, engineering would blame most problems on production claiming that production did not assemble the equipment correctly and did not maintain the proper level of quality. Engineering would design a product and then throw it over the fence to production without ever going down to the manufacturing floor to help with its assembly. Errors or suggestions reported from production to engineering were being ignored. Engineers often perceived the assemblers as incapable of improving the design.

Production ultimately assembled the product and shipped it out to the customer. Oftentimes during assembly the production people would change the design as they saw fit without involving engineering. This would cause severe problems with documentation. Customer service would later inform engineering that the documentation was incorrect, once again causing conflict among all departments.

The president of Speed was a strong believer in project management. Unfortunately, his preaching fell upon deaf ears. The culture was just too strong. Projects were failing miserably. Some failures were attributed to the lack of sponsorship or commitment from line managers. One project failed as the result of a project leader who failed to control scope. Each day the project would fall further behind because work was being added with very little regard for the project’s completion date. Project estimates were based upon a “gut feel” rather than upon sound quantitative data.

The delay in shipping dates was creating more and more frustration for the customers. The customers began assigning their own project managers as “watchdogs” to look out for their companies’ best interests. The primary function of these “watchdog” project managers was to ensure that the equipment purchased would be delivered on time and complete. This involvement by the customers was becoming more prominent than ever before.

The president decided that action was needed to achieve some degree of excellence in project management. The question
was what action to take, and when. 

Question 1 (25 Marks)
One of the areas that could be improved at Speed is the use of Risk Management. However, this would not work at a project level if it is not done at an enterprise level. Critique why risk management is important for every project and justify why risk management will not work at a project level if Risk Management is not introduced at an enterprise level.

Question 2 (25 Marks)
If Speed agreed to implement Risk Management in their organisation, propose an effective approach that can be used to implement an enterprise Risk Management framework at Speed

Question 3 (25 Marks)
“Communication has been found to be a critical success factor in project management as well as in risk management. Project communication is the overall term for all aspects of communication in a project. Project communication consists of both internal and external communication.” Propose a Communication Management Plan for the projects which can be presented to the Management of Speed Inc

The response must include the following:

1. Communication Management framework and explanations

2. Input, Tools & Techniques and Outputs

3. An organogram showing all the key stakeholders

4. Communication plan in a tabular format

5. Explanation of the table

Question 4 (25 Marks)
As a project management consultant make 5 recommendations to the vice president for the engineering of Speed Inc and support your recommendation using relevant literature.

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