Back To School In The Project Team

With many families focused on back-to-school rituals, it’s time to see how the project office environment can mirror the excitement and sense of opportunity that often comes with returning to class. Summer vacations are winding down and many project teams are gearing up to deal with everything from inclement weather to the start of the year-end budget cycle (groan). Fortunately, there are strategies PMP®s can employ to boost their energy and get renewed focus on what’s coming down the pike. If your team feels like it’s stuck in a rut, give one of these back-to-school ideas a try.


Find an educational track that interests you. Just as high schoolers and other students are busy picking their elective classes, PMP®s should also be looking over their remaining training opportunities for the year and deciding which courses best fit their needs and career ambitions. With the fall schedule looming on the horizon, it may be difficult to get a seat in the most sought-after classes if you wait much longer to register.

Depending on the size of the project office and the budget available to support educational pursuits, it may make sense to adopt a “divide and conquer” approach within the Project Team. Identify those skills that would best benefit the team and determine which PMP® will tackle each one. This gives the overall group a much deeper knowledge base to draw from while also continuing to add to individual team members’ competency levels.

Search for new networking opportunities to stimulate creativity. With each new class, students are exposed to a new set of peers with different backgrounds and interests. Their teachers—even those who use similar curriculums—bring new perspectives. In a similar vein, project teams should also be on the lookout for the chance to expand their horizons by networking with people who have a different set of experiences than their own. Seek out events where you can talk with professionals who have expertise in a different industry, or who have worked in regions you’ve never visited. Find opportunities to learn from PMP®s in organizations that operate differently from yours. Exchange ideas with people who have worked outside the core project management realm, such as those focused on community advocacy roles.

Get a clean start. A new school year is a perfect chance to begin with a fresh slate, from moving into a desk that’s still tidy to firing up a computer that hasn’t yet been weighed down by random files and a haphazard folder system. Your project office can copy that model by designating at least one time each year to clean, purge, and better organize its resources. Update team and vendor contact lists, remove outdated presentation materials from conference rooms, archive documents from recently completed projects, refresh the news on the Project Team’s intranet page, replenish supplies such as cell phone headsets and chargers, and swap out old team pictures for something more current.

Upgrade your technology. Years ago, students got a fresh set of paper folders when moving into a new grade. Today, back to school typically involves the purchase of laptops and tablets. And while most Project Teams already leverage a wide range of technology, sometimes it’s prudent to re-evaluate what’s in use and whether it still meets the team’s needs. Greater efficiency can sometimes be found through upgrading and consolidating existing platforms. Once the group knows they have the right tools in place, be sure everyone is trained in using them. This ensures every PMP® has the knowledge they need to use every system to its fullest, and the organization gets the maximum benefit from its technology investment.


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