Project management is both applicable in a centralized and a decentralized organization. The research will focus on decentralized organizations drawing its rationale from a case on the decentralized International Humanitarian Organization (IHO). Managing a project in a decentralized organization is dissimilar to managing one in centralized organization. A decentralized organization has its departmental powers distributed away from its central location or central authority. The paper seeks to discuss project management in a decentralized organization while outlining the challenges involved during the process.
International Humanitarian Organization (IHO) is a humanitarian fleet company that sought to introduce Vehicle Tracking Technology (VVT) to mitigate the problems that were ensuing from unmanned and unmonitored fleet series. Fred Mendez proposed and commandeered the vehicle tracking technology (Pedraza-Martinez, Stapleton & Van Wassenhove 2011). Prior to the rolling out of the monitoring system in the entire company’s fleet, he had carried out a pilot project that was reasonably. Through the pilot project, Fred was able to convince company directors in different countries to install the VTT. It is estimated that through his demonstration of the pilot project, he was able to influence the installation of the technology in one-third of the total fleet in IHO (Pedraza-Martinez & Van Wassenhove 2012).
In business and project planning management, inclusion of any new ideas or technologies responds to an individual challenge or ceases an imminent opportunity. In project management, the most important thing is to ensure that the rising needs of customers, employees, or employers are met. Apart from the latter, it is also imperative to acknowledge that project management aims at reducing the probability of making losses. Fred saw the need for saving fuel and decreasing the level of speeding in the company, and he knew this would be his selling point. It evidently worked when he displayed just how much the VTT could monitor and reduce these indirect expenses (Pedraza-Martinez, Stapleton & Van Wassenhove 2011).
By the time he was approaching the directors for the approval of the project, Fred had identified that the company was grappling with high expenditure on fuel consumption and effects of speeding. In his proposal, he clearly highlighted the problems he wanted to address which included high use of fuel and speeding. Although the test pilot project was done in two out of the seven countries in the region where IHO is present, the results were very encouraging (Pedraza-Martinez, Stapleton & Van Wassenhove 2011). His success in the two pilot projects was enough to persuade the rest of the directors in the remainder of the countries. The project aims to tackle these issues.
IHO case is a devastating account of unimaginable loss of vehicle. These capital goods are included in the calculation of the company’s worth. The VTT was adopted and used in one third of the fleets, according to the study. However, the remaining fleet that was left without the tracking devices are considerably of high value. Hence, this project should seek to secure the entire company’s property. Since during the pilot project the VTT was found to be working effectively and securing the fleet used in the test project, the entire fleet should also be fitted with the gadgets (Pedraza-Martinez, Stapleton & Van Wassenhove 2011).
There were cases of stolen vehicles in the past that were not accounted for. The VTT gadgets are very effective in managing the risk of losing vehicles. The gadgets send back a report to the servers in real time showing the exact location of the vehicles as well as their speed in miles per hour. In addition to this, it also shows their location, their speed in miles per hour. Monitoring has reduced the number of theft cases and accidents in the organization (Pedraza-Martinez, Stapleton & Van Wassenhove 2011). The fuel cost also reduced dramatically proof that the project is relevant to this organization.
Normally, projects are definite and concrete to perform a particular task. Projects are groups of actions that are intended to construct or accomplish an exceptional product, service, or result (Gido & Clements 2014). One of the notable characteristics of projects management is that they are temporary (Gido & Clements 2014), which means that they have a starting date and an anticipated ending date. Unlike organizational management, project management is a unique activity that has a time limit, and it differs from other activities. Plans keep changing from time to time, and they are not recurrent. Consequently, project management strategies keep changing to address the current circumstances (Pedraza-Martinez, Stapleton & Van Wassenhove 2011).
In the current economic times, one cannot under accentuate the importance of project management. In the case study, the importance of project management in the organization has been clearly displayed. Project management is a tool through which innovations are built. In IHO’s case, it was through project management that a new system of managing the fleet was introduced.
Project management allows an organization to incorporate new designs and new ideas to create new products or to assume new organizational structures. In the IHO’s, a new organizational structure was achieved because of project management. Fred’s plan to introduce the Vehicle Tracking Technology had many benefits compared to the challenges arising from its commencement.
Organizations need to be structured and organized. The two characteristics of an organization are easily achieved through project management. First, project management kept the body flexible and structured in a way that it can adapt to changing circumstances (Leon 2011). Project planning helps the project manager to anticipate for future calamities.
Project managed organization are also very efficient in performing their tasks. Project managed teams are more focused on the task considering the aspects of cost, time, and quality (Leon 2011). Project managed organization can provide affordable products and services, as well as undertake cost prudent activities.
There are difference methodologies that can be used to apply project management in an organization. They include the waterfall method, the agile approach, the Six Sigma, and the Kanban Technique (Schwalbe 2010). In a waterfall approach, the project manager comes up with the requirements of the project then the project developer designs it.
The team members thereafter come in to build the project and make it happen. In the agile approach, the development of the project is not sequential as outlined in the waterfall methodology. The Six Sigma is ideal for measurable projects while the Kanban technique engages the use of a whiteboard (Van Wassenhove & Besiou 2013).
Initially, at the onset of the project, it began to appear as the project was failing. The company was experiencing losses in fuel consumption and dangerous driving just a year after the implementation of the project. Two reasons could have been responsible for causing this notion. The monitoring technology brought out all activities that go on while the fleet is in transit (Billhardt, Fernández, Lemus, Lujak, Osman, Ossowski & Sierra 2014).
The fact that VVT recorded dangerous driving and shown in a timely manner in the control system. In an organization, so many irregularities may occur. However, such illegal or unauthorized activities may go unnoticed for a very long time such that the organization may never recognize the movement as one of the organizational problem. However, when a new system is introduced in the body, and the unseen, hidden activities are unveiled, it is very easy to think that the new system is the cause of such activities.
In IHO’S case, the issues were not increasing after one year of rolling out the VTT in the company’s fleet. The IHO was not obtaining the desired results due to a number o reasons. First in the list, some directors were supportive of the projects. Within the company, some leaders felt like the project was double work for the workers.
The volumes of paperwork and reporting required with the new VVT were not very exciting to some people. Integration of the new technology with the existing technology was not as swift as one would have expected. It seemed like the organization had not adequately prepared for the integration process because of a number of reasons.
A harmonious shift from one system to the next in an organization is essential. Changing organizational systems requires training of staff to appraise their skills with the new technology. If training is not done, there may be some lapses in the project management process. In the IHO’s case, training was lacking. The project manager did not emphasise too much on training of the project staff and consequently the project was experiencing some delays. Lack of proper chain of communication was also to blame in this in the ensuing issues in the project. A number of directors did not recognize the reasons why the changes in the fuel expenditure were rising which led them to think that the project was responsible for the growing rise in fuel consumption.
One very common reason for project failures is the failure for team members to understand the “why” behind the “what” (Whitty 2011). The “why” is the main reason things are appearing as they are which is later clarified through the regular reports? Members go through these reports in order to understand the problems correctly in retrospect. In IHO’s case, the team members were not keen to go through the reports. They felt that the reports were too cumbersome especially in the downloading process. Coordination in project management is imperative.
IHO is a decentralized organization with many branches across the region. Decentralized organizations are those organizations that have their functions; powers, resources, and other organizational functions redistributed (Whitty 2011). IHO is a decentralized organization considering its many branches in the region and initiating a project management program has its challenges in such a setting.
The main problems faced by the IHO are not unique to the organization. These are the challenges faced by any other decentralized organization in general. Decentralization distributed power and resource control to different managers and team leaders. Consequently, this transfers the authority to make a decision to different people and at this point personality issues may rise.
Dealing with different directors who have different views on the adoption of VVT was not easy for Fred. He needed to provide convincing proof of the functionality of his proposal. Besides that, he was also put to task by approaching each director to make them understand the need for this service in the organization.
At first, few of the directors were not really convinced of how the project was going to help the organization in avoiding the current expenditure on fuel expenses and speeding. Some of them protested that the VVT was only coming to double their operational workload by expanding the reporting process. Different directors had different views, and this is one of the major characteristics and challenges of decentralization.
Every project’s success is directly or indirectly dependent on the funding given to rolling it out. In a decentralized organization, this is a very painful process again because of personality differences. While one director might listen to your proposal and support it through adequate funding, the rest might not be willing to do the same. Carrying out a successful project requires financial backing and Fred understood this very well. However, it was quite difficult for him to get funding from all the directors, as he would have wanted. The latter is a characteristic problem in a decentralized organization. Project management in a decentralized organization is more challenging compared to centralized organization where the decision affecting the entire company is made by a single person.
In this case, study, a number of issues went wrong. One of the greatest mishaps in this case I that Fred had not taken keen interest in aligning the new system technology with the already existing technology. The case evidently shows that after installation of VTT, the entire organizations system became very slow which means the newly introduced technology was overwhelming the current servers.
Downloading the reporting data was a nightmare as indicated in the case that earns the technology was way beyond the current systems capability. In the initial stages, Fred should have taken time to identify the lags between the current systems in the organization and weigh their performance against the expected high-performance requirements for the new VTT.
As outlined in the case study, Fred had very limited experience of the market he was seeking to get his supplies. Lack of sufficient demand is a perilous situation in the case of bulk purchases of sensitive gadgets such as a vehicle tracking technology devices. Going into the current market situation, technological advancement has ignited cutthroat competition among device manufacturers.
The competitive nature of the industry has brought its unique challenges such as the risk of purchasing counterfeit goods. Knowledge of the market is critical because it allows a buyer to buy the best quality and genuine goods. Fred lacked the knowledge on the products he needed.
The tragedy of not knowing the market accurately is the risk of acquiring goods that one does not require or products that are of inferior quality. I suppose the reason the desired results were not being achieved was that Fred did not spend enough time to analyze the effects of the products he wanted to buy. He only went for the GPRS satellite systems without considering some of the aspects of its functionality.
The results included the hitches experienced with the onset of the project. First, the organization’s firewall blocked access to the GPRS systems to its servers (Whitty 2011) which hampered the progress of the project in a very significant way that almost led to the cancelation of the project. The latter shows that Fred had not been prudent in looking at all the possible issues that would arise from the project.
Risk management allows the project manager to sketch on how to counter possible risks prior to their incidence (Whitty 2011). The process helps in averting any potential risks and unforeseeable losses in the future. Through risk management procedures, Fred would have addressed the possibility of unforeseen issues such the firewall setback. Even though the problem was solved, project management is a process that is generally bound by time and scheduling.
Impacts on the corrective measure
There are ominous consequences whenever time and schedules are tampered with in project management, which may translate to an increase in cost because of time lapses. Increased timelines will naturally stress the budget and cost the rise in the cost of the project because of the increase in expenditure in salaries and inputs cost. Prudence demands that a project manager should perform a risk management procedure before rolling out the project to avoid such a situation.
In addition, the adoption of GPRS was quite uninformed going by the resulting implications soon after its inception. In some regions, the areas covered by the fleet were too isolated to obtain the network coverage (Whitty 2011). Of course, this consideration could have been mitigated if a prior risk management process would have been carried out. Fred blindly rolled out the project without prior assessment of the risks ahead.
The result was that the directors in this country and remote areas could not see the positive impacts of the project. The results were not convincing enough to show that the project was beneficial to the organization. Network connectivity being the major issue; Fred could not explain why the project was not working to the directors in these areas. Lack of explanation hampered the achievement of desired goals as fast as he had anticipated.
Communication barrier is a significant disadvantage in project management. Flow of information is very vital to the success of the project. In the IHO case, lack of a proper channel of information was the main reason there was a problem in the project. When the reports started showing the rapid cases of speeding and unauthorized night travels, some directors took it as a sign of failure o the project. However, it is later discovered that the problem was not that the project was failing but that the cases were now monitored and captured through a digital recording in the VTT gadgets.
Lack of proper channel for disseminating information marred by inefficient methods of data analysis can cause panic over misunderstood information. In project management, reporting is an important aspect that has to be monitored and undertaken in a regular manner. Such reports are very useful in deciding the next step in the project or even in creating records for future risk analysis in other similar projects. As such, proper interpretation of information gathered is imperative to avoid alteration of facts.
IHO is a huge organization and the management structures put in place is currently the best for now. Changing the decentralized formation can cause a lag in productivity. However, the organization should adopt a direct project planning management strategy, which will cover for the decentralized administration of the organization. Project management is not very well executed in a decentralized approach. Therefore, although the body assumes a decentralized management system, project management should be uniquely centralized to maximize the benefits therein.
Secondly, IHO should also encourage its directors and employees to be open to new ideas and development of technology. The push to maintain status quo can significantly hamper the organization’s growth both financially and technologically. Such an attitude towards change is very perilous in business. One cannot afford to be technically redundant especially in the current technological world where globalization has taken the center stage.
Lastly, the project management strategy in the company should be left to the project managers. Interferences from the directors can cause unnecessary commotion that may amount to compromised productivity. The project manager should be given direct authority and be the ultimate voice in the decision-making process. Decision-making will help motivate the team managers and consequently translate to results on future projects.
The budgets are high and the possibility of non-completion quite high too. However, I would recommend the project for implementation stage. The initiation and planning stages take up quite some investment in budget. The stages are also quite speculative. Implementation is likely to reveal greater loopholes. Project management is the backbone of innovation and new products. Through this process time, cost, and quality are harnessed to achieve the highest benefits in an organization.
This project has clearly examined the case study on IHO and the newly adopted plan to install Vehicle Tracking Technology on its fleet. IHO is a humanitarian fleet company that operates in different countries, and it has a decentralized management structure. In this research, the scope of project management has been openly discussed to help in explaining the issues to the VTT project management. The paper has outlined an extensive background about the case study to show the issues arising in the VVT project.
The research has critically analyzed the case study in a very precise and expansive manner. The paper has defined project planning management to help the reader to understand the issues in the IHO case. The analysis of this case will help the reader to understand the scope of project planning and hence enhance his or her critical understanding of the project. To analyze a project, one has to understand and appreciate the importance of project management. To that effect, this paper has outlined a number of reasons to justify the importance of project management.
There are different types or strategies of undertaking project management as described in this research. Identifying the various kinds of project management helps the reader to understand why certain results were not achieved in this particular case. Considering that IHO is a decentralized organization, the paper has sought also to define and explain the challenges that are faced by project managers in such organizational management structures. The paper has also examined the different factors that went wrong during the project process. These factors included lack of the market knowledge, and communication and misunderstanding.
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