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7The Blue Spider Project


(Student name)

  1. Executive Summary

The success or failure of any project depends on the management strategies applied to meet the goals of the project. A project is defined as a unique operation with the aim of achieving a specific goal. Projects are temporary thus take place within a specified duration and require specific resources to achieve the set goals. Since projects are not routine operations, the project teams can compose individuals from different organizations and across varying locations (Schwalbe, 2009, P. 1-10).

Project management involves the application of skills, tools, knowledge, and techniques to the activities of a project to ensure that the goals of the project are met effectively. Project management as a discipline was developed in the mid-20th century and has since then gained application in the various fields. Project managers, therefore, play an integral role in ensuring that the projects which they spearhead are successful (Harvard Business Review Press, 2013, p. 9-18).

Project management takes place in five stages. The first stage is initiation which involves determination of the nature and scope of the project. The initiation phase of project management is important since it helps the project in meeting the needs of a business. The second phase is the planning state where detailed organization is done to the project; the planning phase helps in determining the time span of the project, the resources needed and the overall project cost (Carroll, 2012, p. 23-30). The third stage is execution where the plans of the project are implemented by the management. This stage mainly involves the allocation, coordination, and management of resources. The final stage of project management is monitoring and evaluation which involves performing actions to ensure that the timely identification of problems and taking corrective actions where necessary (Heagney, 2012, p 4-18).

The main aim of this paper is to assess how projects can be managed efficiently so that the set goals are met accordingly. The paper uses the case study of the Blue Spider Project as a point of reference and highlights the problems that led to the failure of the project even though it was a good one that would give Parks Corporation a good return. The Blue Spider Project was an endeavor to improve the structural capabilities of the Spartan Missile, a short-range missile used by the army. According to the army, the missile demonstrated fatigue failure after six years in the field, which was three years less than the original design specification. The army, therefore, needed materials that could increase the life span for the Spartan Missile. Finally, the paper gives recommended practices on how to efficiently manage projects.

  1. Project Initiation

  1. Project charter statement

  2. Ethical Issues in the Blue Spider Project

One of the ethical issues in project management is making shady deals. Money attracts people and business leaders, as well as project managers, tend to focus on the financial return of projects rather than the implications of making shady deals to the organization (Haukur & Ingason, 2013, p. 43).

When writing the proposal for the Blue Spider Project, for instance, Gary Anderson finds out that the technical specification states that all components must be able to operate successfully through a temperature range of -650F to 1450F and the current testing indicated that the Parks Corporation design would not function above 1300F. When he tells his boss, Henry Gable about this problem, he says that truth does not win proposals and the duo chose to state their design operates up to 1550F. This is a lie meant to impress the customers so that the organization wins the contract.

Another ethical issue in project management is getting the wrong people on the job. In many cases, management of organizations selects people who are not qualified project managers to the position to enable them fulfill their needs. In the Blue Spider Project, Gary Anderson, who is a mechanical engineer by profession, is assigned the role of project manager because of his experience in Research and Development. However, he does not have the qualifications of a project manager. This results in several problems in the Blue Spider Project as the project manager cannot strike a balance between his technical and administrative roles.

Furthermore, poor planning is an ethical issue in project management since it leads to poor execution of the project and eventual project failure (Furman, 2015, p.63). Eight months into the project, Gary realizes that the budget is nearly expended and asks for extra money from corporate funding. In a meeting with the team members, he gives a new schedule to the production and engineering teams, asking them to adhere to it.

These teams are seeing the schedule for the first time and cannot make instant decisions without consulting their bosses. The departments find it difficult to reschedule their resources and facilities for the benefit of the Blue Spider Project on such a short notice and question the planning skills of the project management team.

The other ethical problem in the management of projects is motivation of the workforce. The workforce of any project determine the success or failure of the project. Consequently, motivation of the project team leads to successful execution of a project. Since Gary Anderson performed most of the work in the Blue Spider Project alone without consulting the departments involved such as the technical, engineering and the functional departments, the workforce felt demotivated and distanced themselves from the project to avoid being blamed for the uncertainties in the project.

When Gary is buried in administration work, Henry and Paul develop a new material JXB-3 which would allow Gar to meet the requirement specifications. When he tries to communicate this to the functional department, they are disappointed at his way of managing the project and feel demotivated. This is because they had been working on the existing materials and had no idea of the introduction of the new material. At some point when Gary needed assistance, many of the workers had left for vacation, forcing him to do most of the work alone. Following the inability of the Blue Spider Project to motivate its people, it was considered a failure by grapevine as some of the workforce were said to act as if they were in a sinking ship.

Lastly, misappropriation of the project funds is another ethical issue in project management and can lead to dire consequences. After producing poor results in their meeting with the main contractors, Parks Corporation introduces a new material JXB-3 to be used since it is able to meet the requirement specifications of the contract. However, the company uses the customer’s money in conducting these tests without informing them.

Since the company decides to change the materials for the project from the first ones given, it should bear the obligation to pay for the test performed on the materials. In this case, however, Parks Corporation chooses to use the customer’s funds without informing them, which is a breach of contract. In fact, they cover their deeds by telling the customer that the corporation is using its resources to fund the customer’s project for the customer to be impressed. This leads to financial problems in the future causing the project to require corporate funding.

  1. Risk Management

Risk management in project development is essential in ensuring that the potential risks in the various stages of a project are identified early enough and action taken to prevent their occurrences. Project risk management involves the identification, analysis and response to risk factors throughout the life cycle of a project. The main aim of risk management is to control the possibility of occurrence of adverse effects rather than reacting after their occurrences (Kendrick 2009, p. 87-175).

The Blue Spider Project exhibits various risk factors that affects proper functioning and execution of the project. One of the risks involved in the project is the poor selection of the project manager in the initial state of the project. During the initial stages of the project, Henry Gable assigns Gary Anderson the position of project management in the Blue Spider Project because of his experience in research and development.

However, Gary is not a qualified project manager and finds it difficult to balance his technical and administrative responsibilities. The result is that the reports given to the customer is dissatisfactory. To avoid this risk, the company should have selected one of its moral project managers to take care of the project while allowing Gary Anderson to help with the technical work.

The other risk that occurs in the Blue Spider Project is the requirement risk. Requirement risks in project management occur when the requirements of the project due to the increased changes in the project requirement, poor definition of the requirements and not making the requirements known to the project team.

In the Blue Spider Project, Parks Corporation changes the material requirement after presenting the original material to the main contractor, Lords Industries, thus making it difficult to convince the army about the new material JXB-3. Parks Corporation would have avoided this risk by being truthful with the customer and informing them that their design could not function above1300F. Although they would have lost the proposal, they would be working within the confines of ethics.

Another risk associated with the Blue Spider project is the technology risk where the selected technology does not match the customer requirements. In the Blue Spider Project, the customer specification requires that the design material be operated between -650F and 1450F. The design of Parks Corporation, however, cannot function beyond 1300F. The Company chooses to state in the proposal that they expect their design to function up to 1550F. This lands the corporation in trouble, causing them to spend sleepless nights testing materials that eventually have faults.

The other risk involved in the Blue Spider Project is the human resources risk. In organizations, the human resources risks occur when the one developer performs all the tasks, workers leave the project before its completion and when conflict among teams result in poor communication and extra working hours without motivation (Heldman, 2009, p. 78). In the Blue Spider project for instance, the project manager, Gary Anderson concentrates on doing most of the administrative paperwork and technical work without letting the concern departments know the progress.

At one point he asks the departments to reschedule their resources and facilities to the project, an idea which faces resistance from the departments since they cannot make such instant decisions. The result is that the workforce is demotivated and distance themselves from the project. In attempting to avoid this risk, the project should have involved the participants in the activities of the project, causing them to be part of it, thus, making them feel motivated.

  1. Stakeholder Management

Effective stakeholder management is important in ensuring the successful implementation of projects. Stakeholder management refers to the development, monitoring and maintenance of constructive relationships with the stakeholders. The stakeholders of an organization are the individuals or groups of people that are interested in or are affected by the activities of an organization. Maintaining good relationships with the stakeholders is important to both businesses and projects since it helps in building mutual trust, increases positive perception of the project despite the outcomes and helps in reducing and uncovering risks (Eskerod &Jepsen, 2013, p. 51).

The Blue Spider Project consists of two major stakeholders; the Lord Industries and the Army. The main aim of the project is to develop a longer life span for the Spartan Missile used by the Army since the original one exhibits problems after only six years in the field. The Lord Industries is the main contractor while the Army is the customer issuing the contract. Parks Corporation is selected by the Lord Industries as a subcontractor to help in the delivery of the expectations of the customers. However, there are many communication problems that occur between Parks Corporation and the stakeholders causing mistrust.

One of the management communication issues that occurred in the Blue Spider project is agreeing on the deliverables. In project management, there is the need for deliverables to be agreed upon and communicated to the stakeholders in time (Buchholtz &Carroll, 2014, p. 45-60). This ensures that there is a clear understanding of the project deliverables by all parties before the project begins.

In the Blue Spider project, however, Parks Corporation changes the material without informing the stakeholders. Additionally, the company uses the customer’s money in testing the new material without informing them. The result is communication breakdown, causing the Lord Industries to reintroduce interchange meetings with Park Corporations where they can exchange information regarding topics when both parties are familiar with such topics.

Communication management issues within the Blue Spider Project are further exhibited in the management of the departments in Parks Corporation involved in the project. In project management, there is the need to keep the project team posted about the progress of the project. This is however not the case in the Blue Spider Project. The project management office undertakes most of the tasks of the project solely and involves the other departments when they have problems, thus showing a state of poor communication.

After running behind the schedule in producing the verification mix, for instance, Gary involves the different departments who complain that they were never informed of the progress of the project. Working on the mix to meet the deadline results in the use of wrong materials to produce the verification mix, and Lord Industries threaten to give the project to another subcontractor.

Communication management problems emanating from Parks Corporation spill over to Lord Industries and the Army. Following the poor results achieved by the first set of materials given by the Parks Corporation, a decision is made to change the material without the knowledge of Lord Industries and the Army. This puts the main contractor in a difficult position of explaining these developments to the customer, hence the postponing of the review meeting. When the design review meeting is held two weeks later, the customer shows dissatisfaction with the prime contractor for putting a new and untested material into a multi-million dollar effort.

  1. Plan, Management and Implementation

  1. Quality Management

The triple constraint, alternatively referred to as the project management triangle is an integral part of project management since the change in one component affects another. The triple constraint comprises the time, scope and cost. The time refers to the actual time required to produce the outcome; the cost is the amount of revenues required to complete the project while the scope are the functional elements that when accomplished, produce deliverables (Morris & Pinto, 2007, p. 71).

The project plan for the Blue Spider Project does not explain how the changes that may occur in during the different stages of the project can be controlled. This explains why Parks Corporation opts to use the financial resources of the customer without their knowledge when testing the new material for the Spartan Missile improvement. Additionally, due to poor timing of the project, the cost of the project shoots and the management team has to get corporate funding to continue with the project.

One of the reasons why the project plan should explain how changes in the project will be managed is to ensure that the quality of the project is maintained. This is because changes in the project can undermine the quality of the project since employees may be forced to work harder to meet the deadlines leading to production of poor work (Young, 2013, p. 135). This situation is seen in the BS project when the workers are forced to work harder to meet the requirements of the customer after introducing a new material. The result is that the wrong raw materials are used in making the verification mix, hence, poor quality.

Another reason why it is important to explain how change in the project will be managed in the project plan is to ensure proper communication between the project team and the stakeholders (Neal & Harpham, 2012, p. 95). With a good project plan, the project managers can be able to know how to communicate the changes to the stakeholders involved while considering the consequences of the change. In the BS project, since the plan does not explain how changes in the project can be communicated to the stakeholders, resulting in poor communication and mistrust following the introduction of a new material for the improvement of the Spartan Missile.

  1. Choice of the Project Manager

The selection of the project manager for the Blue Spider Project was not right. Gary Anderson was not qualified to be a project manager. First, he was a research and development specialist and had no experience in project management. Consequently, he had problems in balancing his technical and administrative roles for the position. The result was that he concentrated on one thing and forgot the other, resulting in dire consequences for the project.

Another reason why Gary was not a qualified project manager was due to his poor communication skills. Project management entails communication at all levels (Binder, 2007, p. 109-117). Due to his poor communication skills, Gary could not hold meetings with the stakeholders to explain the progress of the project. Effective communication was hindered even within Parks Corporation under his management, thus resulting in stakeholder dissatisfaction.

Additionally, Gary Anderson was not a qualified project manager since he was not competent. In project management, it is important for the project team to have confidence that the project manager knows what he is doing and is good at it (Taylor, 2006, p. 50). In the case of the BS project, the project team have no confidence in the competence of the manager. At some point, the department heads question the manner in which the project is run by the project manager. This further shows his lack of experience in the field of project management.

The issue of team building is another factor that disqualifies Gary Anderson from being a good project manager. A good project manager has the ability to form a team and make them work together towards the realization of the project goals and objectives (McGee & Mcaliney 2007, p. 190). From the happenings in the BS project, it is clear that Anderson is not a team builder. This is because he does things without the knowledge of the other people involved in the project. The result is that the project team feels unappreciated and distance themselves from the project to avoid being blamed should there be problems.

  1. Contract

  1. Mistrust between the customer and contractor

In business dealings, it is important that the contractor and the customer maintain mutual trust for the smooth flow of work. The loss of trust between the contractor and the customer can lead to dire consequences. One of the consequences of the loss of trust is a situation whereby the customer comes in to monitor the activities of the project (Kerzner, 2009, p. 244). In the BS project, for instance, the customer, Lord Industries, establishes a customer office at Parks Corporation to follow the work done at a closer range. The customer further proposes that the customer care representative holds verbal meetings with Gary Anderson and his staff and keep them posted.

Secondly, a situation of mistrust between the customer and the contractor can result in demotivation of the contractor’s employees. Since the employees determine the success or failure of the project, their demotivation can cause loss of the contract. The establishment of the customer office at Parks Corporation in the Blue Spider Project, together with the poor management practises led to demotivation of the employees with most of them losing the willingness to work in the project.

Furthermore, mistrust between the contractor and the customer can cause the customer to impose restrictions on the contractor (Cheung, 2007, p. 164). In the Blue Spider Project for instance, the customer demands that its top engineers communicate directly to the engineering team at Parks Corporation. This kind of communication is likely to put the contractor into problems, but they are forced to do so to earn the customer’s trust. Due to mistrust issues, the contractor reintroduces review meetings to Parks Corporation, meetings that were not held initially because the customer trusted the company.

  1. Firm fixed price contract

A firm fixed price contract provides a price that cannot be subjected to any adjustments on the foundation of the contractor’s cost experience in performing the contract (Heldman & Mangano, 2009, p. 149). This choice of contract for the BS project was not right. This is because it places much risk on the contractor. In the BS project, signing an FFP contract meant that the Parks Corporation was agreeing to take full responsibility for the costs and the resulting profits or losses. Owing to the poor management of the project, losses were more likely to be encountered.

Instead of signing the FFP contract, Parks Corporation should have used the fixed price incentive firm contract. This is because such type of contract is negotiable and would have allowed the contractor to negotiate should there be risks involved (Wasson, 2015, p. 161). Besides, the fixed price incentive contract is acceptable in a situation where the contract labour and material requirements are uncertain, which was the case with the Blue Spider Project.

  1. Calculation

    Initiation Stage



    Scope management

    Time management

    Resource management

    Communication management

    Stakeholder management

    Risk management

    Contract and procurement management

There is the need for the management of an organization to employ experienced project managers. This way the quality of the project is assured unlike in the case of BS. Additionally, high ethical standards should be maintained in closing business deals to avoid inability of businesses to comply with the requirements of the customers.


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