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Week 5. The Project Managers training blog by Paul Bradley SPOCE MD

With a deviation to the content that was expected for this week, Paul (incidentally) demonstrates that in projects, things often don't go to exact plan! The important thing to remember is what we do about this. When the unexpected happens and affects his training plan, he runs through the recommended course of action to keep 'Project Marathon' still on track.

31st July 2022 - Marathon day minus 9 weeks

Taking Corrective Action

In my previous blog I talked about Issues and how extending my midweek run would result in exceeding tolerance. I therefore escalated the issue to Coach, and he said to stick to the plan. That worked well and I was looking in good shape coming into this week.

Preparing for the unexpected

Monday morning is the 8 mile training run, and as I set off, I decided not to take the headphones. I haven't run with music now for a couple of years, but I use the headphones for the Strava announcements to help with my pacing. Half way down the driveway, I turned back, took off the headphones and decided to place them on the ears of a dog statue that we have in the porch. Leaning forward, I felt a twinge in my back. It felt a little sore, but I thought I could run it off.

I set off on the Monday 8 miler as planned, with the first half a mile feeling uncomfortable (this is standard). I soon settled into a reasonable pace, but found it hard going and finished a little slower than the previous week. I put it down to different running shoes, but soon realised it was a problem with my back.

By mid-afternoon I could barely walk. This was looking like a big setback for the training plan.

When to take corrective action

In project management terms, my main resource was out of action, and I needed to think about what to do to recover the plan. I needed to take corrective action, so the first thing I did was to look at the immediate plan for this week and also consider the long term impact. With 9 weeks to go, my acceptance criteria could be compromised if I didn't look at adjusting things now.

This week was supposed to be 36 miles in total. On Monday I was on time, albeit a little behind in progress. But it was evident that the rest of the week was not going to play out how it had been planned. As with all issues, the time to take corrective action is at the earliest opportunity. Don't wait to go over time or budget.

You need to forecast what will happen and act on that information.

When to escalate

If the forecast means that you predict that tolerance will be exceeded, then the issue will need to be escalated to the project sponsor at that point in time. For me, I was able to manage the plan myself.

I messaged Coach anyway to keep him in the picture, but I didn't need change things to such an extent. I stored all training for the next few days and managed the back injury with rest, ice and anti inflammatory medication.

Pulling it back on track

By Friday I was feeling more mobile, and went out for a 5 mile run on Saturday morning. What a turn around, I felt great. So much so that on Sunday morning I did another 6 miles at a local event. In summary, this week has been a challenge, and I finished with 19 miles on the clock, but there's is enough time in this project plan to recover the lost progress.

The criteria is still achievable (more on that in a later blog), and I have adjusted next week's plan to slip the Monday 8 miler back from Monday to Tuesday, 5 miles on Wednesday, 17 miles on Friday and a 3 miler on Sunday (total 33 miles). We should be back on track from then.

Planning

It's important to remember that not everything goes to plan. Plans are there to act as a backbone to the project so we can demonstrate what is expected to happen, by whom, when and why. When issues threaten the plan, then we have procedures to help recover the situation.

What's next?

In the blog next week, barring any unexpected changes, I'll be taking a look at quality and introducing some thoughts on communication.

Help the cause and get free APM training

In addition to Paul's London Marathon he will also be using his skills as a project management trainer to raise funds. For the next 2 months APM PFQ and APM PMQ (live ONLIVE virtual classroom or On Demand) will be absolutely FREE! All we ask is that you make the required charitable donation in exchange to Paul's JustGiving page. Find out more by visiting our funding page in aid of Sense charity. 

About Paul Bradley

Paul Bradley is a leading authority on project management methods and techniques. With over 25 years in the industry, Paul's knowledge and experience is respected by clients, accreditation bodies and training organisations globally. Paul has been the Managing Director of SPOCE since 2005, and is an accredited trainer for PRINCE2®, APM and AgilePM®. He is a regular presenter at seminars, providing information on project implementation drawn from his expertise as an accredited Axelos P3M3® Consultant. He has had two books published to enhance the training and use of PRINCE2®. Paul is also an active member and co founder of the renown RunFAR® initiative that raises both awareness and funds for charitable causes. The #RunFAR mission is to run for a reason and share a passion for running with others. 

JustGiving Paul Bradley