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Pinto - Case Study 12.1 (427-428) - The Problems of Multitasking

This assignment involves that the student read the case study and answer all questions at the end of the case study in a 4-5 page paper. Your answers must include substantial support from at least two (2) scholarly journal articles on project management. See below for advice on how to find these journal articles. Refer to the course schedule matrix for due dates for all case assignments. All case study assignments are due at 11:59 p.m. EST (Sunday) on the assigned week.

This course requires that the student is able to conduct weekly online library research by utilizing UC’s Library (online) in order to locate scholarly journals such that the student can successfully complete weekly papers regarding cases and/or articles in project management, and such that the student can engage in the weekly assignments.  The following is one example of how to navigate iLearn and the online Library in order to conduct research: 

Log onto your course on iLearn

Go to the home page for this course

Click on the “Library Resources” icon in the left-hand column of this webpage, This will open the Library webpage.

Under the search boxes for the UC Mega Search click the box to the left of the phrase Scholarly (Peer Reviewed) Articles. Then click the Search box.

This will give you a Basic Search page. Under the Search boxes click Advanced Search.

The Advanced Search will appear with three (3) search boxes.

In the first box type “project management”

Change the “Select a Field (optional)” selection to “SO Journal Source/Title”.

In the second box type any of your search terms (“scope”, monitoring”, etc.)

Change the “Select a Field (optional)” to “TX All Text”.

You can either add an additional search term in the third box or hit the blue Search button.

This will bring up a large selection of potential articles based upon your search parameters. You can narrow down your search by using additional search terms.

Every paper typed in this course should be in APA formatting (title page, reference page, NO abstract page, in-text citations, running head, page numbers, Times New Roman 12 font, 1 inch margins, double-spacing, etc…).  Points will be deducted for papers that are not typed in APA formatting.  Also, every paper in this course needs to be based on research from a scholarly source that is retrieved from UC’s Library.  Your weekly research papers should include two sources, the textbook and the scholarly case/article that you found.  Papers that are not based on a scholarly source(s) will receive a grade of “0.” 

 
 

 
 

Case study:

 
 

An eastern U.S. financial services company found itself way behind schedule and over budget on an important strategic program. Both the budget and schedule baselines had begun slipping almost from the beginning, and as the project progressed, the lags became severe enough to require the company to call in expert help in the form of a project management consulting firm. After investigating the organization’s operations, the consulting firm determined that the primary source of problems both with this project in particular and the company’s project management practices in general was a serious failure to accurately forecast resource requirements. In the words of one of the consultants, “Not enough full-time [human] resources had been dedicated to the program.” The biggest problem was the fact that too many of the project team members were working on two or more projects simultaneously—a clear example of multitasking. Unfortunately, the program’s leaders developed their ambitious schedule without reflecting on the availability of resources to support the project milestones. With their excessive outside responsibilities, no one was willing to take direct ownership of their work on the program, people were juggling assignments, and everyone was getting farther behind in all the work. Again, in the words of the consultant, “Project issues would come up and there would be nobody there to handle them [in a timely fashion].” Those little issues, left unattended, eventually grew to become big problems. The schedule continued to lag, and employee morale began to bottom out. Following their recognition of the problem, the first step made by the consultants was to get top management to renegotiate the work assignments with the project team. First, the core team members were freed from other responsibilities so they could devote their full-time attention to the program. Then, other support members of the project were released from multitasking duties and assigned to the project on a full-time or near full-time basis as well. The result, coupled with other suggested changes by the consultants, was to finally match up the project’s schedule and activity duration estimates with a realistic understanding of resource needs and availability. In short, the program was put back on track because it was finally resource-leveled, particularly through creating full-time work assignments for the project team that accurately reflected the need to link resource management with scheduling.

 
 

 
 

Questions 

1. How does multitasking confuse the resource availability of project team personnel? 

2. “In modern organizations, it is impossible to eliminate multitasking for the average 

employee.” Do you agree or disagree with this statement?

3. Because of the problems of multitasking, project managers must remember that there is a difference between an activity’s duration and the project calendar. In other words, 40 hours of work on a project task is not the same thing as one week on the baseline schedule. Please comment on this concept. Why does multitasking “decouple” activity duration estimates from the project schedule? 

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