Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Best Laid Plans

It is possible to apply project management techniques to virtual any scenario in which work is put forth to achieve an objective. Whether making a sandwich or developing a software application, a project is made up of a series of processes and when one of the steps in the process is negatively impacted, it can greatly affect the remainder of the project. This is exactly what happened to me last summer, making the move from Georgia to Florida. Using a project “post mortem” we can discover where the project went right and what things could have been done to make the project more successful.

Looking back, the plan was quite rudimentary with nothing in writing expect a couple of phone numbers and addresses. The objective was to move nearly 500 miles from Atlanta, Ga. to Orlando, Fla. into an apartment that had been secured over the phone from Ga. , offload the contents of the moving trailer into the new residence by 4 p.m. in order to make it to a at 5 p.m. birthday party. Five friends had volunteered to help at varying times between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. and, with a summer of experience working for a moving company under my belt, I felt that was a good estimate of the amount of work needed to accomplish my task.

I set out on the journey just before midnight anticipating an eight to nine hour drive in order to be at the apartment complex with keys in hand by 9 a.m. All went well in the late night travel as I arrived before 8:30 when the office would actually open. I acquired my keys and headed toward my new life. The first look at the entrance into my new place was one of surprise and dismay. The project is about to hit a major bump in the road! I had visited the apartment complex during a housing search and liked the general area, grounds, layout, etc., but didn’t decide on it until I was a state away where I secured the residence over the phone. I was not aware that the apartment I had accepted was not on the ground floor so all of my contents would need to go up an extra flight of stairs. This was definitely the primary process of the project that most affected the success of my plan.

After a quick inspection of the residence I began what would become a day filled with frustrations but ultimately overall success. I began hauling box after box from the trailer to apartment. The staircase was tremendously slowing things but I knew that I still had quite a bit of time and just continued the routine. This unloading continued for well over an hour before hearing from anyone that had volunteered to help. At the end of the day, four friends helped; each between an hour and two hours which was less than I was hoping for.

Many aspects of the project went as I had planned in my head. The initial packing and travel time were accurate and the budget was kept within range. When it was all said and done, the trailer got unloaded and I even made it to the birthday party. Since my objective had varying degrees of success I was never got overly concerned. As long as the trailer was unloaded, boxes could be opened and the job of unpacking and setting up would just happen when they happened. That was a huge advantage, but I knew going in that there was a best-case scenario and worst-case scenario. I think I fell somewhere in between. The most obvious lesson learned in my situation was to never, ever get involved in a project without being absolutely certain that the basics of the project are as you had envisioned. Additionally, it is important to understand that any help is just that; help. If someone is not fully committed to a project in writing then any assumptions of work must be considered closely. Had I not overestimated the amount of work that I thought I would receive, I would have hired additional help. Although it would have potentially pushed me over-budget, the fact the apartment was not ground level was overlooked, and could not have been anticipated, affecting a number of other factors related to the project.


  1. Hi Chris! WOW..can I relate to this post about moving help falling short of their promise. Ah well, lesson learned! I will be moving this summer, too, and from similar lessons in my past, I am paying for hired help! :-)

  2. Hey Chris, I'm thinking that the statement about a person being 100% committed to a project making a difference is exactly true. I think that when people believe that they're 'helping', they don't do as good a job as they would have done otherwise.

  3. Chris I cannot stand moving. In all of the times that I have moved, there has always been something that has hindered it. Let alone the fact that moving is so tiring. Someone mentioned that they are paying for hired help next time. However, even paying for hired help does not mean a thing. Therefore, the best thing to do is to do your research and pray that nothing goes wrong.

  4. Hi Chris, I can agree with you on making sure that a person is fully commited to the project. I had a moving incident as well last summer; I was also moving to Orlando and I called on a friend to help me. He had a truck that was perfect for moving all of my stuff and said that he would help so that I didnt have to rent a uhaul. When it came down to getting ready to preparing my things to load on to his truck the night before my move, I call him to let him know I was ready for the truck and he doesnt pick up the phone. Long story short he left me hanging and I had to end up getting a uhaul truck anyway at the last minute.