Posted: May 25th, 2022
Project Management Case Study: The Custom Woodworking Company — Woody 2000 Project
The Custom Woodworking Company, commonly known as Woody’s, has been manufacturing wooden furniture and other household items since 1954. Recently, due to the increase in building and economic activity generally, Woody’s began to increase the types of products it offers and its overall level of output (Project Management Case Study 2000). The company now manufactures cabinets and countertops for wholesalers and retailers as well as continuing to take custom orders for furniture and custom-fit cabinets and countertops for contractors and individual buyers (Project Management Case Study 2000). Due to increased economic expansion and greater potential and opportunities for Woody’s, an expansion effort of the company’s manufacturing facilities was deemed a useful undertaking, and was initially spearheaded by John Carpenter, the son of the company’s founder and newly made a part of the company’s management team (Project Management Case Study 2000). John Carpenter had only recently graduated from business school, and had no real knowledge of the workings of the family business, but as he was the member of the leadership team that was so intent on achieving this expansion, he was put in charge (Project Management Case Study 2000).
The planned expansion included creating a larger workspace for manufacturing operations and the purchasing and installation of additional equipment and technology that would automate many manufacturing processes, making operations more cost-effective and efficient (Project Management Case Study 2000). This would also allow the company to increase still further the amount of wholesale work and large-scale projects it undertook as a part of the massive construction efforts that were ongoing in the region in which Woody’s operated (Project Management Case Study 2000). Right from the outset of this undertaking, however, some problems could be foreseen on the horizon, and these were never adequately addressed. This paper analyzes precisely what went wrong at Woody’s at each step of the way.
Problems can be seen in the beginning methodology used to plan and then implement the desired changes at Woody’s. First, the company’s VP of Finance and Administration Mr. Moneysworth was put in charge of the project, and without any planning or consultation with the production team he invited Expert Industrial Developers (EID) to quote a price for the ill-defined project, then insisted that it could be done cheaper until EID agreed to a fixed-cost deal that still allowed them leeway in payments to subcontractors (Project Management Case Study 2000). From here, the communications regarding the project only got worse; the company’s controller, Kim Cashman, budgeted less than the projected cost of the project yet more than what had been discussed at a management meeting, Ian Leadbetter — an engineer with no administrative or project management experience, and a personal friend of the project instigator and the owner’s son, John Carpenter — was pegged to run the project as Moneysworth took a back seat, and the primary industrial design firm Schemers and Plotters (S&P) began communicating only with Leadbetter, with no cross-communication with the principals from EID (Project Management Case Study 2000).
As the project continued, things only went from bad to worse. Manufacturing drawings were never approved, causing a two-week delay in the construction phase of the project, and by the time installation of the new equipment began to take place it was learned that the newly poured foundations for the expanded building would not be large enough to hold the equipment (Project Management Case Study 2000). Meetings between S&P and EID never took place, so the procurement of the new equipment was never brought in line with the design of the new building and caused other issues with other subcontractors involved in the expansion project and led to more delays and greater expenses (Project Management Case Study 2000).
When Leadbetter was made aware of these issues, he contacted only the subcontractors working on individual aspects of the project, attempting to micromanage without coordinating through the project leaders at the two major companies that had been hired to complete this project (EID and S&P) (Project Management Case Study 2000). All told, the project that had been slated to take a year to complete took over two years, ran into major cost overruns, did not provide the amount of increased production capacity for all areas of Woody’s manufacturing operations as had been hoped and promised, and left a bad taste in many individual’s mouths both at Woody’s and at many of the other companies that had been hired to take part in the project (Project Management Case Study 2000).
The results of this project, as one could imagine, were only slightly short of disastrous. Continued delays in production meant that the company was unable to provide work as it gad previously, and the company even failed to produce certain products that it had already been contracted to provide (Project Management Case Study 2000). This led to the loss of many of Woody’s major contractor and wholesaler long-term contracts, which in turn eliminated any need for the increased production that the project provided (Project Management Case Study 2000). Cost overruns went into the millions, and morale at all levels of the company took a significant hit from the failure of the project, as well (Project Management Case Study 2000). An unrelated decrease in construction activity in the region served by Woody’s also cut into the company’s potential business and potential for profitability quite considerably, amplifying many of the negative effects that were present, and even an outside consultant brought in to make sense of things couldn’t really get detailed information on the project and its failures (Project Management Case Study 2000).
Discussion and Conclusion
The most significant problem facing Woody’s during the planning and implementation phases of the project was a failure to communicate properly and effectively — is at all, to be quite frank — between the various project leaders, department heads, and the contractors and subcontractors involved in the project. Had production staff been involved in the initial planning phases, more cost effective means of achieving the needed or desired increase in operational capacity could have been developed; the likelihood that the project would actually have lead to the desired changes would also have been greatly improved by the planning department’s involvement. Furthermore, had Leadbetter — or better yet, a more experienced and appropriate project manager — facilitated grater communication between the principles at EID & S&P and the other subcontractors involved, many of the issues encountered during construction would have easily been avoided and the project could have run more smoothly and on budget.
There was also a general lack of planning involved in this project from the outset. Though some consideration was given to cash flow issues, the numbers developed were complete guesses and had nothing to do with reality. Allowing the VP of finance to move ahead with hiring the major contractors without consultation or planning was also a poor decision, as this project was not primarily a finance issue. In any future expansion attempts Woody’s management would be wise to involve all affected department heads and executives in every phase of the project’s planning and implementation to ensure consistence, reliability, and a clear chain of responsibility for the project as a whole.
Project Management Case Study. (2000). Accessed 26 October 2010. http://www.maxwideman.com/papers/woody2000/intro.htm
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