Project Management-Evaluate the criteria FEL uses to assign managers to project teams.

| February 14, 2018

Franklin Equipment, Ltd.*Franklin Equipment, Ltd. (FEL), with headquarters and main fabrication facilitiesin Saint John, New Brunswick, was founded 75 years ago to fabricate custom designedlarge machines for construction businesses in the Maritime Provinces.Over the years its product lines became strategically focused on creatingrock­crushing equipment for dam and highway construction and for a few othermarkets that require the processing of aggregate. FEL now designs, fabricates, andassembles stationary and portable rock­crushing plants and services its own productsand those of its competitors.In the 1970s, FEL began to expand its market from the Maritime Provinces tothe rest of Canada. FEL currently has several offices and fabrication facilitiesthroughout the country. More recently, FEL has made a concerted effort to marketits products internationally.Last month, FEL signed a contract to design and fabricate a rock­crushingplant for a Middle East construction project, called Project Abu Dhabi. CharlesGatenby secured this contract and has been assigned as project manager. Thisproject is viewed as a coup because FEL has wanted to open up markets in thisarea for a long time and has had difficulty getting prospective customers to realizethat FEL is a Canadian firm and not from the United States. Somehow these customersview all North American vendors as the same and are reluctant to employany of them because of international political considerations.A project of this scope typically starts with the selection of a team of managersresponsible for various aspects of the design, fabrication, delivery, and installationof the product. Manager selection is important because the product design and fabricationvary with the unique needs of each customer. For example, the terrain, rockcharacteristics, weather conditions, and logistical concerns create special problemsfor all phases of plant design and operations. In addition, environmental concernsand labor conditions vary from customer to customer and from region to region.In addition to the project manager, all projects include a design engineer; anoperations manager, who oversees fabrication and on­site assembly; and a costaccountant, who oversees all project financial and cost reporting matters. Each ofthese people must work closely together if a well­running plant is to be deliveredon time and within cost constraints. Because international contracts often requireFEL to employ host nationals for plant assembly and to train them for operations,a human resource manager is also assigned to the project team. In such cases, thehuman resource manager needs to understand the particulars of the plant specificationsand then use this knowledge to design selection procedures and assessparticular training needs. The human resource manager also needs to learn therelevant labor laws of the customer’s country.FEL assigns managers to project teams based on their expertise and their availabilityto work on a particular project given their other commitments. This typicallymeans that managers without heavy current project commitments will beassigned to new projects. For instance, a manager finishing one project will likelybe assigned a management position on a new project team. The project managertypically has little to say about who is assigned to his or her team.Case* Courtesy of John A. Drexler Jr., Oregon State University.Chapter 11 Managing Project Teams 415Because he secured Project Abu Dhabi and has established positive working relationshipswith the Abu Dhabi customer, Gatenby was assigned to be project manager.Gatenby has successfully managed similar projects. The other managers assigned toProject Abu Dhabi are Bill Rankins, a brilliant design engineer, Rob Perry, operationsmanager with responsibility for fabrication and installation, Elaine Bruder, financeand cost accounting manager, and Sam Stonebreaker, human resource manager.Each of these managers has worked together on numerous past projects.A few years ago, FEL began contracting for team facilitator services from severalconsulting firms to help new project teams operate effectively. Last month,FEL recruited Carl Jobe from one of these consulting firms to be a full­time internalconsultant. A number of managers, including Gatenby, were so impressedwith Jobe’s skills that they convinced FEL top management of the need to hire apermanent internal facilitator; Jobe was the obvious choice.Because Gatenby was instrumental in hiring Jobe at FEL, he was excited at theprospect of using Jobe to facilitate team building among Project Abu Dhabi teammembers. Gatenby was very proud of having secured this project and had expectedto be appointed project manager. He knew that this project’s success wouldbe instrumental in advancing his own career.Gatenby told Jobe, “This project is really important to FEL and to me personally.I really need for you to help us develop into a team that works well togetherto achieve the project’s goals within budget. I’ve observed your success in developingteams on other projects, and I expect you’ll do the same for Project AbuDhabi. I’ll take care of you if you help me make this work.”Jobe outlined for Gatenby how he would proceed. Jobe would begin by interviewingteam members individually to learn their perceptions of each other and ofthe promises and pitfalls of being involved in this project. Meetings of the entireteam would follow these interviews using the information he collected to helpestablish a team identity and a shared vision.Jobe interviewed Bruder first. She expressed skepticism about whether the projectcould succeed. During the interview, Bruder appeared to be distant, and Jobecould not figure out why he had not established good rapport with her. Bruderintimated that she expected a lot of cost overruns and a lot of missed productiondeadlines. But not knowing Jobe well, Bruder was reluctant to identify any specificbarriers to the project’s success. While she would not directly say so, it was clear toJobe that Bruder did not want to be a part of Project Abu Dhabi. Jobe left thisinterview confused and wondering what was going on.Jobe’s next interview was with Perry, the operations manager. Perry has workedat FEL for 15 years, and he immediately came to the point: “This project is notgoing to work. I cannot understand why upper management keeps assigning meto work on projects with Rankins. We simply cannot work together, and we don’tget along. I’ve disliked him from day one. He keeps dropping the fact that he hasearned all these advanced degrees from Purdue. And he keeps telling us howthings are done there. I know he’s better educated than I am, and he’s really smart.But I’m smart too and am good at what I do. There’s no need for Rankins to makeme feel like an idiot because I don’t have a degree. Jobe, I’ll be honest with you.Rankins has only been here for five years, but I hold him personally responsiblefor my problem with alcohol, and for its resulting effect on my marriage. I got divorcedlast year, and it’s Rankins’s fault.”Jobe next talked with Rankins, who said, “I don’t care what you do. Perry andI simply can’t work closely together for the nine months it will take to get it done.One of us will kill the other. Ever since I arrived at FEL, Perry has hated my guts416 Chapter 11 Managing Project Teamsand does everything he can to sabotage my designs. We usually worry about customerscreating change orders; here it’s the fabrication and operations managerwho is responsible for them. Perry second­guesses everything I do and makes designchanges on his own, and these are always bad decisions. He is out of control.I swear he stays awake at nights thinking up ways to ruin my designs. I don’t havethis problem with any other manager.”Jobe left these interviews thoroughly discouraged and could not imagine whatwould come up in his interview with Stonebreaker. But Stonebreaker was quitepositive: “I enjoy these international projects where I get to travel abroad andlearn about different cultures. I can’t wait to get started on this.”Jobe asked Stonebreaker about the ability of various team members to worktogether. Stonebreaker replied, “No problem! We’ve all worked together beforeand have had no problems. Sure, there have been ruffled feathers and hurt feelingsbetween Rankins and Perry. Rankins can be arrogant and Perry stubborn, but it’snever been anything that we can’t work around. Besides, both of them are good atwhat they do—both professionals. They’ll keep their heads on straight.”Jobe was even more bewildered. Gatenby says this project’s success rides onJobe’s facilitation skills. The finance manager appears to want off this projectteam. The design engineer and operations manager admit they detest each otherand cannot work together. And the human resources manager, having worked onprojects with Perry and Rankins before, expects a rosy working relationship andanticipates no problems.Jobe had a second meeting with Gatenby. Before discussing the design of theteam­building sessions, he asked questions to learn what Gatenby thought aboutthe ability of team members to work together. Gatenby admitted that there hasbeen very bad blood between Perry and Rankins, but added, “That’s why we hiredyou. It’s your job to make sure that the history between those two doesn’t interferewith Project Abu Dhabi’s success. It’s your job to get them to work well together.Get it done.”Their dialogue toward the end of this meeting progressed as follows:Jobe: “Why do you expect Rankins and Perry to work well together, giventheir history? What incentives do they have to do so?”Gatenby: “As you should know, FEL requires formal goal setting between projectmanagers and functional managers at the beginning of each project.I’ve already done this with Bruder, Stonebreaker, Perry, and Rankins.Perry and Rankins have explicit goals stating they must work welltogether and cooperate with each other.”Jobe: “What happens if they do not meet these goals?”Gatenby: “I’ve already discussed this with top management. If it appears to meafter two months that things are not working out between Perry andRankins, FEL will fire Rankins.”Jobe: “Does Perry know this?”Gatenby: “Yes.”1. Evaluate the criteria FEL uses to assign managers to project teams. What efficienciesdo these criteria create? What are the resulting problems?2. Why is it even more important that project team members work well togetheron international projects such as Project Abu Dhabi?3. Discuss the dilemma that Jobe now faces.4. What should Jobe recommend to Gatenby?

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