7 Project Management Tips For Staying On-track During The Summer

Gabriel Nwatarali | 08.08.19 | 0 Comments

Project management professionals know how frustrating things can get during the summer. Many of your staff typically take off for summer vacation between July and September. However, during this time projects are still in motion so productivity slows down and that hinders progress.

Nonetheless, the fact is your people are valuable. They’ll perform better when they’re able to take some time off even though you may need them in the office. A good work/life balance is critical to their wellness and your organization benefits from the increased output when everyone’s happy.

But, the thing is it’s easy to lose track of situations and project progress. So good project management practice is thinking ahead to reduce or even eliminate the loss in productivity around summer vacation months. You’ll also need a strong process for dealing with potential issues that may arise in the summer.

Here’re some tips for keeping your projects on-track during the summer so you can maintain momentum and keep things running smooth.

1. Forecast What Resources You’ll Need

You should have an idea of the number of people needed during the summer based on on-going projects and past performances. Use that information to estimate what you’ll need when team members leave for summer vacation. This will provide much-needed insights as to whether or not you’ll have a problem in the summer. Also, Look through your schedules to see if there’s anything important flagged or scheduled for the summer months.

What tasks and deliverables are due when you have team members out of the office? Make sure everyone on the team is aware of each other’s vacation absences. Furthermore, prepare those who will remain in the office by keeping them informed on how absences may affect particular projects. Also, make sure your clients can reach alternative contacts whenever people are gone.

2. Consider Temporary Assistance During The Summer

In most cases, key project deadlines still have to be met regardless of team availability issues. So you might want to consider hiring temporary project management help. This will limit disruption, the need to interrupt project staff that is away and keep your projects on track.

Stakeholders and clients will appreciate your ability to be responsive. Not to mention that extra body will reduce stress and you won’t have to overload other team members with work. Consider adopting project management software for task management and tracking. This way, the professional you hire doesn’t have to be local. They can be anywhere in the world and still collaborate with your team flawlessly.

3. Plan Handovers Ahead of Time

The handover of projects needs to be smoothly conducted prior to absences. This is extremely crucial, whether working with an external or in-house professional. You should make sure whoever is standing in is acquainted with deliverables and deadlines, including any potential risks. Also, think about crisis management. You may want to provide them with the contact information of all stakeholders and any alternative contacts in a prepared document.

4. Plan For Any Key Signoffs

Think about the need for senior management to sign off on certain decisions or deliverables during you or a team member’s vacation. Will the appropriate parties be available for these sign-offs?

Try expediting approvals when you know key personnel won’t be around. For example, you can convince them to set specific guidelines that’ll allow other staff to decide on their behalf. This means they won’t be interrupted during their vacation and will receive deliverables that meet standards. A win-win for everyone.

5. Plan Hand Backs Ahead of Time

Similar to handovers, plan for how projects will be handed back to people upon staff return. There’s probably going to be tons of work and messages to catch up on, so a smooth hand back process will be highly informative. Ideally, you want professionals up to speed once they reassume responsibility for a project so deliverables aren’t affected. Though both handovers and hand backs are easier with project management tools.

For example, Proggio is project management software that tracks progress and records data. So all you would have to do is simply re-assign tasks using its user interface. No need for going through paperwork and spreadsheets because all the information they’ll need is already neatly organized in the system, and it can be accessed anywhere.

6. Put Together Some Checklists and Templates

Checklists and templates are really handy project management tools, especially when you need to get in the groove of things. Consider working with the team to create sound checklists/templates that can streamline workflow while some of your staff is gone. You can create checklists and templates for repetitive tasks to optimize time. If you use a project management software, check if they have premade templates. Many of them, for example Monday, come with a variety of premade templates to speed up the process.

 

7. Place Helpful Information in Out of Office Emails

Ensuring away staff automate and include helpful information in their out of office messages is important. Do this for voicemails, internal and external emails. Make sure the dates that you or your staff are unavailable is clearly stated and include alternative contacts for inquiries, urgent or otherwise.

Task Management During The Summer

Begin using some or all of the aforementioned project management tips early so you have some leeway. Perhaps, habitually planning for holidays at the beginning of every project is a good idea. Whatever you decide to do is fine as long as it meets end objectives, which are less impact on project deliverables and budget. In particular, projects go over their intended cost by 27 percent on average according to the Harvard Business Review.

Undoubtedly, your summer should be less stressful if you’re proactive about considering things that may pose issues in the future. The tips outlined here will help keep your projects on-track while some of your team members are away. Lastly, start planning and scheduling everyone’s vacation ahead of time. This is so you don’t have more than a couple of people away simultaneously.

Gabriel Nwatarali
author

Gabriel Nwatarali is a digital marketer and designer. He's the founder of Tech Help Canada, a design and marketing agency. He also regularly contributes his knowledge of tech and digital marketing to online publications.

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