The Christmas Angels Project
As a family, we have always enjoyed to volunteer in community events. We do not have family near so the community and neighbors are our family. Most of the time, we did not have the time to volunteer between work, the kids, the house, the dogs, studies…. Well, we got our chance, I decided to resign my dreamed job and be a housewife/mom. My son had being diagnosed with autism and still at the age of five, he was in diapers and not able to speak a word, only sounds. Eight and half months later, my husband was let go with just a few weeks away from Christmas.
It was perfect, we get to spend “time” doing what we loved, so we volunteered for a project. It was a small community project, Christmas Angels. We were so excited to be able to deliver Christmas gifts to kids of low income household on Christmas Day, that year, including ours. The project team members were divided into three teams: event planning, administration and delivery. The event planning team was in charge of choosing key locations in our community to place Christmas Angels for people to choose a child and purchase a gift for. The event planning team was also in charge of creating and distributing fliers to be publish in small community newspapers and bulletins to reach the people. The administration team was in charge to create paper angels. As paper angels were returned with names and addresses of receivers, the administration team called the people and remind them of dates and location to drop off their gifts. Finally, the delivery team was scheduled to pick up gifts/toys off from assigned locations, wrap and deliver them to respective homes on day before Christmas on behalf of St. Nicholas Claus.
We began with 927 families and a total of total of 2, 306 kids. Our project manager, was experienced in this type of event and the beginning was great. However, our project manager’s daughter surprised him with a family cruise, for the holidays and he left twelve days before Christmas. The project was going well until then. We did not know how it happened but more angels than the ones we created, suddenly appeared in different assigned locations. We ended with more than 3, 600 kids. In the end, we were lucky to have plenty for all kids. Indeed, we were very close not to be able to deliver for all children, since extra angels appeared just a few days before Christmas.
What could have the project manager or team do, to control the scope of the Christmas Angels project? First, I would have probably create Christmas angels that were not so easy to be copied. Second, I would have placed specific due dates and stop collecting angels at least 10 days before Christmas. Third, gifts and toys would have been delivered at least a week before Christmas, so that the team would have being able to enjoy the day with their families. If more time had been dedicated to strategic planning and divide the project in phases, perhaps the project would have gone more smoothly. Indeed, in this case, the project was still a success. According to Portny, Mantel, Meredith, Shafer, Sutton and Kramer in “Planning Management: planning, scheduling, and controlling projects”, project managers can increase a project’s chance for success by planning and guiding, based on understanding project life cycle phases. It was also stated, that developing a Work Breakdown Structure helps project managers organize all the activities necessary to complete the project. Finally, by project managers using concurrent engineering and interface coordination techniques, project failure can be traced to several basic mistakes. In conclusion, Pitfalls can be identified early on when project managers can respond effectively to situations and redirect project toward success.
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.