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Balancing work: Bidding strategies and workload dynamics in a project-based professional service organisation: System Dynamics Review

Balancing work: Bidding strategies and workload dynamics in a project-based professional service organisation: System Dynamics Review
Balancing work: Bidding strategies and workload dynamics in a project-based professional service organisation: System Dynamics Review
Project-based professional service organisations supply tailored, one-off projects to individual clients. Specific types of client relationships and the non-routine, creative nature of work combine to make management of these businesses particularly demanding. A common challenge is managing resources across a fluctuating workload. It is usually assumed that external dynamics dictate workload and the scope to manage resources. Firms often accept these conditions believing that there is little they can do to moderate fluctuations. This paper examines the internal causes of workload fluctuation showing that approaches to acquiring work can create significant future problems. A system dynamics model is developed to explore resource deployment and the interaction between business and project processes. We find that it is possible to make a significant difference to workload fluctuations and resourcing if internal factors are considered and managed. The paper concludes by showing that a bidding strategy using staff not currently engaged in project work is superior to having a dedicated work acquisition department as long as the project pipeline and resource requirements are properly considered. In some circumstances, firms are better to do nothing, leaving staff idle, than to bid for and win new work. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
business development dynamic analysis project management systems analysis working conditions
1099-1727
185-211
Bayer, S.
28979328-d6fa-4eb7-b6de-9ef97f8e8e97
Gann, D.
58fc119d-9f92-43f4-95f5-6582772c91ea
Bayer, S.
28979328-d6fa-4eb7-b6de-9ef97f8e8e97
Gann, D.
58fc119d-9f92-43f4-95f5-6582772c91ea

Bayer, S. and Gann, D. (2006) Balancing work: Bidding strategies and workload dynamics in a project-based professional service organisation: System Dynamics Review. System Dynamics Review, 22 (3), 185-211. (doi:10.1002/sdr.344).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Project-based professional service organisations supply tailored, one-off projects to individual clients. Specific types of client relationships and the non-routine, creative nature of work combine to make management of these businesses particularly demanding. A common challenge is managing resources across a fluctuating workload. It is usually assumed that external dynamics dictate workload and the scope to manage resources. Firms often accept these conditions believing that there is little they can do to moderate fluctuations. This paper examines the internal causes of workload fluctuation showing that approaches to acquiring work can create significant future problems. A system dynamics model is developed to explore resource deployment and the interaction between business and project processes. We find that it is possible to make a significant difference to workload fluctuations and resourcing if internal factors are considered and managed. The paper concludes by showing that a bidding strategy using staff not currently engaged in project work is superior to having a dedicated work acquisition department as long as the project pipeline and resource requirements are properly considered. In some circumstances, firms are better to do nothing, leaving staff idle, than to bid for and win new work. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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Published date: 2006
Additional Information: Cited By :18 Export Date: 7 June 2017 Correspondence Address: Bayer, S.; Innovation Studies Centre, Tanaka Business School, Imperial College London, South Kensington Campus, London SW7 2AZ, United Kingdom; email: s.bayer@imperial.ac.uk References: Abdel-Hamid, T.K., Madnick, S.E., (1991) Software Project Dynamics: An Integrated Approach, , Prentice-Hall: Englewood Cliffs, NJ; Brusoni, S., Prencipe, A., Salter, A., (1998) Mapping and Measuring: Innovation in Project-Based Firms, , CoPS working paper, CENTRIM/SPRU: Brighton, U.K; Cacciatori, E., (2004) Organisational Memory and Innovation Across Projects: Integrated Service Provision in Engineering Design Firms, , SPRU electronic working paper, SPRU, University of Sussex: Brighton, U.K; Chandler, A.D., (1990) Scale and Scope: The Dynamics of Industrial Capitalism, , Belknap Press: Cambridge, MA; Cooper, K.G., Naval ship production: A claim settled and framework built (1980) Institute of Management Sciences Interfaces, 10 (6), pp. 20-26; Cooper, K.G., Mullen, T.W., Swords and plowshares: The rework cycles of defense and commercial software development projects (1993) American Programmer, 6 (5), pp. 41-51; DeFillippi, R., Arthur, M., Paradox in project-based enterprise: The case of film making (1998) California Management Review, 40 (2), pp. 125-139; Engwall, M., No project is an island: Linking projects to history and context (2003) Research Policy, 32, pp. 789-808; Gann, D.M., Salter, A., Learning and innovation management in project-based, service-enhanced firms (1998) International Journal of Innovation Management, 2 (4), pp. 431-454; Gann, D.M., Salter, A.J., Innovation in project-based, service-enhanced firms: The construction of complex products and systems (2000) Research Policy, 29 (7-8), pp. 955-972; Gann, D.M., Salter, A.J., Project baronies: Growth and governance in the project-based firm (2003) DRUID Summer Conference, , In Copenhagen, 12-14 June; Grabher, G., Cool projects, boring institutions: Temporary collaboration in social context (2002) Regional Studies, Special Issue on Production in Projects: Economic Geographies of Temporary Collaboration, 36 (3), pp. 205-214; Graham, A., Beyond project management 101: Lessons for managing large development programs (2000) Project Management Journal, 31 (4), pp. 7-18; Hobday, M., The project-based organisation: An ideal form for managing complex products and systems (2000) Research Policy, 29 (7-8), pp. 871-893; Keegan, A., Turner, J.R., The management of innovation in project based firms (2002) Long Range Planning, 35, pp. 367-388; Lyneis, J.M., Project dynamics (2004), Lecture Notes, Worcester Polytechnic Institute: Worcester, MALyneis, J.M., Cooper, K.G., Els, S.A., Strategic management of complex projects: A case study using system dynamics (2001) System Dynamics Review, 17 (3), pp. 237-260; Maister, D.H., (1997) Managing the Professional Service Firm, , Free Press: New York; Morecroft, J.D.W., Mott, G.P., Achi, Z., Modeling a professional service firm (1983), D-3437, System Dynamics Group, MIT: Boston, MAOgunlana, S., Lim, J., Saeed, K., A dynamic model for managing civil engineering design projects (1998) Computers and Structures, 67, pp. 401-419; Perlow, L.A., The time famine: Towards a sociology of work time (1999) Administrative Sciences Quarterly, 44, pp. 57-81; Prencipe, A., Tell, F., Inter-project learning: Processes and outcomes of knowledge codification in project-based firms (2001) Research Policy, 30 (9), pp. 1373-1394; Repenning, N.P., A dynamic model of resource allocation in multi-project research and development systems (2000) System Dynamics Review, 16 (3), pp. 173-212; Roberts, E.B., Systems analysis of workload fluctuations: A case study of the precision company (1978) Managerial Applications of System Dynamics, pp. 163-184. , In Roberts EB (ed.). MIT Press: Cambridge MA; (Now available from Pegasus Communications, Waltham MA); Turner, J.R., Keegan, A., The versatile project-based organization: Governance and operational control (1999) European Management Journal, 17 (3), pp. 296-309; Turner, J.R., Keegan, A., Mechanisms of governance in the project based organisation: The roles of the broker and steward (2001) European Management Journal, 19 (3), pp. 254-267; Warren, K., (1998) The Professional Services Microworld, , Global Strategy Dynamics: Princes Risborough, U.K; Weil, H.B., Bergan, T.A., Roberts, E.B., The dynamics of R&D strategy (1978) Managerial Applications of System Dynamics, pp. 325-340. , In Roberts EB (ed.). MIT Press: Cambridge MA; (Now available from Pegasus Communications, Waltham, MA); Williams, T., The contribution of mathematical modelling to the practice of project management (2003) IMA Journal of Management Mathematics, 14, pp. 3-30; Winch, G., Schneider, E., Managing the knowledge-based organization: The case of architectural practice (1993) Journal of Management Studies, 30 (6), pp. 923-937
Keywords: business development dynamic analysis project management systems analysis working conditions
Organisations: Decision Analytics & Risk

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Local EPrints ID: 410491
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/410491
ISSN: 1099-1727
PURE UUID: b8a22b80-ab24-4c3a-9325-1fdb64a233a0
ORCID for S. Bayer: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-7872-467X

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Date deposited: 09 Jun 2017 09:00
Last modified: 03 Dec 2019 02:12

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Author: S. Bayer ORCID iD
Author: D. Gann

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