Network Project Management
Purpose of the assessment:
Project management problems can occur when project management methodologies are not implemented
successfully across organisations. In this assessment task, you are required to write a report on the current
project management issues in the following case‐study, in 800 to 1000 words exclusive of references.
RAPID PROTOTYPING — NEW DISCIPLINE
Rapid prototyping has been a constant growing and evolving field since the late 1980s. As technology
improved, so did the opportunities in new markets. The idea quickly evolved from its grassroots
beginning to many small companies competing for a bigger share of the growing market.
Frank Billings was just another name in what was at that time a niche market. As a student in
engineering school, he followed the development of the new prototyping techniques and realized
their potential in the marketplace. His dream job was to work for a rapid prototype equipment
manufacturer. There were only a few start ‐ up companies in rapid prototype machine development,
however, and none could pay the average engineer wage.
Like most engineering school graduates overloaded with school loans, he couldn’t wait for his dream
job to come along, so he went for a job at Cocable Company. Cocable designed and manufactured
specialty cable and cable – related products. It had nothing to do with rapid prototyping, but it paid
well. He worked hard at Cocable and earned enough to pay down his debts. He proved to be an
excellent engineer, earning a great reputation at Cocable and making many contacts along the way.
In those three years at Cocable, however, he never stopped thinking about rapid prototype machines.
He spent his free time coming up with a rapid prototype machine design, always dreaming of having
his own company. Three years in, he was ready. He quit Cocable and started his own rapid prototype
(RP) design business. He perfected his own RP machine design and was ready to prove himself in the
Like every start ‐ up business in a new field, finding customers is tough. In the RP field, there are two
types of work. The first includes owning an RP machine and doing prototypes per order. The second
is selling RP machines to businesses that want the machine to do in ‐ house RP. The latter option is
far more profitable since the machines are more expensive than each prototype they produce. Frank
would have been happy with either type of business, since at the time, he wasn’t doing much
business at all.
All those years making contacts at Cocable Company proved to be worth the time and effort. He had
stayed in touch with these contacts and through them was happy to learn that Cocable had just been
hired by GE to design and manufacture cable installations on their newest jet engine. Part of the
wiring installation that Cocable had been hired to design included junction boxes and switch covers.
The installation would be no simple task as these ” boxes ” are made of specialty materials with
complex shapes and multiple designs, all needed for application. They had to be perfect from the
start since airplane engines have no room for error. This was a huge job and the timeline was tight.
Rapid prototypes were an absolute necessity for this job. Frank’s knowledge of Cocable’s needs made
him perfect for the RP job.
Prepared by: Assoc. Prof. Nalin Sharda Moderated by: Dr. Imran Jokhio July, 2017
Cocable wanted full access to rapid prototyping so they decided to contract Frank to custom build
four RP machines to their specifications. Frank could not be happier. The RP machine specs were
given to Frank and he went to work.
WHO IS GOING TO PAY FOR THE CHANGES?
After three months of all ‐ night work sessions, the machines were built to specification and ready
for delivery to Cocable. Frank ‘ s daring steps into a new field were fully rewarded, he thought.
Everyone was ready for a test run, after the first machine was delivered to Cocable. The CAD model
was loaded and it was time to hit the “Start” button.
Beep, beep, beep.
“That’s not good, ” said Frank.
He felt embarrassed that the machine failed in front of everyone. He was sure the machine ran fine
before it was delivered. He couldn’t allow his first major deal to fail in any way. The machine was
checked over for shipping damages. The connections were double ‐ checked. Everything appeared
intact. Frank sat down to review the CAD model and discovered the problem. The model was 62
inches long. This was an issue, considering the RP machines were designed for a maximum of 55
The original Cocable specs for Frank’s RP machines were for a maximum length of 48 inches. Frank
optimized his machines for a length of 48 inches, but to be on the safe side, the machines were
capable of 55 ‐ inch designs. Sixty – two inches went outside that range. A machine that could make
prototypes that long would require completely different processors, actuators, and adhesion
processes. This would be a major redesign of the RP machines. This would take time and a lot of
Cocable claims that the original specs for a maximum of 48 inches came from GE. GE claims that it
never gave Cocable a maximum length. The first design that GE requested from Cocable was 62 inches
long and that had been weeks before. Cocable should have double ‐ checked their RP specs. Nobody
wants to take the blame for specifying the prototype design sizes and Frank’s first major product is
now going nowhere. Everyone is dissatisfied and two things are for sure: (1) The entire project is
running late, and (2) it will be way over budget.
You are a Project Management consultant, and have been commissioned to write a report on this
case. Write the report to address the following questions.
Questions to be addresses in the report:
1. What lessons can be learnt from this case?
2. Who do you think should pay for the changes?
3. What could have been done to make sure that the project scope was correct?
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