Project Management Case Study – Grabbit and Scarper and Sons (SIM335)January 15, 2022 2022-01-15 17:57
Project Management Case Study – Grabbit and Scarper and Sons (SIM335)
Project Management Case Study – Grabbit and Scarper and Sons (SIM335)
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Task 1 – Short answer questions
A major principle of every project is project definition; a phase that forms the groundwork for the rest of the activities. Project definition answers the “why?” question and the “what needs to be done?” question as well as establishes basic controls (Verzuh, 2011). Another core principle is on project planning. A plan outlines the available resources (financial and human), attributing to the fact that every project needs to be completed within a specific budget, and a particular schedule (Taylor, 2007). Actually, the plan creates a cost-schedule-quality balance. In addition to these, another principle of a project is control and assessment. This is important in monitoring progress and creating a corrective action in case of deviations from the set standards (Verzuh, 2011).
According to (Schwalbe, 2009), project scope gives the baseline of performance measurement, control and a clear definition of roles and responsibilities. To this end, the scope of the project thus needed to outline the overall objective of the upgrade and the specific goals and targets. In addition, if the project is to be carried out in phases, then each phase, its expected milestones and the acceptance criteria should be outlined (Taylor, 2007). Lastly, it should identify the people and resources to be involved as well as the specific duty and responsibility of everyone. All activities to be undertaken should be stated (Verzuh, 2011).
The grant chart basically outlines activities alongside the resources required to perform them (Taylor, 2007). If Penny Black had adopted the chart, she would have had an easy time initiating the project by chronologically acquiring resources and hiring personnel. A critical path; a series of activities determining the earliest completion date, would be essential for Penny in scheduling the project as well as determining the most critical activities of the project and what delay can be expected (Schwalbe, 2009).
Cost management, which involves cost estimation and cost control, is essential in ensuring that the project runs on the intended budget (Schwalbe, 2009). Firstly, the payback period method can be crucial in depicting the extent of risk involved (by showing the payback time). It also shows when the project is going to recover the initial investment. Secondly, the Net Present Value method can be used to depict the present value of the future incomes of the project in comparison to the initial investment. This method is imperative because it considers the time value of cashflows (Hansen, Guan and Mowen, 2007).
The first step would be risk identification in which case all the probable risks in the lifetime of the project would be stated. This can be done by going through the plan and identifying risks at each stage. Secondly, the risks should be sieved in order to remain with high-priority risks, also known as “showstoppers” (Kendrick, 2009, p. 305). These risks should be ranked based on their relative impact on the project and cross-project dependency. Lastly, the risks are better managed at the project-level thus a manager needs to mitigate them at this level (Hillson, 2012).
This project lacks mechanisms to measure the actual performance against desired results which is part of monitoring and control. Besides the six-month deadline that the project has, there are no “milestones” to compare performance against. This is evidenced by lack of proper documentation of the goals and objectives and materials essential for running the project. For example, Penny gets the feasibility study long after she has ordered the pumps and compressors. In order to correct this, firstly the project should have a budget control system to avoid losses such as the three thousand pounds a day. Secondly, the projects needs periodic performance checks by all the stakeholders and lastly, there needs to be a proper way of documentation for easy and timely access (Venkataraman and Pinto, 2011; Gudda, 2011).
Task 2 – Case report
Project management is an area that involves the application of knowledge, skills, techniques and tools in the running of projects. It offers a project manager and project stakeholders a way to implement and oversee projects. Grabbit and Scarper and Sons Limited, a firm based in London, has an upgrade plan for the plant it owns in North East of England and appoints Penny Black as the project manager. In this particular case, issues arise attributing to non-adherence to project management concepts. This report seeks to analyse the specific mistakes, in regard to project management, that Grabbit and Scarper and Sons Limited and Penny Black commit and then offer probable solutions to the issues by borrowing from concepts in project management. The report findings show that some of the mistakes include lack of a project definition and project plan, lack of a schedule and time plan, lack of team engagement, lack of a cost and risk management system, poor documentation and limited stakeholder involvement. In line with this, the report suggests that for proper project implementation, the management should first defined the scope, do proper planning by involving all stakeholders then ensure that there are teams in place to implement the deliberations. Additionally, having a schedule is important in managing time as well as a cost baseline in managing costs. There needs to be a monitoring and evaluation criteria to avoid delays and wastages. Finally, risk assessment and control are also vital in preparing for contingencies.
Project management in general is the application of knowledge, skills, techniques and tools to a project’s activities in order to attain the project requirements. Essentially, the project manager’s realm is coupled by activities such as the strive to meet time, cost, quality and scope goals of a project and fulfilling the interests of the stakeholders involved of parties affected by the activities of the project (Schwalbe, 2009). Penny Black is a newly appointed project manager at a business owned and managed by two families – Grabbit and Scarper and Sons Limited. The business has recently witnessed immense growth with operations going overseas evidenced by a rising pharmaceutical demand in the USA that needs to be met. The firm has a plan to upgrade a plant in the North East of England and Penny Black has been appointed as the project manager. However, contrary to her expectations, she faces gross challenges on her first day and subsequent months in regard to initiation and implementation of the project. Her issues include lack of project definition, planning, improper documentation et cetera. She also lacks a supportive team around her. This report, therefore, intends to identify the particular mistakes that Penny and the firm did in regard to the upgrade project and then, basing on project management concepts, give probable solutions to these mistakes.
2. Mistakes done by Grabbit and Scarper & Sons Limited in view of project management
In regard to the principles that govern project management, there a lot of areas that Penny Black and the firm have gone wrong. Firstly, before any project begins, there is need for the management to properly define it. Project definition essentially outlines the general objectives of the project and, most importantly, identifies the activities that are supposed to be carried out (preferably in a chronological order) (Verzuh, 2011). What is evident in Grabbit and Scarper & Sons Limited is that the only need for the upgrade is to meet demand. However, there is no proper definition or plan on the whole project or a blueprint under which Penny Black is supposed to run activities. From the start, she begins her activities without creating a schedule or critical path and consequentially becomes overwhelmed by duties along the way. A project schedule is critical to any project (Mubarak, 2010).
Secondly, there is not proper personal allocation for the project. Penny Black is appointed for a project manager position whilst she lacks prior experience in managing such an enormous project. In addition, she has no support staff for the project because she quickly becomes overwhelmed for lacking someone to delegate to. This is a major issue because the role of a teams and team collaboration cannot be overlooked in project management (Chiocchio et al., 2011). Although some of the people are qualified, such as the IT manager, their focus is not on the project and this makes consultations harder. Of concern here also is the issue of communication. Evidently, the whole management body lacks effective communication skills. Liam Grabbit for example does is not easily available for consultation, George Grabbit goes away for some time and communicating to him is difficult and takes time and lastly Henry Hammer fails to submit feasibility and specifications report to Penny in time which leads to acquisition of the wrong equipment.
Another mistake in the firm is lack of proper documentation. Penny Black’s mistakes are birthed from this. She cannot access the tender documents when she needs them and thus the tendering process is delayed. She also cannot access the feasibility and specifications documents firm Hammer when she needs them leading to procurement issues. Besides this, Penny makes a mistake in that she does not create a plan or a work breakdown structure for the project. Instead she arbitrarily makes decisions that turn out to be wrong. For example instead of shutting down operations first, she procures services of cranes and also before even consulting on equipment specifications, she places equipment orders.
Lastly, given there is lack of a proper schedule and critical path, the firm does not have a monitoring and evaluation structure. Issues such as risk assessment and cost control are also not addressed by the firm. This, for example leads to the financial loss of 3000 pounds per day as the firm did not prepare for weather-related risks and the delays resulting. The stakeholders, who are supposed to meet and assess progress, are also not defined.
3. Solutions to the project management mistakes
3.1. Creation of a plan for the project
Project planning, according to Morris and Pinto (2010) is essentially the most crucial contributing element to the success of a project. Morris and Pinto, (2010) continue to note that most failure issues at the initial or advanced implementation of projects result from poor planning or utter lack of a plan. In the case of Grabbit and Scarper and Sons Limited, there is total lack of a plan to guide the project. Essentially, the plan is supposed to be based upon the deliberated activities of the project alongside the available personnel and resources. This means that because a plan takes care of how to effectively attain objectives using available resources, there needs to be a clear identification of resources and objectives. Neither of these exists in the firm. A good project plan would be invaluable in monitoring, controlling and evaluating as well as outlining the delegation structure which is currently unavailable. As Gudda (2011) notes, a project plan is critical in measuring the completeness of the project.
3.2. Definition of the scope of the project
The scope of a project outlines everything there is to a project, from work content to the expected outcomes (Gudda, 2011). In essence, a project scope should consist of all activities involved, the resources necessary (financial and human), and the expected outcome. There also needs to be an elaboration of goals, limitations, and constraints. The project scope being the starting point of any project would be the first thing that Penny Black should have considered since it improves the accuracy of time, scope and cost estimates (Schwalbe, 2009). Essential in the scope is the work breakdown structure (WBS). According to Schwalbe (2009, p. 116), a WBS is a “deliverable-oriented” grouping or work related to a project. It breaks down work into discrete tasks and groups them in a hierarchical manner. A firm such as Grabbit and Scarper and Sons Limited, would get to hire the right people and for a project manager such as Penny Black delegation was becomes easy as well as monitoring. Additionally, whatever is not in the work structure is not supposed to be done, and then Penny Black can avoid a great deal of irrelevant activities during the lifetime of the project (Heldman, 2011). Below is a suggested WBS for the project:
Figure 1: WBS structure
Source: Drawn by Author
3.3. Identify the players in the project implementation process
In order for a project to be successfully completed, there are various parties that are involved. These parties are referred to as stakeholders. According to Gudda (2011), stakeholders need to be identified before commencement of any activity so that it shall be possible to engage them in the crucial step of evaluation and monitoring. Stakeholders can have information useful in implementation too. In the case of Grabbit and Scarper and Sons Limited, the right stakeholders have not been involved. For example the interests of senior shift manager, Kevin Knowist, had not been considered when Penny hired cranes before shutting down operations. Additionally, the meeting of stakeholders is essential in considering changes regarding the project (Gudda, 2011). Moreover, as Zwikael and Smyrk (2011) note engaged stakeholders help in avoiding unnecessary project hiccups. For example, Penny would have avoided ordering the wrong equipment if the stakeholders had met and planned in advance. The following figure shows the process of stakeholder engagement:
Figure 2: Stakeholder engagement processes (Zwikael and Smyrk 2011).
3.4. Proper schedule and time management for the project
Project scheduling is meant to solve the issue of lack of time consciousness in implementing a project. In order to complete tasks within the specified time-limit, it is imperative that a manager uses the critical path method under which the completion date is hypothetically stated (Sears, Sears and Clough, 2010). The critical path method also shows those activities that are interdependent and whose delay can delay the entire project. In such a case Penny Black would know which activities to prioritise as a way of avoiding delays. Additionally the final project time schedule needs to account for delays such as those caused by weather. For example, the activities of Grabbit and Scarper and Sons Limited were halted for two weeks as cranes could not operate in windy conditions. Such delay can be prepared for. Scheduling is simplified by the use of project management software that can illustrate activities against time. The resultant structure is referred to as a Gantt chart (Meredith, Mantel and Samuel, 2011). A Gantt chart is helpful in comparing the actual time performance of a project against the set standard and thus corrective action can be taken (Schwalbe, 2009).
3.5. Proper documentation for the project
Project documentation is important in case of important firstly, because crucial documents such as agreements with contractors may be needed as legal proof of performance, management of changes, justifications of claims and evidence in litigation and secondly because these documents will be needed by the team working on the project (Hill, 2009). In addition, as Pitagorsky (2007) notes, project documentation serves as a means of communication between the project players. As evidenced in the case of Grabbit and Scarper and Sons Limited, lack of proper documentation led to mishaps. For example, the lack of a feasibility report and the specifications documents from Kevin Knowist led Penny Black to acquiring compressors and pumps erroneously. Lastly, according to Luckey and Phillips (2011) humans have a tendency to forget and what may be crystal clear now may be hard to remember later. For this reason documentation is essential in any project – big or small. To this end documentation can be used, in the case of monitoring and evaluation, as a way of recording mistakes that can later be rectified and avoided in future projects (Luckey and Phillips, 2011).
3.6. Effective team engagement
A team consists of people working together and possessing complementary skills that enable wholesome achievement of a goal for which they hold themselves equally accountable (Constructing Excellence, 2004). A successful team is characterised by trust, helpfulness and mutual respect. Additionally, beyond the effective characteristics of individual team members, a project that is successful draws its strength from the fact that team members work together. Team development helps in creating synergy (Schwalbe, 2009). In Grabbit and Scarper and Sons Limited, the element of teamwork has been downplayed given that Penny Black is the only active player in the project. Although she draws some support from her superior and the senior shift manager, the aspect of effective teamwork fails to emerge. Moreover, from the start of the project, all the stakeholders were not on the same page about the personnel requirements in the implementation. A good team could have helped Penny to assign some roles and responsibilities to junior staff and thus remain with an oversight role, contrary to that we see her struggling and getting overwhelmed by duties. In addition, she could have saved time – which was limited – since a prominent aspect of teamwork is efficient use of resources especially time (Constructing Excellence, 2004). Lastly, downplaying the role of teamwork underutilizes the potential of a firm and thus Penny Black and her firm are not performing to their capacity. Actually, teams are synonymous with efficiency, effectiveness, better communication, unity of purpose and morale (Warrick, 2014). Below is a suggested team for the project:
Figure 3: Suggested team for the project
Source: Drawn by Author.
3.7. Managing costs and risks
According to Schwalbe (2009), project cost management concerns the processes that are required for the project to be completed within the intended budget. The main tasks involved here are cost estimation and cost control. Shwabbe (2009) further notes that a cost baseline is used in order to monitor the usage of funds across different phases of a project. Cost management would thus be imperative for Penny Black as she would be able to firstly, estimate the budget for the entire project and secondly, identify deviations from the estimations and consequently offer remedies. For example, the daily incurred cost of 3000 pounds due because the cranes could not work in windy conditions can be a huge deviation from estimations and can thus be minimized or recovered along the project’s lifetime. However, lack of proper cost management means such a case can go unnoticed. On the same note, the lack of risk assessment made the firm unprepared for weather uncertainties. Risk management involves the identification, assessment, mitigation and monitoring of risks. According to Lee, Loo and Hong (2013), ignoring risks and focusing on profits or rather productivity results in additional costs that can be avoided and delays – especially in the case of environmental risks. Penny Black and the firm could therefore benefit a lot from risk management as they would avoid delays and extra costs. Lastly, it is essential for firms in the chemical industry to overrun their budget by up to 70% in order to prepare for contingencies (Hollmann, 2014).
3.8. Proper monitoring and control criterion
The main purpose of project monitoring and control is to ensure that project managers and project teams are making satisfactory progress towards the project goals. This is achieved through keeping track of cost, time, quality and scope and ensuring that there are no deviations from the goals (Gudda, 2011). By using monitoring and control and quality assurance, Penny Black and the firm would have avoided mistakes such as wrong orders (procurement) that led to reworks, reduce costs and concentrate on improvement. Furthermore they would save on time given a few months into the project it was still barely started. Grabbit and Scarper and Sons Limited also lacked an elaborate documented quality control plan and thus there was no way of telling whether the project is up to standard or not. According to Hill (2014), a project needs to have a quality control plan that involves all stakeholders. Moreover, monitoring control is a proven way of ensuring that managers, such as Penny Black, do not over commit funds in a project as they try to undo their previous mistakes (Chong and Suryawati, 2010).
In managing any project, concepts on project management stand out as fundamental guidelines as to what needs to be done. Failure of adopting these requirements leads to project failure and frustrations along the project’s lifetime. This case is evidenced by Penny Black and the role in project management at Grabbit and Scarper and Sons Limited. The firm, despite being successful, has issues in terms or recruiting the right personnel and also fails to create teams required to run the project. Penny Black starts off a project that does not involve stakeholders and lacks a proper definition and plan. Additionally, she makes mistakes along the way attributing to the lack of proper documentation. However, as evidenced in this report, the application of project management concepts such as project definition, planning, documentation, stakeholder involvement, monitoring and control and cost and risk management, would have been paramount in the success of the project.
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