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Unformatted text preview: Ace Consulting
Ace Consulting, Inc. is a well established consulting firm with 400 employees. It has many
projects going on at the same time for various clients. It has a good reputation, and one
third of its business is from previous clients. It has been successful in targeting growing
companies for future business. Because of the growth, things have been quite hectic, with
employees trying to keep up with the work, keep old clients satisfied, and bend over
backward to accommodate new clients. Ace Consulting has been hiring new employees
and has grown by 100 employees over the past two years.
Ace Consulting has a matrix organization structure. As new projects come in, a project
manager is assigned. One project manager may be assigned to several projects at one
time, depending on the sizes of the projects. Projects range in value from $20,000 to $1
million and can be from one month to two years in duration. Most projects are about six
months in duration and worth about $60,000 to $80,000. The firm performs a range of
consulting services, from market research to manufacturing system design. Its clients are
medium to large corporations and include manufacturers and government agencies.
Ace Consulting just got a call from Goldmine Corporation, which wants to go forward with a
project that Ace proposed nearly six months ago. Partners at Ace are very interested in
carrying out a first project for Goldmine because it is a rapidly growing company. Ace sees
an opportunity to do several projects with Goldmine in the future.
Mike Goodman worked on the proposal for the Goldmine project and has been assigned as
its project manager. He has been with Ace for about a year and has been anxious to get a
challenging project to manage.
Rob Schroeder is a senior systems engineer. He has been with Ace for ten years. He has a
solid reputation, and previous clients with whom he has worked usually request that he be
assigned to their projects. He enjoys his work even though he's extremely busy. He is
currently working full time on a project for Ajax Company; a client Ace has done business
with for some time. Ajax said that one of the reasons it does business with Ace Consulting,
rather than with another consulting firm, is the great work Rob does on their projects.
Jenny Jones is the manager of Systems Engineering. She has been with Ace Consulting
about 15 years. Rob reports to Jenny, but because of his heavy workload and associated
travel he doesn't get to see Jenny very often, other than at her monthly staff meetings.
Terri Johnson is the project manager for the Ajax Company project. She has been with Ace
Consulting about two years. The project has a tight schedule, and everyone is putting in
extra hours. Terri feels a lot of pressure, but she has a good project team and relies heavily
on Rob. She had heard from a friend who used to work with Mike that Mike is very ambitious
and will do whatever it takes to make himself look good. This hadn't been of concern to Terri
because she and Mike have separate projects and don't run into each other very often.
The day Mike is assigned to be project manager on the Goldmine Corporation project he
met Rob in the hallway. "We got the Goldmine project," he informed Rob. “You know, one of
the big reasons they gave the project to us rather than another consulting firm is because
we promised you'd be the lead systems engineer on the project, Rob. They were impressed
with you when we met with them to present our proposal. When do you think you can start
work on the project?" 1 Ace Consulting
"Unfortunately, I can't. I'm tied up on the Ajax project, and things are really hectic. I'll be on
that project for another four months," says Rob.
"No way!" exclaims Mike. "This Goldmine project is too important to me - I mean, to us. I'll
take care of it."
"You'd better talk to Jenny," Rob tells him.
Mike stops by Jenny's office. "I must have Rob Schroeder on my Goldmine project. He
wants to work on it, but he said I should talk to you."
"That's impossible," says Jenny. "He's assigned to Terri Johnson's Ajax project for the next
"I'll find her and work it out. You probably have somebody else you can assign to her
project," replies Mike as he quickly bolts out of her office in search of Terri.
"That's my decision, not yours or Terri's!" shouts Jenny. But by that time Mike is gone and
doesn't hear what she says.
Terri is meeting with her project team in the conference room. Mike knocks on the door and
opens it. “Sorry for interrupting but I need to talk to you ASAP.” Looking toward Rob, who's
in the meeting, Mike says, "Hey, Rob, catch you later, buddy, after I talk with Terri." Mike
then shut the door and returns to his office, leaving Terri noticeably disturbed at the
After her meeting, Terri calls Mike. "This is Terri. What did you want to talk to me about that
was so urgent?”
"About reassigning Rob to my project: He's interested, and I've already talked to Jenny
about it," answers Mike.
"That's impossible," declares Terri. "He's critical to the Ajax project."
"Sorry," says Mike, "but if the Goldmine project is successful, we'll get more business from
them than we ever got from the Ajax Company."
"It's already after 6 o'clock and I have to be out of town for a week, but I'll discuss this with
Jenny as soon as I get back," snaps Terri. "Yeah, sure, whatever;' responds Mike.
The next day Mike called a meeting with Jenny and Rob. He starts by saying, "I called this
meeting to figure how soon Rob can begin working on the Goldmine project and how you
(Jenny) can get somebody to take his place on Terri's project."
"I think Terri should be here for this discussion," says Jenny. "She couldn't make it” Mike
replies. “Apparently she's out of town for a week, and we need to get going on the Goldmine
project.". "We need to prepare for a meeting with them next week. Besides, Rob is the one
we're talking about, and he'd rather work on the Goldmine project. Right, Rob?"
"Ah, well, now that you've asked, I am getting a bit tired of working only on the Ajax
projects," replies Rob. I'm not learning anything new. I mean, it's okay, but I'd like a
change." 2 Ace Consulting
Jenny is astonished. "You never mentioned that to me, Rob." Mike breaks in, "Well, I guess
it's settled. Jenny, you assign somebody else to the Ajax project who'll feel a little more
challenged and tell Terri when she gets back. In the meantime, my buddy Rob and I have
got a lot of work to do to look good for our meeting with the Goldmine people next week."
QUESTIONS 1. Why is Mike so anxious to get started on the Goldmine project?
2. What is wrong with Mike's approach to handling this situation?
3. What should Jenny do to resolve this situation?
4. What issues of the matrix-type organization are apparent from this story? 3 ...
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- Spring '10