In any kind of project or program, situations often occur that require escalation for decisions to be made above the level of the project team. Typical examples of such situations include changes of project scope, unforeseen technical problems, overspending, lost expertise, and schedule slippages or changes. The problems can get especially costly in a heavily matrixed organization, wherein people who report to various functions (engineering, marketing, finance, manufacturing, etc.) are essentially “on loan” to a program manager to complete the deliverables. Some or all of these people may be working on more than one program team, plus contributing work to their functional teams.
When a program encounters a roadblock in such a system, something close to chaos can occur, putting a halt to productive progress and polluting the organization with animosity. For example, say that something technical happened that will cost the program 10% more money and require more resources or time. The finance team member may go back and report to his boss – the controller – that the engineers want to go over budget. An engineer may go back to her supervisor saying that the scope changed and now they can’t meet the technical requirements. The product manager may go back to his boss – the marketing manager – and say that the engineers aren’t smart enough to meet the customer requirement, and so forth. Those managers may kick the problem up to their bosses at the VP-level. In the meantime, the program manager is pleading with her PMO team or boss for more time and money. These supervisors may then meet one-on-one or in various groups to discuss the situation, argue about whom is to blame, etc., as illustrated in Figure 1.
After applying to a posted job, here are the typical responses seen by most applicants, in approximate order of frequency:
1. No response whatsoever (by far the most common case).
Translation to applicant: Your credentials are laughable and we will not dignify your pathetic effort even with a simple acknowledgement of receipt.
2. (Autoresponse) Thank you for your application. We will review it and get back to you if we see a fit.
Translation to applicant: Your resume just went into a pile on the recruiters desk. It will probably not be looked at, but the pile itself justifies the recruiters job.
.3. (Autoresponse) Thanks for your application. Due to the high volume of applicants, we can only respond to you if we find that you are a good match for the job.
Translation to applicant: Don't call us, and we certainly will not call you. We are understaffed and swamped by so many insignificant resumes.
A start-up or small company can usually operate effectively with few structured policies or business processes. The employees all meet frequently and informally and fill multiple roles to develop and deliver value to their customers. However, as a company grows in size and complexity and workers specialize, a set ofdefined work procedures (processes) is needed to coordinate efforts and organize the results. In developing and implementing these processes, many companies try to implement too many rigid processes, hindering their ability to serve their customer flexibly. So, how do you define the right level of process to serve customer’s need efficiently?