Spring Training for Project Management

February 24, 2016 by FlexPro

baseballIf you’re a baseball fan like I am, you know what this time of year means. At my house February 17th is circled on the calendar as the day that the Phillies pitchers and catchers reported in Clearwater, Florida. It’s an exciting time of changes and new beginnings for the team, especially when their past season was so forgettable! My husband and I are looking forward to our upcoming trip to Clearwater to watch our favorite team play a little spring ball. If nothing else, spring training is a nice reminder that winter is finally winding down and before we know it Citizen’s Bank Park will be alive with the sounds of, “Take me out to the ballgame”, the crack of the bat and the cheers (or maybe jeers, we are in Philly after all) of the crowd. I can’t wait!

With the beginning of each new baseball season comes the opportunity to start fresh with a new plan. It’s a time to renew the goals and purpose of the team, maybe change-up the players or bring in new team members, get in shape and forge ahead. It made me think about the ways spring training in baseball can relate to project management as well.

Any Phillies fan knows how disappointing last season was. Whether it was the players, the strategy, the game plan, injuries or any combination thereof, I certainly hope that the team doesn’t come back again this year with the same purpose to go in the same direction. It wasn’t successful and it wasn’t easy to watch. As Project Manager’s it’s up to us to make sure our team is in game shape when it comes time to deliver. Now is the time to take stock, evaluate and readjust. The Phillies headed to Florida with 2,400 baseballs, 1,200 bats, 140 batting helmets and 150 pairs of batting gloves to name a few. Do you have the resources you and your team need to get the job done? The best laid plan will not succeed if you don’t have what you need to get there. This could be anything from technology and I.T. support to computer software and personnel.

In the baseball world there are constantly players being traded or brought up from the minors in order to fill spots and strengthen weak areas. How about your team? Are you properly staffed with the right people in the right positions? Do you have gaps that might leave you needing to pull in new players? Is there a team member on the “injured reserved” list that’s left you scrambling by their absence? Just like the roster of a baseball team, your roster of team members is ever changing and when the players change the plan often needs to change too. A successful team plays to the strengths of its players, even when the players are constantly changing. You wouldn’t put your star pitcher at short stop or throw your left fielder into the bullpen. As a PM, play to the strengths of the team you have, even if it means your project scope needs to be adjusted.

Any batting coach from little league to the major league will tell his players the same thing. “Keep your eye on the ball.” The odds are not good for a batter at the plate who loses focus. It’s hard enough to hit a 95 mph fastball when you’re paying attention. Losing focus is sure way to strike out or get hit by a pitch, and while one of those may get you on base, it can come at a price. The same goes in Project Management. As the “manager” you have a plan, you have a goal and you’ve worked hard to get the right players in the right positions. So do you now also try and play all those positions yourself too? Of course not. Your job is to make sure your team is doing their job. Maybe you need to throw in a pinch hitter to help out, or go to the bullpen for additional support. Regardless of the “errors” that can throw the game off course, as the PM it’s your job to keep your eye on the ball and stay focused. No manager can do that successfully while trying to play all the positions too.

So as we enter into the 2016 baseball season, take stock of your clubhouse. Do you have the resources you need, the players you want and is your eye on the ball? If so, I predict you’ll be hitting them out of the park with a team that’s World Series worthy. I guess the only thing that’s left to say is, “PLAY BALL!”

-Rose Cook, FlexPro CEO

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