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ISSUES WITH THE ORION SHIELD PROJECT
Issues with the Orion Shield Project
Efficient program management requires the individual in charge to exhibit the skills necessary to meet the goals of the project. It is necessary the project be completed on time and within budgetary constraints. Meeting all the requirements of the project will insure the satisfaction of both the stakeholders and the team members. The project manager must have the capacity for critical thinking, be an effective manager with human relation skills, and possess the integrity to act as an ethical leader.
In the case of the Orion Shield Project, Gary Allison was placed in the position of Project manager despite his inexperience with the responsibilities required. In addition, the person who hired Allison, Henry Larson, acted in an unethical manner by ordering Allison to falsify data. The avalanche of problems resulting from these two situations resulted in a major failure of the project.
A technical issue that arose in the course of the Orion project was lack of adherence to strictly scientific measures. Allison recognized the problem with operation within required temperature ranges prior to submission of the RFP proposal. The new materials and issues with the alternate test matrix laid the groundwork for the technical problems that followed.
The lack of project milestones assisted in the situation. Technical specifications states all the components had to function successfully in temperatures ranging from -65 degree to 145 degree Fahrenheit. However, testing of the SEC version of the design showed the range of temperature for successful operation was only to 130 degrees Fahrenheit; the difference of 15 degrees below requirements was crucial.
When working on a project of the magnitude of the Orion project, effective communication is essential between stakeholders and team members. However, Allison’s lack of ability to inform important members on the project of problems, it was necessary to alter schedules and rush to make deadlines. Allison felt it was necessary to reschedule the verification mix when the original schedule became unrealistic, but the engineering and production teams were not aware of it. The result was budget overruns when the staff was required to work additional hours at overtime pay. In addition, the animosity generated toward Allison as the project manager lowered morale and confidence in his abilities.
Business ethics refer to any business conduct relevant to entire organizations and the individuals that comprise them (Marcoux, 2008). When Larson indicated to Allison he should falsify the results of the material’s inadequate operation at the required temperatures, he was committing an act that reflected not only on himself but his employer. Both Allison and Larson probably received training in ethics and a code of conduct prior to taking on the responsibilities of a
Larson recognized the need to meet budget constraints and deadlines. By working doing most of the project task personally and working 16 hours a day on salary, he was able to meet these requirements. If he had not, the client would have been within his rights to take legal action.
However, when Allison lied to the client concerning funding for testing the new material, he not only acted unethically but he opened a door that would have allowed the client to void the contract with SEC based on false information and seek another contractor.
Contractual issue arose when Allison failed to communicate with the client regarding results. He also did not deliver complete minutes to the client in enough time to allow them to analyze them for weekly meetings. Given the circumstances, Space Technology Industries would have been within their rights to pull out of the contract with SEC. However, they increased the requirements for communication in an effort to save the partnership and proceed more efficiently with the project.
What was done well.
Allison was very skilled in technical applications of the project. His 14 years with the Scientific Engineering Corporation (SEC) prepared him to work effectively as a scientist on the Orion project. He was efficient with research and development. Unfortunately, his responsibilities exceeded that position.
Allison was able to successfully identify the problem with the range of temperature only allowing successful functioning at 130 degree Fahrenheit.
Despite Allison’s numerous failures as a project manager, he did manage to bring the project in on time and within budget. He was able to meet requirements by working 16 hour days on his salary, doing most of the project work himself. This type of sacrifice is an admirable train in a project manager. He also demonstrated strength by trying to meet contractual obligations.
What was not done well.
Allison followed the instructions of his superior to the detriment of the project. In addition to failure in ethical standards, the result was a domino effect of project failures. In response to the unethical dictates of his supervisor, Allison should have adhered to the Project Management Institute’s Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct (PMI.org, 2015). In section 4.3.1, it states that the managers of projects are to fully inform appropriate stakeholders of any conflicts, either potential or real ones.
In his inexperience, Allison did not understand the project manager is responsible for any errors happening under his supervision. Recognizing his inadequacies, the delegated the administrative responsibilities to the other project office personnel. He didn’t understand the importance of telling the client every result and problem as they occurred.
Allison should have communicated with his coworkers concerning the problems with the project. Apparently, Allison was only able to focus on one aspect of the problem at a time. This prevented him from operating effectively as the project manager. When he paid attention to communication, he was not aware of the unsatisfactory laboratory results.
In the situation where Allison was instructed by his superior to commit unethical behavior, he should have approached another manager concerning the situation. An investigation would have revealed the underlying motives of Larson and the project placed on hold. At that time, Allison would probably have been replaced as Project Manager and the project, and Allison’s career, may have been salvaged.
If Allison had communicated honestly with his coworkers and the stakeholders, he may have received assistance in solving the problems plaguing the project. Although he may have been replaced as project manager, the project may have been saved. An effective plan for communication would not only have avoided some of the issues with the project, it would have provided a guideline for the entire team to follow. Be demonstrating better managerial skills, Allison could have assigned work tasks and mandated weekly status updates. The resulting information would have allowed adjustments in the project to increase efficiency.
When it became apparent that there were problems with the project, an alternative solution to the unethical decisions to falsify information would have been to renegotiate the contract. This would have allowed the client to reevaluate their decision to partner with SEC and SEC may have reconsidered their choice of project manager.
Ultimate, Allison may be successful as a project manager if he receives training in the required skills of the position. As soon as he identified the inability of the company to meet the requirements of the project, he had a responsibility to inform appropriate stakeholders and reevaluate the components. Instead, his failure to create a project plan that would allow meeting the major deliverables resulted in his acquiescence to Larson on falsifying information.
Learn.umuc.edu,. (2015). Shibboleth Error. Retrieved 20 January 2015, from
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Marcoux, A. (2008). Business Ethics. Plato.stanford.edu. Retrieved 20 January 2015, from
Pmi.org. (2015). PMI's Code of Ethics | Project Management Institute. Retrieved 20 January
2015, from http://www.pmi.org/About-Us/Ethics/Code-of-Ethics.aspx
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