Case Study of Project Management


It seems reasonable to claim that project management is a multidimensional phenomenon that requires a significant extent of knowledge, experience, and skills. Many underlying issues should be addressed promptly, and if a project manager is not ready to act appropriately, the whole team will suffer, and the project itself will not be successful. The provided case study that depicts the situation around Chris Peterson at DSS Consulting demonstrates the rationality of the abovementioned arguments. Below, Peterson’s actions and approaches as a project manager will be discussed, appealing to the relevant concepts and theories from the field of team management.

Case Background

DSS Consulting provides administrative help to small school districts; however, there have been several shifts that contributed to the decision to expand the company’s aspirations to a larger scale. The owners recognized the necessity to develop new services and reorganize the company into a more cross-functional entity. The primary change that was faced by DSS Consulting was its rearrangement from an entirely practice-oriented functional structure to a hybrid one. A plethora of consultants would now have the opportunity to get involved in cross-functional groups that would be accountable for marketing and the delivery of services to a district within specific regions (Ancona and Caldwell, 2010). The practice teams were supported to give specialized expertise to maintain the mentioned groups in their activities but with less personnel in comparison with the past.

Chris Peterson got the job of a project manager in one of those cross-functional teams, given her notable experience, attainments, and reputation. She had a great extent of flexibility within the scope of hiring people from different departments of the company. She used her approach to forming the team – Southwest Region Team – and dealing with a variety of issues. The assigned project was dedicated to the integrated planning and budgeting system for clients in the related districts. She considered the process and the overall project successful, as well as ready for beta testing. Peterson was preparing for her meeting with Meg Cooke – the head of the Contact Negotiation group. During this meeting, the project’s future should have been discussed. Unfortunately, Meg did not allow Peterson to work on the project further and canceled it (Ancona and Caldwell, 2010). At this point, it may be rational to turn to the analysis of Peterson’s overall strategy of team management to define its advantages and flaws.

Peterson’s Team Management Strategy

Peterson seems to apply a specific project-management approach that refers to the means proposed by the concept of Agile – a method to deliver a project throughout its life cycle. In particular, she utilized the Scrum methodology to achieve the desired results. Scrum is a flexible methodology that allows one to calculate risks through the phased implementation of parts of the project (McLellan et al., 2021). It will not be necessary to return to the previous stages using additional funds because the scrum team performs the project in parts in a given time, which allowed Peterson to correct past mistakes without considerable issues. For example, the team significantly dealt with questions provided by the districts and adapted the project to the implied aspects properly in the aftermath. The Scrum methodology is Agile’s approach and is its most popular representative.

The activities, according to Scrum, are founded on coherent actions and the considerable role of a project manager. The latter should provide all the fundamental requirements for a project. During the project implementation, these requirements and priorities can change depending on the customer’s needs, fresh ideas, and changing circumstances (Oprins, Frijns, and Stettina, 2019), which was visible in the case study. Peterson needed to use such a system that would be fast in terms of varying the project’s essentials, as well as allow to use of the significant traits of the members.

In the Scrum methodology, the team is self-organized and self-managing. The team in Scrum is cross-functional; it includes specialists in various fields. Due to the constant analysis of the work done and the ability to adjust the direction of the project between iterations, the methodology of “scrum” allows one to better implement the project and achieve productive results (Oprins, Frijns, and Stettina, 2019). This is the exact scenario that was followed by Peterson as a project manager in Southwest Region Team.

All project development is in short stages or sprints. The functions that should be realized in each sprint are fixed and cannot be shifted or changed. These are divided into tasks that have grades and priorities. Then, an important part of Scrum is daily meetings – a daily ritual that allows you to quickly monitor the progress of the project. Throughout the sprint, the team gathers at the same time in a specially designated place. Each team member must take turns answering three questions: What was done yesterday? What will be done today? What are the problems? At the end of the sprint, the customer can see a ready-made test version of the project with an increase in completed tasks (McLellan et al., 2021). The system will already implement and test the most important, from the point of view of its business, functions. They can be viewed, tested, and express to the team all the wishes and suggestions that should be taken into account in the next stages of work.

The necessity to add or change any features of the project for the customer is very important. This helps to develop a project that the customer needs. However, it is worth emphasizing that when making adjustments to the project, one should not be too obsessed with a large number of possible options for improvement because it takes time and resources and usually does not lead to the desired result. Therefore, we should focus on 2-3 key improvements and implement them (McLellan et al., 2021). The result of each sprint is the working part of the project, which implements all the functions of previous sprints and the increase in functionality, taking into account the current result.

However, along with the obvious advantages of implementing the scrum methodology, it has certain difficulties and disadvantages. In particular, the weakness of Scrum is the focus on a cross-functional self-organized team. With an apparent reduction in the cost of organizing the work of the team, this leads to an increase in the actual cost of finding staff, their training, and motivation. Under certain labor market conditions, forming a full, effective Scrum team may simply be impossible (Oprins, Frijns, and Stettina, 2019). Another problem is that Scrum was developed primarily for IT projects and is not yet sufficiently adapted for implementation in other areas of business. Here, it should be noted that Peterson was mainly involved in the IT-sphere before the position of a project manager, which explains her choice to a great extent. Then, the mentioned disadvantage of Scrum was likely to be the primary problem for the team – they lack communication with the other groups and teams. It resulted in the absence of interest in their project and its cancellation.

Therefore, the choice of project management methodology is vital for the implementation of a successful project. The choice of a specific approach to project management is due to several factors, including the project implementation period, cost factors, project complexity, etc. Different methodologies have different functions that are suitable for specific project requirements. In today’s conditions of economic instability, it is more appropriate to use flexible project management techniques, as the classic cascade management models are not adapted to rapid change and are designed for use in more stable conditions. At the same time, Scrum is a flexible methodology that allowed Peterson to calculate risks through the phased implementation of parts of the project. Flexible project management has great potential when working in conditions of uncertainty, as the priority in the work of executors is to realize that change is an integral part of project work and that it is advisable to plan only for a short period. A decisive role in the efficiency of this approach is taken by a team of performers who can take responsibility for the result.

It should also be noted that as a team leader, Peterson has been a great specialist. She appealed to the fundamentals of transformational leadership when there was tension in the team during the period of pressure (Eliyana, Ma’arif, and Muzakki, 2019). A person is not only the most important element of the production process in the enterprise but also the main strategic resource in competition. Therefore, in the management of the organization, not the last place is occupied by the human factor, the psychological characteristics of the team, personal needs, and interests of individual members. The art of management is to find approaches and methods that would ensure the desired course of events in the enterprise and encourage its employees to work more productively. Peterson adhered to the concept of human capital management, according to which a person is the main subject of the organization and a special object of management, which cannot be considered as a resource based on his or her desires and abilities.

Conclusions and Recommendations

To conclude, it should be admitted that most aspects of Peterson’s work as a project manager were appropriate and reasonable. She expediently applied the essentials of the Scrum methodology, as well as the crucial provisions of transformational leadership. Her advantages in the framework of the given role would be great communication skills, the ability to hear and understand the team, utilize modern and relevant approaches, and goal orientation. At first approximation, it might seem that the work done was flawless, and Meg came up with the wrong decision to cancel the project.

However, the critical mistake that was made by Peterson was the lack of contact with the other groups and teams of the company. This led to the absence of interest and positive feedback that could serve as a foundation for Meg’s opposite solution – to let the project be. Hence, the only recommendation for Peterson within the scope of the presented case study is not to deny the importance of communication with other project managers, teams, and groups. She should perceive the company as a unified and integrated system, elements of which are to continuously cooperate and interact.

Reference List

Ancona, D. and Caldwell, D. (2010) Chris Peterson at DSS Consulting. Web.

Eliyana, A., Ma’arif, S. and Muzakki (2019) Job satisfaction and organizational commitment effect in the transformational leadership towards employee performance. European Research on Management and Business Economics, 25(3), pp. 144–150.

McLellan, J, Young, W., Levin E. and Johnson L. (2021) Developing innovative integrated business solutions using a Scrum project management methodology. Businesses, 1(2), pp. 91–101.

Oprins, R., Frijns, H. and Stettina, C. (2019) ‘Evolution of Scrum transcending business domains and the future of agile project management’, in: Kruchten, P., Fraser, S. and Coallier, F. (Eds.) Agile processes in software engineering and extreme programming. XP 2019. Lecture notes in business information processing, vol 355. Springer, Cham, pp. 244–259.

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