Over the last few years I have gotten into running. Training gives me a lot of time to reflect on different concepts or ideas while out on the road or trail. For me it all started after visiting a client, Partners In Health, shortly after The Boston Marathon. Seeing how alive the city was after this iconic race was an amazing motivator to try to one day complete this race. That was my goal. Just like project work – you start with a goal in mind. Whether it be to implement a CRM or ERP, improve a certain process, or improve customer experience, projects always have a goal in mind from the outset. Seems simple enough but what happens over the course of that project can be daunting. Project Fatigue can quickly set in.
And, they’re off!
Training for a marathon or getting a project “live” doesn’t just happen over night. There are a lot of steps that happen once you kick off. For the Boston Marathon the first thing that I found out was that your needed to qualify. So it wasn’t just signing up and getting into the race; I would have to do a qualifier race to get in. During my training I compared this qualifying step to the RFI and RFP or discovery phases that projects go through. At this phase of a project a team of people have been identified as the subject matter experts and have embarked on “training” themselves to identify their organizational needs. While for some organizations this is a simple process, for others it can take months or years to complete.
Project Fatigue sets in
Usually, at the outset of “training”, the team members are excited and up for the challenge. Some companies will hire staff to work/run on projects full time. However, most small to medium sized business cannot afford this and ask staff to work a regular position while implementing or doing project work on the side of their desk. This can be difficult. As I experienced in running, it can be hard to find time to train when you have a variety of other things going on in your life. Maybe you have a Q3 report that is due or a child’s soccer game to attend. Both projects and training for a marathon have road blocks that force you to reschedule or re-prioritize.
Rescheduling and re-prioritizing your project or tasks can lead to moving the goal. For instance, the project’s go live was set for end of Q2 but was moved to the end of Q3. Or maybe you were planning to do a qualifying run in the spring but weren’t ready and had to move it to the fall instead. While this is easy enough to do, adding time to your project or training can be a huge demotivator and lead to project fatigue. Is this ever going to happen? How much longer do I need to focus on this? Can’t I just get it done?
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Getting to the Finish Line
How do you keep going? The “goal” is what you need to focus on. Focus on what is going to change in the organization and the reasons behind your project. Sometimes a quick team meeting to revisit these goals can get people refocused on and excited about the project at hand. Others may need to be inspired or may need a distraction from the project, like a team dinner (budget permitting of course). This can be a time for project staff to meet, talk about their experiences and take a breath in what is typically a fast paced and stressful time.
These are just a few small tips or tricks that any project can use to help ensure that you avoid project fatigue and get to go-live with a team that is focused and understands what and why the project is being done. Getting to the finish line, in a both a project and a race, is always difficult. But it can be done if you train and focus on that goal.
While we can’t help you train for a marathon, we can help you plan for and deal with Project Fatigue. To learn more about Catapult, get in touch with us via email or give us a call. We’d be happy to chat about how we can support you in achieving your business and technology goals.
If you’d like to read more about Project best practices and management, check out our related blog posts.