Real World Project Management

I recently took part in a really well planned event and was impressed by the project management that went into making it such a success, despite some pretty serious challenges.

The Girl Power Triathlon was held in New Orleans for the first time in seven years, having been cancelled as a result of the impending doom that was Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Since that time, needed repairs to roads, facilities and infrastructure prevented the event from taking place.

This year, the event doubled in size from its 2005 level to more than 600 registered athletes. An army of volunteers handled registration, sponsorships, logistics, facilities, race governance and execution during days of heavy storms that threatened to again cancel the race.

As I was participating in the event, I realized this was a great example of how to execute a project. This team knew how to deal with increasing demand, handle roadblocks, keep stakeholders informed and shift resources where needed to keep up with delivery of key milestones.

Here’s what they did right:

Communication: From the day the race was announced to the day it was held, both the website (available in mobile and desktop versions) and Facebook were kept up to date with registration details, packet pickup times, race logistics and weather updates. Even as a first time competitor, I had no reason to pick up a phone to ask a question, and that saved on volunteer resources. Lesson: Communicate Via Multiple Channels.

Flexibility: Because of a major storm system heading into the race weekend (is this race cursed or what?!), there were various scenarios proposed for holding some type of tri-sport event while dealing with changing weather conditions. By keeping in contact with civil authorities, race organizers were able to be flexible about what kind of event would be held, in what sequence, at what time and on which route. Ultimately, the flexibility was needed as part of the bike course was under water.  The swim went on as scheduled, cycling was shortened and the run was held in a torrential downpour, much to the satisfaction of the athletes who had trained for all three parts of the triathlon. Lesson: Ensure Everyone Knows the Backup Plan.

Resource Management: Shepherding over 600 individual athletes, plus a number of relay teams, through three distinct sports and the transitions between them required a large group of unpaid volunteers. Even with the amazing community support and dedicated staff, orchestration of resources amongst three events in unpredictable weather had to have been a challenge. It was critical that organizers know where resources were needed at each stage of the race and have a clear picture of who had skills to support the need. Lessons: Know Your Resources, Shift When Needed to Meet Demand.

These are lessons that could be applied to any project, and of course can be established as best practices when automated using a solution like CA ClarityTM PPM.

Overall, the event was a huge success, a lot of fun and a great example of what effective project management can accomplish. I salute Race Director Bill Burke, Premier Event Management and the great volunteers that made it happen and wish everyone better luck with weather in 2013.

Article source: CA PPM Blog

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