Posted: May 25th, 2022
Project Management: Case Study
Selling Executives on Project Management
Levon Corporation executives were concerned about the company’s declining revenues (Kerzner, 2013). The company’s employees argued that the decline in revenues was due to the fact that industry trends were changing, and contracts were increasingly being awarded on the basis of points as opposed to the lowest bidder mechanism; since the company had no project management capability, it kept missing out on key contracts, and this affected its revenue stream (Kerzner, 2013). The employees suggested that the project management function be incorporated into the business framework to increase the company’s competiveness. The executives were, however, reluctant to consider this proposal because they thought that such a move would disrupt the organization’s balance of power (Kerzner, 2013). They reluctantly hired a project management consultant to evaluate the employees’ suggestion, but even after the consultant had openly demonstrated that the organization was in dire need of a project management department, the executives still remained apprehensive (Kerzner, 2013).
Why did the executives refuse to listen to their employees but were willing to listen to a consultant?
There are several possible explanations for this. To begin with, since consultants are not part of the organization, they are less likely to be influenced by organizational culture and company politics, and as such, they are likely to give a more objective opinion on the issue at hand – compared to people who work in the organization and who perhaps have other vested interests (Lientz & Rea, 2003; Russell & McGovern, 2012). Moreover, a consultant comes in as a new member, which means they come in with fresh ideas and fresh perspectives that could be used to improve other areas of the organization — areas that could also be contributing to the decline in revenues (Lientz & Rea, 2003). In this regard, the consultant, unlike the employees, plays more than just an advisory role — in addition to giving an informed opinion on whether project management is the best way to go, the consultant will also use their expertise and perhaps their past experience with other companies to advise management on how responsibilities and duties ought to be structured under the new arrangement so that there are no overlaps, lines of authority are clearly defined, and consequently, there are no power-related conflicts amongst executives and departments (Lientz & Rea, 2003).
Why were the executives still apprehensive even after the consultant’s presentation? What strategies would have been employed to get them to support the consultant’s recommendations?
In my view, the consultant was not convincing enough given the executives’ degree of reluctance. First, he begins his presentation by showing how misinformed the company executives are about its financial performance; and this already creates some form of disconnect between him and the executives. Then he makes this worse by failing to address the executives’ most pressing need, which is to show how project management could be implemented effectively without disrupting normal business processes. Instead, he focuses on showing what the executives have done wrong. In my view, therefore, the executives remained apprehensive simply because they were not convinced that project management would be the solution to all the problems outlined by the consultant. The consultant criticized more than he did inform and persuade, and he did not show how project management would solve the organization’s revenue problems.
There are a number of strategies he could have used to avoid this. First, he could have begun by showing the company’s positive performance over the years — the increasing revenue streams, and so on, and then later compare this performance not against that of the industry, but against that of several competitors (at the same level with Levon) who have already implemented project management programs. This would demonstrate, in a more efficient way, that the revenue problems in the company were not caused by size, reputational, or product differences, but by the company’s failure to integrate project management into its business strategy. Additionally, he could have reinforced his position by comparing the revenue positions and trends, say over the last five years, of companies that have implemented project management and those that have not. He could also have used real examples of companies that have successfully implemented the same to demonstrate how duties and responsibilities could be structured to avoid overlaps. Finally, he could have used hypothetical figures to demonstrate exactly how project management would lead to increased revenues.
These would have gone a long way in getting the executives to be more convinced that project management is not only necessary, but is also doable in an efficient manner that does not disrupt normal business operations.
Kerzner, H.R. (2013). Project Management: A Systems Approach to Planning, Scheduling, and Controlling (11th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
Lientz, B.P. & Rea, K.P. (2003). International Project Management. San Diego, CA: Routledge
Russell, D. & McGovern, M. (2012). A New Brand of Expertise. Woburn, MA: Butterworth-Heinemann
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