Call/WhatsApp: +1 914 416 5343

Project Case Analysis: Royal-Royce M 250 Turboshaft Engine


Rolls Royce is one of the leading manufacturers of Aircraft engines and various power systems for marine propulsion and oil and power generation. Since its establishment, the organization has been involved in constant research to avail unique and innovative products to its wide range of customers Holt, Brown and Walker (2016). The production of the turboshafts aerospace engine is one of the major complex projects that are undertaken by the company.  Developed mainly to power light-air craft, the unique features and high performance of the turboshafts engines have led to their wide integration in most of the light aircrafts manufactured by companies such as Airbus, Boeing amongst others. Today, the company has developed several models of the turboshaft engine family that have contributed to the significant increase in its sales value in the recent past (Kasper, 2016).  The Rolls-Royce M 250 model is one of the turboshaft engines that have generated higher amount of revenue for the company since its introduction into the market. According to Holt, Brown and Walker (2016) the Rolls-Royce M 250 engine model is expected to reach and surpass 250 million flight hours by the end of the year 2017 making it the widely adopted engine of the turboshaft family. As much as the company has managed to achieve higher sales volume from the M 250 design and development project, most of the project management approaches implemented by the project team are not reflective of the required complex project management strategies.  Focusing on the theme of drawbacks of traditional project management approaches in managing complex projects, the current paper presents a case analysis of the M 250 engine design and development projects to identify the challenges experienced by the company in the project implementation process as well as recommend a more adaptive project management approach that should have been implemented by the company. The project goals, success measures and management approaches are explored to identify their weaknesses and suggest appropriate

Project Goal and Success Measures

The Rolls-Royce M250 turboshaft engine was designed and developed as an improvement of the ancient Cessna O-1A Bird engine. The main goal of the design and development project was to avail a light turbine engine capable of powering light observation. The project also aimed at improving additional features of the earlier made light turbine engine such as improved reliability, light weight and a sustainable high power output (Kasper, 2016). As posited by Flouris and Lock (2016) constant changes in the environment presents the need for additional features in any aircraft engine thus justifying the need for the company to embark on inclusion of additional features in the engine.

The project success measures included efficiency in the development and delivery of the product within the stipulated deadline, production of engines within the stated budget and the ability of the project to report a higher rate of return on investments. Based on the identified success measures, the project is likely to be marked as successful  when the products are released within the desired time frame, the project is completed within the set budget and that higher amount of revenue are obtained from the sale of the resulting product.

Project Execution Stages

The design and development M 250 engine is an ongoing process due to the increasing demands for the product. The manufacturing process of the M250 engines begun with carrying out research to identify the most suitable designs that needs to be incorporated in the existing model to improve its performance as well as customer acceptability. This is followed with the specification and acquisition of the materials and spare parts needed for the design of the product. This is followed with the design of the engines based on the design features identified. Assembling of the designed part is done to release a finished product subjected for further testing in the field. In the event that the formed product passes the test, the organization takes part in installing the engine to the clients marking the completion of the project. Additional services such as maintenance of the engine system are offered by Rolls-Royce at additional costs. The diagram below indicates the steps undertaken by Rolls-Royce in the development of the M 250 turboshaft engine.

Project Management Strategies adopted by Rolls-Royce

Rolls- Royce mainly adopted the PMBoK guidelines in the management of most of its projects. The same approach was adopted in the management of the M 250 engines design and development project. According to Acebes, Pajares, Galán and López-Paredes (2014) the PMBoK guideline presents 10 bodies of knowledge that are implemented by an organization in project management. These include managing project scope, cost, human resources, communication, quality, risk, procurement process, activity integration and the stakeholders. Focusing on the current case, the project manager began by giving a clear definition of the project scope and identifying the activities and processes that needs to be integrated in the implementation process (Kasper, 2016). The project was only focused on designing and developing an engine system that is smaller, lighter and has a sustainable power output. Apart from designing and developing the engine system, the project also entailed testing and installation of the system to the customers, thus the project was only marked as complete after the installation of the engine in the various light observation aircraft.

Integration of processes and activities needed in the execution of various task was also done by selecting the right equipment and highly knowledgeable project team. Proper management of the team through effective communication on the actions that needs to be undertaken was ensured that quality services are offered (Kasper. 2016). Rolls-Royce project team also engaged in the management of the procurement process to eliminate any forms of delays in the production process. Proper management of the costs were also done nevertheless Rolls-Royce still incurred higher costs than was anticipated (Pugh, 2015). According to Kasper (2016) the high costs involved in the design and development of the engine (approximately $120000) have led to the few batches availed for integration by the company. As at the year 2016, Rolls-Royce had produced and released approximately 30000 M 250 engines to consumers and about 16000 still in service (Kasper, 2016). This was attributed to the fluctuations in the business environment thus increasing the cost of production.

As much as the company relied on the PMBoK guidelines in the management of the project, some management approaches were not effectively done as stated in the guidelines. The project manager failed to deliver the product within the stated deadline. It was expected that the M 250 model with improved feature will be availed in the market within a period of 1 year; however, it took the company more than 1.5 years to have the first batch of the engine installed in the light observation aircraft (Pugh, 2015). Minimal attention was directed towards the management of any emerging risks leading to the additional production costs incurred by the company due to the business turbulence.

Limitation of the Traditional project management approach in managing complex projects

From analysis of the Rolls-Royce M 250 turboshaft engine the project was mainly based on the traditional approach of project management. From the identification of the project success measures and the project management tools implemented by the organization were mainly based on the traditional approaches of project management. According to Zou, Kumaraswamy, Chung &Wong (2014) the assumption made by the project team and leaders that adopt a similar project management approach for all project executed by the organization is that all projects are similar and can be effectively managed using the same techniques and approaches. Similarly, relying on the traditional project management approach means that the project team only focuses on meeting the project objectives within the set deadline and at the set budget. As such, project success is determined based on the ability to accomplish the project goals and the level of efficiency in terms of timely delivery of the project and efficient use of the project resources.

Traditional methods of project management are likely to lead to the attainment of the project goals, though not enough in ensuring that maximum outcome is achieved. This is more evident when dealing with projects that focused on the production of complex product. According to Pollack (2007) the major limitation of the traditional project management approach is its failure to give a wide project success measures. Just focusing on time, cost and achievement of the project goals is not enough in ascertaining the success levels of the project. As such, relying on the traditional project management approach may give false information on the success level of the project. For instance, a project may be conducted within the stated deadline and accrue higher amount of revenue to the company yet still considered a failure if it does not meet full customer satisfaction.

Just as observed in the case of Rolls-Royce, unexpected negative feedback from the customers was a major challenge that the organization had to deal with after the release of the engine to the customers. Most of the operators presented claims on the high maintenance costs exhibited by the engine. According to Kasper (2016) the tach dives of the engine were developed to fit together presenting the need for constant lubrication of the systems. As much as the operations and maintenance manual recommended the need for constant lubrication, the costs would be more on the operator thus the arising complaint on the adopted design.

The customer complains would have not arisen if the company implemented a more adaptive approach in defining the project success. According to the conventional model of defining project success, dimensions of project should not only focus on efficiency and the attainment of project objectives , rather triumph in any project should be judged based on the efficiency of the project, impacts on the consumer and the project team, business success and preparation for the future (Pollack, 2007). According to the model, success is observed when the project goals are met within the allocated time and the required budget, the resulting product meets the customers’ requirement and satisfaction, impact positively on the team through enhancing team growth and morale, lead to an increase in the business sales and profits as well as lead to the enhancement of the organizational capability to tackle more projects using the same technology (Thamhain , 2013). Adopting the conventional method in defining the success of the projects will therefore ensure that time, customer satisfaction, business value and team satisfaction is taken into consideration during the project execution (Flouris & Lock, 2016). Better results are likely to be attained when the dimensions of success are defined based on the conventional models prior to the project start-up and incorporated in the project plan.

Adopting a more Adaptive Project Management Approach: The NTCP Model

The use of common project management strategies in all project types is another limitation of the traditional project management approach. According to Thamhain (2013) traditional project management approaches such as PRINCE2 and PMBoK  treats all project regardless of their type as similar and focus mainly on costs, quality, risk, time, human resources and communication in project management. According to Acebes, Pajares, Galán and López-Paredes (2014) an understanding of the correct project type is required to implement suitable approaches that are likely to effectively manage the projects. Shenhar and Dvir (2007) has recommended the use of the NTCP model in the identification of the difference observed in various projects of the company and classification of every project based on its technology, novelty, complexity and pace levels. The approach is effective in assisting the company understands the various strategies that out to be adopted to ensure successful completion of the project.

Focusing on the case of the Rolls-Royce M 250 model, the suitable project type in terms of novelty, technology, pace and complexity would be derivative, high technology, fast and system. From the NTCP framework projects are considered a derivative when they are focus on improving an existing product, just as the case of the M 250 (Thamhain, 2013). The M 250 project is also classified under the system category of complexity since the design and development of the engine entails a collection of a number of subsystems. The fact that the company requires an existing technology in the design and development process makes the project qualify for categorization as a high-technology project. Lastly, project seeks to meet certain demands presented in the market thus fast delivery of the product is vital to the business in enhancing its competiveness.

Based on the identified project types, the adoption of more designs cycles, and later designs freeze is mandatory for the successful outcome of the project. As Ahn, Zwikael and Bednarek (2010) points out, high technology projects requires increased designs activities from the project implementation teams to ensure the most suitable designs are attained. The company also ought to have considered accuracy in the prediction of the market and in identifying the current consumer needs when coming up with a derivative product. According to Kerzner (2013) this approach is effective in ensuring that the features currently needed by the consumers are incorporated in the most recent products. Strict adherence to the formal procedures is also needed when dealing with complex projects to eliminate any possible errors and enhance the accuracy levels desired (Kerzner, 2013). . Moreover, fast delivery of the product to the consumers also enhances the competition of the company in relation to other service providers in situations where constant demands are presented (Zou, Kumaraswamy, Chung &Wong, 2014). Based on the identified project type for the M 250 model, it is expected that the company would ensure the project implementer adhere strictly to the company policies during the implementation process, pay maximum attention to time during the design and development process and to carry out accurate market prediction to determine customer requirements. The adoption of the above project management approaches would have led to the attainment of successful project outcomes.

On the contrary, the project team focused on the adoption of the traditional project management approach without necessarily classifying the project based on the NCPT model. As such, the accurate type of the project that the organization was undertaking was not known. In fact, the project was treated as a regular project whose delays had insignificant effects on the immediate performance of the company (Pugh, 2015). Moreover, the project team viewed the project as any other normal task despite the complexity needed. This explains why it was treated as a medium-tech project as opposed to a high-tech project leading to the challenges experienced it its implementation.

The desired and actual project type for the M 250 model is presented below.

Failure to classify the project correctly and implement the most suitable approach in its management led to the significant failures reported. As much as the organization still received higher amount of revenue from the sale of the M 250 turboshaft engine, the project is generally regarded as a fail. Efficient execution of the project was not realized since the first batch of engines was not delivered to the consumers within the stated deadline (Kasper, 2016). This affected negatively the competitiveness of the company, since there were ready demands for the product in the markets. The failure by the company to manage the project as a high-tech project requiring more sophisticated designs led to complains that arose from the customers after its integration (Pugh, 2015). As observed, the complaint was as a result of poor designs that enhanced the maintenance cost of the engine. Since the project team considered the project as requiring medium technology, minimal efforts were placed on the innovation activities that led to the relatively weaker designs that did not satisfy the needs of the consumers (Kasper, 2016). Failure to classify the project correctly based on its technology, novelty, complexity and pace levels therefore contributed to the failure reported, this justifying the significance of the NCPT model in project classification and identification of the most effective project management approach to be adopted in a particular project.

Conclusion and Recommendations

Rolls-Royce m 250 Turboshaft engine is one of the most widely adopted light turbine engine across the world. The company managed to release a smaller more reliable light engine capable of powering light observation aircrafts; however, the project was not successful since most of the success dimensions were not achieved. It is observed that the company still gets higher sales from the sale of the engine; nevertheless, apart from the business direct success in terms of increased sales and profitability, the project did not accomplish other dimensions of success such as efficiency, customer satisfaction and project team satisfaction. The first batch of the products were delivered after the stated deadline, in addition, the organization had to incur additional costs in the production process due to the economic recession that was reported during the project execution time. The customers were also not fully satisfied with the product as indicated by the constant complains on higher maintenance costs that are still being reported to date. The adoption of the traditional methods of project managed that led to the company not defining properly its success dimensions as well as classifying effectively the project based on its pace, novelty, technology and complexity levels for proper selection of effective project management approaches contributed to the significant failure reported. As much as the traditional project management may assist an organization attain the project goals, it is not effective in ensuring that the company accomplish all its success dimensions in the context of managing a complex project. It is therefore that organizations dealing with complex products adopt a more adaptive project management method that will support proper identification of the success dimensions based on the conservative model as well as promote the use of the NCPT model in classification of every project and in identification of the most effective project management strategies that will ensure successful outcome is achieved.

Leave a Reply