Overcoming Project Management Obstacles - Process

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Whether we label what we do in youth services "project management" or not, it is actually, in essence, what we do.

On a day to day basis, we manage our seasonal programming offerings, our outreach, SLP,  collection development, displays, advocacy,  early literacy area, teen space, our school age areas, etc. We get from point A to point B with good planning, wise use of time (and staff time), careful consideration of desired outcomes, and reflection on how we are doing all along the way.

We also manage larger, more specialized projects that help us move our service to the community ahead and which we think of more traditionally as "projects." The project might be starting a 1000 Books Before Kindergarten program, creating a makerspace for teens, creating a new service with a community partner, creating Picture book neighborhood, etc.

No matter the project, obstacles or seeming dead ends can crop up. How we problem solve and "manage" those obstacles often contributes to the ultimate overall success of any project - whether day-to-day or a special project. Good project management suggests that rather than cursing the obstacle or banging our heads into a wall, looking for different routes or doors or windows along the wall can suggest ways to solve the problem encountered.

In a recent Community Engagement Project follow-up workshop at the Indianhead Federated Library System in Eau Claire, the attendees and I created a roadmap of ways to more successfully navigate obstacles in project management. Today, I'm sharing our crowd-sourced solutions to obstacles that crop up in the "process" portion of project management.

Process Strategies
  • Make sure you have administrative/training support before you begin
  • Do the groundwork – do your research, know justifications and what’s behind project
  • Make sure everyone – from participants & partners to stakeholders -  know the goals
  • Consider doing a smaller prototype project first to see how it goes
  • Break your project into smaller, doable parts and work on them piece by piece
  • Prioritize each smaller section so you can see your progress
  • Delegate appropriately – don’t do it alone
  • Renegotiate with partners/stakeholders if necessary
  • Communicate and articulate project and outcomes clearly and make sure all stakeholders are in the loop (not just partners but staff, community as well)
  • Build ongoing advocacy into the project to keep everyone informed
  • Consistently re-examine and re-evaluate the project to stay on track
  • Consider delaying less integral parts or expanding timelines if the project runs into trouble
  • Be ready to bring in additional partners
  • Set firm deadlines if the project begins to stretch out
  • Attach your project goals to your annual professional goals to keep project in forefront
  • Balance competence/confidence with being willing to take advice
  • Reach out beyond original partners to involve other natural partners
Stop here for the parts two (personnel) and three (perseverance). A huge thanks to the wonderful participants in the workshop who so kindly combined and shared their great ideas with us!

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