What Can Golf Teach Us About Project Management?

Project Management Lessons from GolfGolf has been described in many ways, from “a good walk spoiled” (Mark Twain), to “the most fun you can have without taking your clothes off” (Chi Chi Rodriguez, one of golf’s great legends). Regardless of how you feel about golf, or how much knowledge you have of the game, the basic principles of the game are clear: You take a club and try to hit a small, white ball into a hole some distance away in as few strokes as possible. Along the way, you’ll probably need to avoid hazards like sand traps, trees, and ponds, but eventually you’ll sink the ball and move on to the next hole.

The basic principles of project management can seem similarly straightforward: You take some people (preferably smart) and complete the project. There’s a general assumption that you will need some time to complete the tasks, some meetings with your project team, and a budget to purchase what you need, but ultimately you will “get it done.”

While both may look fairly simple from the outside, any golfer or project manager will likely agree that the devil is in the details – and those details can make or break the success of your game or project. Continue reading

“I Can’t be Overdrawn. I Still Have Checks Left”: Project Portfolio Management and Checkbooks

Project Portfolio Management“I can’t be overdrawn. I still have checks left.” We have all heard this before, or at least know the intended meaning. It’s a reference to overspending and not being careful with your finances. After all, if you have checks left to use, then there must be funds to back them up, right?

Wrong! Not knowing how much money is left in the checking account leads to overdrafts. So why do some people avoid looking at the balance of their bank account? Because they don’t want any bad news, which they know is waiting for them when they finally do look.

How does this apply to project portfolio management and further to a Project Management Office (PMO)? Continue reading

How to Keep Your Project Charter from Gathering Pixel Dust

Updating Your Project Charter“Exactly how do you plan to get down from there?” asked my husband.

During the summer, I was out picking blackberries (the real ones, not the smartphones) and saw a wonderful patch of delicious-looking wild mountain blackberries. They were perfectly ripe and ready for pies and jam.

The patch, though, was growing over a large, rotting tree stump. As I climbed up the stump and through the vines to reach the berries, I used parts of the uneven stump as footholds. About half-way up the stump, part of it crumbled away just as I lifted my foot to move a little farther.

I was so focused on the goal – get the blackberries – that I forgot to pause, take stock of the situation and reassess my current status. I had encountered an issue, and I wasn’t even aware of it. In other words, my husband was right. I was rather stuck.

During any project, it’s easy to focus on moving forward toward the end goal. Each week, we update our status reports, add in the accomplishments since the previous report, maybe update a few of the issues, and change the percentage complete (ideally increasing it). Then, we submit the status report and hope it might merit a quick glance by someone in the PMO or, if we are really lucky, maybe even by one of our project stakeholders.

But as project managers, we often become so engrossed with managing the details of our projects that we forget to step back, take a look a where we’ve been, and evaluate our current situation.

Part way through your project, take an hour or so to evaluate your project from a 10,000 foot view. Continue reading