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The Accounting Software Installation Project Case Study

The Accounting Software Installation Project Case Study

1. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Accounting Software Installation Project started four months ago and is managed by Karin Chung. Karin thought she had everything planned before the project started. Each company division had trained and informed task force members and six the contractors involved in the project contributed to the work breakdown structure, cost, timeframes and specifications of the project.

Karin got all the important role players together at the beginning of the project and conducted a one day partnering workshop where all the major accounting heads of the different divisions, one member of each task group and key persons from each contractor were invited. The main purpose of the workshop was to improve team building amongst the different divisions with its task groups and the contractors. Two months after the start of the project the first of several problems occurred that should have been a major concern to Karin as the project manager.

Karin did not address the problems and because of her actions the project was falling apart after four months. No integration of project activities took place and that was the main reason why contractors were blaming each other and the project was two months behind schedule. Although problems have been identified that should have been a major concern to Karin, there was no risk scheduling in place from her side. Lack of leadership and poor project management by Karin was a big concern. There was no managing of effective control on project performance, no reporting lines were in place and no progress reports have been completed.

Karin, the project manager had bad communication skills, she created confusion, resulting in the breaking down of relationships between the different role players. She did not play a leadership role. All of that resulted in poor team work between the different contractors and the task team members from the different company divisions. There was no cooperation between the role players and no proper communication channels existed which created very low morale and negative attitudes thus not ensuring a motivational environment for all role players working on the project.

It is recommended that a Project Office be started with a program manager in charge to support the project manager and the different company division heads. A project office will help to integrate the project activities, do effective control and reporting plans on project progress, improve in house and external communications with the contractors and help with the scheduling of a project risk management plan that will result in risk monitoring and control. It is also recommended that it be considered that Karen Chung be dismissed as project manager.

She did not take up her responsibilities as project manager and she do not have the characteristics to be a good project manager. Poor leadership ability is very much visible in the case. 2. CASE EVALUATION a. Reporting Lines/Access One of the task force members from a company division complained to Karen about the contractor dealing with billing. He didn’t want to listen to his concerns about what he saw in the Virginia division. During the week Karen overheard that a consulting contractor badmouthing the work of another.

On the same day an accounting department supervisor complained that new software will not be compatible with the Georgia division’s accounting practices. Within one week three different persons did not follow the correct reporting line of communication. There was no proper staff management plan in place which resulted in no reporting lines to follow. b. Leadership Project Managers need to have certain personal characteristics to be good leaders. Characteristics include being able to identify potential problems, being an expert in relational management, be goal oriented; and to be an effective communicator

According to Harold Kerzner, project managers are responsible for the coordination and integration of activities. In order to do it they need to have strong communication and interpersonal skills. Not one of these leadership skills is visible in this case. Karen could not identify potential risks, she heard about problems and a task force member told her of problems but she did not do anything about it or try to put measures in place to rectify the problems. After four months she asked in a meeting what the problems were, she could not identify it herself.

She does not have any relational management skills as she could not properly handle the conflict between the different project stakeholders in the meeting. She rather stopped the meeting and arranged another meeting. Karen could not get the project stakeholders to work together as she asked them in the meeting to get their relationships with each other back to a win/win environment. No actions have been put in place to rectify the poor relationship from Karen’s side as the project manager. No effective control and goal orientated leadership was visible.

Nowhere during the four months did she ask for progress reports from the stakeholders, if she took any interest in the project and ask for progress reports, she would have seen that the project was behind schedule. No milestones were set to make sure that project goals were on track. Leadership also means good communication skills, which were also missing in the project. After four months when the project was falling apart she arranged a meeting to discuss the project. Communications should have been one on an ongoing and regular basis to discuss the project. In this case all these competencies are non-existent, due to the lack of a leadership. c. Responsibility Responsibilities of project managers include providing leadership in creating , implementing and improving the work, co-ordinate and integrate activities of teams and involving the project team as well as gain commitment from all the different role players. During the four months of the project Karen did not take up her responsibilities as the project manager for example:

She did not provide any leadership when she started getting complaints. She actually told the task member to settle the problem with the contractor himself. Karin overheard contractors badmouthing others but still she did not take up her responsibility to investigate any complaints, although these problems are typical of the kind of smaller projects she worked on before. One consultant mentioned that it is impossible to tell who is in charge, which indicated that coordination of activities between the different company divisions and contractors were not in place.

There was no involvement from Karin to get the project team together to discussed and assess the problems that occurred. One consultant stated that their group met separately on small problems, but no meetings were scheduled with all role players involved to discuss the problems. In this case all these competencies of responsibilities are non-existent from the project manager. d. Active listening The entire team involved in the project did not show any skills of active listening or communication.

A task force member complained to Karen that one contractor dealing with billing did not want to listen to his concerns. Karin did not listen to any complaints or problems she heard. She was not interested in the project. One contractor even wrote his concerns in a formal letter due to the lack of active listening. Nobody asked for any clarification on problems, they were blaming each other. e. Communication No formal or informal communication took place within the first four months of the project, being the reason for all the problems of the project.

All staff members involved did not follow a communication plan. A task member went straight to Karin. Karin did not follow any communication plans or channels in terms of decision-making, as she told task force member to settle the problems with the contractor himself. No sharing of information on the project between the company divisions heads, contractors and Karen took place during the first four months. In order to promote good relationships everybody must have an equal understanding of the progress on the project.

It does not seem as though there was any cohesion amongst the different role players working on the project. A task force member complained to Karen, a supervisor told her of test that was done on the new software at the accounting department. Nobody really knew what channels to follow. This clearly shows that there are no proper meetings in place to ensure proper communication lines between task force members, company divisions heads, contractors and the project manager. A thorough explanation of problems should be given in meetings.

Issues must be clarified during the project. If information is communicated, everyone knows the goal and their part in attaining the same. This also has a negative impact on the relationships amongst company divisions and contractors. f. Knowledge transfer The Accounting Software Installation Project is not the first software project Karin is managing as she had previous experience of smaller software projects. Nowhere is mentioned that she was giving coaching or on the job training to company divisions heads or task members. g. Support

Karin did not support any one of the role players in the projects. Four months have passed and nowhere was there any indication of any kind of support from her side. Karin do not even try to help or listen to complaints or problems. She either ignored it or told them they could sort out the problems with each other. h. No Teamwork No effort was made by Karin with the different role players to engage in collective planning as to how to handle the problems and to get back on track with the successful implementation of the project within the required timelines.

Effective Project Management Fourth Edition,Clements/Gido, page 340 states that, barriers to team effectiveness includes poor leadership, poor communication and lack of commitment. All of the abovementioned barriers are very much visible in this project, the reason why no teamwork exists in this case. i. Processes The entire project was dysfunctional due to all the issues listed above. This is a clear indication that systems and processes were not in place or not in use; for example no integration of project activities, no communication and reporting lines, no scheduling of performance tracking and no identifying of risk and problems.

The company division heads and contractors had no idea what the other one was doing. This was the reason for blaming each other on all the different problems. No established forums are in place to analyze the risk and problems. 3. PROPOSED PLAN OF SOLUTION In view of the above risks that have been identified it is recommended that an experienced project manager get appointed with a Project Office to provide proper support to enable a successful implementation of the software installation. a. Implementation of the Project Office

According to module one of the workbook of project and programme management compiled by Prof Steyn the project office has four main co-ordination activities namely: The integration of all the activities of the project. Communication for in-house as well as external communications. The scheduling of potential risks and problems as well as any uncertainty. Effective control on progress. With the view towards a successful implementation of the Accounting Software Installation it is suggested that they implement a project office to make sure all the abovementioned activities are in place.

According to Harold Kerzner, the project office is developed to support the project manager in carrying out his or her duties. Each company division has a task force leader that will be part of the project office to ensure that the abovementioned activities take place. On large projects, and even on some smaller projects, it is often impossible to achieve success without permanently assigned personnel in the Project Office working together with all the relevant role players of the project. Advantages of implementing a Project Office are as follows: The project manager will have total project control over resources, cost and personnel, •Proper communication and reporting lines will be in place, •A support system will be in place for all the different integrations of the project activities, •Quick response is possible to any kind of risk and uncertainty that can have a major impact on the project, •Teamwork between the company divisions and contractors will improve if all the necessary structures are in place, •Strong technical bases are developed and information is available to all, •Conflicts are reduced, Controlling time, cost and performance to adhere to contractual requirements, •Ensure that all work performed is both authorized and funded by contractual documentation. i. Reporting lines / Access With a Project Office in place proper reporting lines would have been in place. The task force member that complained to Karen would have known where to lodge his complaint about the contractor dealing with billing that didn’t want to listen to his concerns of what he saw in the Virginia division.

Consulting contractor that badmouthing the work of another could have reported the matter if reporting lines were in place. The accounting department supervisor complained that new software for the Georgia division will not be compatible could also been reported. With the Project Office in place those three complaints could have been reported to the right persons and the risk to the project could have been eliminated. ii. Active listening A Project Office would have eliminated the fact that nobody involved in the project showed any kind of active listening or communications skills.

Karin did not listen to any complains and problems she heard, because she was not interested in the project. One contractor even wrote his concerns in a formal letter due to the lack of active listening. Nobody ask for any clarification on problems, they are blaming each other and there were uncertainty. One of a Project Office main activity is the scheduling of risk and uncertainty and to make sure that in house communications get listened to, to ensure concerns do not end in major risks for the project. iii.

Communication If a Project Office was in place formal or informal communication would have taken place within the first four months of the project, and all the risk/problems would have been identified and the project would have been on schedule. Communication channels would have been in place and everyone involved in the project would know where to go if any kind of communication needed to be sent out or who to talk to. Because communication channels were non-existent, task members went straight to Karen with their issues.

Formal meetings would have been conducted on a regular basis if a Project Office was in place. Sharing of project information between the company division heads; contractors and Karen was crucial and would have taken place to ensure the progress on the project. In order to promote good relationships everybody must have an equal understanding of the progress on the project. Nobody really knew what channels to follow. This clearly shows that there were no proper meetings in place to ensure proper communication lines between task force members, company divisions heads, contractors and the project manager.

A thorough explanation of problems should be given in meetings. Issues must be clarified during the project. If information is communicated, everyone knows the goal and their part in attaining the same. This also had a negative impact on the relationships amongst company divisions and contractors. Once again one of the Project Office main activities is to make sure in house and external communication do take place. iv. Knowledge Transfer, Project team development Following project staff assignments, project team members will be trategically co – located at the Project Office to “enhance their ability to perform as a team” (PMBOK, 2004). Formal training will be provided to enhance their individual competencies. v. Support Due to the fact that Karin did not support any one of the role players in the project, she also had no control over the project. Four months have past and nowhere there is any indication of any kind of support from her side. Karin do not even try to help or listen to complaints or problems. She either ignored it or told them they can sort out the problems with each other.

If Project Office were in place the different role players would have known where to report any issues and the staff within the Project Office would have helped and supported them to clarify their concerns and issues. With support systems in place effective control could take place and the project would not have been two months behind schedule. vi. No Teamwork Karin did not involve any of the different role players to engage in collective planning on how to handle the problems and to get back on track with the successful implementation of the project within the required timelines.

One of Project Office activities is to make sure the integration of project activities get discussed which mean everyone involved get informed and that will most definitely improve team work among each other. If that happened, everyone would have known where the project was in terms of progress and milestones achieved. Effective Project Management, Fourth Edition, Clements/Gido, page 340 states that, barriers to team effectiveness include poor leadership, poor communication and lack of commitment. All of the mentioned barriers would have been eliminated if a Project Office was in place on this project. vii.

Project Risk Management Plan One of main activities of the project office is the managing of uncertainty and risk. Uncertainty is an inherent aspect of any project (Meredith and Burke, 2004), hence it represents a risk that may prevent or limit the achievement of the project’s objectives (Burke, 2001). The risk associated with uncertainty progressively decreases during the project life cycle. Project risk management is thus a systematic process that consists of identifying and analysing the risks associated with the project, including planning, monitoring and controlling the responses to these risks (PMBOK, 2004) viii.

Processes If a Project Office was in place, the entire project would have been functional and systems and processes would been in place and the project on schedule. Integration of project activities, communication and reporting lines, scheduling of performance tracking and identifying of risk and problems would all have been in place. The company division heads and contractors would have known what the other one is doing, no reason for blaming each other on all the different problems and teamwork would happen. b. Appointment of a new project manager

If an experienced project manager had been appointed, with a Project Office to provide the proper support the accounting software installation project could have been a true success. If proper project management had been applied, the following would have been achieved: •Potential problems and risks would have been identified •Project performance would have been on schedule if project progress was monitored on a regularly basis. •Communication levels and channels would have been in place and effective communication could have taken place if communication channels were in place. Effective communication establishes credibility and builds trust.

Teamwork would have been in place if effective relational management took place. Internal and external customer satisfaction would have been a reality. i. Leadership According to Harold Kerzner, project managers are responsible for the coordinating and integrating of activities and in order to do it they need to have strong communications and interpersonal skills. Project Managers need to have certain personal characteristics to be good leaders. Characteristics includes: Identify potential problems, expert in relational management, goal oriented and to be an effective communicator.

Not one of these leadership skills from Karen Chung is visible in this case. Below some of the core competencies that any project manager should have to be a successful project manager. •Visible leadership: Get team members to work together and take action. Requires the tenacity to see actions through to the end and see the results. •Flexibility: The ability to adapt and to deal with situations and management of expectations during change is critical to his/her co workers especially the stakeholders. •Sound business judgement: Need to know the business purpose of the project and make decisions in the context. Trustworthiness: Companies are betting their future on project managers and should present a low risk because of a sound track record. •Communication styles; Project managers must get others to act and influence them to get action. Project managers need to be able to recognize a person’s communication style and adapt accordingly. •Coach and mentor: The project manager must build trust in order for the team and stakeholders to seek coaching and feedback. •Active listening skills: Need to read body language, and by listening well they achieve better understanding of team members and others. Constructive project management negotiations: Need to know when to say yes or no. Being able to create win–win situations. •Issue and conflict resolution: Conflict resolution models to be followed and have to learn to cope with the resolution and handle stress. •Organizational and leadership skills: Must be able to identify the project stakeholders and create linkage amongst them to gain respect. •Project management processes also include planning, estimating, scheduling, tracking, controlling, measuring, and re engineering. •Project definition: Any destination requires a plan as to how to get there.

Project managers needs to be able to define the project business objective, goals, deliverables, assumptions and constraints. It enables the stakeholders to understand and agree upon the goals required, responsibilities, assumptions, and the success thereof before the works commences. •Planning process: The project manager must be able to bring the right resources to project, and one common mistake is that they go through the lifecycle process once at the beginning of the project and needs to understand that it is constantly required during the project lifecycle.

Karen could not identify any potential risks, she heard about problems and she was told of problems but she did not do anything about it or try to put any measures in place to rectify the problems. Only after four months she scheduled a meeting and asked what the problems were, she could not identify it. She did not have any relational management skills as she could not properly handle the conflict between the different project stakeholders in the meeting. Karen could not get the project stakeholders to work together as she asked them in the meeting to get their relationships with each other back to a win/win environment.

No actions have been put in place to rectify the poor relationship from Karen’s side as the project manager. No effective control and goal orientated leadership was visible. Nowhere during the four months had she asked for any progress reports from the stakeholders, if she took any interest in the project and ask for progress reports she would have seen that the project is behind schedule. No milestones were set to make sure that project goals were on track. Communication skills were also missing in the project. After four months when the project was falling apart she arranges a meeting to discuss the project.

Communications should have been done on an ongoing and regular basis to discuss the project. In this case all these competencies are non-existent, due to the lack of a leadership and that is the reason why it is recommended that Karen Chung be replaced as project manager. ii. Responsibility Responsibilities of project managers includes, providing leadership in creating ,implementing and improving the work, coordinate and integrates activities of teams and involving the project team as well as gain commitment from all the different role players.

Nothing of the above responsibilities during the four months of the project was taken up by Karen. Karen did not provide any leadership when she started getting complains. Karin did not take up responsibility to investigate any complaints, although these problems are typical of the kind of smaller projects she worked on before. One consultant mentioned that it is impossible to tell who is in charge, which indicated that co-ordination of activities in the different company divisions and contractors were not in place.

One consultant stated that their group met separately on small problems, but no meetings were scheduled with all role players involved to discuss the problems. In this case all these competencies of responsibilities are non-existent from the project manager another reason why it is recommended that Karen been replace as project manager. 4. CONCLUSION To implement The Accounting Software Installation Project successfully Karen Chung must be replaced as project manager with an experience project manager that has all the desired personal characteristics a project manager must have.

Not one of the desired characteristics a project manager needs to have to be successful was visible in this case with Karin. It is also recommended that a Project Office be started with and program manager in charge to support the new project manager. A Project Office will help to integrate the project activities, do effective control and reporting plan on project progress, improve in house and external communications with the contractors and help with the scheduling of a project risk management plan or uncertainty that will result in risk monitoring and control.