DORALE PRODUCTS (A)
SUBJECT AREA DEFINING A PROJECT
Dorale Products was undergoing favorable growing pains. Business was good. New product
development was viewed as the driving force for the company’s future growth. The
company was now spending significantly more money for new product development, yet
the number of new products reaching the market place was significantly less than in prior
years. Also, some of the products reaching the market place were taking longer than
expected to recover their R&D costs, while others became obsolete too quickly.
Management recognized that some sort of structured decision-making process had to
be put in place whereby management could either cancel a project early before massive
resources were committed or redirect efforts to different objectives. David Mathews was
assigned as the project manager in charge of developing a new product development (project
management) methodology for Dorale Products.
David understood the benefits of a project management methodology, especially as a
structured decision-making process. It would serve as a template or a repetitive process
such that project success could be incurred over and over again. The methodology would
contain sections for project scope definition, planning, scheduling, and monitoring and
control. There would also be a section on the role of the project manager, line managers,
and executive sponsors.
To make the project management methodology easy to use and adaptable to all projects,
the methodology would be constructed using forms, guidelines, templates, and checklists
rather than the more rigid policies and procedures. This would certainly lower the cost
of using the methodology and make it easier to adapt to a multitude of projects. The project
managers could then decide whether to implement the methodology on an informal
basis or on a more formal basis.
The first draft of the new methodology was completed and ready for review by the
vice president (VP) of operations who had been assigned as the project sponsor. After a
review of the methodology, a meeting was held between the sponsor and the project manager
VP: “I have read over the methodology. Is it your expectation that the methodology
should be used on every project?”
PM: “We could probably justify using the methodology on every project. This would
give us a really good structured decision-making process.”
VP: “Using the methodology is costly and perhaps not all projects should require the
use of the methodology. I can rationalize the use of the methodology on a
$500,000 project. But what if the project is only $25,000 or $50,000? What if
the project is 30 days in length rather than our usual 6- to 12-month effort?”
PM: “I guess we need to define the threshold limits on when project management
should be used.”
VP: “I have a concern that we should define not only when to use project management
but also what a project is. If an activity remains entirely in one functional
area, is it still a project according to your definition? Should we also define a
threshold limit on how many functional departments must be involved before we
define an activity as a project?”
PM: “I’ll go back to the drawing board and get back to you in a week or so.”
David’s meeting with the sponsor has raised the following questions. How should David respond?
1. What is a reasonable definition of a project?
2. Is every activity a project or should there be a minimum number of functional boundaries
that need to be crossed? If so, how many boundaries?
3. How do we determine when project management should be used and when an activity
can be handled effectively by one functional group without the use of project
4. Do all projects need project management?
5. Since the use of a formal project management methodology requires time and money,
what should be “reasonable” threshold limits for its use?
Prepare a one-two page single-spaced paper critiquing the attached Case Study. Review Chapter 1 handout. Analyze and synthesize information to make a sound reaction to the case. Include a discussion of the following: 1. What are the facts of the case? Summarize in a paragraph or two. 2. What is/are the problem(s)/opportunity(ies)/decision(s) facing people in the case? In addition, provide discussion for questions listed at the end of the case study.