NATS is a primary provider of air control services in the UK. According to Genus, Rigakis & Dickson (2003), the new en route center at Swanwick near Southampton was an IT-based investment project that the company invested in to ensure smoother operations and was expected to kick off in 1996. However, the new en route center at Swanwick was only operational in December 2001. The delay in the timing of launching the new center by the NATS was attributed to the self-perpetuating software capabilities. The project was being implemented at a time when the UK traffic air control systems were under strain and had a growing likelihood of failure caused by the need to work full capacity for longer periods than before. More aircraft were expected in the UK airspace and congestion was an imminent threat to air traffic controllers (Genus, Rigakis & Dickson, 2003). Genus, Rigakis & Dickson (2003) observes that, whereas an increase in aircraft in the UK airspace meant an increase in revenue for NATS, there existed the risk of control systems not being able to cope with the increasing demand. The high demand and presence of flights in the UK airspace led to the collapse of the main traffic control center in West Drayton on 17 and 18 June 2000. Flights were canceled implying a loss of business by the NATS. The overall cause of the breakdown was computer overload (Genus, Rigakis & Dickson, 2003).
The Swanwick center represented a technical state of the art air traffic control system. The technology used in the project had both hardware and software components consisting of over two million lines of software code grouped into twenty-three major subsystems. The Advanced Automation System was a new computer development only present in the US. The systems at the Swanwick center included over two hundred and forty computers divided into the operational systems, engineering support segment, and a training development unit. Each of the three segments has tens of sub-systems that assisted in the control of en-route traffic within the UK airspace (Genus, Rigakis & Dickson, 2003).
NATS considered completing the system in 1996 but technical and other related factors delayed the completion. Software instability was a primary factor and NATS was forced to rethink the whole process of system installations. The coding systems had 8-12 defects and that increased the levels of failure of the system. As at January 2002, NATS still experienced problems with setting up the software system codes for the project. The previous failure of the West Drayton and the instability of the new project at Swanwick was a potential threat to national traffic safety and security. A decision to have two centers at Swanwick and Prestwick instead of four still presented the same challenge of software bugs.
Genus, Rigakis & Dickson (2003) assert that poor management was the primary cause of issues seen at the Swanwick center project cycle. For instance, setting up an unrealistic timetable for the development and implementation of the project was purely a managerial problem. Very tight dateline where associated with the project and a lot of pressure was exerted on the technical staff to meet the required datelines. According to Genus, Rigakis & Dickson (2003) engineers had to work for 16 hours a day for seven days to meet the requirements of the project’s timeline. Also, tight schedule led to the loss of morale and confidence by the NATS staff. Poor communication was also exhibited in the Swanwick center project whereby team managers and staff expressed an inability to pass bad news in the designated chain of command (Genus, Rigakis & Dickson, 2003). The training of air traffic controllers before the installation of the system was also a mistake. The project was inconsistently financed with budget increments being made frequently skewing the terms of the contract.
The Management Style of the Ideal IT Manager for The New En Route Center at Swanwick
The management of large IT projects such as the Swanwick project requires a person with a strong technical lead. Nauman et al. (2010) observes that, large IT projects are usually complex and often require multiple technologies and components to integrate the various aspects involved into a solution. Large IT projects are characterized by high levels of uncertainty and high chances of not going according to the plan. New information emerges within the project cycle and the datelines might change as the team lead rethinks new strategies. The successful completion of a huge IT project requires a technical lead who can manage the complexities that emerge. The ideal manager should have experience in the tackling and successfully managing challenging technical solutions (Nauman et al., 2010).
In the case of the Swanwick center project, I would choose a manager who willing to use the extreme project management style. The extreme project management style helps an organization manage the unknown which the nature of most complex IT projects. Unlike the many project management styles, the extreme project management style offers an open-ended, flexible, and unpredictable procedures to handle complex business problems (Yang et al., 2011). Complex projects that rely on scientific innovation and systems such as the Swanwick center project are best suited to use the extreme project management given the method’s ability tolerate uncertainty. The extreme project management style is best suited for projects that are complex and uncertain. The Swanwick center project was a notorious venture in IT both in size and complexity. Yang et al. (2011) the size and complexity of a project large determine the style of management the will be used for the project. The use of the extreme project management style helps the manager and the team to properly understand the requirements of the project and the guidelines that the market may demand. The style is supported by the willingness of the team to make several attempts to achieve the desired result. When the extreme project management style is used, the team members and managers are aware of the uncertainties that encompass the whole project and poor communication issues, as in the case of Swanwick center project, does not manifest. The ability to finance and budget complex and uncertain IT projects are also made possible through the extreme project management style (Yang et al., 2011). Thus, a manager who utilizes the extreme project management style is best suited for the Swanwick project by NATS.
Suitable Project Management Methodology for Re-Skilling Employees
In a world where technology is taking over, employee retraining is vital. Employers have the obligation to ensure that employees are up to date with modern technology as human capital becomes the greatest advantage of companies in the tech era (Ramamurthy et la., 2015). Automation and related technologies are the way forward and must be embraced by employees irrespective of the roles they play in an organization. Thus, retraining for technology-related skills is a project in itself and requires an implementation strategy by the employer. According to Ramamurthy et la. (2015) the upskilling of employees has the advantage of ensuring employee retention, customer satisfaction and an overall increase in organizational performance.
There are various methodologies used in employee retraining and upskilling as a project within the organization. Job specific upskilling or credentialing programs is a primary method or strategy applied when retraining employees to adapt to the ever-changing technology requirements (Singh et al., 2017). The methodology involves offering the employees job-specific training to enhance their current skills. For instance, the company may have a specialty software used only by a small section of the organization. The management should consider offering an upskilling training on the software to all the other employees. Singh et al., (2017) assert that credentialing programs also work best in retaining and uplifting the skills of employees. Credentialing programs result in the offering of professional certificates. For instance, Staff and team members involved in IT project can greatly benefit from enrolling in an intensive e-learning program that offers a certificate upon a successful completion. When the training is job specific and on-the-job, the skills acquired stick and enable the employees to stick within the organization (Singh et al., 2017).
Possible Sources of Reduction in Morale Amongst Employees and Recommended Strategies to Solve Low Employee Morale in Project Implementation
Employee morale is considered one of the most vital and extremely difficult things to manage (Kube et al., 2013). It is important that the management maintains a high employee morale to ensure the proper implementation of projects. While compensation is considered an important factor in managing employee morale, other factors apart from low compensation also have negative impact on employee morale (Kube et al., 2013). One of the primary cause of low employee is a poor management that ill-treats employees. Also, poor communication and improper communication channels that lack freedom can be a leading cause of low morale amongst employees. Poor communication creates a room for grapevine and wild rumors within the organization as employees remain in darkness about what is happening within the organization. The ability and willingness to communicate within the established chain of command play an integral role in employee morale building (Kube et al., 2013).
The strategies for solving low employee morale are varied. The strategy used will depend on how low the morale among employees has gone down. According to Elmuti et al. (2010), one of the primary strategies used is to remove behavior-controlling policies within the organization. Most employees consider behavior-controlling policies such as restriction to internet usage, limits on bathroom usage and dress code as ill-treatment and not a factor in one’s performance. Others may consider it as an intrusion into privacy. The management can remove such restrictions to create an organizational culture that recognizes employees based on their performance. Apart from the power of fringe benefits, employers should master the art of communication in raising employee morale. Communication not only applies to having a free chain of command but also the ability to communicate high expectations to the employees (Elmuti et al., 2010). Positive assumptions and great expectations raise the morale of employees. the manager can embrace the use of superlatives such as “exceptional” and “always” to create an environment of high expectations among employees. Employees should be made to always believe that it is possible and can be done. The expression of a strong belief in the expectations gives the employees even further increase in morale (Elmuti et al., 2010)
The Role of Leadership and Management in The Technologically Disrupted Industry
All industries in the market are facing competition emerging from technology developments and the increased ability of customers to accept change. For instance, technology has impacted on the telecom industry with the entrance of free WhatsApp calls and other Instant Messaging applications. The transport industry has felt the heat of competition from Uber and other ridesharing tech-based applications (Landiniet al., 2017). The modern-day leadership and management require skills that will match the competition from technology-based industries. As digital technologies continue to emerge and transform economies around the globe, the role of leaders and managers in organizations is changing.
Kouzes (2014) observes that, organizational leadership is struggling to set a digital strategy, shift organizational structures and remove the existing barriers that may hinder the use and implementation of digital procedures in the light of digital disruption. Modern leaders and managers have changed roles to adapt to the technological disruption. Leaders are now breaking down the traditional barriers and seeking external opinions on the way forward in projects. Traditional leadership values put leaders in compromising situations. Managers and leaders in the present economy are obliged to leave the traditional top-down approach to leadership and establish multidisciplinary teams that can quickly adapt to the present and future disruptions as expected (Kouzes, 2014).
According to Eastman et al. (2014) the roles of the leader or the manager have changed to the anticipation of the market environment by staying close to partners, customers, and competitors. Leaders are also expected to challenge assumptions and re status quo by interacting with people who think outside the box and who give diverse points of view. Also, technology disruption has demanded that leaders interpret a wide range of data and viewpoints instead of seeking evidence pieces that confirm previous beliefs. Moreover, modern leaders facing technology disruption should align the interests and incentives of stakeholders. Experimentation is the primary way of learning while failure and success are treated with the equal measure by leaders in digital disruption (Eastman et al., 2014).
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