With the fall swing underway, project management teams have a lot on their plates. They’re planning for bad weather impacts and all the other potential issues on the autumn horizon. Because the next few months will be made especially busy with end-of-year tasks, Project Teams can help maintain their momentum while smoothing the transition to the new year by tackling a handful of tasks right now.
1 – Update budget tracking data. Rather than wait for the accounting team to provide you with an end-of-year wrap up, it’s better if your team pulls together its own numbers that show planned expenditures versus what was actually spent. This gives your Project Team time to develop a detailed and accurate budget picture for the next year (while also reconciling any discrepancies).
2 – Evaluate the team’s staffing requirements for next year. Recruiting takes time, particularly when you’re looking for very senior-level PMP®s or when the Project Team is seeking someone with a niche skill set. You may not be able to start the hiring process until after the new year, but let HR know what your needs will be so they can make their own resources available as soon as approvals are received.
3 – Identify where existing budgets still have funds available. With all the responsibilities most PMP®s oversee throughout the year, it isn’t difficult for initiatives to occasionally slip through the cracks. Review each budget line item and see where money might still be lurking. Do you have enough left in the training budget for one more class? If so, get it scheduled now so it’s completed and paid for before the end of the year. Were you able to save some money on supplies through good negotiating? See if it’s possible to apply the remaining funds to other efforts that need it.
4 – Make a note of any contracts that expire at the end of the year. If critical-path services are covered under a contract or labor agreement that runs out at the end of the year, now is the time to begin putting things in place to either extend those contracts or to ensure a new agreement starts with the new year. This ensures your team’s project activities aren’t put on hiatus while the paperwork is generated, reviewed, and approved.
5 – Begin crafting contingency plans for any projects that could experience a new-year funding gap. If your Project Team operates under a system where budgets don’t carry over from one year to the next, it’s wise to begin looking at how projects that will continue into the new year can continue to move forward without significant negative effects.
6 – Confirm potential last-minute vacation plans. Some organizations don’t allow vacation and personal time accruals to carry over from one year to the next. For employees facing the potential loss of time off, they’re likely planning vacations in the coming few months. Keep the rest of the team updated so they can plan for coverage.
7 – Negotiate purchases early. If possible, look for opportunities to enter into purchasing and labor agreements before the year runs out. Vendors and suppliers often like to nail down revenue commitments in advance, and your Project Team may be able to score some attractive discounts by signing purchase orders now for the resources that will be needed next year.
8 – Solicit project requests from stakeholders. Because many Project Teams must formulate their budgets based on anticipated project resource requirements, you don’t want to scramble at the last minute to incorporate unexpected requests. Contact any recurring stakeholders first, keeping the executive team updated so there are no surprises.