Project Management Principles Of The NFL Draft

With this year’s NFL draft behind us, teams are now getting down to the business of preparing for the new season. The run-up to the draft is hard work. Between evaluating the franchise’s needs, crafting a strategy to be the best in the league, and identifying potential draft candidates that will help ensure a winning season, teams have a lot to do—and a lot of it is rooted in sound project management methodologies.


Research is vital. Once draft picks have been made and training season begins, teams have few near-term solutions available to them if a new candidate isn’t a good fit. It’s crucial that the coaching and scouting staff have thoroughly researched potential draft picks and identified the strengths and weaknesses each would bring to the team. Unanticipated concerns that arise later could significantly disrupt the team’s strategy for the season.

PMP®s face similar challenges when developing a project’s strategy, budget, timeline, and resource needs. Being thorough when gathering information on stakeholders’ needs, identifying the right materials, and working with vendors to provide labor estimates that are as accurate as possible are all crucial to the project’s ultimate success.

Identify all possible alternatives. There’s always the risk that a team’s preferred draft choice may be taken by another franchise. If that happens, the organization needs to be able to quickly look through its list of other options and, given the team’s specific needs, know who the next best selection would be.

Contingency planning is also a vital skill within the Project Team Development. Anything from expert consultants with schedule conflicts to fluctuating material prices may make the project team’s preferred solution unavailable. In those instances, PMP®s must have information on alternate solutions at the ready so the team can immediately transition to a second- or third-tier option.

Be ready to defend your decisions. There may be someone—fans, existing team members, perhaps even someone within the franchise’s leadership group—who’s less than happy about a particular draft selection. Maybe they hoped you would pass over someone who used to play for a rival team, or perhaps they desperately wanted to you to select a hometown favorite but you chose to go with a different player.

While executing a project, PMP®s often find their decisions being second guessed by stakeholders. End users may be upset that their preferred work disruption schedule wasn’t adopted wholesale. A sponsor may question why a particular piece of equipment was purchased rather than a less-expensive option. In each case, the team must be prepared with research and analysis to defend their actions. Trying to pull this information together after questions have already been raised is difficult, so be ready with data in hand to explain why your team made the tough choices it did.

Know the big picture. Draft picks are preferred by one franchise or another because of how they’ll affect the overall team. For example, shoring up weaknesses in the defensive line is important not just for those playing defense, but for the entire organization. Having a granular understanding of where the team needs additional support enables coaches and recruiters to identify the areas with the greatest need and to evaluate which skills take the highest priority.

The same is true within the Project Team. Even though each PMP® may be responsible for only a small slice of an otherwise large project, it’s important that everyone on the team know where resources are needed and which skill sets are in demand in every phase of the project. This gives the project team better visibility into the most effective way to allocate available supplies and funding.

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