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The Blue Sky Project*
Garth Hudson was a 29-year-old graduate of Eastern State University (ESU) with
a BS degree in management information systems. After graduation he worked for
seven years at Bluegrass Systems in Louisville, Kentucky. While at ESU he
worked part time for an oceanography professor, Ahmet Green, creating a
customized database for a research project he was conducting. Green was
recently appointed director of Eastern Oceanography Institute (EOI), and Garth
was confident that this prior experience was instrumental in his getting the job as
information services (IS) director at the institute. Although he took a significant
pay cut, he jumped at the opportunity to return to his alma mater. His job at
Bluegrass Systems had been very demanding. The long hours and extensive
traveling had created tension in his marriage. He was looking forward to a
normal job with reasonable hours. Besides, Jenna, his wife, would be busy
pursuing her MBA at Eastern State University. While at Bluegrass, Garth worked
on a wide range of IS projects. He was confident that he had the requisite
technical expertise to excel at his new job.
Eastern Oceanography Institute was an independently funded research
facility aligned with Eastern State University. Approximately 50 full- and parttime staff worked at the institute. They worked on research grants funded by the
National Science Foundation (NSF) and the United Nations (UN), as well as
research financed by private industry. There were typically 7 to 9 major research
projects under way at any one time, as well as 20 to 25 smaller projects. Onethird of the institute’s scientists had part-time teaching assignments at ESU and
used the institute to conduct their own basic research.
FIRST YEAR AT EOI
Garth made a point of introducing himself to the various groups of people upon
his arrival at the institute. Still, his contact with the staff was limited. He spent
most of his time becoming familiar with EOI’s information system, training his
staff, responding to unexpected problems, and working on various projects. Garth
suffered from food allergies and refrained from informal staff lunches at nearby
restaurants. He stopped regularly attending the biweekly staff meetings in order
to devote more time to his work. He only attended the meetings when there was a
specific agenda item regarding his operation.
The IS staff at EOI consisted of two full-time assistants, Tom Jackson and
Grant Hill. They were supported by five part-time student assistants from the
Computer Science Department. Grant Hill was assigned full-time to a large fiveyear NSF grant aimed at creating a virtual library of oceanographic research.
Grant worked out of the project leader’s office and had very little interaction with
Garth or Tom. Garth’s relationship with Tom was awkward from the start. He
found out, after the fact, that Tom thought he would get the job as director. They
never talked about it, but he sensed tension the first couple of months on the job.
One of the problems was that he and Tom were totally different personalities.
Tom was gregarious and very talkative. He had a habit of walking around the
institute after lunch, talking to different scientists and researchers. Often this led
to useful information. Garth, on the other hand, preferred to stay in his office,
working on various assignments, and ventured out only when called upon. While
Garth felt Tom was not on top of the latest developments, as he was, he respected
Tom’s work.
Last month the system was corrupted by a virus introduced over the Internet.
Garth devoted an entire weekend to restoring the system to operation. A
recurring headache was one of the servers, code-named “Poncho,” that would
occasionally shut down for no apparent reason. Instead of replacing it, he decided
page 385
to nurse Poncho along until it could be replaced. His work was
frequently interrupted by frantic calls from staff researchers who
needed immediate help on a variety of computer-related problems. He was
shocked at how computer illiterate some of the researchers were and how he had
to guide them through some of the basics of e-mail management and database
configuration. He did find time to help Assistant Professor Amanda Johnson on a
project. Amanda was the only researcher to respond to Garth’s e-mail
announcing that the IS staff was available to help on projects. Garth created a
virtual project office on the Internet so that Amanda could collaborate with
colleagues from institutes in Italy and Thailand on a UN research grant. He
looked forward to the day when he could spend more time on fun projects like
that.
THE BLUE SKY CONVERSION PROJECT
The “Blue Sky” conversion project began in earnest four months ago. Ahmet
Green returned from Washington, D.C., with grim news. The economic downturn
was going to lead to a dramatic reduction in funding. He anticipated as much as a
25 percent reduction in annual budget over the next three to five years. This
would lead to staff reductions and cutting of operating costs. One cost-cutting
measure was moving IT operations to the “cloud.” Ahmet had first proposed the
idea to Garth after attending a meeting with several directors of other institutes
who faced similar financial challenges.
The basic strategy was to move all of the institute’s databases, software, and
even hardware to a “private cloud.” Staff would use their current PCs to simply
access more powerful machines over the Internet. These powerful machines
could be partitioned and configured differently according to the needs of research
staff, giving each staff member his or her own virtual machine (VM). Staff could
also access, use, and share virtual servers over the Internet as needed. Garth
worked with the institute’s accountant on a cost/benefit analysis. From their
standpoint it made perfect sense. First, the institute would not have to replace or
upgrade aging computers and servers. Second, the institute would enjoy
significant IT savings, since they would pay for only IT resources actually used.
They would not have to make any major IT capital expenditures. Third, cloud
computing would provide the scientists greater flexibility by accessing desired
resources or software from anywhere at any time. And finally, once the system
was up and running, the institute would no longer need the services of at least
one full-time IT worker. Ahmet decided to name the project “Blue Sky” to put a
positive spin on the conversion.
At first the associate directors balked at the idea. Some had a hard time
conceptualizing what cloud computing meant. Others were worried about
security and reliability. In the end they reluctantly signed off on the project when
given alternative cost-cutting initiatives. Garth assured them that cloud
computing was the wave of the future and setting up or accessing virtual
machines on the “cloud” was as simple as setting up or accessing their g-mail
account.
The conversion project would be completed in stages. The first stage was
selecting a provider. The next stage was migrating non–mission critical
information to the cloud. The next stages would entail migrating each of the six
big grant projects in waves to the cloud. The final stage would focus on the
remaining smaller projects. Training would be an integral part of each stage. The
institute would maintain a back-up for all the data until six months after complete
conversion. After that the cloud service provider would be responsible for
backing up the data.
At first Tom was excited about the project. He was savvy enough to realize
that this was the future of computing and he was intrigued with how the whole
system would work. His feelings soon changed when he started thinking about
the potential ramifications for his job. He asked Garth more than once what the
department would look like after the conversion. Garth replied vaguely that they
would figure it out once the system was up and running.
A task force was formed, headed by Garth, to select a cloud service provider.
Garth was surprised by how many choices there were. Plans and cost structures
page 386
varied considerably. After much deliberation the committee
narrowed the choices to three. The first two were among the bigger
providers in the industry, VMWARE and Microsoft. The third choice was a
relatively new company, OpenRange, which offered a cheaper solution. Tom
argued that even though the bigger providers would cost more, they were a much
safer bet. Garth responded that he had confidence in OpenRange and cutting
costs was the primary goal behind the project. In the end, Garth persuaded the
committee to choose OpenRange. Not only would cost be significantly cheaper,
but OpenRange would help in training the personnel. Garth liked this idea;
training was not his strength, and he wasn’t looking forward to holding senior
scientists’ hands through the process.
It took Garth and Tom six weeks to identify noncritical data. Garth worked
on the back end while Tom met with staff to identify noncritical information. The
motto was when in doubt, leave it out. The actual migration only took a couple of
days. Training proved to be more problematic. The staff sent by OpenRange
appeared to be straight out of college. While enthusiastic, they were
inexperienced in the art of getting older staff to accept and use new technology.
Many trainers had the habit of simply doing things for the staff instead of
showing them how to do it themselves. It all came to a head when a power
outage at the OpenRange storage system shut down and disrupted operations at
the institute for 36 hours.
Ahmet held an emergency meeting. Garth reported that the power outage
occurred in North East India and that OpenRange was expanding their back-up
systems. Several members argued that the institute should switch to one of the
bigger providers. When this came up Garth looked at Tom and was relieved
when he remained silent. In the end, Ahmet announced that it would be too
costly to switch providers and Garth and his staff would have to make the
conversion work. Tom stepped forward and volunteered to manage the training.
Everyone agreed that the institute should hire three more part-time assistants to
help the staff with the transition.
Garth worked behind the scenes, coordinating with his counterparts at
OpenRange and planning the conversion of the next segment of the project. Tom
worked closely with the OpenRange trainers and refocused their attention on
teaching. Resistance was pretty high at first. Tom used his personal contacts
within the institute to rally support for the change. He persuaded Garth to change
the conversion schedule to begin with those projects in which the leads were
most supportive of the change. Training improved and Tom created some useful
training materials, including short videos on how to access the virtual machines.
One problem that occurred early in the process involved a graduate research
assistant who mistakenly hit the wrong commands and terminated her virtual
machine instead of logging off. This resulted in complete loss of that machine’s
data in the cloud. Fortunately, the institute had back-up and Tom was able to
recover the work. Collaborating with some programmers at OpenRange, Tom
wrote a program that triggered a pop-up message on the screen, warning users
not to terminate their virtual machine when logging off.
CLOSING OUT THE BLUE SKY PROJECT
It took almost a year to complete the Blue Sky project. After the rocky beginning
things went relatively smoothly. Acceptance was slow, but Tom and his staff
worked with the staff to demonstrate how the new system would make their work
easier. Two student assistants were always on call to address any problem or
question. Garth spent most of his time interacting with the OpenRange
counterparts and rarely ventured out of his office. He had his student assistants
collect information from staff so he could configure the new virtual machines to
exactly match staff needs. He put in long hours so that customized databases
would work in the new environment. This proved to be a very difficult task and
he was quite pleased with his work. Twice OpenRange experienced page 387
momentary power shortages at their server facility, which disrupted
work at the institute. Garth was happy to report that OpenRange was breaking
ground on an alternative server system in Ukraine.
When the institute conducted a retrospective (project review) on the Blue Sky
project, some still questioned the choice of OpenRange as a cloud service
provider but praised Tom’s work on helping the staff make the transition. Despite
the criticism over the choice of OpenRange, Garth felt good about the project.
The system was up and running and the staff was beginning to enjoy the
flexibility it provided. Besides, the institute would achieve real savings from the
new system.
Soon after the retrospective, Garth was surprised when Ahmet walked into
his office and closed the door. Ahmet began by thanking Garth for his work on
the project. He then cleared his throat and said, “You know, Garth, one of the
consequences of Blue Sky is reducing our IT staff. Grant Hill is needed for the
data library project. So it comes down to you or Tom. Frankly, there is general
agreement among the associate directors that Tom is essential to the institute. I
know this might come as a surprise to you, and before I make a decision I want
to give you a chance to change my mind.”
1. If you were Garth, how would you respond to the director?
2. What mistakes did Garth make?
3. What are the lessons to be learned from this case?
* Prepared by Erik Larson and V. T. Raja, senior instructor at the College of Business, Oregon
State University.
Case 10.2
Tom Bray
Tom Bray was mulling over today’s work schedule as he looked across the bay at
the storm that was rolling in. It was the second official day of the Pegasus project
and now the real work was about to begin.
Pegasus was a two-month renovation project for AtlantiCorp, a major
financial institution headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts. Tom’s group was
responsible for installing the furniture and equipment in the newly renovated
Accounts Receivable Department on the third floor. The Pegasus project was a
dedicated project team formed out of AtlantiCorp’s Facilities Department, with
Tom as the project lead.
Tom was excited because this was his first major league project and he was
looking forward to practicing a new management style—management by
wandering around (MBWA). He had been exposed to MBWA in a business class
in college, but it wasn’t until he attended an AtlantiCorp leadership training
seminar that he decided to change how he managed people. The trainer was a
devout MBWA champion (“You can’t manage people from a computer!”).
Furthermore, the testimonies from his peers reinforced the difference that
MBWA can make when it comes to working on projects.
Tom had joined the facilities group at AtlantiCorp five years earlier after
working for Electronic Data Systems for six years. He quickly demonstrated
technical competencies and good work habits. He was encouraged to take all the
internal project management workshops offered by AtlantiCorp. On his last two
College of Administrative and Financial Sciences
Assignment – 3
Project Management (MGT323)
Deadline: 26/11/2020 @ 23:59
Course Name: Project Management
Course Code:MGT323
Student’s Name:
Semester: I
CRN:
Student’s ID Number:
Academic Year:2020-21, I Term
For Instructor’s Use only
Instructor’s Name:
Students’ Grade:
Marks Obtained/Out of 5
Level of Marks: High/Middle/Low
Instructions – PLEASE READ THEM CAREFULLY
• The Assignment must be submitted on Blackboard (WORD format only)
via allocated folder.
• Assignments submitted through email will not be accepted.
• Students are advised to make their work clear and well presented, marks
may be reduced for poor presentation. This includes filling your information
on the cover page.
• Students must mention question number clearly in their answer.
• Late submission will NOT be accepted.
• Avoid plagiarism, the work should be in your own words, copying from
students or other resources without proper referencing will result in ZERO
marks. No exceptions.
• All answered must be typed using Times New Roman (size 12, doublespaced) font. No pictures containing text will be accepted and will be
considered plagiarism).
• Submissions without this cover page will NOT be accepted.
•
Use Saudi Electronic University academic writing standards and APA style
referencing guidelines.
•
Support your submission with course material concepts, principles, and theories
from the textbook and at least three to five peer-reviewed journal articles
unless the assignment calls for more.
•
You are advised to use Saudi Digital Library (SDL) to access academic
references.
•
It is strongly encouraged that you submit all assignments into the safe assignment
Originality Check prior to submitting it to your instructor for grading.
Assignment Workload:
• This Assignment comprise of a Case Study.
• Assignment is to be submitted by each student individually.
Assignment Purposes/Learning Outcomes:
After completion of Assignment-3 students will able to understand the
1. Demonstrate a deep understanding of project management concepts and
theories as well as approaches to project management – (L.O-1.1)
2. Demonstrate the ability to monitor and control the project – (L.O-2.9)
3. Demonstrate the ability to work with others effectively as a team member in
project management, related to case studies or new themes – (L.O- 3.5)
Assignment-3-Case Study
Assignment Question:
(Marks 5)
Please read the Case-10.1 “The Blue Sky Project.” from Chapter 10 “Being
an Effective Project Manager” given in your textbook – Project Management:
The Managerial Process 8th edition by Larson and Gray page no: 384 also
refer to specific concepts you have learned from the chapter to support
your answers. Answer the following questions with 500 Words limit.
1. If you were Garth, how would you respond to the director?
(1.5 Marks)
2. What mistakes did Garth make? (1.5 Marks)
3. What are the lessons to be learned from this case? Based on
specific concepts from the chapter give your opinion. (2
Marks)
Answers:
1.
2.
3.

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