Project Management Approaches at Techlogix

Jamshed Hasan Khan

 This case examines the different project management approaches at Techlogix. Some are highly structured and formal while others are relatively unstructured and informal. The Engyro project involved the development of an Applications Service Provider (ASP) Payments System through a highly structured formal project management system, which created few problems in terms of product specification changes and development. However, a Financial Management System (FMS) developed for the Government of Guam through a relatively unstructured and informal project management approach proved to be a bad experience for Techlogix.

The CEO wants to standardize a highly structured project management system for the company. The project managers at Techlogix feared that a highly structured system would reduce flexibility available to project managers. They felt that a structured configuration and change management system would require a lengthy process to bring about changes in a project's specifications. This would eventually discourage change and create customer dissatisfaction or force the project managers to circumvent standardized procedures creating other problems. This case is useful for examining the factors relevant to project management approaches.

Why Giants Change Their Minds

Bin Jiang & William Willette

Both Matsushita and Sony were based in Japan, both manufacture consumer electronics, and both were similar to each other in size and brand reputation. Both of them were also facing the same problem: escalating manufacturing costs in Japan were eroding Japan's traditional advantages in manufacturing, especially when its neighbor China was emerging as the "workshop of the world" with low cost advantage. These two players, however, selected totally different manufacturing strategies. While Matsushita aggressively moved its manufacturing business to China, Sony suddenly shifted some of its production back to Japan. Matsushita's and Sony's supply-chain rebuilding strategies were diametric opposites with the same objectives ― to improve their competitiveness by optimizing their critical success factors across their supply chains.

Today’s competition is not really company versus company, but supply chain versus supply chain. Managers and executives should realize that what they had done before for single firms is now being examined from the perspective of a chain of firms. The contemporary issues in Matsushita and Sony provide an extremely interesting lesson about how to establish competitive advantage by using effective supply chain management and how an advantage can be eroded by using incorrect supply chain management.

Downsizing at Pennar Industries Limited

MM Monippally

Pennar Industries Limited (Pennar), one of the top ten producers of cold rolled steel strips in India, had 650 workers and 630 staff (non-unionized workers, supervisors, and managers) in 1997. Although over-manned and inefficient, the company had been profitable in the domestic market protected by government licensing and high import tariffs. As real competition, unleashed by globalization, began to bite in 1998, the company bought out 142 workers and 224 staff through a Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS). The severance compensation offered was very generous. In spite of reducing the workforce and improving productivity, Pennar ran into heavy losses by 2000. The management decided to downsize further, but it had no money to match the 1998 severance package. The surplus workers would have to go with the statutory compensation and staff without any compensation at all.

The unions rejected the VRS for workers outright when they learned that it offered just one third of the compensation given in 1998. They wanted at least two months’ pay. The negotiations went on without any change of heart on either side. Each Head of Department drew up a list of their workers and staff to be retrenched and called the redundant staff one by one and told them to resign and leave without expecting any compensation. Many resigned and left but some resisted and abused the managers verbally, but there were no cases of violence or litigation. The new VRS for workers was formally announced on April 20, 2001. None came forward. They stuck to their demand for eight weeks’ pay as compensation. Gradually, however, the workers' resistance weakened and they accepted the VRS and left peacefully. This case is useful for examining the human resource management issues and process for downsizing.

M S Sriram & K Kumar was a small firm operating in the niche market of servicing laptop computers. After having a good run for the first four years, where the topline has grown eight times, they were facing problems in maintaining the profitability. In order to grow, the company has examined various options. Some of these options are natural extensions of the current business and some require radically new way of doing business. One of the growth options considered by the company was to undertake software servicing on the net using a technology called Remote-Fix. However, the company, which has presence in only four cities in India, would have to roll out a radically new business model if it were to embrace this new product. Is this route to growth worth it? This case is useful for examining issues and strategies for growth. 

MobileOne Ltd (M1)

Ghee Soon Lim

The present case documents how a young mobile phone company was built from scratch. A number of contingency factors contributed to the successful founding and growth of M1, including leadership, competitive strategy, technological development, customer service, shareholders' commitment, employee quality, community involvement, and industry regulation. Following M1's successful initial public offering in December 2002, management had to find new ways to sustain the M1 miracle. A number of new trends presented M1 with threats and opportunities, including new customer demands, 3G technology, and inter-telco rivalry for the existing set of customers. This case is useful for assessing the conditions for successful start-up as well as examining strategies to maintain growth.

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