Gerry Devine - Practice Manager Adviser (1)

Managing Project Christmas

Managing a high profile activity to a set deadline - with a variety of personnel having differing skill levels - in order to deliver excellence on a tight budget. This might be something you solely recognise as part of your job description as a Practice Manager, but it is also something we are all striving to do in our personal lives at this time of year.

I thought it might be interesting to explore the project management skills we use in the workplace, and how they will be used in the coming weeks as we prepare for our yuletide festivities.

The standard for Project Management within the NHS is PRINCE2 - if we were to use its methodologies to plan for the upcoming holidays, our plans would look something like this;

Develop a Compelling Business Case

Your nearest and dearest quietly tell you that it had better be good or else...

Continuous Learning

Take a look at what you have learnt from previous years, and how you can use this information to do things better and different this time around:

  • Nobody really liked the advocaat, no need to buy more.
  • You definitely don’t need that many sprouts.
  • You still have to find out the name of Mr(s)X’s new girlfriend/boyfriend/fiancée/wife (delete as appropriate)
  • You still don’t know if it’s OK to grit footpaths when it gets icy.

Roles and Responsibilities

Who is going to do what, and are they fully aware of what is expected of them? Do you know what your own tasks are? Check the following:

  • Who you are or aren’t buying presents for.
  • Have you really got the skills to reconstruct the tree after what happened last year?
  • Where is the tree after what happened last year?

Managing By Stages

Don’t try and do everything all at once – start identifying bite-sized chunks of activity and then decide if it needs to be done sequentially or in parallel. Such stages could include;

  • 'Operation Present Buying'
  • Mission Food Shop
  • Present-wrapping Assignment
  • Project 'Food Preparation'
  • Operation 'Unbridled Joy'
  • Mission ‘those stains will never come out of that cream carpet’

Management by Exception

Avoid the temptation to micro-manage;  trust others to get on with what they have demonstrated they are good and competent at. This way you are able to take an overview and only get involved when things don’t look to be on track. Activities which you may look to trust other to deliver are:

  • Present buying
  • Food shopping
  • Food preparation

Product–based Focus

Amidst all the hurly-burly, make sure you don’t lose sight of what you want from this project: is it goodwill to all men or unbridled fun and frolics? Whichever it is, make sure it delivers.

Tailor

Ensure what you do fits your needs.  You can ‘steal with pride’ good ideas that you may see working elsewhere, but always make sure it fits in with what you want to achieve.  Just because it works for someone else doesn’t mean it will automatically bring your own family joy.

Follow all of the above steps successfully and Project Christmas should be a well managed and highly rewarding activity.


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