Students in the Management Systems Engineering course at Oregon State University have been engaged in a virtual project aimed at managing development of energy solutions for communities in Nigeria. The class was divided into two companies – one face-to-face (Team 1), and the other virtual (Team 2). Each team included a CEO, Engineering, Research and Development, Accounting, and Marketing group. The teams were provided with a scenario that would closely mirror that of a start-up company focused on energy solutions in low resource environments – broad information and two contacts in Nigeria. Over the next few weeks, the groups will share posts on their experiences to-date and will entertain questions or comments on their progress. The second post is from the CEO group of the virtual team. Earlier posts are available here.
Team 2: CEO Group (Member/Author bios below the post)
Team Members: Faisal Alfaiz; Saud Alsuhaili; Moises Fuentes; Michael Kendricks; Lauren Wickwire
What were your initial impressions of the project, expectations of your group and team, etc? The project was somewhat overwhelming at first because there were quite a few directions in which the project could have been taken. The scope and responsibilities were not clear initially. Since we were put in the role of the CEO group, it created a dynamic with our peers that we were not used to.
How did those match reality? We were asked to operate as a virtual team. Our group did not anticipate how difficult it would be to effectively communicate with other groups, especially when we could not meet with them. The first deliverable due date was close to the time groups were established so we had to provide deliverables to other groups on a rushed schedule. Delivering responsibilities to other groups was our responsibility, as the executive group. It was very different from the normal way we start projects, because it required a higher level of coordination among team members.
What areas of ambiguity existed and how did you combat/fix ambiguous issues? The scope of the project was ambiguous, so we came up with detailed questions to be asked in class to help clarify our responsibilities. To help establish roles for groups, we met with the board of directors (graduate students) to get a high level view of what they expected. This helped us identify the tasks our group needed to perform. We also initiated contact with our partners in Nigeria to gain an understanding of their culture and the current system they have in place.
What procedures were/need to be put in place to allow groups within your team make decisions in support of the larger mission? Our team is virtual, so effective communication was a priority. We identified two people from each group to be the main contacts. These people are responsible for informing their groups of information delivered by our (CEO) group. We gave each group a high-level direction and scope of what was expected and we allowed them to make the detailed decisions on how that would be achieved. This was achieved through a project charter (deliverable 1).
Have there been pitfalls? Trying to align a large group of people towards a goal that is not quite concrete has been challenging. Not all the groups were satisfied with the mission and vision statement. Communication with other teams has not been as timely as expected. Also, the team encountered a department that has not been responding to emails in a timely manner. However, we tried to contact the department frequently to get the information needed to assign tasks to other departments. It turned out that everything went well after the approach we have taken.
How might these be fixed and avoided in the future? These can be avoided by constant communication with other groups, also by creating a Gantt Chart to outline when deliverables are due and who is responsible for them. In addition, these problems can be avoided by taking further advantage of the technology we have available. Emotion and motivation can often get lost in emails but tools such as Skype that still allow some face to face interaction help to reach a more personal level. Finally, in the future it will be important for us as the CEO group to make sure that there is constant leadership for the other teams so that we all stay focused on the goal.
My name is Faisal Alfaiz, I am a senior student majoring in Industrial Engineering and minoring in Business and Entrepreneurship at Oregon State University. I have worked as a financial analyst in a logistics agency in Saudi Arabia for 3 months. I have also worked as a grader for the statistical quality control course in Fall 2014. I plan to graduate in December 2016. I would want to apply managerial concepts in my work experience to better manage employees and projects
My name is Saud Alsuhaili and I am a senior majoring in industrial engineering and minoring in business and entrepreneurship at Oregon State University. I will graduate in Spring 2015 and my plan is to pursue a Master’s in industrial engineering. I have not had any internships or work experience, but I have worked on many engineering projects during my junior and senior year. I am looking forward to applying the knowledge that I have gained in my management systems engineering course in my future career.
My name is Moises Fuentes and I am a senior at Oregon State University (OSU). I am working on my Industrial Engineering major with a Business minor and will be graduating in Spring 2015. OSU has exposed me to many learning experiences ranging from hands on projects, managerial concepts, and even studying abroad in Italy. This, coupled with my previous work experiences put me in a position to excel in my future endeavors. It is my goal to put all of these learning experiences to use as I continue to improve as a professional and as a person
My name is Michael Kendricks. I am double majoring in Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering with a business minor. I will graduate Winter 2016. I did a six month internship through MECOP with Genentech during the Spring and Summer of 2014. I will be going out on another six month internship with Selmet this coming Spring and Summer. I really enjoying applying the engineering knowledge I have accumulated during my college career to new and challenging problems. I have learned a great deal in the Management Systems Engineering course and hope to use the concepts to become a well-rounded practicing engineer.
My name is Lauren Wickwire and I am currently a senior in Industrial Engineering with a minor in Business at Oregon State University (OSU). I plan to graduate in the winter of 2016. During my time at OSU, I was selected for the MECOP internship program. As part of MECOP, I secured an internship at Precision Castparts Corporation-a casting company in Portland, Oregon and will complete a second internship at Kinetics, Inc. this summer. These internship opportunities have largely focused on process control and continuous improvement. I selected this course as one of my electives because I see the value management knowledge can bring to my role as an engineer and future engineering manager. I look forward to working project management positions that allow me to fuse my engineering background with my enthusiasm for working with others.