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At the top of your paper provide the reference to your Journal Article. Use a scholarly source as described above. Utilizing a non-scholarly/non-peer-reviewed source will result in significant point deduction.IntroductionGive a brief overview of the chapter 4, chapter 5 and chapter 6 of Kloppenborg covered for the week. Be sure to cite any reference to the text. Include the text in a reference section at the end.Summary (cite article when appropriate)Give a summary of the article or case study.Relevant Points (cite article when appropriate)Identify the relevant points of the article or case study that coincide with the chapter covered for the week.CritiqueProvide a balanced criticism of the article or case study. What were the strengths and weaknesses of the study? How do the findings support the field of project management? How could it have been altered to better support the field?Application of Concept(s)Apply the concept(s) to your career, field, industry, etc. Provide a real world application not a general statement. This section should demonstrate how you can take the findings of this article or case study and utilize them in a practical way in your career, field or practice. Make the application specific to your own experience. Do not just provide a general overview of the usefulness of the findings. Be specific; not general.References (this does not count toward the required paper length)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…).Lastly, add the summary of the research paper that you developed about 300 words. Do not copy the research paper itself.s
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FROM MY EXPERIENCE
Cross-Functional Project Teams in Functionally
Aligned Organizations
Suzanne K. Bishop, Pharmaceutical Research Software Applications, 307 Weatherford Court, Lake Bluff, Illinois 60044 USA
I
n theory, cross-functional teams are the right mechanism to rapidly respond to changing market needs.
In practice, most functionally aligned organizations
have been less than successful in incorporating crossfunctional project team structures into their hierarchical
organizational structure. Through research of publications on similar topics as well as personal experience, I
identify characteristics of successful cross-functional
project teams and characteristics of typical functionally
aligned organizations and show the relationship between them. Areas of concern will be highlighted and
recommendations offered for successfully incorporating
cross-functional project teams into functionally aligned
organizations.
Why Cross-Functional Project Teams?
In traditional hierarchical organizations, each functional
area works in isolation on their part of the process and
then passes the activity to the next department in a serial
decision-making process. Conversely, a cross-functional
team brings together an array of specialists who jointly
and simultaneously make design and manufacturing decisions. Henke, Krachenberg, and Lyons (1993) believe
that this concurrent, informed, consensus decisionmaking model produces less likelihood of rework, redundancy, and inappropriate activities, as well as reduces
the delays of knowledge transfer incurred with sequential
activities performed by different people or groups.
More specifically, studies on teams have shown
them to be mechanisms for enhanced efficiency, increased motivation, self-regulation, synergistic output,
flexibility, and heightened confidence (Peters & Tippet,
1995). Henke et al. (1993) point out that these characteristics of successful cross-functional project teams are
the critical factors in successful product development.
Product development by nature usually involves some
degree of risk. Throughout the entire product development life cycle people need to be aware of, and poised
to address, rapidly changing conditions in a dynamic
competitive environment. Under these conditions,
making decisions, resolving conflicts across functional
areas, and coordinating the product development
process of several different products simultaneously becomes almost impossible to achieve within a typical hierarchical structure.
6
By using cross-functional teams, decision-making is
decentralized through the use of lateral decision processes,
which can cut across the traditional vertical lines of functional authority, speeding the decision-making process
and increasing the chance of “buy-in” and cooperation
from all affected departments. Presuming that clear corporate objectives are consistently understood within the
team, there is a significantly greater potential of highquality decisions occurring through this joint decisionmaking process.
The decision-making and action-producing process
used by cross-functional teams act together to speed up
the overall cycle time by reducing sequential knowledge
transfer activities, reducing rework, improving the flow
of communication, and increasing knowledge at lower
levels of the organization. The increase of knowledge
additionally improves future decision-making even
down to daily operating-level decisions. This helps to
better align operating-level decisions with corporate
strategy and objectives.
Some popular uses for cross-functional project
teams are to develop a “total quality” culture, to overhaul or reengineer company procedures, to improve
product and service quality, to reduce cycle time, to improve customer relationships, to procure goods and services, to study a product problem, or to develop and introduce new products.
Composition of a Cross-Functional Project Team
A cross-functional project team is typically comprised of
people from all functions who, at one time or another, are
involved in the design, engineering, implementation/manufacturing, and marketing of the product (be it a tangible
manufactured product or a set of procedures or knowledge) for which they are responsible. According to Katzenbach and Smith (1993), ideally the cross-functional team
is a small group of key players from each affected functional area who have been carefully chosen for complementary skills and who are committed to a common goal
and are mutually accountable for the team’s success.
In practice, the composition of a project team is
often less than ideal, contributing to some of the difficulties described later in this paper.
Project Management Journal
September 1999
The Functionally Aligned Organization as the
Environment for Cross-Functional Project Teams
Trent and Monczka (1994) assert that most U.S. firms—
even after indicating a willingness to pursue cross-functional integration—still structure themselves traditionally. In many cases, the culture of the firm encompasses
decades of established business practices and formal
functional reporting structures and is not a trivial task to
realign. Switching to a matrix-type organization structure may not be possible or desirable and the reality is
that cross-functional teams, if they are to exist at all,
need to survive in a functionally aligned environment.
Helgesen (1995) identifies characteristics that define
traditional hierarchies, such as pyramid structure, focus
on formalities, and information channel constraints, and
found that these characteristics tend to reinforce one another. The communication protocol of a hierarchical organization accentuates the importance of rank within the
organization and keeps the focus on what position a
person has attained rather than on what he or she actually does. Unfortunately, the prestige associated with title
may tend to motivate people to strive for title rather than
for producing outstanding work. The old adage “it’s not
what you do but who you know that makes the difference” comes into play and office-politicking and visibility become immensely important, thus taking time
away from the essential business of working toward the
profit-producing product and becoming a growth-oriented organization.
Not all hierarchical structures are prone to these inefficiencies. In particular, those companies and departments that have firm and clear guidelines for work
processes, the departmental product principally produced within each department, clear expectations and
job descriptions for each individual, clear individual
goals and associated measurement and reward structure
for each individual, and largely repetitious tasks, can
greatly benefit from the cost-efficiencies of functionally
aligned staff and activities and have little need for crossfunctional activities at an operational level. By having a
clear performance management program with measurable objectives for each employee, they can avoid much
of the time-consuming office politics that are so often
associated with title-conscious organizations.
However, this set of success factors for hierarchical
organizations describes a profile more suitable for manufacturing organizations than for fast-paced research
and development or service-oriented organizations.
Resistance to Cross-Functional Teams
Many organizational management researchers (Helgesen,
1995; Henke et al., 1993; Hutt, Walker, & Frankwick,
1995; Parker, 1994; Proehl, 1996) have confirmed what
most staffers who have lived through organizational flattening or reengineering efforts can tell you: that you can’t
September 1999
just superimpose a cross-functional team on a hierarchy
and expect it to work.
Helgesen (1995) offers an explanation. The highly
structured nature of a hierarchy is one reason that piecemeal efforts to reform or flatten pyramidal structures
have so often floundered, despite good intentions,
costly consultants, and detailed plans.
The top-down emphasis on power and privilege
tends to assure that the kind of people who emerge as
leaders in traditional hierarchies are those who are
comfortable with exercising power from a distance and
making unilateral decisions. These are not the kind of
leaders necessary for leading flexible reactive organizations or for leading cross-functional teams.
Helgesen further points out that restricted access to
information strengthens the power and dominance of
the organization’s top leaders, creating a kind of caste
system that isolates people who are not in leadership
positions rather than broadly involving them in the
overall process. By imposing an exclusionary culture that
dictates who, by virtue of rank, will not be invited to a
meeting, or who has a right to particular information, or
who may not communicate directly with whom, people
in leadership positions are elevated and their positions
are strengthened. Going to a team culture could be personally counterproductive for these leaders, who are the
very people who need to sponsor the activity to change
the organizational culture!
Key Factors of Successful Cross-Functional
Project Teams
Proehl (1996), Trent and Monczka (1994), Katzenbach
and Smith (1993), and Peters and Tippet (1995) all discuss the following key factors to building and maintaining cross-functional project teams.
Project Sponsorship and Upper Management
Support. The project sponsor requests the project and
holds the budget and resources for getting the project
accomplished. This person typically presides over all the
functions/departments participating in the project. In
addition to full commitment of the project sponsor,
management support from all affected areas is crucial in
order for the team to have the time, resources, and
recognition to accomplish their goals. A steering committee comprised of the upper management from each
affected functional area is key. The sponsor, steering
committee, project leader, and team members must all
view the project as an organizational priority.
Project Goals/Scope/Objectives. The project’s merit
to the organization and its link to corporate strategy
and objectives must be clear to the entire organization
and particularly to the project team. It is critical that the
project has some level of importance and is not viewed
as trivial. Clearly identified project goals, scope, and objectives are a way of communicating the desires of the
Project Management Journal
7
project sponsor to the steering committee, the project
team, and the organization as a whole. The project
leader and team are ultimately responsible to the project
sponsor, and need to be aware of what the sponsor is expecting the project to accomplish. Each team member
must fully understand the goals, scope, and objectives
and these must be tested often to ensure that the project
remains on target. In addition, individual and group
goals must be established, preferably in coordination
with those concerned.
Leadership. Trent and Monczka (1994) ascertained
that a positive relationship exists between overall leadership effectiveness and other indicators of team interaction and performance, including team effort, communication satisfaction, and a team’s ability to coordinate its
work activities.
The chairperson or leader must have a positive attitude, commitment to the project, effective leadership
skills, and be in a position of authority with respect to
the project and the project sponsor. A primary responsibility of the leadership position is to secure the involvement and commitment of members to the team’s
goals and objectives. The leader must have good coordination and organization skills so that talents of members are efficiently tapped. It is best if the leader allows
participative leadership.
Membership/Resources. Adequate team staffing
and members with complementary skills are critical to the
success of any cross-functional project team. The project
leader should provide a team-member profile and timecommitment estimate and work with the functional department managers to identify suitable members of the
team. Managers are more likely to be supportive of staff
involvement if they perceive team involvement as a privilege. If this is not the case, managers may tend to offer underutilized or misfit staff in order to have the least impact
on their department.
Teams typically meet frequently and for a good
amount of time when first starting in order to build
trust, understand the project goals and objectives, and
build concrete plans. Time commitment must not be
underestimated, as urgent business issues often undermine project resource needs. A team profile and time effort should be endorsed by the project sponsor and
heads of all affected departments in order to get full
commitment for moving the project forward.
Adequate budgetary support is critical to moving
the project forward in the assessed time frame and in
recognizing that the project is important to the organization. Once a team is selected, team members must be
given the appropriate time availability to amply prepare
for team meetings and to perform any allocated tasks.
In addition, they must have access to critical organizational resources and appropriate work tools.
Communication. Communication is key to breaking
down functional and physical boundaries when cross8
functional teams first form. Good communication with a
high level of trust, honesty, and respect for others is critical
in building and maintaining high team performance.
Communication must be maintained with members as individuals and as a team. Adequate internal and external
communication systems must exist or be created. Leaders
must take an active role in keeping members and employees external to the project informed.
Communication from the project leader to members must be consistent regardless of their location, and
all members must be aware that this communication is
equal. In many cases, cross-functional team members
are not solely dedicated to the project, and in these
cases, functional managers of team members should
also be kept consistently informed. Katzenbach and
Smith (1993) found that it is possible for teams to successfully exist with members in different geographic locales. Quality and productivity of the interaction are
what count; however, electronic interactions (video- or
audioconferencing and electronic note boards) are best
supplemented from time to time by traditional face-toface meetings.
Expectations, misconceptions, and misgivings from
those outside the team may proliferate with lack of information. Communication is key to managing expectations and minimizing misconceptions and misgivings.
Communications to affected departments, providing
project status and recognizing project and team progress,
are essential to keep nonteam staff involved and focused
on the importance of the project. Communication
should be clear and adequate to all management and
staff in the affected or contributing areas. The project objectives and scope and their link to business goals must
be clear to everyone in order to avoid disappointments
in what the team delivers.
Team Authority/Autonomy. Successful teams have
high levels of internal and external decision-making authority. They must have both authority and accountability
to accomplish their task. Trent and Monczka (1994) place
particular importance on the need for team autonomy. Internal team autonomy, or decision-making, includes the
ability to schedule team meetings and activities, select new
members and/or the team leader as required, control internal team processes and activities, and make decisions
without the approval of nonteam members.
Teams with greater external decision-making authority tend to be more effective. They are more committed to their work product, milestones, etc., if they
have the final word in the recommendations that go
forward and an opportunity to negotiate with the
steering committee on all final decisions. In these cases,
the team feels that the product is truly theirs and they
become loyal to its success.
Performance/Reward System. Cross-functional
team members’ performance must be evaluated and rewarded within the team context and with equal weight to
Project Management Journal
September 1999
the work they do outside of the team/project. Clearly
identified individual job responsibilities and performance standards should be set and understood with all
members of the team and their managers. The amount of
time a member commits to a team is partly a function of
how significantly participation affects the member’s performance appraisal. A performance appraisal system
must address team participation. Leaders must take an
active role in providing support and recognition to members for not only project progress, but also teamwork and
team-building efforts.
Recognition or praise from the project sponsor or
other managers should be passed to team members and
their managers. Small recognition events can be arranged
to reward and publicly announce project progress and
milestones. Reward and recognition should be consistent
at all sites if the makeup of the team encompasses more
than one physical location.
Team Dynamics. In all actions, the project leader
and team should demonstrate respect and consideration for all members of the team. Open communication
and mutual accountability among members is critical to
maintaining respect and trust. Team members must be
willing to deal comfortably with conflict, challenge, and
disagreement. They must practice and encourage loyalty
to the team. Consensual decision-making based on
facts, data, and logic should be the norm. Proehl’s
(1996) research showed that task-oriented teams are
better able to maintain momentum and accomplish
their objectives in a timely manner.
Once the right people are chosen for the team, they
should be trusted to do the job! The steering committee
should oversee the process, not the results. If there are
global business issues that may have an affect on a recommendation, the steering committee should make
certain the team is aware of these issues. Time can easily
be wasted by a team working without all necessary and
relevant information. If information is sensitive, the
team members may have to agree to confidentiality or
be put off the team.
Putting Them Together: Functionally Aligned
Departments and Cross-Functional Teams
Rarely does the cross-functional team sabotage the efforts of the functional departments for which it serves,
but rather it is the functional departments (that often
control the resources and information vital to the success of the cross-functional team) that can and often do
sabotage the efforts of the cross-functional team.
Helgesen (1995) states that as long as the team is conceived of as a tool for achieving a goal, and is temporary
in nature, it has little chance of affecting the greater structure of which it is a part. A team addresses itself to the
achievement of a specific task and is therefore driven by
ends rather than by means. When these ends have been
September 1999
achieved, the team either disbands or is absorbed into a
regular unit or division within the larger organization.
Table 1 summarizes the characteristics of a functional
department, compared to the associated characteristic or
critical success factor of the cross-functional team.
Organization Structure (Department vs. Matrix,
Pyramidal vs. Circular). The success of a cross-functional team depends on managing the expectations of
both the team members and the functional managers
who deal with them. Teams have different participation/success “rules” than hierarchical departments. Managers need to understand how teams operate to avoid
putting undue pressure on the team leader for unilateral
decisions. Each manager needs to relinquish departmental control/influence over his or her team member
for project-related activities, and understand that the
team is shared by all departm …
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