Thursday, March 12, 2015

EDUC 6145 - Week 2 - Project "Post-mortem"

I have always considered myself to be an organized person. I write everything down and rarely let things slip through the crack. However, there are times when even the most put-together people make mistakes. My first job out of college was as a recruiter. I started off slowly, only contacting people who had been pre-screened by management, but after a while the workload for the company became so much that I got to find my own recruits. The contracts I was staffing were as large as 500 people, and I’m sure you can imagine the workload that goes into something like that (even with a team of three of us it took months to feel like we were making progress). None of that may seem relevant, but what’s important to remember about recruiting – especially when you’re doing it on your own with few guidelines – is that you have to keep track of everything. There should be a plan in place so you know exactly what you’re looking for.

There was one specific contract that came our way, and I was the acting lead recruiter, and my “team” was me and three other people. Had I known what I know now about managing any kind of project, I would have done things quite differently. There was no plan created from the beginning. I did not sit down with anybody to talk about what we were looking for, what keywords we should use, there were no tracking spreadsheets, and it was all-around disorganized. It turned out that a few of us had been contacting the same people (I’m sure they felt as though they were getting bombarded). Planning, organizing, and controlling are three main components of a project manager’s job (Portney et al., 2008, pp. 3-4). On my own, I felt like I had those three things under control, but with no experience in leading any kind of project, I severely slacked on the planning and organizing portions when it came to my team. I wanted everybody to jump in head first because I didn’t want us to fall behind on such a large task, but looking back, that was not the way to go.

There were some aspects that turned out to be successful, such as the fact that a few weeks into the recruiting process we finally were on the same page, had come up with position descriptions to send to candidates, and came up with a plan for which members of the team would recruit for certain positions (instead of us all trying to do everything). While everything turned out okay in the end (although I should add – it’s been over two years since I left that job and last I heard that contract still isn’t fully staffed), I learned so much from my mistakes. Although I felt like we got a head start by jumping in, in reality we lost time due to everyone’s confusion – which was my fault. We should have spent a day making the plan. Defining the scope of the task and assigning roles and responsibilities would have started us off on track, and instead of losing time later trying to figure it all out, we could have hit the ground running.


Portny, S. E., Mantel, S. J., Meredith, J. R., Shafer, S. M., Sutton, M. M., & Kramer, B. E. (2008). Project management: Planning, scheduling, and controlling projects. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.


  1. Hello Gayle, I smiled as I read your blog post as my experience (though a completely different project) was so similar! I think in most environments, we like to give project opportunities to newcomers because they have so much energy and enthusiasm, yet we assume they don't need any kind of roadmap. It sounds like your energy and enthusiasm and team got you through, As I read your post and thought about my own experience, I bet this has happened to many others. I wish a project management course had been part of my undergrad degree. I didn't get formally introduced to it until many years after I had been working in a corporate setting. Karen

  2. Hi Gayle - it's amazing what a little experience can do for you! It definitely sounds like a little project management guidance would have gone a long way. You had a team who was working hard to accomplish the objectives, but it seems like the “Define Phase” (Portny et al., 2008, p. 78) outlined in our course text would have really made you all so much more productive. I, too, wish I had some project management training sooner. Figuring it out on your own through trial and error takes so much time and effort! Thanks for sharing!

    Portny, S., Mantel, Jr., S. J., Meredith, J. R., Shafer, S. M., Sutton, M. M., & Kramer, B. (2008). Project management. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

  3. Gayle,

    Wow! I can only imagine how daunting the project you were given without any project management training. I can also understand the level of chaos presented by failing to incorporate the define and start phase as outlined illustrated by this week’s readings (Portny et al., 2008, p. 78-79). Without determining a “list of all the work to be performed, and the roles all team members will play” (Portny et al., 2008, p. 78) you were flying into this project blind. In addition there was not assignment of the task needed and who would be assigned to complete each task, an essential part of the start phase. (Portny et al., 2008).

    Having just completed these minimal steps would have reduced the duplication of the work, with different individuals contacting the same applicants. And would have got everyone off to a better start. You can take credit for noticing very early on, even without project management training, everyone was not on the same page and a change needed to be done. At this point you took a step back and formulated some type of a plan. It may not have been the most refined, but as you said it got everyone on the same page, and divided up the workload (assigned tasks).

    You did end up with some success, and if you had continued at it, I am sure you would have continued to make the necessary improvements and changes to determine the most efficient way to accomplish the goal. Trial and error are great teachers, though not always the most efficient. I think this is how project management was developed and continues to evolve. Thus the reasoning on looking at ones organization has handled similar projects is part of the process of reducing risk (Portny et al., 2008).


    Portny, S. E., Mantel, S. J., Meredith, J. R., Shafer, S. M., Sutton, M. M., & Kramer, B. E. (2008). Project management: Planning, scheduling, and controlling projects. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

  4. Hello Gayle,

    As I read your post I could not help to think about the scenario I used when I worked for the local university. Please feel free to go read my post :) Even though my job title and description was for an Administrative Assistant to Chairperson and Department. Even though the chairperson had a great idea, there was no planning except to say "Well, let's go. It is such a relieve to know how my past job experience has falling into place with obtain a Masters in IDT. It is even more exciting to read post from you and others with the experience you are bring to our class. I am just so impressed!!!