Assignment 1: Competencies for Project Managers
Due Week 6 and worth 175 points
Read the 9 mini-case study series from the Project Management Institute on the Global Green Books Publishing company before starting this assignment.
Write a six to eight (6-8) page paper in which you:
Describe at least three challenges that supervisors face as managers of resources on projects similar to Global Green Books Publishing. Provide a rationale for your choices.
Identify at least three key skills/competencies supervisors need to be effective in managing teams’ performance while working on projects similar to Global Green Books Publishing. Provide a rationale for your choices.
Describe at least three challenges that team members face when working on projects similar to Global Green Books Publishing and provide a rationale for your choices.
Identify at least three skills/competencies that team members need in order to be effective in working on projects similar to Global Green Books Publishing and provide a rationale for your choices.
Use at least three (3) quality resources in this assignment. Note: Wikipedia and similar websites do not qualify as quality resources.
Your assignment must:
Be typed, double spaced, using Times New Roman font (size 12), with one-inch margins on all sides; citations and references must follow SWS (Strayer Writing Standards). Check with your professor for any additional instructions.
Include a cover page containing the title of the assignment, the student’s name, the professor’s name, the course title, and the date. The cover page and the reference page are not included in the required assignment page length.
The specific course learning outcomes associated with this assignment are:
Assess the elements, processes, and reasons for managing projects.
Assess and prepare for project uncertainties.
Evaluate processes and tools for monitoring and controlling project performance.
Click here to view the grading rubric for this assignment.
Mini case 1
Mini-Case Study: Project Management at Global Green Books Publishing
Global Green Books Publishing was started two years ago by two friends, Jim King and Brad Mount, who met in college while studying in Philadelphia, USA. In the new business Jim focused on editing, sales and marketing while Brad Mount did the electronic assembly and publishing of books for Global Green Books. Their business was successful and profitable in the first two years, largely due to contracts from two big businesses.
In their third year they got very busy thanks to their third major customer, a local college that needed customized eBooks. They hired several part time employees to help them with their publishing business.
But by the end of third year of operation, Global Green Books started experiencing critical problems. They were: unable to leverage all the new employees effectively unable to deliver eBooks to their customers on schedule unable to provide quality texts—time and money was being spent fixing defects in their products unable to control costs—their business was not profitable in the third year.
Global Green Books saw a significant rise in issues, a lot of unpleasant “surprises” were cropping up; business was down as new resources were hired, also some of the projects were poorly estimated. The local university was unhappy as their eBook products reached campus late for use by professors and student. In some cases, the books were a week or two late. Since the courses must start on schedule and students need their books at the beginning of their courses, the new lucrative college customer was unhappy.
One of the new part-time employees hired by Jim and Brad, Samantha, had taken a project management course at college. Samantha was excited about the discipline of project management and had intentionally selected a job with Global Green Books Publishing as she saw an opportunity to polish her project management skills.
One fine day, Jim invited Samantha, for a lunch meeting. He was aware that Samantha was familiar with project management, and wanted to hear what she had to say about the problems he and Brad were facing. Over lunch he questioned why their small business which had operated and implemented projects so successfully over the first two years was being challenged significantly now. He specifically listed the problems they were facing and asked for input to solve them.
Samantha asked for more time to research all the issues but noted that Global Green Books, while being innovative, completed projects without a roadmap or a project plan and lacked a disciplined approach to project management. She noted that Jim and Brad did not use any project software for scheduling and they did not use tools or techniques to estimate, budget or to communicate with stakeholders. Finally, they had no processes in place to manage project risks and quality.
Impressed with this and other conversations, Jim King asked Samantha if she would consider joining them as a project associate or project manager on a full-time basis to help them introduce project management practices and help them tide over their current crisis.
Samantha accepted the offer! She has several key skills—she is an excellent communicator with very good interpersonal skills and detail-oriented. Within the first three months in her new role as PM, she introduced formal project management processes, created a PM manual and trained the employees to get the work done well.
Within nine months Samantha had fully turned things around. Due to proactive risk analysis and risk response planning, surprises and issues reduced. Communication with stakeholders was enhanced.
Brad and Jim noted that the company was delivering projects on schedule, the quality processes worked—and customers were happy with the products!
Comment on the following aspects of the case study:
a) Why did Global Green Books Publishing struggle? b) What were the specific PM solutions that were introduced by Samantha that worked? c) What kind of suggestions would you give to Brad and Jim if you were the PM? d) Are you aware of other similar start-up businesses that struggle in a similar manner? How did they overcome the challenges? e) Global Green Books Publishing is a technology intensive business, but Samantha is not technically knowledgeable, will she continue to be a successful project manager?
MINI CASE 2
Mini-Case Study: The Back to School Crunch at Global Green Books Publishing
Global Green Books Publishing is a successful printing and publishing company. Just two years old, it has taken on a great new customer, a local college that needs customized eBooks.
To deal with this new customer, they have hired several new part time employees to help them with their publishing business, some of them students at the college with flexible hours.
As the new school year drew closer, the orders started coming in. They had been told how many different printing jobs the college would need, but they weren’t all arriving at once, and orders were quite unpredictable in arriving from the professors at the college. Some professors needed rush orders for their classes. When Global Green Books finally got the orders, some of these jobs were much larger than they had thought they would be.
Printing these orders turned out to be very challenging. Not all of the new student hires were trained for all of the printing and binding equipment used to print and assemble to books. Some of them often made mistakes, some workers called off from work due to other demands, and there were often not enough people available to get all the work done before deadlines.
Quality was a serious issue, as they had to provide quality texts—if there were quality problems with the printed product, they would have to spend time and money to fixing defects in their products.
Deliveries started slipping past their requested dates and times. Global Green Books was unable to deliver eBooks to their customers on schedule.
The local university was unhappy as their eBook products reached campus late for use by professors and student. In some cases, the books were a week or two late.
Samantha had been hired as a project management assistant. In her new role as a project manager, one of the processes she was trying to institute was risk management. She started looking at what was happening in the business, talking about it with the owners and employees, and heard about the college’s unhappiness. As she did this, she started identifying risks and potential risks. As she went along, she started doing more proactive risk analysis and risk response planning, and as she did surprises and issues were reduced. By talking with stakeholders and addressing their concerns, communication with stakeholders was also enhanced.
Comment on the following aspects of the case study:
a) What risks can you identify? Why are they a risk to Global Green Books Publishing? b) What kind of impacts does each of your identified risks have? Can you categorize these as low impact, medium impact, or high impact? c) How probable are each of your identified risks? You can think about something simple like categorizing these as not very likely, likely, and highly likely to occur. d) What would you advise Global Green Books are their three most critical risks?
e) What would you suggest that they do about these three risks? Are there specific actions to deal with these risks? Have you identified a contingency plan to carry out if the risk occurs?
MINI CASE 3
Mini-Case Study: Defining Standard Projects at Global Green Books Publishing
Global Green Books Publishing is a successful printing and publishing company in its third year. It has survived the bringing on a large new customer and all the challenges of new work that this customer needed in a very short time.
Much of this work for the college is customized eBooks. As the first term progressed with Global Green Books making customized eBooks for this college, there were a number of issues that affected the quality of the eBooks produced and caused a great deal of rework for the company. The local university was unhappy as their eBook products sometimes reached campus late for use by professors and student. In some cases, the books were a week or two late.
The management of Global Green Books was also challenged by these projects. The college expected them delivered on-time and at a low cost, and the company was not always doing that. Accounting was having difficult tracking the costs for each of the books, and the shift supervisor were often having problems knowing what tasks needed to be completed and assigning the right employees to each task.
Some of the problems stemmed from the new part time employees. Since many of these workers had flexible schedules, it wasn’t always clear which tasks they were supposed to be working on when they came in to work. Each book being produced was indeed a book; but that was all they had in common. Each book had different production steps, different contents and reprint approvals required, and different layouts and cover designs. Some were just collections of articles to reprint once approvals were received, and others required extensive desktop publishing. Each eBook was a complex process, but was going to be made just once, as these eBooks were all customized for each professor and course each semester. Each eBook had to be produced on time, and had to be made to match just exactly what the professors requested.
Understanding what each eBook needed had to be clearly documented and understood before starting production. Global Green Books had been told by the college how many different printing jobs the college would need, but they weren’t all arriving at once, and orders were quite unpredictable in arriving from the professors at the college. Some professors needed rush orders for their classes. Some orders arrived as projected, but some came later than anticipated. When Global Green Books finally got all their orders, some of these jobs were much larger than they had thought they would be.
Each eBook needed to have a separate job order prepared that listed all the steps that needed to be completed, so that tasks could be assigned to each worker. These job orders were also becoming a problem. Not all the steps needed were getting listed in each order. Often the estimates of time for each task were not completed until after the work was done, causing problems as workers were supposed to move on to new tasks but were still finishing their previous tasks. Some tasks required specialized equipment or skills, sometimes from other groups within Global Green Books. Not all of the new student hires were trained for all of the printing and binding equipment used to print and assemble to books.
Global Green Books wanted to start developing a template for job orders. This template should list all of the possible tasks that should be performed in producing an eBook for the college. These tasks could be broken down into the different phases of the work.
In the Receive Order phase, the order should be received by Global Green Books from the professor or the college, it should be checked and verified, and a job order started. In checking and verifying each order, the customer representative should make sure that they have the requester’s name, email and phone number; the date needed, and a full list of all of the contents. They should also verify that they have received all of the materials that were supposed to be included with that order, and have fully identified all of the items that they need to request permissions for. Any problems found in checking and verifying should be resolved by contacting the professor.
In the Plan Order phase, all of the desktop publishing work is planned, estimated and assigned to production staff. Also all of the production effort to collate and produce the eBook are identified, estimated and scheduled, and assigned to production staff. Specific equipment resource needs are identified and equipment is reserved on the schedule to support the planned production effort.
In the Production Phase, permissions are acquired, desktop publishing tasks (if needed) are performed, content is converted, and the proof of the eBook is produced. A quality assistant will check the eBook against the job order and customer order to make sure it is ready for production, and once approved by quality, each of the requested eBook formats are created. A second quality check makes sure that each requested format is ready to release to the college.
In a Manage Production Phase, happening in parallel with the Production Phase, a supervisor will track progress, work assignments, and costs for each eBook. Any problems will be resolved quickly in an attempt to not have any rework or delays in releasing the eBooks to the college.
Each eBook will be planned using the standard job template as a basis for developing a unique plan for that eBook project.
Comment on the following aspects of the case study:
a) Printing books in a print shop, especially large quantities of a single book, is a process. A process is an ongoing day-to-day repetitive set of activities the print shop performs when producing its products. How are these customized eBooks different from a standard printing process? What characteristics make these customized eBooks a project? b) Who are the stakeholders in these eBook projects? How are they involved in or affected by an eBook project? c) Why is it important to have a defined project scope? Why is it important to make sure there is agreement about the scope and what will be done in producing each eBook? d) What kinds of information would you want supervisors to have available to them in the Manage Production phase? Why? e) Do you think developing a standard job template would be useful for Global Green Books? Why? What advantages could it give them in planning work? f) What other information, if any, would you like to see included in the standard job template? Why?
Create a Work Breakdown Structure for an eBook project. a) What are the major phases of work for making an eBook? b) What are the steps in each phase? c) Can you identify any substeps for any of the steps? What are they?
MINI CASE 4
Mini-Case Study: Cost Estimation at Global Green Books Publishing
Global Green Books Publishing is continuing to produce customized eBooks as a key new product line for it as a successful printing and publishing company. It has developed a template to help plan job orders. The major customer for these customized eBooks is a local college, who expected these books to be delivered at a low cost, and the company has not always been doing that. The Accounting department in Global Green Books was having difficult tracking the costs for each of the books.
Each eBook had a separate job order prepared that listed all the steps that needed to be completed, so that tasks could be assigned to each worker and costs estimated. With the existing job orders, estimates of time required for each task were sometimes not completed until after the work was done, causing problems as workers were supposed to move on to new tasks but were still finishing their previous tasks. Some tasks required specialized equipment or skills, sometimes from other groups within Global Green Books.
Along with its template for job orders, Global Green Books wanted to start developing a project estimate for each new eBook project. This cost estimate should capture direct costs and indirect costs. The direct costs for an eBook project include labor costs for those in the company working on the project, materials costs (if any), subcontractor or outside labor, and equipment and facility costs. Material costs for these eBooks include any permissions costs for content and images used in the eBook. Indirect costs for these eBooks computer support costs and sales commissions for each eBook project.
For an incoming eBook order for an eBook for a European History course, the following internal labor costs are projected during the Plan Order Phase:
Phase Task Staff Category Rate ($)
Receive Order Receive Order Customer Service Representative
CSR 12.00 .25 *
Receive Order Check Order Customer Service Representative
CSR 12.00 .50 *
Receive Order Verify Order Customer Service Representative
CSR-1 16.00 1.0 *
Plan Order Plan Work Supervisor Senior-1 28.00 1.0 Plan Order Assign Work Supervisor Senior-1 28.00 1.0 Plan Order Estimation Supervisor Senior-1 28.00 1.0 Plan Order Reserve Equipment Supervisor Senior-1 28.00 .50 Production Acquire Permissions Publishers Liaison PL 22.00 0 Production Desktop Publishing (DTP) DTP Specialist DTP-2 18.00 12.5 Production Content Conversion DTP Specialist DTP-1 12.50 4.0 Production Produce eBook (Proof and Final) DTP Specialist DTP-2 18.00 5.0 Production Quality Checks Quality Technician Customer Service Representative QC CSR-1 16.00 16.00 3.0 1.0
Manage Production Track Production Supervisor Senior-1 28.00 3.0
During the Plan Order Phase, the hours for the Receive Order phase (marked with an *) are actual times, as this work has already been performed.
In addition to these internal labors costs, the Production Supervisor has estimated that the European History eBook will incur these costs: An overhead rate on all direct labor of 1.50. Material costs of $1,000 for each permission needed Equipment costs of $800 for unique equipment needed for this project (a special oversize map scanner) Subcontract labor of $500 for installation and training in the use of the oversize map scanner Computer support costs of $600 Sales commission of 20%
In addition to direct and indirect costs, Global Green Books targets a 25% profit margin on each project, and budgets for a 10% contingency on labor and 20% contingency on permissions.
Comment on the following aspects of the case study:
a) What are the types of direct costs identified in this case? Why are they viewed as direct costs? b) What are two forms of costs identified? c) What are some problems that might arise that could impact the budget? d) Why would Global Green Books set aside contingencies? How would needed rework, if caught in the quality reviews, be accounted for in the budget? e) What are the main cost drivers of this project? f) What other information, if any, would you like to see included in the budget for this project? Why?
Create a budget for the European History eBook project.
a) What are the costs by major phases of work for making this European History eBook? b) What are the total costs for direct labor? c) What is the total estimated cost of this European History eBook?
MINI CASE 5
Mini-Case Study: Managing Change at Global Green Books Publishing
Global Green Books Publishing is producing customized eBooks for a local college. It has just received a large order for a new eBook on Strategic Human Resource Management in a Global Context from a senior professor in the business school. This distinguished faculty member is dissatisfied with the current textbooks, and wants a customized eBook for use with her oncampus courses, graduate seminars, and her executive education courses. This is the most complex eBook that Global Green Books has undertaken. Because this project is so important to the professor, and will be used in so many different settings with different schedules, the professor made sure that she had her complete eBook request in early to allow sufficient time for production. She had selected a broad set of the best papers and had written an introduction and background, along with discussion questions for each section. This meant that this project was going to have an extensive set of permissions to acquire before production could happen, as well as a large amount of desktop publishing for the new materials written by the professor. She was quite certain that she had given Global Green Books more than enough time to have her eBook ready before the first class needed it.
This large eBook went through the check and verify order step with a bit of back and forth with the professor to verify the information needed for the extensive number of permissions, so that started the project off with a bit of a delay. Because there were so many permissions, the Supervisor who planned this project, accelerated the work on obtaining permissions to make sure that all the permissions were received before they needed to start assembling and collating the eBook in production.
As the Publishers Liaison worked through the extensive list of permissions, the Customer Service Representative for the business school at the college started receiving several inputs from the college about this project. One set of inputs was a continuing series of requests from the professor. As new papers were released, she wanted to make a number of additions to the eBook. Also, as time went on and she had more time to review her eBook plans, she started identifying some changes that she wanted to make to her planned eBook.
Another input came from the business manager at the college bookstore, as he was quite concerned about the projected cost of this eBook. Because this eBook included so many reprints of existing articles and chapters, the estimated cost of the book was quite high. The college expected their eBooks to be delivered at a low cost, as its bookstore costs had to cover the bookstore overhead (servers for sales and distribution of the eBooks and marketing costs) and the bookstore’s markup, as well as the costs of the eBook from Global Green Books. The Global Green Books costs had to incorporate all the permissions costs, as well as all of the desktop publishing and production costs.
The Customer Service Representative communicated these issues to several people within Global Green Books: the account manager for the college account, the supervisor managing production for this eBook, the Publishers Liaison obtaining permissions for this book. The account manager was concerned about upsetting this important customer, the supervisor didn’t 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.
And the professor’s requests just kept coming, at an increasing rate as it got closer to her deadline for needing this eBook.
The supervisor was starting to make some estimates of what each change requested by the professor would cost An extra $500 for each new permission needed, in addition to the $500 already spent for each permission already acquired that can no longer be used Two hours of Publishers Liaison effort for each new permission needed at an unburdened cost of $22 per hour (loaded cost is $55 with a 1.5 overhead rate) One hour of supervisor time for replanning each change at an unburdened cost of $28 per hour (loaded cost is $70 with a 1.5 overhead rate) Sales commission of 20%
This continuing series of requests for changes from the professor is quickly adding to the upwardly spiraling cost of this project. The supervisor feels that something must be done about this scope creep – continually changing scope.
Comment on the following aspects of the case study:
a) Who are the stakeholders of this project? Who are the key stakeholders of the project? b) What impacts could these requested changes have on the budget? c) Could these requested changes also impact the schedule? If so, how? d) What is Global Green Book’s process for dealing with changes from their customers? Do you see any possible issues with this process? e) How would you recommend that Global Green Books handle these changes? Who should be involved? f) What should Global Green Books do about the conflicting inputs from their customer – the bookstore manager who wants inexpensive eBooks and the professor who wants the best and most up-to-date collection of readings possible for her courses?
MINI CASE 6
Mini-Case Study: Developing Project Managers at Global Green Books Publishing
Global Green Books Publishing is continuing to grow. They now have three large customerstwo in traditional print-based work and the third is a local college. They produce customized eBooks for this local college. This newest line of work is growing, as other customers hear of their work, and the account managers are speaking with several other colleges and professional associations about taking on additional projects in electronic publishing.
As they have grown, they have had to start implementing some project management concepts to plan and manage their work. The founders hired Samantha as a project associate or project manager on a full-time basis to help them introduce project management practices and help them tide over the crisis they were experiencing with rapid growth. Within the first three months in her new role as PM, she introduced formal project management processes, created a PM manual and trained the employees to get the work done well. Within a year, the company was delivering projects on schedule, the quality processes worked—and customers were happy with the products! This success was leading to possible new work and greater opportunities to bring on new customers.
As the growth continued, Samantha was now feeling the pressure. She was only one person. And there was so much more to still do.
Using her project management skills, she had implemented more formal project management processes, created a PM manual and trained the employees to get the work done well. One area where she especially felt stretched thin was in supporting the supervisors.
As the eBook business grew, there were more and more demands on the supervisors. Many were great print technicians who had caught the eye of the founders for their attitudes and customer service ethic. But today, they were being called on to do more complex tasks than merely running a highly automated print copier. Supervisors are interacting with customers, as well as with internal account managers and customer service representatives. They are managing employees with a diverse set of skills, backgrounds, and motivations. It is increasingly hard for them to ask employees to take on hard challenges when they themselves do not have those skills and have not done the eBook publishing that the business is increasingly moving to.
Many of the supervisors have had a bit of project management mentoring from Samantha, but still know that they have to be both leaders and managers. As project teams come together to work on eBooks, there are challenges. Some of the challenges have to do with knowing the status of the work, as part-time employees come in and hand a piece of a project off to another worker. Some deal managing conflicts as they arise – both technical issues as permissions are delayed and content cannot yet be incorporated, leading to scheduling changes, and interpersonal issues among staff. Some of these conflicts occur between a mostly young, part-time contingent of student workers and the full-time employees. Supervisors are often drawn into mediating or resolving these conflicts. They really need to meld together their staff to create highly capable, productive project teams for these fast-paced eBook projects. The staff needs to
trust each other and their leadership to be fair and to balance work priorities with the times that they are available.
Supervisors need to provide leadership, to provide inspiration for their team, and to be good motivators of their team members, as well as be a good manager, worrying about the day-today and minute-by-minute accomplishment of the project’s goals. Being a good motivator also means that the supervisors must be good listeners to understand what issues are confronting their team members and the needs of their team members.
The supervisors were realizing that as a group they needed two things. One was a greater grasp of people skills, or so-called “soft” skills, to help make them more effective. The other was more support in project management as they needed to better track the details of the work, and the task level scheduling and rescheduling that was happening as team members come and go for their work shifts and as permissions sometimes take longer to obtain than planned.
Samantha is starting to discuss with her management and with the human resources and training group how they can meet some of these needs. Perhaps some leadership development training for supervisors could be arranged. And she is talking with her management about setting up a project management office (PMO) to have project management staff available to help the supervisors with some of their work tracking and scheduling challenges. She hopes that addressing these two issues will make their eBook delivery much smoother.
Comment on the following aspects of the case study:
a) What are some of the challenges facing supervisors? b) What skills do you think the supervisors need to be effective project managers? Why do they need these skills? c) Are there skills that team members need to be effective team members in a project? If so, what are these skills? d) Which characteristic or skill do you think is the most significant characteristic of an effective project manager? e) What steps could project managers take to help make their teams more effective? f) What advice would you give Samantha about setting up a project management office? What roles could these staff perform, and how could they interact with the existing projects? g) Can you describe other ways that this PMO function could be organized?
MINI CASE 7
Mini-Case Study: Closing Projects at Global Green Books Publishing
Global Green Books Publishing is continuing to grow. The customized eBooks line of work is continuing to grow, and they now have a lot of experience from the eBook projects that they have completed for their first eBook customer, a local college, and for their newer customers.
However, as new projects come in and start to run into problems, some of the project managers in the project management office and their manager, Samantha, were discussing how it seems like it is déjà vu all over again – some of the same problems that they thought they had solved in working with supervisors and their teams on past projects keep on occurring.
The eBook projects are functioning well, and customers are happy with the results. Repeat orders are coming in and new customers are turning to Global Green Books for their eBook production needs.
But, there are just some problems that seem to keep popping up. One of the project managers even described dealing with these problems as being like playing the popular arcade game of “Whack-a-Mole” – as soon as you deal with one to make it disappear, the same one or another one just pops up. It seems like a never-ending struggle to try and solve some of these problems, especially when some seem like they were already solved on another earlier project.
In the PM handbook that Samantha had implemented, when projects completed the supervisors finished tracking all of the actual effort and costs and turned that information over to cost accounting for billing purposes. As Samantha and colleagues implemented the project management office, they modified the PM manual to have a copy of this information also shared with the project management office. They have found this information to be sometimes useful as historical data to help develop estimates for new projects as requests for new eBooks come in from their customers.
The PMO team was discussing making changes to the PM manual and holding a short training for supervisors to implement some improvements to their project completion processes. They wanted to change their standard job template to incorporate these additions: a planned task for supervisors to close out the project, a task to create a lessons learned report, and an optional task for a closing celebration for the team to mark the end of the project,
They felt that it was important that the PMO start capturing lessons learned. These could be collated by the supervisors at the end of the project, or they could encourage supervisors to plan, schedule and hold a project closing meeting with their team members to thank the team members and to collect lessons learned from all of the team. They could also invite feedback or participation from the relevant Customer Service Representatives and account managers.
The PMO received management approval for these changes, updated the PM manual, and held a brief training for supervisors. Supervisors liked the ideas, especially because the close-out meeting or team celebration would give them a chance to recognize and reward team members and would serve to motivate the teams for future projects. As time went on, the PMO started collecting these lessons learned from many projects.
As they collected these lessons learned from these projects, the PMO staff started to look at the data from the lessons learned across the projects. They examined frequency of the six kinds of issues that were being encountered on the projects. The histogram below shows their results.
Based on feedback from the leadership training that they had done with the supervisors, they had thought that the major cause of delays and extra costs on projects were part-time student employees calling off from work at the last minute, leaving planned work not performed until another resource could be assigned to it, which was often difficult as there were few slack resources. This made tasks late and sometimes delayed projects from completing on time.
Their analysis showed that that wasn’t the case at all. In fact only three of the problems on projects were caused by unplanned absences. In their Pareto analysis, the PMO staff identified three key problems, which they highlighted in red. Delays in obtaining necessary reprint permissions from certain publishers were the largest cause of problems, accounting for 34% of the problems encountered by eBook projects. Production staff calling in sick was the next most frequent problem, accounting for 28% of the problems. Customer changes, which often caused rework and delays, were the root cause of another 20% of the problems.
The PMO now knew what the most important issues were that were causing eBook projects to be delayed, and could make recommendations to mitigate each of these problems.
Comment on the following aspects of the case study:
a) What are some of the reasons why it is important to close out a project? What can project managers accomplish in closing out a project? b) Why should projects capture lessons learned? What are some ways that the project team members, project managers and the organization can use lessons learned? c) What benefits come from celebrating project accomplishments? Do you believe that rewards and recognition can serve as motivators for staff? d) Explain what a Pareto chart is. Why would you use this technique to identify and prioritize problem areas? Are there some limitations on interpreting the results of a Pareto analysis? e) If you were the PMO looking at this Pareto analysis, what recommendations might you make to address the three key problem areas in eBook projects that this analysis identified?
MINI CASE 8
Mini-Case Study: Team Building at Global Green Books Publishing
Global Green Books Publishing is continuing to grow. As their eBook business continues to drive that growth, they now are continuing to add staff to be able to keep up with customer demand. Most all of the new people and many of the eBook staff have not worked together in the original print-based business area of the company, and indeed are new to the company and its culture.
These new employees have a diverse set of skills, backgrounds, and motivations. Their supervisors know how to manage their projects, but do not always have the expertise to step in and do each of the unique tasks assigned to team members. Most of the employees that have been around since the beginning of the eBook business have been trained in their project management techniques, so they can get the work done well; but not all of the newer employees have had this training. There is just too much work that needs to be done to take time out for training.
Supervisors need provide leadership, to provide inspiration for their team and to be good motivators of their team members, as well as be a good manager, worrying about the day-today and minute-by-minute accomplishment of the project’s goals. Being a good motivator also means that the supervisors must be good listeners to understand what issues are confronting their team members and the needs of their team members.
Beyond this role as leaders, supervisors need to be a good manager. They need to identify the skills that they need for their projects. Supervisors at Global Green Books normally do this as they start from the standard job template for eBook projects and build the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) for their eBook project. Next, they need to identify team members that have those skills, and work with their current project managers and with human resources to make sure that they will be available to support the new project. Based on the lessons learned analyses, a supervisor might also identify a person as a back-up for a critical role on the project, in case they run into difficulties or assigned staff are not available as planned.
Once the team is assembled, challenges can arise. Some of the challenges teams face have to do with knowing the status of the work, as part-time employees come in and hand a piece of a project off to another worker. Some deal managing conflicts as they arise – both technical issues as permissions are delayed and content cannot yet be incorporated, leading to scheduling changes, and inter-personal issues among staff. Some of these conflicts occur between a mostly young, part-time contingent of student workers and the full-time employees. Supervisors are often drawn into mediating or resolving these conflicts. They really need to meld together their staff to create highly capable, productive project teams for these fast-paced eBook projects. The staff needs to trust each other and their leadership to be fair and to balance work priorities with the times that they are available.
Supervisors are finding it is very important to make sure every team member understands the goals of the project, the roles of each team member and how they inter-relate, and the sense of urgency about completing the project. This urgency comes from understanding the intense schedules for completing eBooks and from understanding why it is important that all of the work come together to create a finished eBook – any part not completed keeps the final eBook from
going into quality check and release. Because of the issues around employee absence and the use of part-time employees, they are also trying to make sure that employees are able to do their role, but can also help out in related roles as needed.
To help build a common understanding of the project work and minimize some of the conflicts, Samantha is working with some the supervisors to hold a project kick-off meeting where the team reviews the goals and plan for the project, and develops and agrees to a project team charter. Letting the team develop their charter gives the supervisor an opportunity to observe how the team works together, and gives the team the ability to set ground rules for how they will work together. The team charter starts with the project goals. The team may set their goals in order to accomplish these project goals. Other topics that the team might address in their team charter include agreed-upon guidelines for how they want to participate in the project, conduct (or behavior), communications among project members, communicating status and problems, problem solving, and holding meetings. This charter and its guidelines that they team have agreed to can then serve as a basis for team building and team behaviors during the project.
Comment on the following aspects of the case study:
a) What are some of the challenges facing project teams? Have you encountered any of these problems in teams that you have been part of? What other team problems have you experienced? b) Are there skills that team members need to be effective team members in a project? If so, what are these skills? c) Why is it important that team members understand the goals and scope of the project? d) Think about creating a team charter. What categories of guidelines would you you’re your team to agree on before beginning work? Why would you include these categories? e) Brainstorm and identify some guidelines that you would suggest teams follow for each of these categories? Team member participation in the project Team member conduct (or behavior) Communicating among project members (including communicating status and problems) Holding meetings f) What are the advantages of a kick-off meeting? What are the advantages of developing a team charter?
MINI CASE 9
Mini-Case Study: Quality Management at Global Green Books Publishing
Global Green Books Publishing is growing its eBook business, satisfying demand for customized eBooks for the college market and for a growing number of commercial customers. These customers expect a high-quality product that works in each of the environments that there users use – various operating systems, eBook readers, and hardware (desktop computers, tablets/phablets, and smartphones).
As part of the standard development process, each eBook goes through several quality checks. When the order is received, a customer service representative checks the order and a more senior customer service representative verifies the order. During the Production Phase, a quality assistant will check the eBook against the job order and customer order to make sure it is ready for production, and once approved by quality, each of the requested eBook formats are created. A second quality check is performed by the customer service representative who is assigned to the customer to make sure that each requested format is ready to release to the customer.
Some customers (and their eBook users) are complaining about quality problems in the eBooks they have received from Global Green Books. Sometimes the eBooks do not work correctly in the intended environment. Sometimes, content is not clear or fuzzy. Sometimes, a quality check will find that not all parts of the requested order have been included in the eBook. This causes rework before the eBook can come back for a second quality check before being released to the customer service representative for the final quality check. In each of these cases, the “cost of quality” is the cost of NOT creating a quality product. Every time the project has to rework an eBook to correct a quality defect, the cost of quality increases.
Samantha and her project managers met with a key group of supervisors who are managing a critical number of the eBook projects. They reviewed the lessons learned data and brainstormed from their experiences with producing eBooks to identify some of the quality problems that they were seeing in the eBook projects. They identified a number of issues: The customer’s quality requirements are never discussed within the project team. They are dealt with by the customer service representatives at the beginning and end of the eBook production process. This means that team members do not know what the customer expects and just do the tasks assigned without knowing what is “good”. They may have a very different or no understanding of what the customer’s quality needs are, unlike the customer service representatives. The standard job template doesn’t suggest that supervisors plan into their project any reviews or checkpoints at which quality can be verified. The only quality checks come after the eBook is finished. This does quality checks of the whole eBook, but doesn’t allow for checks on each component –content formats, correct conversions or desk top publishing checks. These two factors lead to a perception among team members that quality is just simply some testing by some other groups (quality and customer service), rather than a way of working and reviewing or checking work as they proceed. Further, many team members don’t even see quality as their responsibility, because it’s something done by someone else.
One of the challenges facing the customer service representatives is that they do test each eBook, but they cannot always check each eBook in an environment that is the same as that used by the end users of the eBook. Sometimes users have different equipment than the customer service representatives have to use for their testing. There are times when this causes surprises after the eBook is released. This leads to external failure costs for dealing with processing customer complaints, dealing with rework to fix the eBooks, and releasing a revised eBook. Luckily the customers handle distribution to their users, so Global Green Books is not bearing the cost of customer returns and warranty claims that they might have if they were selling a consumer product directly to consumers.
The group agrees that they would like to make some changes to bring their total quality costs below the costs of quality that they are currently incurring. This means that they want to reduce the costs of failing to meet customer requirements or expectations, and reinvest those savings into preventing problems as they go that do not meet the customer’s requirements, and checking to make sure that the eBook and all of its components conform to the customer’s requirements. Catching some of the quality problems sooner, before the entire eBook is produced will also reduce the internal failure costs that they are experiencing. These internal failure costs are rework and re-checking following the quality checks by Quality and the customer service representative.
Comment on the following aspects of the case study:
a) Consider the problems that Samantha and the group identified. What do you think are the causes of these problems? b) What would you suggest they do differently to eliminate these problems? c) Who should be responsible for quality? What would you recommend be the specific responsibilities of each identified role? d) What prevention activities would you suggest to prevent poor quality in the eBook products? Examples could be planning for quality activities or team building activities focused on improving quality e) What appraisal activities would you suggest to evaluate the eBook product to ensure that it meets quality standards and customer requirements? Should they add in-process checks of eBook components in addition to their current final inspection/tests? If so, who should do these? f) What would you suggest they do to involve team members more in pursuit of high quality eBooks for their customers?