Benchmarking for Project Planning

Houser Shoes
Gary Houser started his shoes career working for International Shoe Corporation part-time while attending college. In 1973 an opportunity arose, Houser collaborated with a few partners contracted into a 3 store lease. This strategy encouraged Houser to venture on his own. The first Houser Shoes opened in Gastonia, NC in 1976(Houser Shoes, 2007).
In addition, the implementation process was a success and grew to be an 11 store operation in no time and one of the southeast’s largest independent retailers, and is still owned and operated by Gary Houser (Houser Shoes, 2007). In 2000, Houser and his daughter Beth Houser created a shared vision for another chain of stores named GB Shoe Warehouse, which is also one of the southeast's largest shoe stores.
Houser has a total of 150 people employees and embraces the strategy of making stakeholders feel special and realizes that its staff that is the backbone of its existence and people have faces and names not just numbers. Social Network Building the first step to building a social network is identifying those on whom the project depends for success (Gray & Larson, 2006). And that's why employees at all the Houser Shoes stores are friendly and welcoming. Houser has a managing project reward system that assigns the leadership team the responsibility of managing the reward system that encourages stakeholder’s performance and extra efforts (Gray & Larson, 2006).
The retail fashion industry is con-steadily changing, Houser wants to maintain its reputation in providing all brand names at prices up to 75% off regular department store prices(Houser Shoes, 2007). Houser’s concept is to provide quality shoes to his customers during many years of expansion. Houser has a total of 16 retail stores is located throughout Tennessee, West Virginia and the Carolinas (Houser Shoes, 2007).
Houser stores are facing challenges in managing inventory relative to seasonal changes, style trends, and the purchasing patterns and demographics of specific store locations. Houser’s typical purchasing cycle starts by buying inventory six months in advance, before the actual selling season.
The company has little opportunity to reorder once the season arrives and inventory ages on a daily basis. Inventory management is a critical component for Houser’s success. Houser Shoes through the combined efforts of several companies and their products and services, has used real-time inventory management as a competitive advantage through the daily shifting of inventory between locations and real-time sales pricing against inventory trends (Houser Shoes, 2007).
Houser Shoes' headquarters in Asheville, NC, has instituted the services of an IBM AS/400 midrange computer for more than 10 years(Houser Shoes, 2007). In addition, the headquarters uses the AS/400 to perform large internal processing jobs, as well as jobs for its remote store locations. One of these involves the inventory management for the more than 25 point-of-sale (POS) registers that are located at the 16 stores (Houser Shoes, 2007).
Houser Shoes problems are unreliable communications between the store locations and the corporate headquarters' AS/400. Store personnel would manually dialed into the headquarters' AS/400 using the old software, often requiring a good deal of time to accomplish the connection to the AS/400 (Houser Shoes, 2007). In addition, inventory information was not being delivered to each store in a timely manner, resulting in lost revenue and unsold inventory.
Houser Shoes implemented a system designed to operate in unattended mode through CQ's specially designed scripting language(Houser Shoes, 2007). Every morning at 12:05, the AS/400 automatically calls each POS terminal in each store and information is transferred(Houser Shoes, 2007).
During the night, data consolidation is completed and verified with check verification and inventory control applications. This results in a set of daily inventory reports in Asheville every morning. During the day, messages such as: requests for transfers to and from stores, items to be put on sale, price changes, sales reports and updated inventory information are transmitted from the Asheville office staff to personnel in the stores, and vice versa, and are stored in the computer during the day (Houser Shoes, 2007).
The solution does not require an additional internal adapter card, representing a savings of 20% to 40% when compared to typical adapter card-based solutions(Houser Shoes, 2007). Installation is also more convenient, in that the PC never has to be opened or reconfigured for an internal adapter card. As an added benefit, the modems can also be used for asynchronous applications, such as credit card processing (Houser Shoes, 2007).
Gary Houser CEO stated:” With our old system, we had many problems with communications in polling the stores," he offers. "Every day, we had to manually poll the stores. It was a nightmare. Since our present system was installed, reliability has been almost 100% each night. We get information from all our stores, on time, every day. This means increased efficiency and financial savings" (Houser Shoes, 2007).
Paychex Inc.
Paychex Inc. was founded 1971 in Rochester, New York by Chairman and CEO Tom Golisano to deliver a responsive, timely and accurate payroll service to small businesses in their markets. He started the company with a total of $3,000 in cash and credit cards as well as loans from friends and family (Vitalwork Case Study: Paychex, Inc., 2008).
This business venture led Golisano to introducing his company to the public in 1983, which produced year-over-year earnings growth of 20% to 30% for two decades (Vitalwork Case Study: Paychex, Inc., 2008). In addition, during the 1990’s the stock value increased by 700%, employee stock options alone tripled Paychex in value entering the new century.
Paychex business model consists with ethical standards, commitment to shareholders and instinctive decision making, which always translate into sustained return on equity (Vitalwork Case Study: Paychex, Inc., 2008). Ethics in Project management are ethical dilemmas involved with situations that make it difficult to determine whether conduct is right or wrong (Gray & Larson, 2006). Due to external and internal events compounded, Paychex had to make internal changes.
The company recognized the business environment increased demands from operational leaders. Paychex geographical separation did not allow the company to jointly plan or interact unless reacting to a crisis (Vitalwork Case Study: Paychex, Inc., 2008). Consider how much more challenging it is to build a leadership team when members cannot engage in face-to-face interactions. Such would be the case for a virtual project team in which the team members are geographically situated so that they may seldom, if ever, meet face-to-face as a team (Gray & Larson, 2006).
The company operations function consists with 7,000 service personnel in 100 field locations, the leadership team of 5 Vice Presidents, 25 directors and 250 management staff (Vitalwork Case Study: Paychex, Inc., 2008). Stakeholders were indecisive about change some welcomed others wanted to postponed it. Paychex needed to upgrade its methods and people to meet new challenges and capitalize on future opportunities (Vitalwork Case Study: Paychex, Inc., 2008).
Key divisions needed to work as teams instead of independently, managers needed to interact more with front lines, new ideas needed to replace limited thinking, and managers at all levels needed to be accountable for creating new norms for behavior, beginning with senior leaders(Vitalwork Case Study: Paychex, Inc., 2008).
The project manager started the process by gathering the leadership team and identifying the short-term goals and expectations of Senior Management. Then they sculpted the long-term results expected and the program learning objectives, which included setting clear expectations, improve leader self-awareness and teach strategies planning (Vitalwork Case Study: Paychex, Inc., 2008).
The solution was to build and install a multi-phased program that assess tools and peer collaboration exercises in a 3 day program known as Operations Manager Leadership Program (OMLP) (Vitalwork Case Study: Paychex, Inc., 2008). Paychex worked with an external partner to deliver this program. The solution overall increased the communication and performance to an all time high.
Compare & Contrast
Kerzner Office Equipment and Houser Shoes are similar in several ways, each company has to account for inventory and maintain enough on hand supplies for customers or employees. Both companies have to ensure efficient inventory management system that sustains the company’s project succession. Kerzner Office Equipment can observe how Houser Shoes partnered with other companies to create a solution that ultimately created other unrevealed opportunities.
Kerzner Office Equipment and Paychex are similar even though the situations are not exactly the same but require the use of the same concepts. Both companies have to align stakeholders to ensure accurate and successful implementation. Managing stakeholders involves renovating a bridge, creating a new product, or installing a new information system, will likely involve in one way or another working with a number of different groups of stakeholders (Gray & Larson, 2006).
Because both companies’ stakeholders have various schedules and work in different geographical locations, challenges arise due to the method of communication is considered to be a virtual project teams. Two of the biggest challenges involved in managing a virtual project team are developing trust and effective patterns of communication are geographical separation and managing a virtual project team.
Geographical separation prohibits the informal social interactions that are often essential to building camaraderie among team members (Gray & Larson, 2006). In addition, the second major challenge for managing a virtual project team is establishing effective patterns of communication. E-mail, conference calls and faxes are modern ways for communication facts, but they also have their limitations (Gray & Larson, 2006).