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Improving Software Project Outcomes Through Effective HR Management: A Case Study of Company XYZ


Company XYZ is a technology startup that aims to develop an innovative software platform to disrupt the project management industry. They assembled a talented team and secured substantial venture capital funding for the highly ambitious project. However, the project needed to meet scope, schedule, and quality goals, which led investors to withdraw funding, resulting in significant financial losses and job cuts.

This analysis will examine Company XYZ’s project through a human resource (HR) management lens. It will analyze diversity and inclusion practices, employee motivation and development strategies, communication and change management, and critical challenges faced by HR throughout the failed project. Insights from this case study can help project managers and HR leaders improve HR planning and execution to enhance project outcomes.

Lack of Diversity and Inclusion

Company XYZ did not prioritize diversity and inclusion (D&I) in its hiring practices or workplace culture. Most senior leaders and team members were similar in age, gender identity, ethnicity, and educational background (Lee, 2022). Homogeneous teams often need more diversity of perspectives, which can positively impact innovation, problem-solving, and decision-making. The lack of varied viewpoints and experiences made it difficult for the team to recognize dangerous warning signs as the project deteriorated.

Implementing diversity recruiting efforts and inclusive team-building practices may have produced a team with broader perspectives to identify issues earlier. Explicitly integrating D&I competencies into performance management systems also encourages equitable talent development across all demographic groups (SHRM, 2022), enabling full utilization of a company’s human capital potential.

Poor Employee Motivation and Development

The intense pace required for software innovation often creates pressurized working environments focused exclusively on delivery. While Company XYZ’s culture motivated employees to work hard, the absence of open communication channels about workload, emotional well-being, and professional growth fostered disengagement over time (Bauer, 2020). High-stress levels diminished loyalty, with engineers quietly exploring job alternatives mid-way through the project.

HR could have mitigated these issues through workforce analytics to proactively identify morale concerns, pulse surveys to track engagement, increased health benefits, transparent career development pathways, and celebrating incremental milestones. This motivates employee retention even during difficult periods.

Communication Breakdown and Resistance to Change

As technical obstacles emerged, the executives needed to be more transparent and over-promised to the board. The lack of honest communication caused skepticism amongst the team about the leadership’s confidence. Being the last to know major decisions also strained employee trust and belief in the company vision.

The change management approach needed to be revised when finances forced scope cuts. Leaders dictated reduced features without consulting user experience designers and engineers, undermining team empowerment. This sparked resistance rather than rallying staff around a shared turnaround plan to stabilize the product for customers.

Inclusion in critical decisions through Skip-Level meetings, transparent Town Halls, and egalitarian Change Management techniques build psychological safety to unite teams, helping navigate obstacles collaboratively.

HR Challenges in Talent Retention and Culture Repair

As a startup without dedicated HR expertise, the founders performed HR responsibilities reactively as a secondary duty. Being overstretched operationally, people management took a backseat (Gino, 2020). Delayed performance feedback, unfulfilled training requests, inconsistent application of policies, and lack of career development ultimately increased attrition.

Once sponsors withdrew funding due to the unstable MVP, executives prioritized engineering talent retention for the product to survive. However, passionate engineers felt betrayed and devalued. Rebuilding broken trust would require patient listening, reinstating severed benefits, accountability for past issues, and concrete commitments toward equitable policies.

Given the founders’ unreliability, the burden fell on a single overworked HR business partner to single-handedly evolve company culture. Factoring these layered people challenges earlier and staffing strategic HR leadership suitably could have enabled capability development and culture continuity despite the external business disruption.


In summary, while Company XYZ’s project failure involved technical and funding factors, analysis through a human capital lens highlights that talent and culture risks accumulated unconsciously. Managing human resources strategically by embracing diversity, engaging inclusive leadership, communicating with transparency, empowering employees through change, and dedicating HR capacity could have united the workforce. This strengthened organizational resilience during turbulence. The lessons from this case study can guide project managers and HR professionals to proactively plan HR utilization to maximize human potential for project success.


Bauer, C. (2020). Toxic culture is driving the tech talent exodus. Protocol.

Gino, F. (2020, November 25). The pandemic is wreaking havoc on working women. Harvard Business Review.

Lee, J. (2022, January 15). How lack of diverse leadership is killing your startup. Forbes.

SHRM. (2022, May 11). Metrics for diversity, equity, and inclusion. Society for Human Resource Management.

Baker, J. A., Canvin, K., & Berzins, K. (2019). The relationship between workforce characteristics and perception of quality of care in mental health: A qualitative study. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 100, 103412.


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