Those of you who have been following me for a while know that, while most of my energy is focused on promoting project leadership skills, I also run a small side-business planting flowers and cleaning headstones at local cemeteries. I love it – the manual labor balances the time spent sitting in front of my computer.
This “Project Parable” is for you. Enjoy!
Right now, it’s raining. And it’s is Memorial Day Weekend – prime cemetery planting time.
I’ve been flat out for a week and a half, with barely a second to breathe. Most of my clients want their flowers planted before the holiday itself – we know our Live date – we can’t miss it. And there are only so many flower beds you can build in one day, even with a team – we have tight time & resource constraints. Not to mention trips to the nursery to select and purchase the right flowers for each client – some have very strict user requirements, like “no geraniums” or “lots of color”.
It was a great week through Friday at noon – my metrics were all green! When I came home for lunch I was actually a bit ahead of schedule and looking forward to an easy afternoon. I was just sitting down when my husband casually said “hey, did you look at the weather? It’s going to rain all weekend.”
We live in New England so the weather changes often, but I’d just checked it the night before!
Like any good Project Manager, I trusted my husband, but I went to my weather app to verify this new information. Unfortunately, he was spot on. Rain, rain, and more rain.
I had, of course, some slack in my schedule, but 3 days of rain? That’s a bit tight. My risk of rain turned into a major issue.
After taking a moment to settle down, I took a good, hard look at my deliverables. Who needed to be planted before Monday – what’s on the critical path? Did I have time to add another trip that afternoon? What could I push to the weekend – sending pictures? Invoicing? What was the impact to my schedule?
The client was an hour away, with two sites in two different cemeteries. And I had no flowers. I juggled and found it was possible – the timeline was tight, but achievable. I could mitigate the risk by leaving immediately and buying plants along the way.
So I took a deep breath, grabbed the client folder (and some caffeine), hopped in my van, and hit the nursery. I also picked up my mom to help with the planting- thank goodness she was an available resource!
We planted and made it home before dark (and the onset of rain). We achieved the milestone! I thanked my mom profusely & owe her a nice team appreciation dinner.
I texted the final pictures to my client – he really loved how the flowers turned out and said he would sign off on the invoice as soon as I sent it.
I’ll be working to catch up on the paperwork this weekend, but I have a happy client and the new plants are receiving a good watering.
Project Management is everywhere, even running a grave care business.
Happy Memorial Day Weekend, everyone!