Chat with us, powered by LiveChat Case Study 1,2 – Word-Tech is a medium-sized firm that designs and manufactures - Uni Pal

Case Study 01

Project Manager

Word-Tech is a medium-sized firm that designs and manufactures electronic systems for the mass transit industry. It competes with other firms to win contracts to provide such systems. When Word-Tech receives a contract, it creates a project to complete the work. Most projects range from $10 million to $50 million in cost and from one to three years in duration. Word-Tech can have 6-12 projects going on at any one time, in various stages of completion some just starting and others finishing.

Word-Tech has a handful of project managers who report to the general manager; other people report to their functional manager. For example, the electronics engineers all report to the manager of electrical engineering, who reports to the general manager. The functional manager assigns particular individuals to work on various projects. Some people work full time on a project, whereas others split their time among two or three projects. Although individuals are assigned to work for a project manager on a specific project, administratively they still report to their functional manager. Jack Kowalski has been with the company for about 12 years, since graduating from college with a BS in electronic engineering. He has worked his way up to senior electronics engineer and reports to the manager of electrical engineering. He has worked on many projects and is well respected within the company. Jack has been asking for an opportunity to be a project manager. When Word-Tech is awarded a $15 million contract to design and manufacture an advanced electronics system, the general manager promotes Jack to project manager and asks him to run this project.

Jack works with the functional managers to get the best people available assigned to the project. Most of the people are buddies who have worked with Jack on previous projects. However, with Jack s position as senior electronics engineer vacant, the manager of electrical engineering has no one with the appropriate level of expertise to assign to Jack s project. So the manager hires a new person, Alfreda Bryson. Lured away from a competitor, Alfreda has a Ph.D. in electronic engineering and eight years experience. She was able to command a high salary more than Jack is making. She is assigned to Jack s project full time as the senior electronics engineer.

Jack takes a special interest in Alfreda s work and asks to meet with her to discuss her design approaches. Most of these meetings turn into monologues, with Jack suggesting how Alfreda should do the design and paying little attention to what she says.

Finally, Alfreda asks Jack why he is spending so much more time reviewing her work than that of the other engineers on the project. He responds, “I don t have to check theirs. I know how they work. I’ve worked with them on other projects. You re the new kid on the block, and I want to be sure you understand the way we do things here, which may be different than at your previous employer.”

On another occasion, Alfreda shows Jack what she thinks is a creative design approach that will result in a lower-cost system. Jack tells her, “I don t even have a Ph.D. and I can see that that won’t work. Don’t be so esoteric; just stick to basic sound engineering.”

During a business trip with Dennis Freeman, another engineer assigned to the project who has known Jack for six years, Alfreda tells him that she is frustrated with the way Jack treats her. Jack is acting more like the electronics engineer for the project than the project manager, she tells Dennis. Besides, I have forgotten more about designing electronics than Jack ever knew! He really isn’t up to date on electronic design methodologies. discuss the matter with the manager of electrical engineering and that she would never have taken the job with Word-Tech if she had known it was going to be like this.


1. Do you think Jack is ready to serve as a project manager? Why or why not? How could Jack have prepared for his new role?

2. What is the major problem with the way Jack interacts with Alfreda?

3. Why do you think Alfreda has not had an open discussion with Jack about the way he is treating her? If Alfreda approaches Jack directly, how do you think he will respond?

4. How do you think the manager of electrical engineering should respond to this situation?

5. What should be done to remedy the situation?

6. What could have been done to prevent the situation?


Case Study 02

Defining Scope, Quality, Responsibility, and Activity Sequence

You are the director of external affairs for a national not-for-profit medical research center that does research on diseases related to aging. The center s work depends on funding from multiple sources, including the general public, individual estates, and grants from corporations, foundations, and the federal government.

Your department prepares an annual report of the center s accomplishments and financial status for the board of directors. It is mostly text with a few charts and tables, all black and white, with a simple cover. It is voluminous and pretty dry reading. It is inexpensive to produce other than the effort to pull together the content, which requires time to request and expedite information from the center s other departments.

At the last board meeting, the board members suggested the annual report be upscaled into a document that could be used for marketing and promotional purposes. They want you to mail the next annual report to the center s various stakeholders, past donors, and targeted high-potential future donors. The board feels that such a document is needed to get the center in the same league with other large not-for-profit organizations with which it feels it competes for donations and funds. The board feels that the annual report could be used to inform these stakeholders about the advances the center is making in its research efforts and its strong fiscal management for effectively using the funding and donations it receives.

You will need to produce a shorter, simpler, easy-to-read annual report that shows the benefits of the center s research and the impact on people s lives. You will include pictures from various hospitals, clinics, and long-term care facilities that are using the results of the center s research. You also will include testimonials from patients and families who have benefited from the center s research. The report must be eye-catching. It needs to be multicolor, contain a lot of pictures and easy-to- understand graphics, and be written in a style that can be understood by the average adult potential donor.

This is a significant undertaking for your department, which includes three other staff members. You will have to contract out some of the activities and may have to travel to several medical facilities around the country to take photos and get testimonials. You will also need to put the design, printing, and distribution out to bid to various contractors to submit proposals and prices to you. You estimate that approximately 5 million copies need to be printed and mailed.

It is now April 1. The board asks you to come to its next meeting on May 15 to present a detailed plan, schedule, and budget for how you will complete the project. The board wants the annual report in the mail by November 15, so potential donors will receive it around the holiday season when they may be in a giving mood. The center s fiscal year ends September 30, and its financial statements should be available by October 15. However, the nonfinancial information for the report can start to be pulled together right after the May 15 board meeting.

Fortunately, you are taking a project management course in the evenings at the local university and see this as an opportunity to apply what you have been learning. You know that this is a big project and that the board has high expectations. You want to be sure you meet their expectations and get them to approve the budget that you will need for this project. However, they will only do that if they are confident that you have a detailed plan for how you will get it all done. You and your staff have six weeks to prepare a plan to present to the board on May 15. If approved, you will have six months, from May 15 to November 15, to implement the plan and complete the project.

Your staff consists of Grace, a marketing specialist; Levi, a writer/editor; and Lakysha, a staff assistant whose hobby is photography (she is going to college part- time in the evenings to earn a degree in photojournalism and has won several local photography contests).



You and your team need to prepare a plan to present to the board. You must:

1. Establish the project objective and make a list of your assumptions about the project.

2. Develop a work breakdown structure. 3. Prepare a list of the specific activities that need to be performed to accomplish the project objective 4. For each activity, assign the person who will be responsible. 5. Create a network diagram that shows the sequence and dependent relationships of all the activities.

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