Project Management – North Pole Style

2011 Internet Marketing Advent Calendar This is an entry in our daily Internet Marketing Advent Calendar series. Each day your favorite marketing elves will focus on a new topic to get your internet marketing in order before the start of the new year.

Happy Holidays everybody! As the new guy here Hall I have spent the last few weeks cutting my teeth on all things Internet Marketing. Needless to say, it has been busy. All of sudden, we are knee deep into the holidays and I haven’t done a lick of shopping.

I need a plan, and I need it now!

Rather than totally freak out. I look to Santa and all the elves in the North Pole for lessons to make my plan successful. You’ve seen the Christmas shows, all the elves running around crazy trying to build the toys, load the sleigh and get Santa off and running out the door. It looks like total chaos. What the TV shows do not show you is the full project management department and the comprehensive project plan that is behind the holiday festivities.

There are lots of little kids depending on Santa. For that very reason, the entire elf team follows the methodology developed at the American Management Association and their process for the “Accidental Project Manager”.  And Santa’s elves know that following a process is the most predicable way to be successful on a project. Let’s face it; projects are about creating a defined deliverable, within a reasonable time and within a reasonable budget. With the holidays looming, there isn’t much time to fumble around without a process.

Their plan looks something like this: Happy Boys and Girls – receiving toys on Christmas Eve without bankrupting Santa’s account.

The way they do it is to break the process down into four parts.

Initiate (Why, What) Build a business case defining the customer, problems, solutions and estimated costs.

Make the list and check it twice.

Plan (How long, How much) Create a schedule breaking down tasks, predecessors, estimates, timeline and risks.

Work backwards from Christmas Eve, determine timelines, costs and potential problems that may occur in assembling something like a toy truck.

Execute (Do) Turn tasks into action items, addressing any issues that arise and resolve any questions that occur. These get tracked, assessed and recommendations made to keep the project on track.

Coordinate and create all the parts and pieces that go into a toy truck; Build the chassis, wheels, assemble the parts, painting, quality control, packaging, processing and handling.

Close (How’d you do?) Use actual data that is captured during the process, and determine what went well and what can be improved.

Review how happy the little boy is with the truck. Determine whether they were delivered to the correct house at the correct time. Make note on how things can be improved in the future.

While I only have one household to spin my holiday magic, I am still going to break down my efforts into the distinct phases. Make my list, check it twice, review my time available and budget, and head down to my local shopkeeper to help me make my purchases. I am also going to remember to review my process- hopefully before my credit card statement comes in January.

Happy Holidays everybody- Wish me luck!

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