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INFOST 490X Senior Capstone

CSS1: Project Management Knowledge Mini Case Studies


Christie Wagner

Mini Case Study #1

Global Green Books Publishing began to struggle when their business took off with the local colleges and
they were not ready to handle the extra work. When they began, they had steady work from two large
businesses. They were able to handle that work and turn it around in time. Everything was great, and
they were very successful.

The problem was that they did not prepare for growth. When they landed the two school contracts, it
was more than what their business could handle at that time because they did not have a schedule to
see how they could fit this new, huge contract into their already busy schedule. They hired a number of
part-time employees to assist with the job, but they lacked the time and manpower to train and execute
this entire process thoroughly.

With all of the existing work plus new work coming in, corners were cut. They trusted the quality of the
finished product instead of proofing the jobs, causing work to come back with errors. Money and time
was spent correcting these errors, costing the company time and money. They did not accurately
schedule the work within their current schedule causing the books to be delayed and not delivered on
time to the schools. No goals or expectations were set, causing one hand to not know what the other
was doing. The inexperience of the owners knowing how to handle multiple projects and orders made
the entire process unorganized and unstructured, and left room for error in almost every section.

Enter Samantha. She was able to take the process from start to finish and, ultimately, recreate the
wheel the way it should have been. She looked at the whole picture what needed to be done, how
long will each step take, who has the knowledge or could be trained to work on each step, who would
be on-point to take each step from beginning to end, what risks could occur along the way and how they
could be resolved, how much lead time they would need, and most importantlywould it fit into their
current schedule? She developed a process and a manual so everyone involved was able to see where
the project was at, what was next, and if it was on schedule. Each person involved was assigned a part
that they were responsible for, so everyone knew their part in the job. Communication was greatly
increased and all could see what was coming up next.

If I were to provide Brad and Jim with suggestions, many of them would fall along the same lines as what
Samantha summarized. Before accepting a new contract, some estimating and communication needs to
happen. Questions need to be answeredcan we fit this into our existing schedule and deliver the final
product in the timeframe they are asking for? Do we have the manpower to complete this project? If
not, what costs and time would be involved to bring in extra help? Would it be better to bring in temp
help with knowledge of this type of work already, or do we anticipate this will be the norm going
forward so we can look into hiring on some permanent help? Who can help with training and do they
have time? What does everyone else that we would like involved in the project have on their plates right
now? Do we have all of the resources necessary to take this project from start to finish? What risks
could happen along the way that could cause delays or problems with production, and how would we be
able to work around these? I would then suggest creating a template and a general timeline for this and
future bids. It reduces the amount of time to assess the job. With a general timeline, all can see the
project from start to finish and agree that there is nothing else they know of that would interfere with
the plan. At that point, the plan could be taken back to the schools and, not only does it help Global
Green Books Publishing feel more confident that they could handle the new work, but the schools could
see the process and final project as well and feel more confident in the work the company is going to
provide for the schools.

Mini Case Study #2

Due to the lack of formal planning Samantha began to look at the risks that Green Books Publishing had
experienced. Hiring college students with flexible hours and not having a plan in place was one. I
consider this to be a high risk. It is okay to hire on college students with flexible hours, but some
important factors need to be pointed out: what if they cannot make it in one day? Is there a backup
plan? Are they properly trained to do the work they were hired for? If not, how long will training take
and is it achievable in the necessary timeframe? Do we have a plan if we lose some of those part time
college students and we have less manpower? How reliable and available are these college students?
Can they be scheduled so we have no gaps in the production process? Are they willing or able to come in
when production times are high and we need more help? Based on these answers, I would suggest
possibly considering a combination of college students and temporary workers already skilled in this
area. They would be able to assist with questions that the students might have on the job, allowing
management more time to focus on management issues. They would also be more readily available to
come in should there be a staffing issue or unexpected crunch in production.

Another high risk was the unknown in the book order itself. It seemed that there was a lack of
communication on the front end as to what the orders would entail, when they would arrive, and how
many there would be. These are all risks that could have been curbed at the initial planning phase.
Knowing the quantity should have been pretty straightforward, and padding the time to print additional
quantity in the job order would have provided extra time if last-minute orders come through. In my
current job, I will take an assignment and (most of the time) triple the time I need to accomplish it just
because I know there will be changes, snags, or interruptions. Knowing arrival time and setting grounds
for that also should have been done at the beginning. No, not everything will work as planned, but
letting the school hand in their product without a schedule or due date does not help, either. It would
be easier to provide the school a deadline for handing in their orders so they have a schedule to go by
as well, and let them know that if they cannot get their order in by that deadline it could cause delays in
production. I personally feel that being up front with this type of communication is critical because it
reduces the amount of surprises in the end. If the school knows when to get their order in, and they
hand it in 3 days late, they know that there could be a delay.

Knowing what was going to come in and when helps Green Books Publishing prepare better, and I
consider this another high risk. Each job is worked into their current schedule to avoid over-scheduling
as much as possible. It also allows them time to effectively train each college student on the equipment
and produce an effective work schedule. If there was a week or two where they were going to be over-
allocated, they could prepare by having extra help on handseither scheduling more college students to
work simultaneously during that time or by hiring in some temps to help pick up the slack. They would
also be able to schedule appropriate proofing time, which will help avoid quality errors. Having two sets
of eyes there to proof reduces the changes of errors that are overlooked and doesnt put the ownership
on just one personpeople see things differently, so what one misses another may catch.

The above three factors consist of the top three risks in my opinion staffing, process, and
communication. The next factors are still risks, but I didnt list them as high. For example, staying within
budget. This is still a higher risk, but in case study #2 it was not pointed out as much of a result of the
poor planning. If risks 1-3 were combatted, the budget risk would drop down because they would be
more prepared and have less errors, last-minute rushes, and unknown staffing issues.

There are some medium risks to consider. As stated above, I am assuming that they have the budget to
take on this project in the beginning or they would not have accepted it. A medium risk would be taking
on the job with budget that is very close to the top end of what is needed for this job and then having
something unknown cause the company to go over budget. Lets face it, this happens. I feel it happens
more than anyone thinks. But having it happen with all of the high risks in place would not be as
devastating as having it happen without considering any of the top 3 factors I previously mentioned. You
stand a much greater risk of over-allocating everything when you dont have a plan.

Another medium risk would be equipment issues. It doesnt sound like it should be medium, but when it
comes to a printing and binding industryI can from experience that equipment goes down a lot more
often than people think. Padding time in to allow for machine downtime is critical.

Lack of productivity or fit would be a medium risk. If the company is going to hire on college students,
they also need to understand that they are not used to the full time grind yet in many cases, and may
not be prepared to work as hard as the companys expectations. They also may not care for the work
they are doing and that would drop their rate of completion of tasks. You dont work as hard if you dont
like the job. This could lead to slower production or employee turnover.

A lower risk would be management turnover. Now, I say this, but given the fact that the company is on
year two and these new schools are not happy with the production, this could be set as a medium risk.
However, catching it early and reducing the changes of recidivism helped me drop the risk to low. If the
company was on year 5 and they have struggled for 3 years and were at risk of losing the school book
job, then I would most definitely have it at medium or even high risk because no management would
want that on their rsum.

Another lower risk would be a bad working environment. Based on what I have read, the environment is
not in jeopardy. It seems the owners have good intentions and just need to figure out how to apply
things better. Should they not be able to get a handle on the situation, however, there is a possibility of
this happening.
The final low risk I am going to put in here is not knowing the job. But wait, you saythis is what you
mention in the high risk with the new college students. Yes, it is. However, if they execute the risk
management strategy, then not knowing the job will be anon-issue because proper training will be done
on all ends to ensure everyone has a place and a part. So although proper training is a high risk, I
consider not knowing the job a low issue because if you are trained there is no reason you shouldnt
know the job. And if you dontthen that is a whole new issue not related to just this project alone.

There are other risks that I could list, but these are some of the initial ones I see just based on reading
the case study. In most cases, risks can be prepared for in advance. Things like natural disasters or
unexpected company shutdown cannot be, so I have not included them in my risk factors.

Mini Case Study #3

Developing eBooks is almost an entirely different process than printing a book. Without going into
extreme details I am going to explain a few of the key differences and then some similarities. First of all,
when a book is printed it requires physical printing machines. An eBook only requires a computer to
develop it - no large machine is used to print it because it is not physically printed onto paper. A physical
book is bound, where an eBook requires no binding. There will need to be additional training for eBook
production, as the process is different from the bound publishing. A physical book is difficult to correct
when an error is found...it requires re-printing and re-binding or a supplement page added if possible,
which costs a lot of money and resources. If an error is found in an eBook, it can be updated through the
computer program and that update can be sent out to anyone who owns that eBook efficiently. Where
eBooks become more difficult than books is in the formatting. An eBook needs to be readable through
eReader apps and programs. Therefore, they would need to be developed so they were an epub, pdf, or
other formator a combination of these. It would also need to be tested against different systems
Apple, Android, PC, and Mac for example. They would then need to be tested thoroughly in these areas
to ensure they comply with all format regulations and function properly. A bound book is just picked up
and read, so there is less QC done in this area. The delivery method is quite different as well because the
eBooks will be electronically delivered and bound books are physically delivered.

There are some similarities between bound books and eBooks. Both will be set up in a computer
program such as Adobe Illustrator or other publishing software program. Even though the bound book is
physically printed, in todays world it is still set up on a computer and then digitally sent to the machine
for printing. Both will need the same quality of extensive proofing. The front end of the process is the
same the book is developed in the program, confirmed, proofed and then sent to publish. There are
still risks involved with both, as problems can occur on the digital end with eBooks just like they can with
bound books. It can take a lot of time to correct electronic problems, such as issues with the book
opening with certain operating systems or apps, page turning not working properly, pages not lining up
the way they should, or certain features not working the way they should.

The project stakeholders in this study are Green Books Publishing and the colleges that placed the order.
Both sides gain from the outcome of the project Green Books gain the contract, work, and profits
while the colleges gain their eBooks that will be customized and used in their course.
They are both affected by some key areas, quality and time being the first two. If the quality of the
product does not meet the expectations of the colleges, then the colleges are affected and unhappy.
The work will then need to be re-done, causing time and resource issues on the publishers end.

Punctuality and reliability are two more related factors. If the college doesnt get their product on time,
then they no longer have trust in the company they used. This affects the company because they could
lose the agreement in the future, and they also have to put extra resources into scrambling to get the
product done in time. Failing to get the job completed in time also affects the company reputation,
which can cost other future business. The punctuality and reliability factors can be flipped as well. If the
expectation was to have the book info sent to the publisher by a certain date or time and that does not
happen, it can cause the publisher to have delays, which can result a later eBook release. The company
may not take on the colleges request next year due to the headaches they had with the first run.

There are also standardizations that both sides need to agree on or they can each be affected. If no
standards are drafted up, there will be serious implications because neither hand knows what the other
is doing. There will be a number of assumptions made and, in the end, the entire product could be
scrapped. If standards are drafted and not adhered to, the same end result could occur. Note that not
following the standards agreed upon can also affect the other aforementioned key areas.

A project scope would be ideal in this case. It would need to include factors that would resolve the
potential negative effects and risks mentioned above. Therefore, the scope would need to include the
project expectations, steps that need to be taken, the project goal (wide-spectrum), a QC process for
quality, and a timeline. Both parties will agree upon all parts of this scope document and sign off. This
way there are no assumptions or questions about the next step. If any variables are added after the
initial scope is signed off on, the document would need a revision and then be signed off on by all
parties once again to continue. If both parties dont see eye-to-eye, this needs to be revisited until they
do to ensure all are on the same page as the job is processing.

A project template is a great idea for Green Books Publishing. Even though each eBook will be processed
differently, the initial template can be developed to draw up the common factors of each job. For
example, each job will need a budget, pages in the book, and an end date, to name a few. Factors such
as pages in the book, and QC steps can be factored in as well. Basically, the who, what where when
why and how can be in each general template to help answer the basics and get the ball rolling. Green
Books Publishing would not have to be concerned with missing basic questions or details when meeting
with the prospective client, and it assist them in formatting an estimate by having the main details in an
easy template that can be converted to a timeline, saving them time and allowing quicker estimate
turnaround.

Mini Case Study #4

There are two main types or costs direct and indirect. The direct costs identified in the physical chart
in Case Study #4 include all of the costs involved in receiving the order, planning the order, and
production. Other direct costs identified include the overhead rate on all direct labor of 1.50, equipment
costs of $800 for unique equipment needed for this project, material costs of $1,000 for each permission
needed, and subcontract labor of $500 for installation and training in the use of the oversize map
scanner. The reason these are all considered direct costs is because they are all costs that can be clearly
associated with specific activities or products. Indirect costs would include computer support costs of
$600 and sales commission of 20%.

In this case, the budget could be negatively impacted by factors such as changes to the plan/scope,
equipment breakdown, additional training on the new equipment or additional service calls for
assistance, errors causing re-work, having to hire on skilled personnel at a higher rate to complete the
job due to turnover, and deadline change (if deadline is bumped up may require hiring more temp help
or overtime). The budget could also be affected positively if the job completes early or the job runs
smoothly with no additional issues.

Green Books Publishing needs to set aside contingencies because it is money set aside to cover
unexpected costs during the process, which 99.9% of the time happens. This should amount to 5-10% of
the total estimate. Should unforeseen setbacks happen like the ones stated in the previous paragraph,
they can allocate these free funds that were set aside to cover for them. For example, lets say in the
QC process an error is detected requiring re-work. These contingency funds would cover the extra time
needed to complete the re-work without having to go back to the client and re-estimate the project. Not
having to go back to the client with a surprise additional charge is very beneficial for the publisher. Its
always good to add padding.

Mini Case Study #5

The project stakeholders in this study are the shareholders - Green Books Publishing and the senior
professor, the supervisor, suppliers, creditors, Customer Service Representative, the Publishers Liaison,
the local college, the employees, and the students. The key stakeholders would be the shareholders -
Green Books Publishing and the senior professor, the supervisor, suppliers, and the employees.

The requested changes in this case study could have serious implications on the budget. The various
changes were quite costly, once you add in the cost for the Permission changes, the Publishers Liaison
effort, and the supervisor time for replanning. For example, just five changes could run $3125 plus 20%
commission! This amount does not include the $3125 already spent on the eBook in areas that have
been changed and are no longer valid.

The changes will also impact the time to complete the job. To go back, for example, and make five
changes will cost the publishing company 15 additional hours of work! That is two days that the project
is going to get pushed out, and that only includes carrying out the change request. Multiple change
requests can slow or even stop the process as well as add days to the deadline.

Green Books Publishing used a Customer Service Representative to communicate the issues to several
people. There was no formal change request process or review between all, so they have conflicting
views account manager was concerned about upsetting this important customer, the supervisor
didnt know how these various requests could all be accommodated or how it would impact his project,
and the Publishers Liaison was worried both about added costs for new permissions and the time it
would take to get them and the costs they had already expended for permissions no longer needed. It
would be much more efficient if they were able to log the changes with a form that would be reviewed
and approved by all involved. I think that once the Green Books Publishing team reviews the changes to
determine feasibility, they need to meet with the professor and school to review each one and discuss
the impact both schedule-wise and financially. This process should also be written into the initial
agreement, where it would state that any changes would be reviewed and then documented for
schedule and financial changes. From there, the changes and any impact would need to be approved by
the client by signing the form. This could be a brief process, and more than one change could be listed
per document, but there would need to be something that stated that the client was aware of the
impact of the changes to initial agreement.

Mini Case Study #6

The supervisors are facing many challenges in this case study. They want to be the people that the
customers meetthe face, the exceptional customer service and sales support go-to person.
However, they are now balancing far more duties as owners and supervisors as well. It is becoming
more difficult for them to be out selling their business as well as keeping track of work and employee
situations.

I think to be effective project managers, they are going to need a balance of it all if they are going to
choose to continue to do it all. In order to do that, they will need to trust their teams to get the work
done. By having project schedules, it would assist them in being able to monitor where jobs are at when
they are not in the office. It also gives them a sense of what jobs are currently being processed, and
what is coming up that they need to be aware of while taking on more work.

Along with the job schedule is an employee schedule. This will help keep everyone on the same page
with who is working on what job and when. They need to be able to see who is working on a project
together and how things are being handed off so they can stay on top of who is doing what work. The
people skills training would be exceptional, as it would allow them to effectively be able to deal with in-
house conflicts and situations. Leadership skills would allow them the training they need to do less
micro-managing and more communicating in a way that keeps their stress level down but updates them
on where things are at.

It would also be very helpful to them to have a team leader or project leader for each job. This would be
a person assigned to take care of some of the minor details and maintain the project schedule so the
owners can focus more on the new business and less on petty details. This would also be a go-to for the
owners to get updates on how things are going so they are not being hit in all directions by 15 different
people.

I think the most effective project manager characteristic is the one I see the least effective
communication skills. Lets be honestwith the right tools, anyone can deliver a project on time and
within budget. I cannot tell you the number of times I have been last-minute rushed to complete
something due to lack of communication. And I want to keep my job and not be in the office answering
why it isnt done, so I will work (extra hours if needed) to deliver that job on time. Was I happy? Not
really because had they told me the details a few days prior, I wouldnt have had to put in extra hours to
get it done, nor would I have had to go through so much stress doing it. Only the best will complete
projects with strong communication skills. Timelines to keep everyone on the same page, employee
schedules so employees know who they are handing their job off to next, updates on the project itself
and any changes that are needed, and a trusting, open door when needed to assist with any questions
or conflict. Yes, this is very rare. But it does exist. Part comes from natural personality, and the other
part is in the training.

Mini Case Study #7

There are many reasons to close out a project. One reason is to find examples of good practice and work
out what went well. Just because the job went well doesnt mean you walk away and take nothing from
it. Looking at what made it successful is huge because it helps you see where the company excels.

That being said, you also need the opposite to identify where mistakes occurred and things could be
done better in the future. These are lessons learned. No one wants to look at this step, and blaming can
be huge at this stage. But you still need to know what went wrong and see if you can resolve them for
the next project. Having the same issues over and over is not a sign of a good manager. Questions are
answered, such asIs it a common issue you are having with jobs? What can be done to resolve it
more training, rotating staff, padding more time onto the jobs?

Jumping to a new project before the first one is complete can also be a problem, so by closing out the
project it allows the team to complete it, get their closure, and move on instead of just fading this one
out and fading in a new project.

Assessing relationships of employees during the project and also getting management/project leader
feedback is important. Should Bill and Jim be put on different projects next time? Sue and Cheryl worked
great together so we know they can work as a team. Were there many issues with the Project Manager
for this job? Was the team leader always there and helpful? Was the process followed the entire time?

I would love to be able to celebrate project accomplishments! At my current job, we have these cool
buttons. They say things like You are the highest of fives or You Rock. We can take these buttons,
write something on the attached card, and give them to someone deserving. I think it is a great way to
celebrate an accomplishment or reward a person for something outstanding they have done. My work
partner also does a monthly trophy of greatness. In his presentation, he takes the time to write up a
very humorous pitch about the person, mentioning some of their recent accomplishments and why they
are great. The person gets to keep the trophy on their desk for one month. There are certificates that
are given as well, so when the trophy leaves you can still hang your certificates with pride. I think these
are all great because, after a ton of hard work, you feel acknowledged for what you did to make the
project successful. Even if there were lessons learned (there really should be for every project),
celebrating the positives I think increases the morale of the employees and makes the environment
more fun. I never really received rewards in the past for my work, and I have a few already at my new
job, which makes me feel great and want to work for the company because they recognize what I do for
them and that is rewarding.

If I were project manager on this job, I would look at the top three problem areas and consider a few
options. First, if permissions are consistently delayed, then I would need to decide if we need to pad an
extra few days to each project for the delays, devise a better request system, or request permissions at
an earlier time in the process to ensure we receive them in time. As for scheduled staff not available due
to illnessthat one is tough. Are they sick due to something in the building? Are they sick due to stress
on the job? If either of those are the case, it is something I could dig into and try to resolve to bring that
employee morale back up to speed. If they live in a climate like Wisconsin and people get sick for a week
or more at a time, I would look into the peak sick times and make sure I have more staff available for
those times as backup if needed, or temp help. Another option would be to pad in a few extra days to
the schedule to accommodate for sick days. Finally, customer changes are a big problem. There could be
an option created to only allow a certain number of changes to a job. There could also be a deadline for
changes to be requested to allow enough time to run through the change process and not interfere with
the deadline. With a change form and approval signatures as I mentioned in Mini Case Study #5, it
would communicate any new expectations as well and avoid conflict in the end.