UMBC Engineering Management

Permanent URI for this collection

The Engineering Management Program teaches you the skills you need to move up the management track in an engineering or technology company. This graduate program emphasizes the essential leadership, business, and management skills required to effectively manage and lead people and complex projects in a technical company. It is ideal for someone who is entering their first leadership role or aspires to move into management.


Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 20 of 21
  • Item
    Post- Crisis Leadership: How Leaders can Embrace Chaos
    (Forex Press, 2020-12-04) Robinson, Denean
    Post-crisis leadership is a proactive approach where leaders must survey the internal and external environments to garner the trend of consumers buying behaviors. During this time, data analytics, re-energizing of sales and selecting a leadership style is crucial in beating your industry competitors. By reading this article, it will give leaders a new look on how to create marketing, and employee development strategies in defining their organizations. Strategic and tactical planning are key concepts needed to create internal activities for immediate implementation. Employees and leaders must work together to create a win-win situation for the consumer during these unprecedented times. This article will discuss several main theories. Those theories include: Customer Relationship Management, Four Functions of Management and Servant Leadership. In a post-crisis pandemic, leaders must learn how to plan, organize, lead and control. The planning phase leads managers to develop an overall strategy by selecting goals, allocating resources and determining success rates of the plans to improve the overall strategy of the organization. During the second phase, organizing determines the organizational structure for executing the plans, assigns authorities, defines resource allocations and details how well tasks will be organized. In the third phase, leading will identify those who will head the plan and manage all tasks during implementation. Controlling is the last phase where continuous monitoring occurs surrounding goals completions and interventions. Customer Relationship Management and Servant Leadership focus on strengthening relationships with your customers to determine what are the next steps in satisfying their buying behaviors. Leaders have to help customers get as much value from the product or service as they can. Organizations have to develop a meaningful partnership so the customer can generate revenue. Finally, leaders have to be proactive, develop long-term relationship bonding, demonstrate product/service value, and generate revenue.
  • Item
    Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) Technology and Applications
    Ray, Jeffrey
    The purpose of this paper is to summarize the Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) technology and determine where it is in its evolutionary development. Technologies that fragment data into small pieces typically have very poor performance because there is no mechanism to detect and retransmit lost cells when a piece of the data is lost in transit. The only way to recover the damaged cell is to retransmit the entire large packet again. An alternative to inefficiently retransmitting the entire packet is to only retransmit the individual cells that are lost or damaged. The ATM technology incorporates the ability to retransmit only the cells in each packet that were not received properly. It also enhances transmission performance by reducing flow control activity required at each network link. Surveying recent products serves as an effective barometer for determining how the ATM technology is evolving. State-of-the-market ATM products indicate that an ATM design solution provides unmatched speed, fault-tolerance, and scalability through multiple, meshed inter-switch connections that support load-sharing across networks. At its current point in evolutionary technological development, ATM is a key enabling communications technology that will introduce new applications to users and network providers, as well as provide higher bandwidth capacity to networks. Because of its high-bandwidth capacity and cell-oriented architecture, ATM is the dominant infrastructure for delivering virtually all types of communications, including data, voice, image, and multimedia, into the buildings and desktops of users around the world. By carefully considering critical performance issues, and accommodating existing legacy systems during ATM implementations, the telecommunications industry has insured that ATM will not only be the design solution of the future, but that it can provide cost effective applications today as well.
  • Item
    The Economic Man
    (2012-04-15) Ray, Jeffrey
    This paper questions how economic systems are using knowledge to support economic decision making. Scientific knowledge collected by centralized planners is not the right type of information to base economic decisions on since it does not have the capacity to consider local opportunity factors. These concerns, originally espoused by Frederick Hayek when analyzing the economy as a whole, can be decomposed to focus on individual businesses. A large corporation, encumbered with a traditional vertical organizational structure, typically has an executive management team taking on the role of the centralized planners in Hayek’s model, and is forced to make decisions without the local opportunity knowledge that may be available in their low-level business units. Economic decisions must fundamentally be based on accurate information that considers local opportunities, and must be made rapidly in today’s dynamic market place. To get access to local knowledge from their low-level business units, executive management teams should consider implementing learning organizations with horizontal management structures that encourage collaboration. Companies with centralized organizational structures simply move too slowly to be competitive. The “Economic Man” is an economist’s creation designed by Mr. Hayek to show how unlikely it is that economic decision makers could ever accurately predict future economic conditions. A hypothetical “Economic Man” with “perfect foresight” was described, in essence, to allow readers to visualize the futility of the assumptions underlying our current economic theories. Yet in today’s competitive business environment, perfect foresight is precisely the standard we impose on our executive managers. The perfect knowledge assumption is said to mislead these economic decision makers into a false believe the problem is simpler, from the perspective of the information needed to support such decisions, than it actually is. This results in poor investment decisions by managers that collect the wrong economic data. The division of labor concept notices that complex jobs can be more efficiently completed by a number of workers performing specialized tasks, than by one worker trying to complete the entire job. By dividing up the required skills on complex tasks across multiple workers, they can become specialists and work their assigned area more efficiently. The level of knowledge required to make workers skilled specialists is essential for the division of labor concept to be effective. Further knowledge is required to quantify economic input variables to the extent that decision makers in executive management can accurately predict how the marketplace will unfold and, in so doing, achieve an "economic man" like stature. No matter how we materialize or describe the problem; it seems the effective acquisition and use of knowledge is the correct answer. Peter Drucker relates the economic successes a corporation has with their ability to create “core competencies” that lead to market leadership positions. He begins to abstractly define the type of data that should be collected to help managers of these corporations monitor the strength and relative position of their core competencies. This relates to Mr. Hayek’s concern that managers need accurate, but relevant, information to base their decisions on. Just when things were looking bleak for our hypothetical “Economic Man,” these important steps define feasible types of real time information processing that can support economic decision makers monitoring the strength and position of core competencies. While it’s not quite as good as the perfect foresight imposed on our “Economic Man,” relevant, near real time economic data is a giant leap forward.
  • Item
    Knowledge and Knowledge Barriers
    (2011-11-14) Ray, Jeffrey
    This paper investigates spacial clustering of entrepreneurship and considers work advanced by David Andersson in the field. It assesses the influence that knowledge, in the form of insight, has on creating local economic opportunities, and relates how knowledge is used to advance the theory of spacial clustering to other economic models. A survey of how knowledge is used in some of our economic theories is performed to see if its use in the spacial clustering proposition is consistent. In reviewing how knowledge influenced the spacial nature of entrepreneurship, it was determined that alertness of local economic opportunities plays an essential role in determining successful economic endeavors and supports a core management construct that accurate information is fundamental for effective decision making. The review of how knowledge is used within many of our current economic theories is enlightening. Entrepreneurial knowledge with local time and space information incorporated was found more persuasive as a basis for investments than centralized technical knowledge. Alertness of profit opportunities was found to be the type of knowledge that will consistently reduce investment risks. Knowledge, in its many forms, is not necessarily reducible to entrepreneurial alertness, but rather, is merely a factor that helps explain when discoverable profit opportunities are available to entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs must still have perfect foresight and overcome knowledge barriers. This paper concludes that spacial clustering of entrepreneurial innovation, despite the introduction of new networking technologies that facilitate near-universal distribution of information, is an appropriate economic model that takes into account the face-to-face nature necessary for maintaining entrepreneurial alertness.
  • Item
    Combining Measurement Frameworks
    (2011-12-27) Ray, Jeffrey
    This paper reviews and summarizes financial measurement systems and evaluates them against some core management constructs. First, accurate information is fundamental for decision making. Recent improvements in financial control systems and processes offer improvements in the accuracy of the cost and profit data being reported to management. Techniques such as Activity Based Costing (ABC), the Balanced Scorecard, and the Economic Value Added (EVA) concept have improved the accuracy of financial data and given companies that implement them a competitive advantage. Second, the EVA approach can be used to account for the total cost of the capital employed to generate revenues, and provides a metric for measuring the economic value added by corporate operations. Shareholders and the investment community are pressuring managers to deliver value and are demanding more accurate and transparent performance measurement approaches. Combining new and improved performance measurement frameworks may provide synergies that provide even more benefits. The ABC, Balanced Scorecard and EVA techniques are reviewed and evaluated for compatibility to see if they could be used simultaneously in combination, or whether they are mutually exclusive of each other. An analysis of the benefits provided by each technique is persuasive. ABC is a superior method of allocating overhead and indirect costs to products and services so a more accurate evaluation of their profitability can be made. The Balanced Scorecard enables managers to identify and track a number of financial and non-financial metrics to provide an accurate view of operating performance. EVA is an “economic” metric for measuring corporate performance that takes into account the cost of equity on assets employed and helps managers report out accurate valuations of economic profit. Since each technique involves improving the accuracy of information provided to economic decision makers, and can be tailored to a particular project’s critical success factors, the three techniques were found to be complimentary and can be used in combination.
  • Item
    Karl Popper and the Call for Academic Discipline
    (2011-10-29) Ray, Jeffrey
    Karl Popper was a philosopher that criticized traditional views of how knowledge was purported to support scientific and philosophical hypotheses. This paper analyzes the influence Popper had on how knowledge is used to support science. With respect to the formation of theories, the traditional view is observations are the basis of hypotheses that form rules that can be extended past the observations and original experimental constraints and assumptions. This approach causes several problems. The problem of demarcation concerns our inability to draw the line between statements of science and those that are pseudo-scientific, or religious in nature. There is no clear point where science ends and conjecture starts, so how do we know how much reverence to give particular theories? The problem of induction asserts that universal laws are based on specific assumptions, but yet are extrapolated out through an induction process to cover circumstances not originally observed. The assumption that the law applies to new, unobserved circumstances is a risky one and must be supported by new assumptions not verified by the original observations. Researchers still view scientific hypotheses as theories that are proven out by observations during controlled experiments. Popper, however, flipped this view around and argued that any theory was simply a hypothesis that had not yet been disproved. Science is said to be a struggle between competing theories. Every imperfect theory is thought of as a representation of reality that became preeminent by surviving the scrutiny of scientists as they experiment and observe the real world. Rigorous testing eliminates weaker theories, leaving the strong theories to survive. The longer theories survive, the more they are scrutinized and refined to accommodate new findings. Thus, researchers submit their hypothesis to severe testing to expose any flaws in the underlying theory. Although ideas certainly flow from observations, Popper makes a convincing argument that the observations can never be a basis for validating theories due to the problems of demarcation and induction. After some analysis, this paper adopts his contention that a theory cannot be verified through testing, but rather, the test results merely indicate that a theory has not been dis-proven and should be provisionally retained as the best available theory until it is eventually falsified.
  • Item
    Economics, Positive Science and the Quest for Predictive Performance
    (2011-05-12) Ray, Jeffrey
    This paper tracks the evolution of the subject area of positive economics from the contributions of John Keynes, Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman, and Karl Popper. Economics is said to be a “positive science” that can be used to predict the consequences of “changes in circumstances.” Like other scientists, economists need to be self-conscious about their research methodology. Keynes, Friedman and Hayek all attacked the problem of applying scientific methodology to economics from different perspectives. Although in some aspects their results were similar, some key distinctions often contrasted their teachings. This paper addresses these distinctions and concludes that a researcher’s perspective, as they develop and test economic theories, is influenced by the view of how they expect to implement the theories. An advocate for one theory, therefore, may observe the same experiment and come to completely different conclusions than an advocate of another theory observing the same experiment. When viewed as a body of a substantive hypothesis, a theory is found to have a predictive power. Only factual evidence can prove the theory right or wrong. The only relevant test of validity of a hypothesis is to compare its predictions with experience. Scientific theories must be prohibitive in that they forbid by implication particular findings. As such, a theory can be tested and falsified, but never logically verified. The distinction Popper made is it’s not appropriate to infer that a theory can be verified through testing. But rather, test results merely indicate that a theory wasn't proven wrong and, as such, should be provisionally retained as the best available theory until it is finally discredited, or is superseded by a better theory. Since economics is said to be a science that is denied dramatic and direct evidence from conclusive experiments, the fact that theories can never be verified is particularly troublesome. It makes it hard to achieve a consensus for economic theories which tend to require economic metrics collected over time to support them. This renders the weeding-out of unsuccessful hypotheses slow and difficult. While economics may be a positive science, this paper contends it has inherent barriers caused by a scientific methodology that anticipates development of hypotheses that can predict future states, and be verified by controlled observations. The economy is a complex mechanism not suited to abstracting out aspects of the problem to support a focused investigation of potential remedies.
  • Item
    Planning the Research Dissertation Project
    Ray, Jeffrey
    This paper examines what a dissertation is, summarizes some best practices for preparing one, and then describes a detailed action plan that can be used to manage the entire research effort.
  • Item
    Recognizing Project Management as an Abstract Science
    (2012-05-12) Ray, Jeffrey
    Researchers indicate a shift in scholarly focus from a systems perspective, to one of leadership and organizational behavior. To address increasing project failure rates, leadership theories are being implemented to improve project performance by improving organizational cultures. The practice of Project Management, however, does not offer a framework for developing theories to improve project success rates, and then tracking them to prove their validity. This paper suggests that project management is really an abstract science and practitioners should act like scientists and develop project success theories. It concludes by assessing central research paradigms tailored for project management.
  • Item
    Defining Organizational Culture for Entrepreneurs
    (2011-07-24) Ray, Jeffrey
    It appears that innovation, and how an organization can acquire it, is the key to being competitive in the New Product Development (NPD) marketplace. Knowledge that leads to innovation in products, unlike specialized scientific knowledge areas (for which there are designated labor markets to exploit the needed skills), is not home grown, is not the focus of any curriculums in our educational institutions, and is not associated with our typical project management processes. An organization must make a deliberate, on-going effort to develop innovation. If organizations can capture lessons learn from NPD experiences, and develop the characteristics that make the NPD projects successful, then the whole organization will have a better competitive posture. Organizations must have senior management that set clear goals and encourage employees to participate in the decision making to be successful on NPD projects. Since all decisions in traditional organizations are made by managers without the input of their employees, it becomes evident why traditional management approaches are not successful on NPD projects, which must be a collaborative effort. To encourage organizational innovation, NPD project success factors such as maintaining effective supplier relationships, tracking the location and capabilities of innovation clusters, maintaining collaboration between marketing and engineering teams, and implementing a progressive organizational structure, should be implemented.
  • Item
    Using Effective E-Commerce Strategies to Improve Organizational Performance
    (2011-11-20) Ray, Jeffrey
    This paper assesses why it’s important for businesses to make the commitment to engage in an effective e-commerce strategy. In a tough economy like the one we are currently experiencing, engaging in the pursuit of internet sales is a legitimate way for businesses to grow their market share. In the same vain as depicted in the movie Field of Dreams, “if you build it they will come.” An online presence in these difficult times will improve a firm’s competitive posture, reduce advertising costs, evolve it from a local entity to a global supplier, and protect it against major paradigm shifts. Unlike traditional forms of customer communications, online purchasers have control of the information they want to review. The links these purchasers select give an indication concerning their preferences as they navigate through the website, or the areas where they have difficulty completing a transaction due to a problem. Tracking these preferences and problem areas in information systems is one way to predict issues that consumers in a certain profile group may have. Once the preferences of online customers have been assessed and identified, they have to be incorporated into website design solutions. When implementing their online capabilities, companies must commit to taking an online leadership position, keeping a quality focus on products and the services that deliver them, and tailoring online systems to support collective learning organizations. Implementing high quality websites that support efficient online business transactions requires investment in servers and supporting information technology systems to collect, process, store, and distribute the required supporting customer and transaction data. By committing to invest in IT systems designed to support business strategies targeting leadership positions in key business areas, companies can experience growth even in poor economic conditions. Otherwise, the business will take up the stature of a “follower” and slowly lose ground and market share to competitors.
  • Item
    Managing Consumer Trust in Intercultural E-Commerce Transactions
    (2011-11-26) Ray, Jeffrey
    The importance of consumer trust to the success of online business transactions is well documented. An analytical look at the typical online purchase indicates the level of trust required to complete a transaction is dependent on such factors as: the privacy information consumers must provide, the confidence levels consumers have in their suppliers, the perceived quality of the goods, the supplier’s delivery service, customer service options, and the security of the transaction. Consumers are justifiably concerned about the privacy of the personal data they must submit over the internet to complete an online purchase. They perceive security risks to the point they may not want to engage in online transactions. If suppliers can gain consumer confidence and demonstrate the quality of the offered goods via detailed product descriptions in their website content, they can overcome security-related fears and entice consumers to engage in online transactions. Suppliers have resorted to using product and vendor reviews to allow consumers to increase their level of trust in the transaction by vicariously adopting the experiences of previous customers. This practice is now an important part of online purchases and has helped raise consumer confidence. Consumer trust is found to be related to customer satisfaction. It takes a long time for new online customers to gain enough trust and satisfaction to evolve from a mode where they are learning how to conduct online transactions with the firm, to a collaborative mode focused on the relational components of the interactions with the firm that develop trust and lead to long-term business relationships. When customers have problems with online transactions, however, they can quickly become discouraged and distance themselves from the firm. It is imperative, therefore, to understand the customers’ interests and capabilities so a website interface can be developed around consumer profiles focused on anticipated online transactional skills and user preferences. Similarly, a comparison of online to traditional store front purchase transactions reveals the differing quality processes each approach entails, and allows web designers to address perceived risks new online consumers may experience. Finally, market globalization is also increasing the tendency of the world to act as one consumer market. When the buyer and seller are from different cultures, the messages and interactions between them can be misinterpreted. Consumers from different cultures may interpret website content and text differently than the message is intended to communicate. An analysis of how different cultures may affect online business transactions is included below to permit website designers to communicate using generic methods which have a lower probability of being misunderstood. Customer attraction and retention remains a complex, elusive, but very important topic for online businesses. By analyzing online purchases within the framework of transactional and relational components, we can identify the more important aspects of how to build consumer trust with respect to conducting online transactions. Trust is established by ensuring a customer’s online transactional experience is positive, secure, and is supplemented by high quality products and services. Firms must design their websites to overcome cultural barriers when parties to transactions are from different countries, and establish trust with intercultural consumers as well.
  • Item
    The Impact of Technological Innovation Cycles on Organizational Learning
    (2011-12-04) Ray, Jeffrey
    In today’s constantly changing business environment, the ability to acquire knowledge, and to do it quickly, is often the difference between surviving and not surviving. Organizational learning is therefore being recognized as a critical organizational function of considerable interest to corporate leaders. This interest in organizational learning has been encouraged by the perception that learning and innovation are essential for the survival of organizations due to the dynamics of external environments. Despite continued interest by researchers in innovation and organizational learning, there is a gap with regard to considering both issues concurrently. This paper describes how information technology (IT) innovations have brought new capabilities to E-commerce which can potentially improve individual and organizational learning. Focused training programs can ensure organizational learning is realized, and that staff members have the requisite skills to update products and services to keep pace with the market place as new innovative technologies are introduced. Successful organizations are considered the ones that can learn, and learn quickly. Knowledge has become an organizations most important intangible asset since it is accumulated through organizational learning. New tools are available that can support collaboration efforts, but the organization must eliminate policies that inhibit information sharing and collaboration among team members. If an organization has a structural problem due to norms and values that discourage the sharing of information, innovative IT approaches will not improve the organizational performance since the underlying institutional problems will still be in place. The need for organizations to develop dynamic capabilities that can span innovation cycles is clear. If IT investments must be tied to strategic business plans and legitimate value propositions, then individual and organizational learning programs should focus on developing the skill to integrate business value propositions into product investment strategies. Organizations must assess which learning techniques will ensure staff can adapt the firm’s products and services as new innovative technologies are introduced. Ongoing, focused, training can ensure staff has the capabilities to implement product updates that achieve value propositions tied to the new technologies.
  • Item
    Leveling E-Commerce Opportunities for Developing Countries
    (2011-12-31) Ray, Jeffrey
    Recent studies have raised a disturbing issue concerning the ability of developing countries to compete in the E-business marketplace. Historically, researchers have been optimistic and anticipated that E-commerce technologies could be leveraged and benefit underdeveloped countries. Aside from a slight improvement in communications, recent studies have shown that businesses in developing countries do not benefit from advances made in E-commerce technologies. While E-commerce technologies help foreign countries access the markets of underdeveloped countries, they do not return the favor and help businesses in underdeveloped countries. The net result of this unfortunate situation is an unfair level of competition imposed on businesses in developing countries caused by an increase in the digital divide. This paper assesses the level of E-commerce support developing countries are currently realizing, investigates potential benefits or opportunities that E-commerce technologies could bring to bear, and then reviews the barriers that are keeping these opportunities from being realized. Coordinating the actions of government and industry to encourage investment in E-commerce technologies by government, businesses, and individuals, is recommended so businesses in underdeveloped countries and reap the same advantages as their counter parts in developed countries. Given businesses in developing countries did not get to influence the design features associated with improvements to information and communication technologies; it is unlikely they will offer businesses in developing countries the same efficiencies they do to their counterparts in developed countries. The application of the social shaping would allow developing countries to leverage public policy decisions to influence how technology evolves in their local market places. The governments of underdeveloped countries can provide some assistance by adopting policies and regulations, or even to implement laws, to facilitate development and control of E-commerce infrastructure within their own territories. From a global perspective, however, this would be a piecemeal solution. Some kind of international regulation would therefore be preferred. Creative legislative solutions are called for, but at the international level. One approach is to mirror how US municipalities encourage private investment for making infrastructure improvements. Due to tight US municipal budgets, many local county governments leverage land zoning approvals to entice real estate developers into making road and utility infrastructure improvements. By making the infrastructure improvements surrounding the land parcel they are developing, the developers become eligible for zoning and building permit approvals. Costs are prorated to customers for each finished lot the developer sells. A similar approach could be adopted where external businesses desiring to participate in the online market place of developing countries are required to make investments to improve the E-commerce infrastructure position in return for authorizations to conduct business. By integrating approvals to enter the market place with requirements to stand up infrastructure components in government regulated e-portals, the improved E-commerce capabilities could also be leveraged by the businesses within the developing countries, and equal access to E-commerce benefits would be provided to all businesses. Before the products and services of networking and telecommunications service providers are approved for use, the service providers should be required to reduce the gaps in technology and human infrastructure contextual enablers, and level the competitive playing field. An international treaty supported by a list of adopting member states would be a good way to ensure adoption of the approach world-wide, and may encourage positive leveraging of E-commerce capabilities that facilitate growth in underdeveloped countries.
  • Item
    Assessing the Success of Sarbanes-Oxley
    (2012-07-09) Ray, Jeffrey
    This paper evaluates the success that the Sarbanes-Oxley Act has had in the market place. It initially assesses improvements the act has made to restore public confidence in the auditing process, and their effectiveness. It then assesses provisions made to improve the ability of boards of directors to monitor and correct abuses of power by corporate executives. Having concluded the quality of auditing processes and the boards monitoring function is still inadequate despite the enactment of Sarbanes-Oxley; it then analyzes published data on the incidents of fraud. The results of the analysis indicate that, in general, Sarbanes-Oxley has done little to stop the tidal wave of fraud occurrences, nor does it limit their consequences. This paper concludes, therefore, that Sarbanes-Oxley has not been successful.
  • Item
    The Process of Capturing Innovation
    (2012-11-18) Ray, Jeffrey
    Due to the sheer number of market analysis tools available, no standard strategic planning methodology has been consistently adopted. Businesses can quickly lose focus and become guilty of instilling ‘form-over-substance’ as they implement tools they don’t completely understand, or which they execute without understanding the relevance of the steps they are taking, nor where these steps fall within the overall strategic planning process. This paper addresses these shortcomings by defining an overarching process framework for leveraging innovative tools and techniques to develop strategies that result in competitive advantage. A highlight of the paper is a series of work flow diagrams that have been gradually decomposed into increasing levels of detail. They describe in complex terms a strategic planning process asserted to capture innovation. The result is a framework of detailed processes that businesses can use to capture innovative market strategies. Within this framework some key market analysis tools have been integrated to promote effective decision making. Altman’s Z-scores, Pareto’s rule, Trend analysis, SWOT analysis, environmental analysis, Ansoff’s matrix, PUV charts, customer value matrices, Gaussian life cycle curves, inflection analysis graphs, and several forms of slope analysis curves are relied on to estimate future market conditions. Sixteen figures have been incorporated into this paper to demonstrate how to use the recommended market analysis tools. The functions indicated in the work flow diagrams can be treated as a knowledge map used to store the information required for an organization’s innovation strategies. Organizing the information behind these strategies allows us to capture the innovation built into them.
  • Item
    Evolving Human Resource (HR) Management to Cope with Disruptive Innovation Technologies
    (2012-11-11) Ray, Jeffrey
    Businesses are responding to the threat of disruptive innovation technologies by upgrading their capabilities and practices. These upgrades ensure implementing organizations become more adaptable, and flexible, with respect to their ability to alter business strategies in response to changing market conditions. Due to its orientation, the HR profession has traditionally had no involvement with shaping a company’s strategic business path. In today’s environment, however, businesses are requiring the HR role to transform from a traditional administrative service to one with a strategic focus that adds value to business operations. HR professionals now share with executive management the responsibility to instill innovation into the organizations they support. By having a renewed interest in creating synergy, taking steps to ignite employee engagement, undertaking the new role of creating value for business operations, being the steward of the company’s brand, calculating the knowledge value of employees, leveraging social media to improve collaboration, and implementing new processes for acquiring, managing, and retaining clever, high potential employees, HR organizations are evolving into a new type of role to ensure the companies they support can handle upcoming innovation cycles. The HR function is evolving from an administrative one, into a strategic role where HR professionals are increasingly being asked to create value and contribute to the business success of their organizations.
  • Item
    Dispelling the Myth that Organizations Learn from Failure
    (2015-12-25) Ray, Jeffery
    There are some movements within the project management profession to adopt a new posture regarding project failures. According to this new line of reasoning, failure should be embraced since it provides a learning opportunity to firms (Gino and Staats, 2015; Edmondson, 2011). This paper takes a contrasting point of view. Namely, that failure shouldn’t even be in a firm’s vocabulary. To learn, from failure or otherwise, a firm must have an organizational learning capability. If the firm has the learning capability in the first instance, why not apply it at the beginning of a project to prevent a failure, rather than waiting for a failure to occur and then reacting to it. A better use of this learning capability would be to anticipate the technologies to be encountered by a project, and develop up-front management approaches for handling them. By successfully handling these technologies, a firm improves their absorptive capacity in that subject area, and increases its capacity to learn new content in the area as well. This paper argues that a firm must succeed to learn the important lessons of how to develop and implement competitive strategies. A look backwards to past lessons learned, or to previous failures, or an overreliance on historical best practices, won’t even identify the challenges a new project might encounter, much less the mitigation approaches for handling them. Project management professional organizations offer knowledge maps of historical best project management practices that end up influencing practitioners into using similar processes universally. These firms tend to find a management approach that works, and then attempt to apply it across all of their projects. But each project is unique and requires different management approaches. The result of this overreliance on historical best practices is a fundamental failure of project practitioners to assess the forward-looking challenges a project is likely to encounter. Since the challenges are not identified, mitigation plans for handling them cannot be developed. The result is an industry where 95 percent of all new product development projects fail, and 83.8 percent of all IT projects are deemed unsuccessful.
  • Item
    Earned Value (EV) Management Model for Small Software Development Projects
    (2001-04-17) Ray, Jeffery; Sanderson, Sandra
    This paper describes an approach for implementing earned value (EV) management tracking on small software development projects. Small projects are difficult EV applications because work must be tracked down at the task level so it can be costed out and used as a basis for the budgeted and scheduled work plan. Small projects are very dynamic and establishing a baseline plan down to the task level can be futile when outside factors such as changing requirements, funding profiles, and staffing levels would require that the baseline plan be constantly updated and re-baselined. In some cases, such as a small software development effort, it is not worth the effort to plan the project down to the level of project control required to develop cost-loaded schedules of tasks. An EV approach is discussed below where percent complete credit for work performed is granted based on achieving key milestones, as opposed to a project manager’s assessment of how much each additional task has been completed. By eliminating the need to track progress down at the detailed task level this weighted milestone EV model recommended below can accommodate differences between how work is planned, and actually carried out, without requiring updating of the baseline plan. In retrospect, it makes sense to track progress according to the last milestone that has been achieved. After successfully completing a milestone, the first action project management takes is to start planning how to complete the deliverables for the next key milestone event. Since the work planning and execution revolves around achieving milestone events, they are the likely focus of any EV model that attempts to rise out of the specific details of preparing and maintaining resource and cost loaded schedules. This paper provides a description of such an EV model, one that tracks work progress according to milestones achieved, and also provides insight concerning how to implement the model.
  • Item
    Cultural Comparison of the United States and China from the Project Manager's Perspective
    Ray, Jeffery
    Knowledge of cultural impacts helps project managers understanding of cultural perspectives of all stakeholders. Since cultural differences can become organizational performance barriers, it is important to consider how cultural dimensions can affect decision making. This paper uses the model developed by Professor Geert Hofstede to make a cultural comparison of the major cultural dimensions that influence how work can be planned and executed in China, as compared to the U.S. Several Chinese cultural norms and value systems are found to be relevant and must be considered when planning project tasks to be performed by Chinese team members. The Chinese Doctrine of Mean (DoM) emphasizes that harmony is “most precious” in relationships and encourages contending parties to compromise. Recent U.S. management practices tend to advocate the use of horizontal organizational structures to facilitate project communications, in contrast to the strong superior-subordinate relationships emphasized by Chinese vertical management structures. Complexity in U.S. projects is handled by forming cross-function integrated product teams (IPTs) so subject matter experts in different disciplines can collaborate. The Chinese culture, in contrast, stresses family and kinship relationships when conducting business. Group members are linked by close personal relationships to work with Chinese organizations. Also, the evaluation of people based on their standing in the family, as opposed to how well they perform, is not consistent with U.S. project management practices. Finally, in the U.S. project managers tend to be task-oriented, rather than boss-oriented. To the Chinese, the most important criterion for evaluating and respecting other people is the person’s hierarchical position. Thus, an obligation to a project manager to complete a task would be a subsidiary consideration. This paper concludes that cultural training may be required to get Chinese team members to overcome these institutional norms and fully participate in project strategy sessions, as well as for task execution. U.S. team members similarly need cultural training to understand the significance of the cultural differences so they can adapt their communication approaches accordingly. By defining the industry standard for conducting project management activities, the Project Management Institute (PMI) is facilitating international adoption of a set of consistent project management methodologies. This makes other countries, such as China, aware of acceptable practices, and even helps them to overcome cultural barriers that interfere with effectively implementing the adopted management processes.