Research in the of Media
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Presently I am working with a Research Institute, doing research in the field of media, networking & telecommunication. We various categories of projects, such as, Core project, Exploratory projects, Feasibility projects, Commercialization of technology (COT) projects or Industrial projects. I will here site the example of Industrial project for my analysis. We develop a core technology under a core project. Once any industry is interested in the developed technology, we tailor make and amend the technology as per the customers requirements in the Industrial project.
My job scope is either to manage the telecommunication project, lead the communication team or work as the consultant to a project team. I am working on this research institute for last 9 years and familiar with the processes here, so I will analyze the Gaps in the process with this institute. I will also look into the assurance related to research projects delivery. This will benefit the project team relationship, understanding of customer expectations and overcoming gaps between expectations between customer and the project team. Service quality is a measure of the difference between the customer expectations and the service which is actually delivered. Thus, there are two ways of measuring the service quality, the service quality gap model and the SERVQUAL service quality measurement instrument.
The Industrial projects are generally dual responsibility of the Project Manager and the Project team to work hand in hand for its successful completion. I will focus on the service gap model to determine the failure and or breakdown in the service delivery.
Gap 1: Difference between costumer expectations and project team perceptions of customer expectations
Research project team members generally do not understand what features presage high quality to the customer, what attributes to the quality deliverables or what level of performance on these features are required for high quality deliverables. This may lead to a bigger gap between the customer and the project team. Thus, the size of gap 1 may be the function of marketing research orientation, upward communication, and levels of management.
Marketing Research Orientation:
Generally, research organizations lag behind on the marketing research being carried compared to a product oriented organization before starting a project. They are more interested in taking up an Industrial project and get the industrial funding to improve their KPI. The customer also was interested in somehow getting the technology and start doing production in 4 months time frame. I was not really satisfied with this arrangement and I came up with a model by which I asked my customer to do his due diligence and do the research. I asked him to go and meet all the shipping companies and talk to them to find out what really they are lacking of. The customer took one month to crop up with the product specifications & network topology. After that we took 4 months to develop the product with his specifications.
I would like to allude one example here, which was very interesting specification and which we never thought of earlier. We developed the Maritime equipment for high speed data communication for internet connectivity on the ship. We thought of installing the equipment on the ship at the highest point of ship. It was observed that the highest point on the ship is a chimney which has the temperature around 300oC, sufficient enough to burn the equipment. If we install the equipment on one side of chimney, it will block the communication. So we took a decision to install 2 equipments, one in front & other in the back of the ship and installed them on the second highest points on the ship. This solution gave the uninterrupted data communication to the ship.
Though top management may not have firm grab of the customers expectations, but the Project Manager can always accurately predict the customers expectations and escalate them to higher ups in the organization. So the higher management understanding of the expectations largely depends on the extent and type of communications received from the Project manager, who is the main interface between the organization and customer. I meet up with my project team almost every day informally and just have a 5-10 minutes chat with them on the progress of the project and casually talk to them. I send a project updates to my Program Director on every Monday during the course of project. If there is any critical or a crucial point, I would put a red flag for management elevation. I would also talk to the management face-to-face to get the decision to solve any of the critical issue which is beyond my scope. Face-to-face communication is also preferred when the message is difficult or ambiguous, or when Project Manager & higher ups are of different opinion and background.
Levels of management:
The more levels of management lead to wider size of gap 1. There are always different perceptions for any communication by each level and all of the complicate the simple issues. The highest authority in any organization has an upmost task to bring the good name & fame to the organization and hence he will try to solve any of the issues which are faced by either the Project Manager or the customer. He can take any decision on his behalf and he can decide it quickly. Whereas, the middle management may have their own reasons to delay the decisions and they do not have the authority to do so.
Gap 2: Management Perception- Service Quality Specification Gap
Managers of research projects generally face problems in trying to match customers expectations. There are 2 main reasons for widening of this gap. The first reason is because of the shifting goal posts of the specifications from the customer and the second reason is because of the restrictions on allocation of resources in terms of manpower & instrumentations from the management. Thus the gap 2 in research projects is the function of management commitment to service quality, goal setting, task standardization, and perception of feasibility.
Management commitment to service quality:
Sometimes gap 2 occurs if there is absence in terms of the commitment from project team or Project Manager. Ours is a matrix structure and we have 2 reporting structures. The first reporting is in administrative or department structure and the second reporting is project structure. One engineer or even Project Manager is generally involved in more than one project. From organizational point of view, one project might be of very high priority whereas the priority for another project goes