Clark Faucet Company: Project Management Methodology

Problem Definition and Objective of the Plan

In 1999, Clark Faucet Company is recognized as the third-largest supplier in both the commercial and the home segments. It was a general tendency among the customers in a severely competitive environment where the main considerations for buying the faucets more relied on the artistic designs and the quality rather on the price associated with the particular product, multiple availabilities of colors of the product is also one of the attributes which commercial customers prefer in the purchase of a faucet.

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It has been found that Clark Faucet Company has not spent a large amount of money on advertising especially on the radio and television except on the two semiannual home and garden trade shows and the annual builder trade show(Kerzner H, 2004).. As far as the purchase of faucets is considered, Clark Faucet suffers a 6 to the 12-month window of lost revenue. The methodology manual pan in this case would provide a good stand for the Clark Faucet Company to solve and increase the benefit.

Case Analysis

The case also reflects on the company’s project management culture which is non-cooperative in nature which soars up the costs due to redundancy and duplicity of processes. There is a constant conflict between the engineering and the department which ultimately leads to the failure of project management. A dysfunctional system between the team members, lack of initiative or accountability, and interest worsened the situation to such an extent that the project manager refused to assign any of his employees to the accomplishment of the project. Looking at the disrupted project management situation, it was decided by the executive council that a new and refined project management practice must be implemented as early as possible to overcome the complexities and mismanagement raised in the past. It was decided that project management would not be implemented just for the new products but the entire range of specialty products developed by the company. To tackle the problem of the project an external help was undertaken by a consultant through which the issues regarding marketing and engineering departments was analyzed where issues such as, employees being overloaded with responsibilities, irrational demands of the marketing department including incomprehensible and unproductive areas of development making the entire process a disliked and unwanted event were posted up by the engineering departments, contrary to this, the marketing department blamed the engineers being non-co-operative keeping the time constraints in mind for meeting up the schedules and requirements of the market. The entire failure of the project resulted in heavy losses in the past, which also reflected the company’s weak cost management as well. A proper project management plan can certainly facilitate a reduction in costs and effective functioning (Kerzner H, 2004).

To overcome the above-mentioned issues regarding the successful project management implementation it becomes quintessential; to consider areas where the creation and use of planning documents and their specifications must be properly defined and a proper structure must be constructed in order to efficiently organize and carry on the required task scheduled, after which a detailed analysis of the actions must be considered to mark the deviations and put into actions the remedial measures in time.

To achieve these objectives different project management tools can be applied that will help in the attainment of Flexible decision making, cooperative functioning with proper management control, and effective communication and cost reduction. For this, the methodology manual content selected is the management of cost which includes an assessment of cash flow, contract payment terms, estimating accuracy through methods such as Ball mark, comparative estimates, feasibility estimates, definitive estimates, etc.

Significance of Process Cost Management

It is generally found in many the business environment that unclear project requirements end up in cost overruns as in this case inadequate and improper advertising add up to the cost overruns( Schwalbe K, 2007). Hence realizing the real essence of the project cost estimate is just a small part of the project management process. The cost management includes the process whereby a project team ensures the completion of the task within an approved budget and time as well. The entire process is classified into three cadres, cost estimation, cost budgeting, and cost control. But before one delves deeper into the three areas, it is of utmost importance to ‘plan’ the project right from the start to the finish (Schwalbe K, 2007).

Plan to Accomplishment the Project Objectives

Create and Use Planning Documents

Planning of the project starts with the proper development and evaluation of the project concept leading to the identification of the project capabilities that the project deliverables must acquire before the initiation of the project, building a project prototype deliverable, testing the prototype, integrating the deliverable into the system, validating the deliverables and then finally putting it under operation (Schwalbe K, 2007). In accordance with the case under consideration, the first and foremost planning action or tools would be to prepare a Work Breakdown Structure along with the other aids. The WBS begins by gathering the project team together and assigning the predetermined tasks to each of the team members which will provide a better understanding of the work to all the workers indulged in the process eradicating or curbing the chances of miscommunication and unnecessary duplication of work ultimately helping in reduction of costs (Young L T. 2002).

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The entire process of constructing an action plan and the resulting Work Breakdown Structure is a fruitful exercise where all project activities are arranged in finer details, the quantity and quality of required resources are stated, the predecessors and task duration are estimated, all project milestones( Young L T. 2002) are identified and responsibilities are assigned either in a group or to specific individuals and finally preparing a master schedule to compare the budgeted and the actual figures for rectification and control of variances(Mantel J S. Jr, Meredith R J, Shafer M S, Sutton M M, Gopalan R M. 2006).

Action Plan

Another important requirement in the project is the chalking out of the ‘Linear responsibility chart ‘which can certainly reduce the conflicts and increase benefits (Mantel J S. Jr, Meredith R J, Shafer M S, Sutton M M, Gopalan R M. 2006).. The company needs to fasten up its advertising department as well; the marketing department often complains that they need to market the new product within a stipulated time interval of 4 to 6 months (Kerzner H, 2004).. Pre advertising of the old and the new products through different channels such as radio, television, trade shows, etc can increase the sales of the company but it needs proper coordination with the engineering department to develop the new products and modify the older products well within the stipulated time, hence an LRC chart can indicate the nature of the responsibility link between a specific person and a task. On the whole from the plan, one can extract a list of all tasks arranged according to the task level from the conception to the advertising and selling of the product through a work breakdown structure and also detect the nature of responsibility of each individual and group involved in the accomplishment of the project goals and objectives (Mantel J S. Jr, Meredith R J, Shafer M S, Sutton M M, Gopalan R M. 2006).

RESPONSIBILITY

WBS

SUBPROJECT TASK PROJECT
MANAGER
CONTRACT
ADMINISTRATOR
PROJECT ENGINEER INDUSTRIAL ENGINEER FIELD
MANAGER
DETERMINE NEED
A1

A2

SOLICIT QUATATIONS
B1
WRITE APPROPRIATE REQUEST C1
C2
C3
  •                                                                        • APPROVAL (1)

    • NOTIFICATION(2)

    • SUPPORT(3)

    → RESPONSIBLE(4)

Out of the above four criteria, the above-mentioned heads have to be allotted the responsibilities, it should be noted that every row must have one person who is fully responsible (4).

Integration management can help in reducing the conflict between the various functional groups in the case that is marketing and engineering group, along with ‘concurrent engineering’ as a response to the time and cost associated with the conventional method (Mantel J S. Jr, Meredith R J, Shafer M S, Sutton M M, Gopalan R M. 2006).

Coordination

Use More Than One Method to Arrive at an Estimate, and Look For a Midpoint Among All of Them

As per the case of Clark Faucet Company under study, project cost management requires the list of item heads to be considered while estimating the project cost, for instance, if the advertisement is undertaken, all forms, channels, modes, time, etc must be carefully studied. Afterward, a baseline budget must be framed to analyze the funds to be spent in the future on the project, the actual costs must be accumulated, the eared value of the performed work must be determined, the cost performance must be analyzed, future costs must be forecasted and controlled with proper cash management (Turner R J, Simister J S. 2004).. The total budgeted costs must be allocated to each activity or task via the work breakdown structure, for instance:

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Work Breakdown Structure for the Advertising (Marketing) Of Faucets

Table three

Once a total budgeted cost has been analyzed for each work package, then the project budgeting process needs to distribute or allocate each TBC over the estimated duration of the task. For every stage, the cost would be determined.

For instance: Budgeted cost by period for the advertisement of faucets.

Table four

Though the project budgeting is a complex exercise due to lack of precedent and experience, yet it is important to understand the needs of the organization in order to generate a project budget which can be a top-down budget or a bottom-up budget, because in the current case the task is not of low level in nature, a top-down budget is preferable.

One of the objectives that Clark Faucet Company should aim is to improve cost estimates which can be realized through the formalization of the process, use of forms, and other procedures (Mantel J S. Jr, Meredith R J, Shafer M S, Sutton M M, Gopalan R M. 2006).. Forms in particular can be very useful in project management in the attainment of direct costs with proper resource accountability. The information can be accumulated for every specific task on an individual form and then integrated with the project.

For instance to set accurate costs for promotion of the Clark Faucet Company’s project related to old and the new development of various products and reducing the conflict and creating interests and motivation among team members, a form system can be introduced which resembles like one symbolized beneath:

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Project Name: __________________

Date: _________________________

Task Number: __________________

Resources Person to Contact How Many/ When needed Check If

How much needed Available

People:
Managers
Supervisors
Professional: Add designers
Salesperson
Technical
Non-Technical
Money:
Material:
Facilities
Equipment
Tools
Mode:
Television
Radio
Trade Fairs
Print
Special Services:
Research & Test
Administrative
Miscellaneous

Based on the firm’s past experience, learning curves can be introduced as a project cost management tool to approximate the total cost from the unit learning curve so as to estimate the actual costs in ‘one-time’ projects in order to avoid underestimation as well as overestimation in the cost of the project. There exist numerous methods for improvement in the cost estimation varying from simple to complex methods but many times, the errors occur not due to improper utilization of the available tools but on the contrary, it’s the behavioral and organizational incompetencies that reward inaccurate estimates, most likely seen in the Clark Faucet Company’s case.

Few of the approaches due help in arriving at an estimate such as the ‘Failure Mode and Effect Analysis’ which is one of the most structured approaches in facilitating in identification, prioritizing, and managing future project risk(Mantel J S. Jr, Meredith R J, Shafer M S, Sutton M M, Gopalan R M. 2006). For this, a systematic procedure must be followed by Clark Faucet by analyzing all the possible means through which the chances of project failure can occur and simultaneously the consequences of each failure should also be identified and evaluated on a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 represents no effect and 10 is the maximum chances of a project being a complete failure. Further, the detectability of failures must be judged again on a scale of 1 to 10 where 1 indicates the maximum chances of detection of errors while 10 represents that failure will not be detected, after which the ‘risk priority number’ is ascertained by proliferating S(Severity)* L(Likelihood)* D(Detectability). In the end, the list of potential failures must be sorted and alternate ways of reducing the risk with failures must be identified (Mantel J S. Jr, Meredith R J, Shafer M S, Sutton M M, Gopalan R M. 2006).

For Instance, FEMA for New Product Development Project in Clark Faucet Company especially related to cost estimation in the advertising field through ‘Television’ can be framed like this example given below:

Failure S L D RPN
Not effective 8 6 5 240
Not Compatible 8 4 5 160
No viewer Clientage 6 3 8 144
Not suitable 7 3 2 42

Like risk management planning, monitoring and control are associated with the parent organization, in the same manner, they apply in the same situation for the project as well. To turn any project into a success, it is essential for the entire team or the group to be fully devoted to the improvement of the organization’s risk management activities.

Considering Simpler or More Efficient Ways to Organize and Perform the Work

To ease the work of Clark Faucet Company in implementing ways to organize work, the establishment of a milestone schedule (Young L T. 2002) can be really effective, here the schedule is replaced with milestones which act as a signal at a specific point in the project, it operates as a controlling instrument that effectively places target points in the project schedule, thereby helping in the organization of work more conveniently and systematically. The list of milestones must be recorded on a schedule or on a Gantt chart and the ‘SMART’ test must be applied at all controlling points of the project.

Effective communication binds all members together, an absence of which might lead to conflicts and discords as obvious in the case study of Clark Faucet Company. It is important to answer the questions like who needs to know the information. What do they need to know? To what extent and depth the information should be imparted? And the frequency or time interval in passing on the information? Such answers help in effective monitoring and tracking of the project from time to time. Effective communication also helps in handling the project changes and adapting the process with the external environmental fluctuations exhibiting a flexible approach in the execution of the project.

To make the task of performing easier, once a network is built by hand it can be transferred to the project management software which has an embedded action plan template, where the start and finishing date of the plan are already fed and tracked, once the action plan is entered, the software automatically generates the PERT/CPM network. Incorporating changes become uncomplicated as the corresponding values and deadlines are also changed accordingly (Clements P J, Gido J. 2006).

Even the ‘feudal kingdoms’ can be implemented for maintaining a perfect arrangement for constructing little empires within the organization for better functioning of the entire project. The concept of kingdoms creates an organization with a little amount of integration where the different departmental heads like to maintain their authoritativeness, making the cross-functional coordinated working environment extremely difficult. Good time management must be encouraged to identify time management problems, regular 1:1 sessions must be conducted for measurement of future project improvement. Proper time management can be very beneficial in the above-mentioned case as a lot depends upon timely development of goods and effective coordination among the engineering and marketing departments for considering issues such as advertising which helps in the augmenting of sales. As far as cost management is concerned, to ease the work performance, project cost estimates should be tabulated to confirm the weak breakdown structure. A time-scaled budget graph could be plotted, which is the simplest way to find the project’s start and finish dates (Young L T. 2002).

Perform a Detailed Task Analysis of the Work to Be Performed

The task analysis of the work can be chalked out through PERT/CPM but somewhere they show lag relations between the activities to be performed, to overcome such barriers, a precedence diagram (Mantel J S. Jr, Meredith R J, Shafer M S, Sutton M M, Gopalan R M. 2006) needs to be drawn for the proper lining of the activities such as Finish-to-start linkage, Start-to-Start linkage, Finish-to-Finish linkage, Start-to-finish Linkage, etc.

Other methods for task analysis could be GERT (Graphical Evaluation and Review Technique) which is a combination of flow graphs, probabilistic networks, and decision trees.

Table five

The task analysis can also be performed by drawing a task life cycle, as in the above picture, the Type 1 cycle, reveals a decreasing return to additional resources towards the completion of the project, on the other, had type II displays the opposite (Mantel J S. Jr, Meredith R J, Shafer M S, Sutton M M, Gopalan R M. 2006).

The task analysis includes the task culture of the project as well, for instance, the features that can be included while analyzing the task culture can be first that the organization is created to handle a unique task, further every individual task requires an innovative behavior and cooperation between functional experts whether engineering or marketing as in the above case, the task culture imbibes the knowledge and expertise that influence the outcome of the project (Turner R J, Simister J S. 2004).

Task analysis in the above case could be specifically related to the segregation of tasks into general project tasks, tasks connected only with the chair, tasks connected only with the desk, or tasks connected on the field. After which the task duration estimation may be done to calculate the total time expected to elapse between starting a task and finishing it Turner (Turner R J, Simister J S. 2004). The project leader must decide the sequence in which the tasks are to be done; tasks can be given identification numbers for further simplification of the process. To imply certain tools, a linked bar chart can be used to indicate task interdependencies.

References

Clements P J, & Gido J. (2006). Effective Project Management. First Indian Ed. South Western, Thompson Learning Corporation, New Delhi.

Kerzner H, (2004). Advanced Project Management: Best Practices on Implementation. Second Edition, John Wiley & Sons.

Mantel J S. Jr, Meredith R J, Shafer M S, Sutton M M & Gopalan R M.( 2006). Project Management, Core Textbook. First Indian Ed. Wiley India (P) Ltd. New Delhi.

Schwalbe K. (2007). Information Technology Project Management. Fourth edition. Thompson Learning Inc. New Delhi.

Turner R J& Simister J S. (2004). Project Management- A Comprehensive Handbook. First Indian Ed. Infinity Books. Gower Publishing Limited. New Delhi.

Young L T.( 2002). The Handbook of Project Management: A Practical Guide to effective Policies and Procedures. First Asian Ed. Kogan Page India Private Limited. New Delhi.

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