Whether you like it or not, Project Management surrounds us, from meeting friends for a night out, spending a weekend camping, or even getting married. And it takes good Project Management to make sure you meet your friends at the right place, don’t forget the rain cover, and ensure that your reception’s centerpieces match your tablecloths (tragedy averted).
This past October, several of my friends and I traveled through Europe on our first trip abroad – using the five phases of Project Management to guide us:
- Project Initiation: At this point we looked at flight prices to different locations in Europe to identify the feasibility of spending a week abroad
- Project Planning: Sure, we didn’t have a Project Charter, but we did have a schedule, a budget, and even a Gantt Chart to map which days we would spend in which locations
- Project Launch: This is where we split up the preparation activities, namely, obtaining foreign currency, buying train/bus tickets, and reserving hotels/hostels
- Project Monitoring/Controlling: Game time. This phase includes adjusting our schedule to align with train schedules before we leave, and also adjusting our schedules after we arrive to adjust for the unforeseen
- Project Closeout: Specifically, documenting lessons learned. I wish I could say there were no major lessons learned, but here they are:
- Have currency ready before you arrive at your destination at 6:00 a.m. (Did you know the Czech Republic uses Koruna? Often called Crowns in English)
- Know the exchange rate before you arrive at the ATM (As I write this it is 25.3 Koruna to 1 Dollar)
- Evaluate the entire ATM screen before making a withdrawal, there may be an option to select smaller amounts than have been initially presented to you (Hint: this can mean the difference between withdrawing 10,000 Koruna and 1,000 Koruna)
- Learn a smidge of the local language (We knew how to say thanks in Czech, díky moc (pronounced like deekay mots), but it would have been nice to know how to say three (tři), or showers (sprchy), or do you have change? (Máte změnit?))
- Don’t sweat the small stuff (Like spending $15 for three showers)
The moral of the story is that bits and pieces of Project Management follow us wherever we go, but it’s up to us to utilize Project Management effectively to make our lives (and others’) easier. And don’t forget to utilize your lessons learned (like booking a domestic flight for your next trip).