Project management: Tianjin Cui Ping Lake Holiday Cottage Project

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i Executive summary

 

This study is focusing on building up a cottage along the beautiful Jixian Cui Ping Lake in the north China, we start by introducing the lake as well as some assumptions in the case and then we continue to analyze the activities necessary in the project of the construction then we also critically discuss the problems and such discussion are follow by recommendations to address some issues identified.

ii Content page

 

i Executive summary………………………………………………………………………………………… 1

ii Content page………………………………………………………………………………………………… 2

iii List of charts, figures and tables…………………………………………………………………….. 4

Tianjin Cui Ping Lake Holiday Cottage Project……………………………………………………. 5

  1. Introduction……………………………………………………………………………………………… 5

1.1      Brief introduction of Tianjin Cui Ping Lake and case background………….. 5

1.2      List of the assumptions……………………………………………………………………… 6

1.3      Report objectives……………………………………………………………………………… 6

1.3.1     To provide a viable project plan regarding how the cottage could be built   6

1.3.2     To list out the resources needed and how the resourced could be realized   7

1.3.3     To analyze the relationship between the major activities………………. 7

1.3.4     To list out the challenges and difficulties…………………………………… 7

1.3.5     To provide suggestions to the addressing of the challenges identified. 7

  1. Findings…………………………………………………………………………………………………… 7

2.1      List the activities necessary to accomplish the project…………………………… 7

2.2      Estimated time and resources required for each activity………………………… 8

2.3      Check list of resources required in the activities…………………………………. 10

  1. Analysis………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 11

3.1      Constraints of some resources………………………………………………………….. 11

3.1.1     Limited local supply of higher management talents in the district.. 11

3.1.2     Lack of experience in the staff to make outbound calls……………… 12

3.1.3     Difficulties in obtaining the bank loan……………………………………… 12

3.2      An overall project time span…………………………………………………………….. 13

3.3      A network diagram that takes into account all available resources………… 13

3.4      The critical path and the duration of the plan…………………………………….. 14

3.5      Potential problems and challenges…………………………………………………….. 17

3.5.1     Cost control issues………………………………………………………………… 17

3.5.2     Leadership styles choices and personal accountability……………….. 17

  1. Recommendations……………………………………………………………………………………. 18

4.1      Open to changes in planning……………………………………………………………. 18

4.2      Leadership behaviors: provide coaching to the members……………………… 18

  1. Conclusions…………………………………………………………………………………………….. 19

v Reference…………………………………………………………………………………………………… 20

iii List of charts, figures and tables

 

Table 1 Estimated time and resources required for each activity……………………… 9

Table 2 Check list of resources required in the activities………………………………. 11

Table 3 Calculation of the earliest start time, earliest finish time, latest start time for each activity      15

Table 4 Activity slacks…………………………………………………………………………….. 16

Figure 1 The Tianjin Cui Ping Lake (in the middle)……………………………………….. 5

Figure 2 The network diagram showing the relationship among the events…….. 13

Tianjin Cui Ping Lake Holiday Cottage Project

 

 

1.        Introduction

 

1.1    Brief introduction of Tianjin Cui Ping Lake and case background

Figure 1 The Tianjin Cui Ping Lake (in the middle)

Source: maps.google.com 2012

 

Tianjin Cui Ping Lake is located in the Jixian District of Tianjin City, north part of China, and because it is sitting along the south of the Cui Ping Mountain it is named as Cui Ping Lake. The lake is broad and its length from west side to the east side exceeds 35 kilometers. Sitting along the south of the Cui Ping Mountain, and also it is only 4 kilometers from the center of the district (though it is a remote district from the city), the lake has a wonder natural view as well as profound production of various fruits, fish and other natural resources. In the recent years, Tianjin Cui Ping Lake is also nick named as Swan Lake because of the hundreds of swans living in the area centering the lake.

 

Attracted by its natural beauty, I and some of my friends recently spent a week vacationing at the lakeside attraction. After a week of swimming, fishing, water skiing, and golfing in this picturesque setting, we had decided to build a vacation house on the shore of the lake. The purpose of the vacation home is not only to serve ourselves, but also as a business venture to be rented out as an exclusive lakeside holiday cottage for other project management in the city.

 

1.2    List of the assumptions

 

Regarding the member of the team, we assume that all of us are from the senior management in different industries, but we were all Chinese classmates and students studying MBA in HELP University College several years ago.

 

Regarding the economic and social conditions of the Jixian District, we assume that they are still far away from development and therefore the availability of the human talents in the local labor market would be restricted.

 

Though the members of us are professional in their industry, we do not have the talents in designing a cottage which could be quite complicated though many of us have ideas how in general the cottage could be built into, in term of the layout of the house and what entertaining facilities should be equipped in and around the cottage.

 

1.3    Report objectives

 

1.3.1            To provide a viable project plan regarding how the cottage could be built

 

1.3.2            To list out the resources needed and how the resourced could be realized

 

1.3.3            To analyze the relationship between the major activities

 

1.3.4            To list out the challenges and difficulties

 

1.3.5            To provide suggestions to the addressing of the challenges identified

 

2.        Findings

 

2.1    List the activities necessary to accomplish the project

 

A Check the possibility of building up a cottage near the Cui Ping Lake (legal regulation and local government support)

 

B Candidate site identification and selection (Pick up several fields of land that are appropriate and suitable to build up the cottage)

 

C Design the purposes of the cottages (target customers, positioning) according to the selected site

 

D Identify the detail functions of the cottage as well as the facilities needed to be built into the cottage

 

E Identify the materials of the certain facilities

 

F Draw an initial painting regarding how the cottages would look like when the construction is finished

 

G While designing the purposes of the cottages, we will also enact the contract to buy the land from the government

 

H After identifying what the purposes of the cottages, we will visit the relevant government officials regarding our plan with the enacted contract and try to obtain support from them which is essential

 

I After getting the approval from the government officials, we will proceed to the National Land Department to get the permission to start the construction project

 

J Marketing the cottage as the holiday destination for business (We begin to get in frequent contact with the tourism agency and also the other project teams to attract potential target customers)

 

K Sign a contract with a local construction project team after getting the approval from the National Land Department and outsource the construction and ask the selected construction team to build the blueprint according to the draft design (the draw)

 

L Plan the budgeting and action

 

M. Monitoring the implementation

 

N. Finishing of the construction and at the same time welcome the first group of visitors

 

2.2    Estimated time and resources required for each activity

 

Activity Estimated time (days) Estimated resources Volume
A Check the possibility of building up a cottage 2 Need to consult with the professionals in the legal fields as well as the tourism development
B Candidate site identification and selection 30 Transportation tool
C Design the purposes of the cottages 10 Sample design of successful cottages with the similar purposes 5 to 8
D Identify the detail functions of the cottage as well as the facilities 10
E Identify the materials of the certain facilities 5 Professionals in the tourism facilities purchasing
F Draw an initial painting regarding how the cottages would look like when the construction is finished 10
G While designing the purposes of the cottages, we will also enact the contract to buy the land from the government 70 Legal talents
H Visit the relevant government officials regarding our plan with the enacted contract 15 Money (to lobby the government officials in term of gifts) About 50,000 RMB
I Proceed to the National Land Department to get the permission to start the construction project 18 Transportation tool and money (to lobby the government officials in term of gifts) About 20,000 RMB
J Marketing the cottage as the holiday destination for business 5 A staff to make outbound call, and money to pay for the marketing efforts, also a marketing manager is needed to plan these marketing activities About 100,000 RMB plus the salaries
K Outsource the construction and ask the selected construction team to build the blueprint according to the draft design 80 Money About 400,000 RMB
L Plan the budgeting and action 90
M Monitoring the implementation 60 Monitoring staffs Salaries
N Finishing of the construction and at the same time welcome the first group of visitors 0

Table 1 Estimated time and resources required for each activity

 

2.3    Check list of resources required in the activities

 

A checklist is a type of informational job aid used to reduce failure by compensating for potential limits of human memory and attention (Flynn 2007), and a project management checklist is an essential tool to “quick start” any project. We will need to check that everything we need is in place. The questions in this project management checklist are designed to help manage the project successfully (Heldman 2011). From the above table regarding the estimated time and resources spent in each activity, we make a project management checklist regarding the resources needed in the project in the various activities:

 

Resources Relevant activities How it is found Examined
Tourism development professionals A Check the possibility of building up a cottage Seek assistance from our friends and families
Transportation tool B Candidate site identification and selection

I Proceed to the National Land Department to get the permission to start the construction project

Rent a car

 

Sample design of successful cottages with the similar purposes C Design the purposes of the cottages Online resources and books and magazine
Professionals in the tourism facilities purchasing E Identify the materials of the certain facilities Seek assistance from our friends and families
Money H Visit the relevant government officials regarding our plan with the enacted contract

I Proceed to the National Land Department to get the permission to start the construction project

J Marketing the cottage as the holiday destination for business

K Outsource the construction and ask the selected construction team to build the blueprint according to the draft design

M Monitoring the implementation

Collected fund from the members of the team (in the beginning stage); bank loan or risk investment

Hiring employees

A staff to make outbound call

A marketing manager

Monitoring staffs

J Marketing the cottage as the holiday destination for business

M Monitoring the implementation

Local labor market, head hunter, invite talents from our friends, old classmates and families

Table 2 Check list of resources required in the activities

 

3.        Analysis

 

3.1    Constraints of some resources

 

3.1.1            Limited local supply of higher management talents in the district

 

As mentioned above, Tianjin Ji Xian District is a remote district of the Tianjin City, to put it straight, the economy development level in the area is still very low compared to the urban areas, therefore one major constraint of the human resources that are needed in project is the limited local supply of higher management talents in the district. Just like Shanghai and Beijing drawing the best Chinese talent away from the rest of China, leaving the other cities to struggle with the people they can convince to stay there, who usually are not as smart and talented (chinavortex.com 2008), the same theory applies to the differences between the underdeveloped areas and the developed areas. Place like Jixian is somewhat like a poor county, as a result, we will expect to have limited local supply of good talents we need to best handle this project in particular in the senior management positions. But still we will try to look at the local labor market first before we turn to the more expensive way of hiring, the headhunters.

 

3.1.2            Lack of experience in the staff to make outbound calls

 

As mentioned above, we plan to hire a common staff to handle of the daily office work as well as marketing the cottage as the holiday destination for business to the various parties such as the tourism agencies and other project companies, and this staff we will certainly hire from the local labor market due to the cost considerations, but one major and key constrain of this supply of local talent in this position is that, because of the underdevelopment of the customer service and marketing industry, we expect that the staff we will be able to obtain in the local labor market may lack of the necessary experience to work as a good telephone sale staff to market our holiday cottage package.

 

3.1.3            Difficulties in obtaining the bank loan

 

Though we are building up a cottage along a beautiful lake which is also a quite well known place of interest in the city, but it does not necessarily mean that we will absolutely get the bank loan from the major commercial banks even some of the team members do have profound experience in applying for the loans from the commercial bank. The cottage construction project is a small project in term of the fund amount needed, and under the current market conditions, small and medium-sized companies in many cities are getting hit hard by the credit crunch, which the central authorities have imposed on companies to stem speculative investments and slow inflation, also there are widespread accounts of smaller businesses struggling to gain access to credit (businessweek.com 2011), as a result we anticipate some difficulties in obtaining the bank loan as we plan, we may need to require the members of us to share the additional capital needs if the access to the bank loans is denied.

 

3.2    An overall project time span

 

3.3    A network diagram that takes into account all available resources

Figure 2 The network diagram showing the relationship among the events

 

The network diagram above shows the relationship among the events in term of preconditions of each evens, for example, only after the stage of “Candidate site identification and selection” (Pick up several fields of land that are appropriate and suitable to build up the cottage), we finalize the place of field that we want, then we can begin two major events: one is to start building up the design of the blueprint that we are finally outsource to a third party construction project team; and another one major event is to obtain the official approval and authorization from the relevant governmental departments to begin the project. Hence only when these two major tasks are finished, we can continue one major step which is to hire a third party construction team to begin the construction project. And also once we obtain the approval from the relevant government departments, it means that we can legally start the plan and no additional political force interference or legal dispute regarding the approval of the project will be anticipated in the future, then at the same time while we discuss the project with the third party construction team, we already can start to build up the market channel and network which could be not started after the finishing of the cottage because vacancy also means a waste and lose of potential profit.

 

3.4    The critical path and the duration of the plan

 

The critical path refers to the identification of the longest sequence of activities from a project’s start to finished, and it determines the longest path or sequence of activities on the network diagram (Andongndou , Pressler & Marsh 2009, p. 82), it is useful the check the critical path because it not only determines the duration of the project that will be affected by the delay in the critical path activities while others could sustain some float which refers the amount of time an activity could be delayed without affecting the duration of the project as whole. Below we will calculate the activity earliest start time, earliest finish time, latest start time and latest finish time in tables.

Activity number: A Earliest start: 0 Earliest finish: 2
Activity duration: 2 Latest start: 0 Latest finish: 2
     
Activity number: B Earliest start: 2 Earliest finish: 32
Activity duration: 30 Latest start: 2 Latest finish: 32
     
Activity number: C Earliest start: 32 Earliest finish: 42
Activity duration: 10 Latest start: 92 Latest finish: 102
     
Activity number: D Earliest start: 42 Earliest finish: 52
Activity duration: 10 Latest start:110 Latest finish: 120
     
Activity number: E Earliest start: 52 Earliest finish: 57
Activity duration: 5 Latest start: 120 Latest finish: 125
     
Activity number: F Earliest start: 57 Earliest finish: 67
Activity duration: 10 Latest start: 125 Latest finish: 135
     
Activity number: G Earliest start: 32 Earliest finish: 102
Activity duration: 70 Latest start: 32 Latest finish: 102
     
Activity number: H Earliest start: 102 Earliest finish: 117
Activity duration: 15 Latest start: 102 Latest finish: 117
     
Activity number: I Earliest start: 117 Earliest finish: 135
Activity duration: 18 Latest start: 117 Latest finish: 135
     
Activity number: J Earliest start: 135 Earliest finish: 140
Activity duration: 5 Latest start: 210 Latest finish: 215
     
Activity number: K Earliest start: 135 Earliest finish: 215
Activity duration: 80 Latest start: 135 Latest finish: 215
     
Activity number: L Earliest start: 215 Earliest finish: 305
Activity duration: 90 Latest start: 215 Latest finish: 305
     
Activity number: M Earliest start: 305 Earliest finish: 365
Activity duration: 60 Latest start: 305 Latest finish: 365

Table 3 Calculation of the earliest start time, earliest finish time, latest start time for each activity

 

Based on the above table, we list out the activity slacks as following:

Activity no. Slack
A 0
B 0
C 60
D 68
E 68
F 68
G 0
H 0
I 0
J 75
K 0
L 0
M 0

Table 4 Activity slacks

 

Therefore the critical path would be from A to B to G to H to I to K to L and ending in M. And the estimated minimum duration for the project based on the above analysis would be 365 days, one year.

 

 

 

 

 

3.5    Potential problems and challenges

 

3.5.1            Cost control issues

 

During the execution of a project, procedures for project control and record keeping become indispensable tools to management and other participants in the construction process. The problems of project control are aptly summed up in an old definition of a project as “any collection of vaguely related activities that are ninety percent complete, over budget and late.” The task of project control is to give a fair indication of the existence and the extent of such problems (ce.cmu.edu 2011). There are two major factors influencing the cost of the actual project in implementation compared to our plan: one key factor is the ongoing economic inflation which drives up the prices of major construction materials as well as the goods necessary to equip and decorate the cottage; another major factor that could also add to the total cost is the possible delay of the activities because a longer time means more pay to the workers and also pay to the management.

 

3.5.2            Leadership styles choices and personal accountability

 

Leadership has been described as the “process of social influence in which one person can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task (Chamorro-Premuzic 2007, p. 144), according to Kurt Lewin (1939) who led a group of researchers to identify different styles of leadership, there are three major leadership styles. The three major styles of leadership are: Authoritarian or autocratic, Participative or democratic and Delegative or Free Reign. One possible challenges is that in this project team which is formed because of a shared vision to commercialize the beautiful lakeside view into a business tour site, therefore in my understanding and plan, I will use a participative or democratic leadership style to encourage the participation of the members and make them part of the decision making process. But my concern is that people may have different imagination about the cottage design and purposes, and also another major issue is how the tasks are assigned to the members in term of personal accountability in the whole process because some tasks may be welcome widely by the members while people will be unwilling to do some tasks (such as some dirty jobs that need to get hand dirty).

 

4.        Recommendations

 

4.1    Open to changes in planning

 

In planning the project, there are uncertainties such as “we can not find the sample of the design of other successful cottages with similar purposes” and even “the government request us to relocate the cottage to a new site” and so on, therefore, we need to prepare the knowledge, skills, tools, money and techniques to manage these changes when they happen and therefore redesign the activities to meet the changed project requirements. This openness to change should be integrated in the planning stages by proposing more optional solutions and alternatives to the key activities and those that come with a high failure rate.

 

4.2    Leadership behaviors: provide coaching to the members

 

Business coaching is a more generic term and refers to any coaching activity that takes place in an organizational setting, based on the view of Peter Bluckert (2006, p.1), business coaching can facilitate a more performance focused business culture. And in our project, though the group of us is not a long term existing team and we come together to do a project because of the beautiful lake, but still we need to form a performance oriented culture that could take us into better results. Hence, coaching could be an important method to help form such a healthy culture.

 

5.        Conclusions

 

With the analysis above, we can conclude that with the check list made, we have sufficient resources to complete the activities we have identified in our plan to finally contribute to the finishing of a cottage project alongside the beautiful and natural Jixian Cui Ping Lake. In addition, we have identified some possible challenges such as leadership styles choices as well as cost control issues, and we have provided some solutions and recommendations regarding how they might be dealt with. Still there are more consultations need to be done by us in order to make a more detail plan that is acceptable.

 

 

v Reference

 

Andongndou , W., Pressler, R. & Marsh, R. 2009, FCS Project Management L3. Cape Town: Pearson Education South Africa (Pty) Ltd. p. 82

 

Bluckert, P. 2006, Psychological dimensions of executive coaching. New York: Open University Press. p.1

 

businessweek.com 2011. Small Companies in China Feel the Squeeze: Formal banks won’t lend. The gray market charges 300 percent a year. viewed on 18 Mar 2012. Link: http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/small-companies-in-china-feel-the-squeeze-08112011.html

 

Ce.cmu.edu 2011. 12. Cost Control, Monitoring and Accounting. viewed on 18 Mar 2012. Link: http://pmbook.ce.cmu.edu/12_Cost_Control,_Monitoring,_and_Accounting.html

 

Chamorro-Premuzic, T. 2007, Personality and individual differences. London: Blackwell Publishing. p. 144

 

Chinavortex.com 2008. China’s Biggest Challenge for Developing the West. viewed on 18 Mar 2012. Link: http://www.chinavortex.com/2008/03/chinas-biggest-challenge-for-developing-the-west/

 

Flynn, J. R. 2007. What Is Intelligence?: Beyond the Flynn Effect. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

 

Heldman, K. 2011. Project Management JumpStart. Danver, MA: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

 

Lewin, K., LIippit, R. and White, R. K. (1939). Patterns of aggressive behavior in experimentally created social climates. Journal of Social Psychology, 10, 271-301

 

maps.google.com 2012. Search of the key word “翠屏湖”. viewed on 18 Mar 2012. Link: http://maps.google.com/maps?hl=zh-CN&q=%E7%BF%A0%E5%B1%8F%E6%B9%96&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_cp.,cf.osb&biw=1205&bih=720&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=wl