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Essay Example on the First Project of Gilbane Building Company

7 pages
1833 words
Wesleyan University
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The organization

Gilbane Building Company is a project-based organization based in New York. The company specializes in building and construction projects. Their mission is to deliver outstanding client satisfaction by giving their customers a unique experience of trust and advocacy. The company has become big enough to have 48 full-service office locations around the world serving five countries. Gilbane has one of the longest design and building history in the USA. The company is one of the oldest family-owned companies in the industry and is recognized as a leader in the construction sector. According to their official website, Gilbane Building Company was Founded in 1873 as a family-run carpentry and general contracting shop in Providence, Rhode Island, Gilbane Building Company (2017). Over the 140 years of existence, the company was involved in numerous high profile projects such as the construction of GM's new assembly plant in Framingham, MA in 1946. This was Gilbane's first significant out-of-state project and marked a major milestone in the company's development. Today, Gilbane Building Company oversees over 1000 construction projects across the world. Overseeing such a large number of projects in different locations presents the company with a myriad of challenges. The main challenges include coordination with the subcontractors and selection of subcontractors that can enable the company to meet its quality standards commitment to clients. In addition, the interaction with the suppliers and customers before, during, and after the projects needs improvement. However, the people in the organization are not new to change because the company has undergone a transformation in recent years. The company is ready for changes that would enable efficient delivery of projects and greater customer satisfaction.

The first project

The first project for Gilbane Building Company is to improve subcontractor commitment to the project plans. The company's construction projects are currently managed in a traditional way with a strong site manager. The company makes schedules for the projects and the subcontractors are contracted to accept the schedules as they are. Consequently, the subcontractors become less committed to the time slots leaving the site managers with a huge workload because they have to maintain focus on all project activities. The choice of this project would improve subcontractor commitment to the contractors project plans.

Therefore, the goals of this project are to enable a higher sense of commitment and morale. The specific objective of the project is to enable more involvement of subcontractors in the development of the project timetables. This activity is crucial and in alignment with the companys strategic goals of timely project delivery and customer satisfaction. Gilbane Building Company's strategic business goal is to deliver high-quality projects in a timely manner. In doing so, the company relies on subcontractors to complete their projects. Involvement of subcontractors in the planning of delivery timetables would increase their commitment to the time slots, hence, faster completion of tasks. Consequently, the change project will enable the company to achieve its overall mission of providing clients with outstanding satisfaction. The proposed project will benefit Gilbane Building Company in two ways. First, it will enable the company to improve their project delivery time. Second, it will take the pressure off the site managers who can then focus on other things.

Assessing the organizations receptivity to the project

Various stakeholders in the company would like to see this project started. First, the board of directors of the company and the owners of the company would be receptive to projects that would contribute to better performance of the company. It is in the best interest of the company's board of directors to manage a company that is receptive to the needs of their clients. These needs can only be met when the company's internal project delivery systems work seamlessly to complete projects as per the clients' timelines. Timely delivery of projects would be difficult to achieve if the company's coordination with the various project units is not sufficient. Second, the project managers would most likely be interested in the project because they would be happy to see a smooth completion of projects they are heading. The site managers who are in direct contact with the subcontractors would like to see the project started. The difficulty of getting the commitment of subcontractors to task timetables and also boosting their morale is an issue that site managers would want to see solved as soon as possible. Finally, the company's subcontractors would like to see the project started because they are directly affected by the creation of delivery timetables. According to MacArthur (2010), stakeholders are not only those from outside but also the within the organization. As a project-based company, those within the company would like to see the new project take off more than those outside the company i.e. suppliers and clients. However, it does not imply that those stakeholders outside the company do not need changes. In fact, it is in the best interest of, for example, clients to see their projects completed within their timelines. In addition, it may also allow the suppliers to come up with definitive supply schedules.

Artto and Kahkonen (2013) argue that receptivity of the organizations internal environment to new projects must be taken into consideration before the decision to continue with the project is made. They further suggest that any disharmony is a recipe the project failing to materialize. As such, any faintest suspicion of dissonance should be reassessed to identify the reasons and to take corrective action, including working with the concerned stakeholders jointly to address their concerns as well as adjust the project accordingly. This project takes cognizance of the fact that opposition is likely to arise especially from the management who may not understand the importance of the project initially. They might slowly embrace this project because they may not fully understand the significance of the project. Kotter (1995) suggested that many new projects fail to take off because the senior management of many companies is composed of managers rather than leaders. Until real leaders are promoted or hired to the senior management, new projects often do not take off. He further argues that many senior managers become paralyzed by the downside possibilities such as event spinning out of control, jeopardizing of short-term business results, and being blamed for creating a crisis and so forth.

There are some people within the organization that cannot be persuaded to embrace the change. For example, the older managers who have been with the company for decades may be used to only one way of doing things. Persuading them to accept new projects that might change the way they operate can be an uphill task. Consequently, this can create disharmony, which can affect the project from taking off.

Deeper insights into Project Management maturity can be gained by analyzing previously unstructured data. While various analytical techniques have emerged, Social Network Analysis and Text Analysis approaches can help to understand maturity in organizations. According to Borgatti et al. (2009), Social Network Analysis provides the opportunity to examine relationships between entities such as individuals, teams and organizations. Social Network Analysis can then quantify and visualize the network these relationships networks for purpose of understanding the underlying social processes of the company. This approach can be used to understand the extent to which project management is aligned with organizational activities by examining the communication patterns within the firm. The comparison with the desired state of activities within the company and the results can be used to justify the new interventions that enhance project performance. In the construction industry, the approach has been reported by Mead (2001) and Pryke (2004) with great results. Furthermore, manual and automated text analysis can be used to understand project processes in organizations. a few studies report these two text-mining techniques for generating summaries of large volumes of unstructured text. Combined, these two approaches can help to assess the domains that support new projects and receptivity of new projects. Text mining technique involving project timetables will identify the extent to which documents reflect the processes and the extent to which it is integrated within the company. Social network analysis will identify communication patterns within the company that indicate the degree to which various stakeholders engage with the concepts of project management and to deduce organizational support and receptivity.

The steps to getting this first project started

Figure 1. Kotters Change Model (Adapted from Kotter, 1996)

Kotter created an 8 Step Change Model that can guide the process of getting a new project started (Figure 1). These eight steps include creating a sense of urgency, creating a guiding coalition, creating a vision for change, communicating the vision, removing obstacles, creating quick wins, consolidating improvements, and anchoring the changes. The first three steps (i.e. creating a sense of urgency, creating a guiding coalition, and creating a vision for the change) are about creating the right environment for the new project. The next three steps (communicating the vision, removing obstacles, and creating quick wins) link the new project to the organization while the last two steps focus on implementation and consolidation of gains.

In the first step, I would make the stakeholders aware of the need and urgency to implement the new project and solicit their support.

After gaining support, the next step would be to create a project team to manage all the efforts and to encourage the stakeholders to cooperate and constructively participate in the new project. The project team or coalition constitutes persons from the relevant departments and hold different jobs and positions. The coalition will rely on teamwork in order for members to identify with the group. This is very important as it would reduce conflicts between team members, which could derail the implementation of the project.

The next step is to formulate a clear vision to help all the stakeholders to understand what the new project is all about within the agreed time frame. Having a clear vision enables making changes more concrete and acquires support for successful implementation. It has been suggested that incorporation of the ideas of various stakeholders in the vision enhances the acceptability of the vision.

Communication is paramount to the successful implementation of new projects. The most important objective of Kotters fourth step is creating support and acceptance among the stakeholders. Communication allows the sharing of the vision by talking about it with the stakeholders at every chance and taking their feedback seriously. One of the factors that would determine whether the new project succeeds or fails is the ability to ensure that it is fully accepted across the entire organization. Therefore, the stakeholders can achieve their goals by linking the accepted vision to business strategies.

Creation of quick wins helps the stakeholders to have a clear picture of the progress of the new project. Such quick success might motivate the stakeholders more than anything else. In other words, the stakeholders will be motivated to commit more to the project under implementation when they perceive that goals are being met. According to Kotter, a clear message can be passed to the management board of the company if new gains can be s...

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