I ran into a colleague recently who talked about a disastrous office relocation. It seems that everything that could go wrong did go wrong.

Knowing my passion for project management and everything related, our conversation naturally moved to ‘what could have been’ and ‘where did we go wrong’.

Of course, my first question was “Who was the project manager?”.  There was no project manager in charge.  This project did not fit in under the Project Office responsibilities and thus, it did not receive the attention it deserved.

There was, however, an office administrator in charge – a person who was awesome at her job but not trained, in any way, to manage a project of this sort.

This is a great example of an organization investing in their professional project managers but not understanding that their organization runs a lot of ‘other’ projects as well.  While an office relocation isn’t lining up with a $5 million software installation, it is critical enough to warrant some attention to its management.

I’m heading out this week to work with 60+ employees of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment.  All of the people are known as ‘non-project managers’.  They manage projects less than maybe 30% of their time. They would never consider taking a three-day fundamentals course and certainly not an 18 day professional project management program. This organization gets it. They are making a sound investment in project management training for non-project managers over one day.

They are not alone in this requirement. I figure that if there are 700,000 members of the PMI® worldwide today, there are 10 times that many professional project managers out there who are not members of the PMI® and 10 times that many again who are working on small projects some of the time.

There are thousands of these resources working for our organizations and they are dying to be empowered with what we know for their ‘sometimes, not very expensive, not mission-critical’ projects.

What will I tell these folks when I meet them for the one day this week?

  1. You need to be very clear about what you are doing, for whom and most importantly why. Don’t say yes to those small projects unless you are very clear about who, what and why.
  2. Get a good handle, very quickly, on the major stakeholders with whom you will be dealing with.
  3. Be sure you understand all of the resources you will have available to you including, but not limited to, people, time and funding.
  4. Create a simple plan and budget and keep both under control throughout the project.
  5. Don’t panic when things change – but get the repercussions under control quickly.
  6. Be sure to do a post mordem so that you and others around can learn for the next time.

All of this sounds like a good foundation for any professional project manager. The difference is that this is pretty well the whole list for the non-project manager. The trick is to keep it simple.

For my money, anything is better than nothing. We shouldn’t be asking the office administrator to manage a large and complicated office relocation unless they are properly trained.  We should be giving them the education and coaching that they need to do this part of their job well.  Their success is important not just for them, but for the organization as well.

There is power in simple, basic control over the everyday projects.







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