Sim335 managing projects | Business & Finance homework help

Category: Business & Finance

This is an individual assignment-please complete both tasks 1 and 2


Both tasks relate to the units in the module guide and the attached case study.  It is advised that you read the case study thoroughly before attempting the tasks.


Task 1 (40% marks)500 words (+/- 10%) each short answer question requires a response in a few sentences for the questions awarded up to 4-6 marks and a paragraph for questions awarded up to 8-10 marks.


1) What are the core principles/characteristics of any project and why are they important?

 (8 marks).

2) Explain how you would have defined the scope of this project (6 marks).

3) What difference would it have made if Penny Black had plotted out a full project Gantt chart and critical path? (6 marks).

4) What method(s) would you employ for cost management and why? (4 marks).

5) How would you have assessed and managed the risks on this project (6 marks).

6) What quality methods (project evaluation and control) are missing in this case study and which ones would you have imposed (10 marks).


Task 2 (60% marks) A case study report of 2500 words (+/- 10%)


Please read the attached case study of Grabbit and Scarper and Sons Limited


Identify the mistakes made by the company and Penny Black and then write a report stating how these errors should have been addressed by applying a range of project management concepts introduced in the module such as project definition, project scope, developing teams, leadership and management.


Assignment guidelines:


The assignment should be written as a formal academic report with a clear introduction and logical presentation of points (2500 words +/- 10%).  The Harvard referencing style is required for citations; a word count must be noted.


Fictitious Case Study: Grabbit and Scarper & Sons Limited


Grabbit and Scarper & Sons Limited is a family owned business.  Mr Grabbit’s great-grandfather started the company in 1910 and since partnering with Alan Scarper’s Manufacturing in 1990, the operation has now grown to an internationally renowned company manufacturing pharmaceutical products.  It is based close to a new airport in the North East of England with good road, rail and sea links.  The annual turnover has now grown to 50 million pounds sterling in 2014. 


Both families are actively involved in the running of the company. The Grabbits’ have 4 family members in senior positions, William Grabbit is Chief Executive, his brother, George is Plant Manager; youngest brother Liam Grabbit is IT Manager and their sister, Sue Grabbit is Director of Human Resources and when Alan Scarper retired in 2010, his two sons Simon and Stephen Scarper joined the company to develop the overseas business and are currently located in Germany.  The company has been so successful that Sue Grabbit appointed Penny Black to join the team and in the first instance, to take over responsibility for the project management of a special project in the North East, with a view to then managing a new plant in the USA within the next 5 years.


Penny Black


Penny Black is a young Chemical Engineer.  She was top of her year from a world leading university and has previous work experience of plant manager roles in the chemical industry.  She has worked in the USA, Europe and lately, Paris but returned home to the North East to take care of her aged parents who both required daily help to be able stay in their home.  Penny’s husband Paul is unable to join her as he has a senior position in Paris and had agreed to a 5 year contract, so both Penny and her husband travel backwards and forward to see each other whenever it is possible.


Penny was delighted to be given the opportunity to join Grabbit and Scarper & Sons Limited, as she believed the family run business was just the type of organisation she wanted to work in at this time in her life.  She was also looking  forward to the chance to work in America again.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               


Penny Black’s new job


After leaving her last job, as Assistant Plant Manager and with her husband still in Paris, Penny Black spent a few weeks at home with her parents, organising appropriate day care help and seeing to some minor repairs and redecorating.  Her husband was able to fly to England for a week before Penny started her new job, so she felt very confident and excited about her new role.  After a reluctant parting, Penny’s husband flew back to his job on the Sunday before Penny started her new job on the first Monday in September. She turned up at the entrance gate half an hour early.  The gateman said she was not on the visiters’ rota for that day and could not be admitted as Grabbit and Scarper & Sons Limited was a top-tier COMAH (Control of major accidents and hazards) site.  Penny showed the gateman the appointment letter with the start date from Sue Grabbit and asked him to telephone her.  The gateman said Sue Grabbit had been called away on a

critical human resources issue at one of their other plants in Europe and would not be back for several weeks, and besides, her letter could have been a forgery.  He had not been told there were any new starters that day.  Penny then suggested calling one of the other family members and was told that he was not allowed to do that as it was not the company’s policy so she would have to wait until one of them turned up for work.  As it was Monday morning, they were not expected so early.  Penny was exasperated but had no alternative but to sit and wait.  She was told to move her car away from the entrance gate.  Several cars came and eventually George Grabbit, the Plant Manager arrived full of apologies that the paper work and company site pass card had not yet reached Penny;  relieved to be inside the plant and ready to start work, Penny started to relax.


Her relief did not last long when George told her that the employees, rather than management’s car park was just over 500 metres from where her office was located.  Penny thought the title ‘Project Manager’ would fit the criteria for ‘management’ but George said it was better she mixes with her staff, car parking and the canteen came into that category.  It started to rain heavily as Penny made her way from the car park, which seemed more like a kilometre from the office block.  The offices were housed in a grim looking Victorian building with vacant car parking spaces in front.  Penny could see George’s black Audi parked in a side car park to the left of the building, again with over twenty vacant spots.  On entering the building, the rain from Penny’s suit dripped steadily around her as the receptionist continued with her telephone call.  After a few minutes, Penny was feeling decidedly uncomfortable and started to fidget and cough to attract the receptionist’s attention, but she merely turned a swizzle in her chair and looked away out of the window as she continued her call.  Penny turned around to see a seat behind her and just as she moved to sit down the receptionist, called, “Name!” her telephone pleasantries evaporated in an instant, “Name!” she called again as Penny stepped forward, stunned at the young’ girl’s rudeness but before she could speak, George Grabbit appeared from a side door to her left.

“Mrs Black!  You are drenched, let me show you to your office and there are some new overalls you can change into.  I’m sure Debbie will have bought the right size for you. Debbie organise the coffee for us in my office will you and get maintenance to turn up the heating, its freezing in here.”  The telephone pleasantries returned in a flash as Debbie smiled at George, “of course Sir,” she said with a huge smile, but Penny did not miss the dismissal in her eyes as her gaze met Penny’s.  George showed Penny to her office which was just around the corner to the right of the reception desk and she was pleasantly surprised to see a neat, well organised room with a large window that looked out onto the plant.  The blue overalls were two sizes too big but at least they were warm and dry.  The office had a small bathroom attached so Penny was able to hang up her suit to dry as the warm air started to filter from the radiators.  Penny was just exploring her desk when George telephoned her to invite her to his office.  Over the coffee, he presented his project brief to her and told her about the future plans.

New orders and expansion overseas had meant the plant had to undergo an upgrade to include physical assets, mainly pumps and compressors.  In order to meet particularly important and long term orders for the USA but Penny now had only 6 and not 8 months, to complete the project. 

As she skimmed the briefing papers in front of her, Penny asked if the contractors had already been selected this was a very tight time-frame. 

“Of course, but not yet, that is the first job for you, I am sure I have a list somewhere of reliable guys we’ve used before, I’ll get that to you…” as George started to type into his computer the mobile phone on his desk started to ring.  He listened for a few minutes to his caller before asking Penny to come with him to a compressor house as there was a system failure.  He said he’d wait while she went back to his office to get the coat, hard hat and safety boots that had been ordered for her.  These were also two sizes too big but at least they would keep her dry in the now steady and very heavy, rainfall.

Penny was pleased to see George had a small van to get around the huge plant and she would have use of this too, when it was available that is, as it was used by the other supervisors on the plant.  As they drove through the knotted maze of pipes weaving between steel framed buildings the sheer size of the operation slowly started to dawn on her.  The plant was the size of small town and seemed to spread for miles.  Is every building operational, she queried.  I should hope so!  George cheerfully replied.


The rest of the day was a blur and little did Penny realise at the time, exactly what she had taken on.


The first few months.


Penny Black’s work on the tender documents was delayed as her computer had not been set up correctly.  Liam Grabbit the IT Manager was just out of university and although he certainly knew the latest IT systems he was somewhat relaxed in his attitude to work; more interested in his out-of-work activities than his commitment to the family firm, so Penny had to find someone else on the plant that was adept at the software.  This proved to be another young employee but he worked on a shift system so was not always available when a computing issue emerged.  Therefore, Penny spent an inordinate amount of time trying to find information and documents, and did not attend the daily staff meetings that were held by the shift managers.  She relied on the daily up-dates that were forwarded to her and George Grabbit.  She was pleased when she sent out the tenders to three approved pump manufacturers and installers, and three different companies specialising in compressors.




George was very much a ‘hands on’ manager and seemed to spend most of his days on the plant but as Penny quickly became overwhelmed by the amount of work to do in a diminishing time frame, it was not until two months had passed that she was to meet the Senior Shift Manager, Kevin Knowsit, who proved to be invaluable to her because of his knowledge of the operational issues and plant systems. On their first meeting Kevin Knowsit told her that the Site Engineer, Henry Hammer is the only one on the plant who has the exact specifications for the pumps and compressors, he also wrote the feasibility study that Penny had not seen either.  Unfortunately, Henry Hammer would not be back on site for another two months as he was in America looking for possible new development sites as part of  Grabbit and Scarper & Sons Limited’s overseas expansion.




One day that week, Kevin Knowsit knocked on her office door to ask why the cranes had been ordered.  3 large cranes had now arrived on site.  Penny explained to him that she had ordered them to move the old compressors, pumps and debris that blocked the way for the new build but Kevin said she had not conducted an inventory to shut off that section of the plant, and that shut down should have been completed before the cranes were brought on to the site.  That process would take another two weeks.  Penny said to inform the crane drivers that they would have to come back in two weeks, but Kevin advised that once the cranes were on site, they remained, that was part of the contract.




With Kevin’s help, Penny spent the rest of the day planning for the shut-off to that section of the plant but over the next two weeks the weather turned more uncertain.  As it was now early November, and the plant was close to the sea, the wind speed off the sea was often very high.    The cranes could not be operated above a wind speed of 12 metres per second and the average wind speed for those weeks was 15 metres per second; because Penny had not written a ‘windage’ clause into the contract for the cranes, the client, Grabbit and Scraper & Sons Limited, had to pay a standing charge for each day and at £1000.00 per crane, this was a loss of £3000.00 per day, including weekends, to date the cranes had been idle for over two weeks.



After her meeting with Kevin Knowsit, Penny realised with a deepening sense of horror that not only had she made mistakes over the ordering and timing of the cranes, she had also ordered the wrong pumps and compressors.  This meant that the civil work that she had authorised to start was now also wrong, the concrete plinths for the new compressors were too small, but as luck would have it, only one had been built, she could agree a change-order for that to be improved, but after speaking again with Kevin, as she had to walk back across the plant to her office in the pouring rain again, as the van was being used, she felt her career was slowly coming to an end.  She slumped in her chair and felt like resigning, she knew the project was now going terribly wrong and spiralling out of control.  As she sat staring at her computer in a daze, her mobile phone rang and it was her parents’ day carer informing her that her mother had suffered a fall and was in hospital waiting for an X ray on a broken wrist.  Her Father had become distressed and it was better she returns home as early as possible.  Penny tried to phone her administration team for help to contact Henry Hammer but was told the assistant’s last day was yesterday as she was now on maternity leave, so the receptionist Debbie, said that she would try but as Henry Hammer’s mobile was often out of signal as he was on the East Coast of the USA and travelling, it was better Penny asks her questions by email and wait for Henry to reply, which often took several days for a response . Penny tried to do what she could but found she could not concentrate, so left for home.


After several days, she was able to catch up with Henry Hammer who sent the specification and feasibility study by email and gave a time that was best for Penny to ask questions on his mobile phone.  On seeing the proper specification and feasibility study, Penny realised with further anxiety that the rest of the materials she had ordered were also not correct. On listening to her concerns, Henry advised he would return to the UK early to try to salvage the project.  He disconnected the call.  He wrote an email telling her what she had to do in the meantime and that was apologise to the contractors and ask them to re-tender with the new and correct specifications.  She was advised by all the contractors that one of the compressors needed was only made in Germany and there was a 3 months lead-in time. 

On the first Monday in December a heavy snowfall stopped all of the tentative development work.  The pumps had arrived but were still in their containers, the civil engineers had not been able to do any more work in the snow, the cranes still stood idle.  Penny watched from her office window as Henry Hammer arrived in an airport taxi. He asked her to meet him in his office with all her paperwork.  He told her he was now taking over the project which had to be completely revised, the company had lost hundreds of thousands of pounds but as he felt some responsibility to leaving an inexperienced new employee in charge, he knew the Senior Management would support his decision to restart the project in the Spring and Penny could assist as a junior and learn how she should have approached a project of that scale. 



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