Remington Peckinpaw Davis: Improper Project Management

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Introduction

The functioning of business companies is subject to permanent pressure of tasks set and results achieved. In this respect, the notion of project management acquires great importance for the success of a business company. In particular, scholars like Morris and Pinto (p. 9), Gido (p. 268), and Kerzner (p. 465) argue that the concepts of project budgeting, project planning, and risks and tools in project management and planning are central to the creation and fulfillment of an effective project management plan. The listed concepts help companies to develop, track, and plan projects for achieving their business objectives, while the case of Remington Peckinpaw Davis is an example of improper project management and issues it might cause to the company.

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The Situation

Issue and Opportunity Identification

Remington Peckinpaw Davis (RPD) is one of the most powerful Wall Street brokerage companies founded over 35 years ago by a Wall Street legend, Sam Remington. Despite being one of the major players of the traditional brokerage market, RPD has faced considerable issues about modernization and developing its e-trading division.

First of all, RPD’s e-trading system turned out to be hardly functional, meaning that all, even basic, operations of this system were complicated by technological errors, time delays, and access denials. In addition, RPD’s e-trading system has been reported to provide false results to its users, thus causing substantial losses to the latter.

Finally, there is little agreement inside of RPD’s staff as managers of various levels found guilt of others; they offer numerous solutions, but the uniform approach to these problems is lacking. So, the following issues and opportunities can be identified for RPD:

Table 1. Issues and Opportunities Identification.

Issues Opportunities Reference to Specific Course Concept
Ineffective e-trading system causes numerous users’ complaints Analyze and improve the work of RPD’s IT department to ensure effective online tools’ use “The Internet can provide a major tool for project management communications but also can be a significant consumer of time and energy” (Morris and Pinto, p. 8);
Lack of uniform project management Design the e-trading project management team, distribute roles, identify leaders, determine accountancy ways “A major problem faced by many project leaders is managing the anxiety that usually develops when a new team if formed” (Kerzner, p. 212);
Reported absence of effective project planning and budgeting tools Modify the project planning and budgeting processes to fit the available tools Effective tools can reduce time-consumption for project management (Rabin et al., p. 23)
Inefficient staff and/or lack of professional project management training Train the present staff and, if needed, employ more specialists “If some team members lack the adequate level of skills needed for the project, a training plan can be developed as a part of the project” (Sanghera, p. 247);

Stakeholder Perspectives/Ethical Dilemmas

Table 2. Stakeholder Perspectives and Ethical Dilemmas.

Stakeholder Groups with Competing Values Their Interests, Rights, and Values The Ethical Dilemma Based on the Competing Values
RPD & RPD’s Online Customers RPD introduces e-trading to increase profit, while online customers suffer losses because of the new system Fair rights and values; the dilemma is to combine RPD’s growing profits with high customer satisfaction levels
RPD’s Senior Management & RPD’s IT Department Senior management blames IT department for e-trading system failure, while IT staff argues about insufficient resources and training Fair values and rights; senior management needs project success, while IT department can provide it only certain conditions
RPD & Company’s Staff Members RPD needs e-trading to succeed, while staff members require additional training and proper role distribution for it Staff’s rights are fair; RPD cannot require improved results without providing conditions for it

The optimal solution selected based on the research and analysis explicitly addresses the ethical dilemmas from Table 2. Specifically, the solution aims at solving the RPD & Online Customers dilemma by changing the corporate decision-making approach and designing the new e-trading system. Senior Management & IT department and RPD & Company’s Staff Members dilemmas are to be solved by providing the latter with required training and tools.

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The “Right” Problem: Remington Peckinpaw Davis

RPD aspires to be a modern company that can effectively function in both traditional and electronic environments, satisfy its customers’ needs, provide actual and timely data, and retrieves its profit from its coordinated work. To achieve this goal, the realization of opportunities identified in Table 1 and the application of proper project management tools in the areas of project planning and budgeting is vital (Sanghera, p. 191; Gido, p. 268).

In more generalized terms, the major way for RPD to become what it aspires to be is to work on eliminating the issues and realizing opportunities from Table 1. Only such a comprehensive approach can allow the company to achieve its “end-state” vision.

“End-State” Vision

Thus, in case if the problem of RPD is solved, issues eliminated, and opportunities realized, the company will achieve its “end-state” vision, i. e. becoming a modern company, whose services can be delivered in person as well as online, via an effective e-trading system. The major criteria of success in achieving the “end-state” vision for RPD will be the absence or decrease at least by 90%, of online customers’ complaints regarding the e-trading system operation, the growth of overall levels of customer satisfaction for at least 20% (measured by respective surveys), and improved management – staff relationships in the areas of goal setting, uniform project management, and required training and resources for effective project goals’ accomplishment.

Alternative Solutions and Benchmarking Validation

Alternative Solutions

Further on, research data allow offering the following alternative solutions for issues identified in Table 1 (Kerzner, p.39):

  • Ineffective e-trading system causes numerous users’ complaints – design a completely new e-trading system that would consider the experiences of the previous one and avoid similar mistakes;
  • Lack of uniform project management – introduce joint decision making to project management, so that all opinions could be considered and implemented;
  • Reported absence of effective project planning and budgeting tools – restructure budgeting approach and provide IT department with all requested tools to increase the project planning effectiveness;
  • Inefficient staff and/or lack of professional project management training – consider opinions of all staff members involved in problem solution and provide effective training for employees to fit into the project framework;

Benchmarking Validation

Further on, the benchmarking research allows arguing that the highly controversial, for RPD, point of numerous opinions and recommendations being the leading cause of the e-trading system failure is not a universal truth at all. Such RPD competitors as E-Trade and OptionsXpress have successfully managed to combine all those various services in their online systems (E-Trade, 2010; OptionsXpress, 2010).

More specifically, both RPD’s competitors have properly functioning e-trading systems that take up to one minute to access and are easy to operate. Both, E-Trade and OptionsXpress have simplified procedures of account opening, provide live support to all online system users, and present education and research options for free (E-Trade, 2010; OptionsXpress, 2010).

Drawing from this, one can see that such a diversification does not harm any other dominant e-trading and brokerage services online, and the fact that RPD’s system cannot operate all these functions evidence that the root of the problem is in the system design, not its multi-functionality. Accordingly, the solution for RPD might be to either restructure, or start from scratch, its e-trading system through the reorganization of the complete process of project management with special emphasis on the IT department.

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Evaluation of Alternatives

Analysis of Alternative Solutions

Based on the above-presented research and the details of the case study, the goal of developing an effective e-trading system is ranked the highest for RPD. The explanation for such a ranking is simple: RPD aspires to become a modern company in which traditional and online brokerage services are effectively combined for customer satisfaction and RPD’s profit.

Accordingly, an effective e-trading system will be a perfect match for the proper functioning traditional brokerage services of the company, which will allow RPD to achieve the bulk of its long-term goals. So, the highest rank is attributed to the most general and significant RPD’s goal:

Table 3. Analysis of Alternative Solutions.

Goals Efficient e-trading Eliminate complaints Unified management Customer satisfaction Improve services Final Rating
Weight 5 4 2 1 3
Primary Alternatives
  1. New e-trading system
5 4 2 4 5 4
  1. Joint decision making
4 3 5 3 3 3.6
  1. Required project planning and budgeting tools
5 4 1 3 4 3.4
  1. Implement employee training
4 4 1 4 5 3.6
Secondary Alternatives
A & B 5 4 5 4 4 4.4
B, C, D 5 4 5 4 5 4.6
A, C, D 4 2 3 3 4 3.2

Narrowed List of Alternatives

Thus, the above discussion and Table 3 allow narrowing the alternative list of RPD to two major points, i. e. alternatives A & B, and A, C, D. An interesting point about them is that it is difficult to select either one of these two alternatives, while together they would allow RPD overcome its currently observed challenges. In more detail, alternative A & B will allow RPD restructure its e-trading system and avoid developing it in the mistaken ways that the previous e-system was developed due to disagreeing management and lack of coordination. At the same time, the combination of A, C, D secondary alternative with A & B point will enable RPD to restructure its performance at all levels, train responsible people properly, and provide them with all tools necessary for effective project management (Sanghera, p. 211; Kerzner, p. 48).

Risk Assessment and Mitigation

Table 4. Risk Assessment and Mitigation.

Alternative Risk and Probability Consequence and Severity Mitigation Techniques and Strategies
New e-trading system
  • No guarantee of success (high);
  • New issues without ready solutions (high).
Severe consequence: wasted resources and accumulating problems.
  • New e-trading system should be accompanied by research and RPD restructuring to be effective.
Joint decision making
  • None
Severe consequence: lack of actual decision making power, anarchy in the company, no solutions to the problems.
  • Joint decision making should be implemented only if a central, and final, decision power is concentrated in hands of one person.

The implications of Table 4 allow arguing that the alternatives of new e-trading system development and joint decision-making implementation are rather risky if implemented alone and without the required background in the form of company’s restructuring, role re-distribution, and project management values’ reassessment (Morris and Pinto, p. 92; Gido, p. 37). However, the relevant research and benchmarking data illustrate the point that implementation of the discussed alternative solutions in the proper context allows companies like E-Trade and OptionsXpress to achieve high-performance results over time (E-Trade, 2010; OptionsXpress, 2010).

Selecting the Optimal Solution

As far as the above-presented discussion excludes the probability of a single solution alternative to be used by RPD to solve all its problems, Table 5 compares the pros and cons of all applicable alternatives to select the optimal one:

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Table 5. Pros and Cons of Alternative Solutions.

Alternative Pros Cons
New e-trading system
  • Opportunity to change;
  • Chance to save RPD’s image.
  • New system can also turn out to be failing.
Joint decision making
  • Unity in RPD’s policies;
  • Elimination of internal conflicts.
  • Potential lack of actual decision making power;
  • Loss of focus.
Required project planning and budgeting tools
  • Increase project planning efficiency;
  • Cost-effective resource allocation.
  • Possible inappropriate tools’ use.
Implement employee training
  • Improve employee qualification;
  • Increase project management efficiency.
  • Potential confusion resulting from project focus change.

Thus, from Table 5 one can see that RPD’s optimal solution will be to integrate the advantages of all alternatives discussed in a comprehensive approach. In more detail, to achieve its end-state vision, RPD will have to improve all details of its performance to reach the more general final aim, i. e. becoming an effective brokerage company operating both traditionally and online. First, RPD seems to need a new design for its e-trading system. Accordingly, to create it, the company should restructure its IT department, provide the latter with necessary project planning and budgeting tools, and train its employees to function effectively in the e-trading project implementation (Gido, p. 42).

At the same time, the implementation of joint decision-making will facilitate the RPD’s restructuring, as it will bring more unity to the company’s policies and will allow avoiding internal arguments between management or staff members. As argued by Kerzner (p. 195), unified project management in which all levels are dedicated to achieving one goal is one of the basic competitive advantages of business companies.

Developing an Implementation Plan

Thus, after the optimal solution for RPD is formulated, the plan of implementing the latter solution should be developed as far as Rabin (p. 606) and Gido (pp. 141 – 142) argue that without a clear plan an organization cannot achieve success because of not having any criteria to measure it and any distinct stages to follow in this process.

Viewing the above-presented discussion as the preparatory stage of the current plan, the latter’s development can be considered as the second stage of a theoretically two-fold project management process that includes preparation and implementations stages:

Table 6. Optimal Solution Implementation Plan.

Action Item Deliverable Timeline Who is Responsible
  1. Preliminary discussions of the plan;
1 week Sam Remington, Mark Peter
  1. Analysis of faced challenges;
1 week Harlan Davis
  1. Formulation of all issues into one document;
1 week Michelle Cavanaugh
  1. Analysis of possible solutions;
1 week Mark Peter, Michelle Cavanaugh
  1. Staff training program implementation;
2 months Kensington Sherman, Harlan Davis
  1. Provision of necessary tools to IT department;
1 month Harlan Davis
  1. IT staff training in new tools’ use;
1 month Harlan Davis
  1. Joint decision making implementation;
3 months Sam Remington, Michelle Cavanaugh
  1. Design of the new e-trading system;
1 month Harlan Davis, Sarah Jones, Jan Peters
  1. New system implementation and monitoring.
6 months Harlan Davis, Sarah Jones, Jan Peters
Total 15 months

Evaluation of Results

Finally, to measure the effectiveness of the selected optimal solution and see if the implementation plan presented above actually works, the following set of criteria and metric should be used by RPD (Kerzner, p. 21; Morris and Pinto, pp. 89 – 90):

Table 7. Evaluation of Results.

End-State Goals Metrics Target
Efficient e-trading system Time to log in and use the system, accuracy of data provided by system Minimum industry time to log in (20 seconds or less), 100% accurate data
Elimination of user complaints Number of complaints per day, week, month No user complaints
Unified management Speed of decision making, people in charge of project management Meeting deadlines set by CEO; 1 person responsible for 1 project
Customer satisfaction Levels of customer satisfaction as measured by surveys Increase of at least 50%
Improved services User and partner opinions of RPD services as measured by surveys Increase of at least 50%

Conclusion

Thus, the above discussion reveals that project budgeting, project planning, and risks and tools in project management and planning are vital elements of the strategic development of any business company today. The example of RPD illustrates the issues to which ineffective project management can lead. To solve those issues, a company should adopt a completely modified approach towards project management and online trading, in which innovation, joint decision making, proper management tools supply, and staff training play central roles.

References

E-Trade. (2010). Official Corporate Web Site. Web.

Gido, J. (2009). Successful Project Management. Cengage Learning.

Kerzner, H. (2009). Project Management: A Systems Approach to Planning, Scheduling, and Controlling. John Wiley and Sons.

Morris, P. and Pinto, J (Eds.) (2007). The Wiley Guide to Project Organization and Project Management Competencies, John Wiley and Sons.

OptionsXpress. (2010). Pricing and Commissions. Web.

Rabin, J. et al. (2000). Handbook of strategic management. CRC Press.

Sanghera, P. (2008). Fundamentals of Effective Program Management: A Process Approach Based on the Global Standard. J. Ross Publishing.

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