D.D Williamson is a leading corporation that provides caramel coloring as well as burnt sugar and natural colorings for the food and beverage industries (ddwcolor.com, 2013). The company is headquartered in Lousville, Kentucky and has nine coloring operations in five continents (ddwcolor.com, 2013). In 2004 the company embarked on a massive expansion plan and created 16 “critical projects” that needed to be organized, prioritized and selected all within a restrictive time period. The changes to prioritization of the projected selected less than five “Visual Impact Projects” (VIPs) which were to receive high-level focus and attention.
D.D. Williamson used a four-step method to rate on each project. The first step was to establish the criteria of prioritizing projects. The second was to weigh each criterion. The third step was to refine the list of projects and the fourth step was to rate each project based each criterion and the total ratings. In the course of this prioritizing process, some projects that had been unidentified before arose and had to be included in the prioritizing process bringing the number of projects that needed attention to 78. Besides the prioritizing process being lengthy, it also complicated the commencement of previously identified projects by slotting in other projects in their schedule (Kloppenborg, 2011).
The prioritization of projects at D.D Williamson was wrong. When too many projects have to be handled within a restrictive period, the prioritizing process is usually not effective (Dye & Pennypacker, 1999). The management may be compelled to hire more employees in order to ensure that the projects are completed in time. This, however, impacts on the budget of the projects and makes supervision of the projects cumbersome (Bender, 2009). Kloppenborg (2011) advises that it would be appropriate for the management to separate and prioritize the projects according to urgency and importance so that they are in a position to deal with a manageable workload. Attempting to manage a huge workload may end up annoying consumers and employees due to compromises in time and the high likelihood of poor quality in the work done.
Recommendations to improve project management at D.D. Williamson
D.D. Williamson needs to use a strategic project selection process that carefully aligns the projects with its organizational goals. The company needs to improve its portfolio alignment. The company can do this by classifying programs, portfolios (collection of projects or programs grouped together to facilitate effective management), projects and subprojects (Kloppenborg, 2011). In this case, D.D. Williamson can identify projects that when grouped together can help further the organization’s goals. Good portfolios for the company could group together some large and small projects together, some high-risk, high-reward projects with low-risk projects (Kloppenborg, 2011). The company could also create a portfolio that considers a mix of projects that can be completed quickly and those that could take substantial time to complete.
The company could also organize the projects into programs. A program is a group of closely-related projects. This has the effect of easing management responsibilities while the related projects achieve trade-offs and minimize costs when they are grouped together (Kloppenborg, 2011). In other words, D.D. Williamson can create synergy by grouping projects into programs prior to prioritizing them.
Scenarios where the prioritizing process at D.D. Williamson could not work
There are several scenarios where the prioritizing process at D.D. Williamson could not work. The first of these is when the objectives for undertaking each or some of the projects conflict. In other words, when one project plans to achieve a given aim while the other project plans to achieve the absolute opposite of the first project it is impossible to prioritize the projects (Bender, 2009). At some point in the execution of a given project it may achieve results that counter another project and have adverse effects on the other project. If the affected project is at a critical point or its critical path is adversely affected it may lead to the collapse of all the other projects.
A case in point is the carrying out of projects; one aimed at increasing and customizing distribution points of the company’s products and the other aimed at centralizing the management of the organization. The increment of distribution points requires more labor, flexibility and customization of distribution points in order to suit them to the local market. Seemingly, therefore, a project to centralize management would run into the face of expanding and making distribution points more responsive to the local markets. The most feasible projects that would result in massive synergy and the possibility of becoming a success would be to decentralize the management and increase customized distribution points.
Projection of Project prioritizing and management at D.D. Williamson
In five (5) years’ time the management of D.D. Williamson has the potential to overcome the challenges faced during the initial stages of projects management. It has the potential to manage more than twice the number of projects currently proving to be problematic to its management. This is because the company is open to the reorganization and regrouping of its projects into portfolios, programs, projects and subprojects. By grouping projects into portfolios (small and large projects, high-value and low-value projects as well as fast-completion and time-consuming projects) the management will create manageable portfolios. Moreover the organization of closely-related projects into programs as well as the differentiation of projects into projects and sub-projects will ultimately result into effective management of the projects.
The development of proper, fast and effective communication channels will ease the execution of projects and lead to enhanced understanding between D.D. Williamson and its clients. Another bit that could be instrumental in helping D.D. Williamson prioritize and manage huge projects effectively is the use of upcoming technology platforms. It is inevitable for the company to adopt the usage of project management software such as aceproject, anyplan, attask among others. There are more than 200 project management softwares currently in the market and with more being developed each year, the future of project management is brighter than ever (Bender, 2009). Jain (n.d) also advises that the development of a criteria-based matrix would allow priorities to be set by the biases of certain stakeholders especially clients who assert that their projects are more critical than those of others.
As such, D.D. Williamson has the potential to acquire more effectiveness not only in project prioritization but also in the execution and the financial management of numerous projects. Moreover, more people are undertaking specialty courses in project management and this means that in five years’ time there shall be more experts in project management. The increment in the number of project managers at a rate faster than they are being absorbed in the market means that the law of demand and supply shall be at work and it shall work to the advantage of companies such as D.D Williamson. In five years’ time, D.D. Williamson stands to benefit from cheap labor, more advanced and effective software than in the previous time thereby enabling it to handle a larger workload and gain more profits.
Bender, M. (2009) A Manager's Guide to Project Management: Learn How to Apply Best Practices FT Press.
Dye, L. D., & Pennypacker, J. S. (1999). Project Portfolio Management: Selecting and prioritizing projects for competitive advantage. West Chester, PA: Center for Business Practices.
Jain, A. (n.d.). Applying Criteria-Based Matrix to Prioritize IT Projects. iSixSigma: Six Sigma Resources for Six Sigma Quality. Retrieved July 16, 2013, from http://www.isixsigma.com/operations/human-resources/applying-criteria-based-matrix-prioritize-it-projects/
Kloppenborg, T. J. (2011). Contemporary Project Management. Place: South-Western College Pub.