CASE STUDY Global Green Books Publishing


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 have decided to approach this new project in a structured manner to ensure that the products are delivered on time and are of the highest quality.

Projects at Global Green Books Publishing 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.

Leadership at Global Green Books Publishing Global Green Books Publishing now has three large customers two 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. 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 socalled “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.


Question 1

Briefly discuss the ethical dilemmas Samantha might encounter when embarking on a project









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