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Question: Mount King Books Publishing was stablished two years ago by two friends, Jim King, and Brad Mount, who met in college while studying in Philadelphia, USA.

07 May 2023,4:51 PM


Mount King Books Publishing

Mount King Books Publishing was stablished two years ago by two friends, Jim King, and Brad Mount, who met in college while studying in Philadelphia, USA. Their business was successful and profitable in the first two years, largely due to contracts from two big businesses. The business was successful and profitable in the first two years, primarily due to contracts from two significant businesses. However, by the end of the third year, the company faced critical problems: they were unable to leverage all the new employees effectively, deliver eBooks to their customers on schedule, provide quality texts, or control costs.

In their third year of operation, they became very busy thanks to their third significant customer, a local college that required customized eBooks. They hired several part-time employees to help with their publishing business, but the printing orders from the college turned out to be very challenging.

Each customized eBook had different production steps, contents, and reprint approvals required, and different layouts and cover designs. Each eBook was a complex process that was produced just once, as these eBooks were all customized for each professor and course each semester. Each eBook had to be delivered on time and had to match precisely what the professors requested.

Understanding what each eBook needed had to be clearly documented and understood before starting production. Each eBook required a separate job order prepared that listed all the necessary steps 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 Mount King Books.

Printing orders from college turned out to be very challenging. Not all new student hires were trained for all the printing and binding equipment used to print and assemble books. Some of them often made mistakes, some workers were called off from work due to other demands, and there were often not enough people available to finish all the work 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 fixing defects in their products. Deliveries started slipping past their requested dates and times and the local college was unhappy as their eBook products reached campus late for use by professors and students.

To address these issues, Jim King asked Samantha, one of the new part-time employees hired who had taken a project management course at college, to join them as a project associate or project manager to introduce project management practices and help them tide over their current crisis.

Samantha starts developing a template for job orders. This template should list all possible tasks that should be performed in producing an eBook for the college. These tasks could be broken down into different phases of the work.

  • In the Receive Order phase, the order should be received by Mount King Books from the professor or the college, checked and verified, and a job order started. In checking and verifying each order, the customer representative should ensure they have the requester's name, email, phone number; the date needed; and a full list of all the contents. They should also verify that they have received all materials that were supposed to be included with that order and have fully identified all of the items they need to request permissions. Any problems found in checking and verifying should be resolved by contacting the professor.
  • In the Plan Order phase, all desktop publishing work is planned, estimated, and assigned to production staff. Also, the production effort to collate and produce the eBook is identified, estimated, 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. Once approved by quality, each of the requested eBook formats is created. A second quality check ensures that each requested format is prepared 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, not to 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.

In her new role as a project manager, Samantha was also trying to institute risk management. She looked at what was happening in the business, talked about it with the owners and employees and heard about the college's unhappiness. As she did this, she started identifying 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.

Within nine months, Samantha had fully turned things around and enhanced communication with stakeholders significantly. Brad and Jim noted that the company delivered projects on schedule, the quality processes worked, and customers were happy with the products!

Complete the following tasks based on the Mount King Books Publishing scenario.

  1. Professional report writing: Well-written and structured, properly formatted, and correctly referenced reports are essential in all business environments. Your report's presentation, style, and grammar (organization) will be considered.                                                    [5 Marks]
  2. Briefly explain why Mount King Books Publishing struggled in the third year and what specific PM solutions you would suggest if you were the PM.                                      [10 points]
  3. Assume you have some time until the beginning of the new school year. Apply the risk management process to develop a short risk management plan for the case project.

       [10 points]

  1. Risk identification: Make a list of reasonable risks you can identify from the case.
  2. Risk assessment: Map all the risks identified in the FMEA table (using the format found in Table 1). 
  3. Risk treatment: For the top FOUR risks from (b), justify your risk values, and develop a 'Risk Register' showing your perceptions of the main risks involved in the case project.


Table 1 Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA)

Risk Event



Detection Difficulty

Risk Value

Project Stage



















Use the Weights: 1 = ‘low’ to 5 = ‘high’

Table 3 Risk Register

Risk Event



Contingency Plan


Who is Responsible

























          *Severity value as identified - per FMEA table

  1. 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?                     [10 points]
  2. Briefly describe the four elements of the PM triangle for this project. What trade-offs can be made for this project? Insert a completed Priority Matrix for this project; then, briefly justify your priority choices.                                                                                         [10 points]
  3. Who are the stakeholders in these eBook projects? How are they involved in or affected by an eBook project?                                                                                                  [10 points]
  4. Why is it important to have a defined project scope? Why is it important to make sure there is agreement about the scope?                                                                                  [5 points]
  5. Create a Work Breakdown Structure for an eBook project (a full diagram). Think about the major phases of work for making an eBook, the steps in each phase, and whether you can identify any sub-steps for any of the steps.                                                       [10 points]
  6. Mount King Books 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 her on-campus courses, graduate seminars, and executive education courses. This is the most complex eBook that Mount King Books has undertaken. Because this project is so important to the professor and will be used in so many different settings with different schedules, Samantha should make sure that she had her complete eBook request early to allow sufficient time for production. Propose at least two options for accelerating this project's completion. Discuss how your proposed options may affect the project cost.                                                                                                                               [11 points]
  7. Mount King Books Publishing is continuing to grow. Now they have a lot of experience from the eBook projects they have completed for a local college. Samantha started collecting data using projects' close-out reports to examine the frequency of the issues causing project delays. The histogram below shows the results.


Surprisingly she identified delays in obtaining necessary reprint permissions from certain publishers were the largest cause of problems. Production staff calling in sick was the next most frequent problem, and customer changes were the root cause of another 20% of the issues. Looking at this analysis, what recommendations might you make to address the three key problem areas in eBook projects?                                                                     [10 points]

  1. The team at Mount King Books is brainstorming ideas for the cover design of their new book. One team member suggests a minimalist approach, while another suggests a more colorful and detailed design. However, the team leader expresses a strong preference for a specific design and urges the team to agree with their choice. As the discussion continues, other team members begin to align with the leader's preference, even if they don't necessarily agree with it.

What type of team decision making bias being displayed in this scenario? Propose at least two solutions that can be implemented to prevent or reduce the negative effects of such biases on the decision-making process.                                                                    [9 points]


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