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
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
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
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:
Why did Global Green Books Publishing struggle?
What were the specific PM solutions that were introduced by Samantha that worked?
What kind of suggestions would you give to Brad and Jim if you were the PM?
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 Study: The Back to School Crunch at Global Green Books
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
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
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
Mini-Case Study: Defining Standard Projects at Global Green Books
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
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
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
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
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 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:
Desktop Publishing (DTP)
Produce eBook (Proof and Final)
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
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
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
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 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 e ...
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