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Fleur’s Flowers was started four years ago by siblings Matt and Sarah Harris. The idea was to create an online flower store that delivered fresh flowers and floral decorations nationally along with occasional ‘pop-up’ stores. In the new business, Sarah focused on supplier sourcing and plant care while Matt focused on sales and marketing. Their business was successful and profitable in the first two years, largely due to contracts for floral event decorations. In their third year, they got very busy thanks to a viral video of a local wedding they supplied. Prospective global clients started reaching out to the company to do similar work for their events. They hired several part-time employees to help them with their floral business. But by the end of the third year of operation, Fleur’s Flowers started experiencing critical problems. They were: unable to leverage all the new employees effectively, unable to deliver arrangements to their customers on schedule and unable to provide quality blooms — time and money were being spent fixing defects in their products and training new employees. Unable to control costs — their business was not profitable in the third year. Fleur’s Flowers 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 international clients were unhappy as their decorations either arrived late or wilted. In some cases, the decorations were a week or two late. Since the events were time-sensitive the order needed to arrive on time and in great condition. One of the new part-time employees hired by Matt and Sarah, Chelsea, had taken a project management course at college. Chelsea was excited about the discipline of project management and had intentionally selected a job with Fleur’s Flowers as she saw an opportunity to use project management in a creative discipline. One day, Chelsea approached Matt and expressed her interest in helping the company with its logistical problems as she explained that she had taken a project management course. Matt was open to hearing what Chelsea had to say about the problems the company was facing and invited her for a lunch meeting. 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. Chelsea asked for more time to research all the issues but noted that Fleur’s Flowers, while being innovative, completed projects without a roadmap or a project plan and lacked a disciplined approach to project management. She noted that Matt and Sarah did not use any project software for scheduling and they did not use tools or techniques to estimate, budget or communicate with stakeholders. Finally, they had no processes in place to manage project risks and quality. Impressed with this and other conversations, Matt asked Chelsea if she would consider joining them as a project associate or project manager on a full-time basis to help them introduce project management practises and help them tide over their current crisis. Chelsea accepted the offer! She has several key skills—she is an excellent communicator with very good interpersonal skills and is 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 Chelsea had fully turned things around. Due to proactive risk analysis and risk response planning, surprises and issues were reduced. Communication with stakeholders was enhanced. Matt and Sarah noted that the company was delivering projects on schedule, the quality processes worked—and customers were happy with the arrangements.
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