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A Highly Creative, Process-Focused Project: A Case Study

Lory Wingate

In 2003, Travis and Jennifer Patterson started thinking about a design for a new camp for young children at Grapevine Lake, in Grapevine, Texas. This husband and wife team originally became interested in putting together this camp based on Travis's prior successes leading adults on adventures and expeditions. It seemed natural to transfer that success into a similar experience for children. According to Jennifer, "We wanted to get the kids away from television, computers, and video games, and offer them exciting options that would challenge them to fully explore what nature and the outdoors has to offer." Based on their original investigation into existing opportunities, there did not appear to be anything comparable. The Pattersons were natural leaders, which would help them develop and implement this unique concept for the area. They also would have to build a team that would need to be creative and highly effective, while also meeting a tightly held set of safety and security performance criteria. They would offer progressive responsibility and authority to the counselors as they gained experience.

Travis was an accomplished adventure athlete and outdoorsman. He founded Adventure Team in 1995, and had been leading and facilitating adventures as Adventure Team, Inc.'s chief adventure officer since 1996. According to Travis, "The Adventure Team Outdoor Sports Association was originally developed in 1996, to bring together extreme outdoor adventure enthusiasts in the Dallas–Fort Worth area. At its peak, the Adventure Team organization confirmed more than 3,000 monthly paying website members, and provided 25 to 30 outdoor/adventure events per month for the club members." Travis led over 500 events between 1996 and 2007, spanning a wide range of activities including:

  • Adventure racing
  • Hiking, camping, backpacking
  • Cycling and mountain biking
  • Boating, canoeing, kayaking
  • Geocaching, orienteering, and GPS challenges
  • Horseback riding
  • Paintball and laser tag
  • Rappelling, rock climbing
  • 4x4 off-roading

By early 2002, Travis was thinking about how to evolve the experience to be more family-friendly and children focused. Jennifer brought her lifelong experiences in the outdoors, which included camping, hunting, and fishing, into the possible activity offering. Along with their outdoor expertise, the Pattersons had extensive experience in marketing and enjoyed organizing social events. This combined skill set made for a powerful team to develop the concept for an adventure children's camp, and Adventure Team became the parent company of Adventure Day Camps.1

With the Pattersons' prior successes in managing their own businesses, they had the experience and inspiration needed to set up this venture. The focus for this children's camp was on outdoor adventure. There were no other camps such as this available in the local area. Jennifer explained, "We wanted to off a guilt-free place for parents to drop off their kids for the day, and a great opportunity for the campers to experience activities they might not have had the chance to try before." And, so they did. Travis explained further, "We challenge kids to fully explore what nature and the outdoors has to off , as well as provide an opportunity to develop strong self-esteem, meet new friends, and have amazing fun in the great outdoors."

Adventure Day Camps offers 12 individual weeks of "action-packed adventure" for children (campers) aged 4 to 13. Each week of camp runs Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. through 4:30 p.m., with extended hours available from 7 a.m. through 6 p.m. Parents can sign their children up for camp by the ½ day, the day, a week, or for multiple weeks. Discounts are provided for multiple weeks' attendance. Camp tuition includes all activities, a camp T-shirt, cup, and photographs taken throughout the week's activities.

Activities include:

  • Individual activities:
    • Archery
    • Air gun/BB gun target shooting
    • Orienteering
    • Geocaching
    • Arts and crafts
  • Water sports:
    • Recreational swimming
    • Canoeing
    • Kayaking
    • Fishing
  • Outdoor exploration:
    • Nature walks
  • Team sports:
    • Disc golf
    • Volleyball
    • Football
    • Baseball
    • Softball
    • Tetherball
    • Soccer
  • Team building
  • Environmental awareness
  • Leadership skills

A typical day at camp includes free activities, or those of interest to the camper, until 10 a.m., then a morning snack. The counselors decide the best group activities for their campers until lunchtime. Choices are based on the desires of the counselor and the campers and may change from day to day, making a highly fluid and changeable environment. Then, after lunch, "it is back to the sunscreen, bathing suits, and life jackets," Jennifer says. Heading to the beach for swimming, kayaking, and fishing is an exciting adventure for the campers.

The afternoon group activities rotate so that variations in weather can be accommodated. For example, Monday may be tentatively planned to include activities on the waterslide inflatable; Tuesday would be a nature walk; Wednesday, an obstacle course and outdoor games; Thursday, water balloons and water guns; and Friday, a game of capture the flag. If weather did not cooperate, the activities will be switched around. By late afternoon, it would be time to head back to the tent, have a snack, and participate in more free time until the end of the day. Parents pick up happy and exhausted children full of stories of adventure.

Life Cycle Perspective

This project's life cycle spans from research through maintenance (Figure 7.7). As this is an ongoing operations and maintenance activity, most of the original definition of the project was done in the formative years, one through three. However, continuing evolution of the project continues. Project management methods were implemented throughout all phases of the project: from defining and managing the scope, schedule, budget, risk, and quality to ensuring that essential underpinning activities, such as communications and leadership, were strongly addressed. Processes get refined and activities get replaced, renewed, added, or subtracted based on requests from parents, campers, and counselors. It is an ongoing evolution.

Project Management

This project required research, development, implementation, operations, and maintenance. From a project management perspective, this project was developed with a life cycle view because it was anticipated to become an ongoing operation. During the course of development and implementation, standard project management methods were used. Once operations commenced, modifications to the project where solicited and implemented using a flexible, user-facing approach to project management with from campers, parents, and counselors providing input, thereby evolving the design over time.

Figure 1. Adventure Day Camps Life Cycle.

Defining the Scope

In defining the scope, the Pattersons wanted to build on the experiences from managing adult adventures to creating a child-appropriate day camp version. "Adventure Day Camps represented a unique business opportunity that is family-oriented, has proven income potential fueled by a booming demand for quality child enrichment and development programs," Travis said.

As part of the scope, they wanted Adventure Day Camps to

  • provide 12 individual weeks of activities
  • accommodate children aged 4 to 13
  • run Monday through Friday 9 a.m. through 4:30 p.m.
  • provide extended hours from 7 a.m. through 6 p.m.
  • provide full flexibility for participation: ½ day, day, week, multiweek attendance; complete flexibility in drop off/pick up times
  • provide discounts for multiple weeks' attendance
  • offer activities that would challenge children in each age group
  • provide all-inclusive cost for activities
  • provide as part of the included cost a camp T-shirt, cup, and photographs taken throughout the week's activities
  • ensure each child was attended to by ensuring things such as:
    • required medicines were taken on time
    • food and drink sent by the parent was consumed
    • the appropriate level of sunscreen was applied
    • accommodate children with special needs, such as those struggling with attention deficit disorder, asthma, cancer, diabetes, behavior disorders, learning disabilities, and physical disabilities
  • provide an opportunity for summer employment to the local community through camp counselor positions
  • ensure all camp counselors were background checked, CPR and first aid trained, and had completed several hours of onsite volunteer camp counselor training

Develop the Objectives

The Pattersons' ultimate objective was to make sure when the campers left at the end of the day, they would be exclaiming how much fun they had, and that hopefully they also would have been exposed to new outdoor activities. "This is the kids' fun time, it is summer time, so the major objective is to make sure they enjoy the experience," Jennifer said. Obviously, a big part of that is making sure the campers were kept safe. If they also obtained some life-long appreciation of outdoor activities, or gained confidence along the way, that was a bonus.

Identify the Requirements

This project required:

  • Location
  • Equipment
  • Processes for marketing, sign-ups, hiring and firing, managing staff, completing individual and group activities, etc.
  • An endless supply of imagination and creativity to provide new activities and to inspire the campers to try the new activities

A key requirement for this camp was that it was in a central location and within a park large enough to hold all the campers comfortably. The venue would provide or limit what they would ultimately be able to do. They definitely wanted the camp to be based on a lake, so they set out to find a lakeside park that would have sufficient space and facilities to accommodate them. A park at Grapevine Lake fit the requirements. They approached the city with the proposal, and it was accepted.

The Pattersons knew that they did not want to include motorized activities, such as boats or wave runners. The liability was just too high. They also could not offer transportation to and from the camp for the same reasons. What they would offer began with what they could gather, and they would add as they proceeded with the camp.

Initial equipment requirements included:

  • Six kayaks
  • Two non-motorized boats
  • Two BB guns
  • Miscellaneous arts and crafts materials

They also needed a large tent. Because they did not want to start out spending $10,000 on a new one, they attempted to purchase a used or donated tent. They ultimately ended up with a used tent, which would serve as the gathering place for all activities including registration, group activities, etc.

Once they had decided on the needed equipment, they shifted their focus to processes. How the camp would run required a lot of forethought and planning. Paperwork needed to be collected, communications established, and the actions required gathering the campers together and assigning them to a counselor, and assigning each counselor to an activity every day.

In addition, processes needed to be developed for identifying and interviewing potential counselors, observing their required volunteering time to determine their suitability to the position, completing background checks, and then managing them as they completed their work assignments. Jennifer explains, "We must see how they work with kids and how they work in the outdoors. Sometimes they think it is a fun job, but in 100-degree weather, sometimes it is more challenging than they anticipated. We must see how they adapt and also help set expectations. In particular, we are looking for the ones that actively engage and want to be out there."

And, of course, the processes for how to run the activities each had to be developed. How many campers would be allowed in the water at a time, would all campers be required to wear life vests? And, if so, when? And where would they be required to gather to put them on? Each activity had to have a set of processes outlined so there was no ambiguity for the counselors and they knew exactly what was expected of them.

Outline the Deliverables

A simple list of the deliverables of Adventure Day Camps includes:

  • Well-maintained equipment
  • Fully developed processes for all parts of the program
  • Adequately trained and managed volunteer and paid staff
  • Camp T-shirt, cup, and weekly photographs
  • Check sheet: Daily notes associated to each camper, maintained by the assigned counselor

Develop the Project Schedule

When the Pattersons started developing the project, they knew they had one major schedule constraint. They wanted to be up and running in time for the 2003 summer session. It took approximately a year to make everything come together in time. Although not formally structured, they understood all the pieces that had to come together and when they needed to be in place. They each took responsibility for areas they were interested in and felt they could be successful in completing.

Develop the Budget

In developing the budget for the Adventure Day Camps, the Pattersons researched other camps. They identified the ranges and offerings being provided. To be competitive with the other camps, their original offering included a meal plan and sports drinks. Starting with existing equipment they both owned and supplementing it with some donations and some small purchases, they were able to minimize the initial startup costs. It was clear that they could not overcharge if they wanted to attract campers, but, if they undercharged, they would not be able to continue the camps because they had payroll to make and also needed to make enough profit to continue to add equipment. They set their price and a budget. Their processes included collecting payments from parents in the form of cash, check, or credit card. Then they tracked their budget on a spreadsheet.

They initially started off as a nonprofit business because they felt they could reach a larger part of the population that way. It also is easier to obtain donations that can support the operations, thereby increasing the amount of activities that can be offered to the campers. However, after three consecutive summers, they decided to move to a for-profit model. "There was just so much paperwork involved that it was slowing things down," Jennifer explained. They still approach businesses for donations because many will voluntarily donate when children are the beneficiaries. However, soliciting donations takes a lot of research and reaching out to the community.

Develop Risks and Mitigation Plan

The Pattersons identified many risks with this project. Their biggest, most impactful immediate risk was in filling up the camps with children. First, they felt that attracting campers away from other venues without offering transportation would be difficult. They opted to mitigate this risk by allowing parents complete flexibility in drop-off and pick-up of campers. As appealing as this was to the parents, it added an additional layer of complexity to the camp processes. They did not want parents wandering in and out of the area trying to locate their children, or pulling them out of an activity and distracting the counselor during an activity that required their full attention, such as archery.

Their next biggest risk was in safety. An obvious imperative, their first mitigation was to take out a $1 million liability insurance policy along with a separate accident policy. "This is a must-have around a lake. There is just no way around that; you cannot cut corners in the insurance," Jennifer says. They also set their processes so that there were limits to the maximum number of campers allowed on the more dangerous activities, such as in the archery range or in the boat. Typically, the ratio would be 10:1, preferably 6 or 7:1, of older campers to counselors, with the younger ones at a 5:1 ratio. These ratios were based on the number of paid staff, not including volunteers. In mitigating the safety risks, they also limited the number of campers participating in any event that was dangerous. This included activities such as kayaking and archery. Jennifer emphasizes, "You just don't want 20 kids at an archery range at the same time or more than 5 kids in the water." All campers were required to wear life jackets in the water regardless of their level of proficiency in swimming or boating. First aid kits were always available, and all counselors were trained in CPR and first aid.

Another risk was in mixing ages together in ways that would put the smaller campers into a risk situation. Age differences are important in all day camp activities. Clearly 6-year-olds cannot play flag football with 13-year-olds, and 11-year-olds have little interest in doing arts and crafts set up for a 4-year-old. To mitigate this risk, smaller age-appropriate groups are formed; typically ages 4–6, 7–8, 9–10, and 11–13.

There was also a risk that involved changing the perceptions of the campers who had never before been exposed to the outdoors. Their concerns and fears needed to be addressed to ensure they enjoyed the experience. Jennifer explains, "Some kids would just come to the lake and jump right in, while others that had never swam in a lake before would look at the water and say, ‘Oh, it's so dirty! Where's the pool?' We would explain that we don't have a pool, but that swimming in the lake would be just fine and wouldn't hurt them." These were the stakeholders upon which the success of the outcomes would be judged, so it was important that their concerns were adequately addressed.

Critical Branch Points

The critical branch point for the Pattersons happened when the first season was over; they wondered if it was all worth it. This critical branch point seems to appear yearly at the end of each summer. Because of how hectic the season is, when all is complete and only the stack of paperwork remains, the Pattersons work their way through the aftermath of bookkeeping, taxes, equipment maintenance and storage, etc. Relying on their notes, they have to backtrack and make sure all the money was collected. Regardless of the frenzy and challenges that they experience during the season, however, they determined that every year they have achieved what they had wanted and ultimately have successfully built up a new type of camp with an outdoor focus. They had so much fun watching the campers grow, learn, and enjoy the outdoors that it really does seem worth it in the end. So, they cleaned and stored the gear, and started planning for the next season.

Outcomes

During the first season, only three campers signed up. The Pattersons had to give away eight camp spots to fill the camp and ensure the campers enjoyed themselves. It was bare bones, and they gave a lot away to get the word out about the camp. During the first couple of years, the participation slowly increased. First, they aimed for 20 campers a week, and then the number increased to 40. After they hit 40, it seemed to exponentially increase and jumped around from 40 to 75, depending on the week. A few weeks they would get 100 or more, typically the first week or two after school ended and the weather was still comfortable.

Defining Success

The first measure of success is in the diversity of the activities that are provided. With an objective of providing an adaptable set of safe and fun outdoor adventures, the Pattersons felt that they had accomplished what they envisioned. The second measure of success was their ability to make the Adventure Day Camps a sustainable organization. Sustained participation at a consistent 100 campers per week range is desired and cannot be achieved without successfully meeting their objectives. They also feel that if they could duplicate the Adventure Day Camps experience through either opening another location themselves, or through franchising or licensing, that would expand the definition of success for them. However, they do understand that in order to move in that direction, they would need well-defined processes and procedures. They have not yet decided which direction they want to follow.

Types of Measures Used

In determining whether or not they are meeting their objectives and achieving success, a count of the total number of campers is used. In addition, the comparison between amount spent versus budgeted also is calculated and used to modify the program in meaningful ways that affect bottom-line operations. The Pattersons try hard to keep the costs of the camp down so that parents of all financial means can send their children. In order to minimize costs, they needed to solicit donations. For example, although the initial camp offering included a meal plan with lunch included, it was so difficult to arrange (within the budget and through donations) that it was dropped from the program. It was reintroduced after demands increased to bring it back, however this required an adjustment to the cost per camper.

Something as simple as providing drinks for the campers can really increase costs. They started the program by providing flavored sports drinks, but it became a significant expense and was not the healthiest choice. They did not want the campers to consume all the sugar. For both costs and health reasons, they moved to water. In addition to drinks, ice is needed. In Grapevine, average summer temperatures are typically in the 90s, with record heats reaching the 100s. Ice is a significant expense. The cost can end up consuming a large portion of the budget. They have been fortunate to obtain ice donations from local businesses.

Other measures they track are staff CPR and first aid certifications, equipment types and amounts, and camper check sheets. Paperwork was important. It contained all the information required to ensure the campers were kept safe and that the parents' desires were met. Each camper filled out an application, including a medical history. The Pattersons searched the Internet for existing forms that would meet their needs or created their own. They created a check sheet for each child, outlining the parent's preferences for their child's sun protection, medical, food and drink, etc. Each day, the check sheet for the campers would be provided to the counselor that would be overseeing their activities. The counselor would review the check sheet for each camper and document the actions they took. Sometimes a camper would require medicine at a particular time. Sometimes they would need extra sunscreen applied if they had fair skin. At the end of the day, the completed forms were collected so that if parents had specific questions about their child, the documentation could be referenced. "When you have 100 kids, you have to make sure all those things are taken care of. A mother might want to know why her child didn't eat his/her lunch, or what steps were taken to keep him/her from getting sunburned," Jennifer explained.

Quality is measured in the form of satisfaction of the campers and their parents. Generally, when this happens, the Pattersons would know quickly. Ultimately, they would like to perform a more formal survey at the end of the camp session to determine if the campers' experiences met their expectations. For now they rely on returning campers as the benchmark for the camper's satisfaction.

Governance

The Pattersons performed some level of governance on their processes, paperwork, budget, and project content change. Some processes, such as safety, are primary and critical so they are tightly controlled. Other processes, such as cleaning the equipment, were at first left more to the discretion of the individual counselors. After it became clear that there needed to be more structure put in place to ensure proper care and maintenance of costly equipment, a more robust process was instituted, and training was provided to the counselors.

The budget was controlled by carefully reviewing any potential new cost to determine if it could either be handled through a donation or if they could do without it. New costs that could not be addressed in either of these ways would require an increase in the cost to the parent. This was to be avoided as much as possible, because the Pattersons were sensitive to the financial situations of the participating families. In addition, they felt increases to the overall cost of the camp would directly affect their competitiveness.

The desire to control costs also translated into careful control over changes to the camp activities as well. If a proposal to include a new activity could not be supported within the current budget, it could not be incorporated. They were careful as well to only buy new equipment that would be supported by the number of campers.

Trends and Variances

The most significant review of trends and variances was in the number of campers each week and over time. Variations drive food and equipment purchases as well as staffing levels. Because of the fluctuation in the number of campers, counselors have to come in knowing there is no guaranteed employment. Whether they work or not is based on enrollment.

Test, Verification, and Validation

Before new activities are incorporated, the equipment is purchased and tested and processes developed. The counselors are then trained in safe handling and proper use. After the first set of campers goes through the activity, the counselors have a discussion to ensure that everything went as planned. Revisions are incorporated as needed.

Reviews

The Pattersons review the performance of the counselors regularly. There is ongoing informal feedback from campers and parents. Counselors who perform well are generally brought back from season to season and given more responsibility. Counselors who do not perform well are first retrained, and then, if it is determined that they are not a good fit for the position, they are released.

Quality

The most important activity in addressing quality is with the selection of the counselors. It is imperative that the counselors are responsible, engaged, interested, competent, trained, and creative. They are assessed initially through a volunteer program. If they are chosen as a staff member, they gradually assume more responsibility through mentoring and assessment. If processes are not flowing well, quality issues will be reflected in the outcomes. Missing paperwork or payments are an unacceptable outcome with far-reaching effects. They try to address these issues and resolve them as quickly and painlessly as possible.

Finally, the availability of clean and safe equipment is an important quality issue. Jennifer says, "You have to keep up with where all the equipment is. Counselors need to be taught that it is their responsibility to use the equipment correctly. Kids are not apt to go look for equipment that is lost, and maintenance is key. Each sand toy, for example, needs to be rinsed off before it is put back in the bucket, the kayak and bounce house needs to be rinsed off and drained to keep the equipment in good form." Replacing and repairing worn equipment is an essential quality control process.

Controlled Progression

In order to control costs for both the parent and the management, new ideas that are brought forward by parents, campers, or counselors are reviewed and carefully considered. Ideas that have been investigated and left behind are soccer and football tutoring because the cost would be an additive to the base camp costs. If it seems like an intriguing idea that would not increase costs, the idea is provided to the parents for an informal vote. If it is a good fit, they will try it out and see how it goes. As activities fall out of favor, they are eliminated.

Leadership

Leadership is a foundational element of success for Adventure Day Camps. Jennifer explains, "There are so many moving pieces, the camp itself, the activities, equipment, structure, processes, the only way to be successful is to have strong leadership." Indeed, once you add in the responsibilities of advertising, marketing, dealing with paperwork, collections, filing taxes, hiring, etc., the only way to survive is for someone to be responsible for each major area, and there is no escaping the accountability. The Pattersons bring all of their experience and leadership abilities to making this work and know that they are ultimately responsible and accountable for the experience and safety of each camper.

They also try to choose counselors with strong leadership abilities. Everyone has to pull together to make the camp a success. As they bring new counselors into the organization, they look for individuals who have knowledge and experiences from different adventures disciplines, because they know they will bring fresh ideas on new activities that can be implemented.

Communications

Parents, campers, volunteers, and paid counselors all need to be communicated with closely, but in different ways. All employees are responsible and accountable for the campers and so need to have a clear understanding of their expectations and responsibilities. Staff meetings and training are held regularly. If things are not being addressed, the Pattersons will call them together for a meeting at the end of the day. E-mail and text messaging are used regularly to send out reminders. At the end of the season, they host a staff party to thank everyone for their hard work.

The kids communicate primarily with the counselors. Although each counselor is assigned a camper check sheet and has the responsibility to attend to the needs of each child, in actuality, the campers communicate with any counselor that is running the activity. The lead counselors are always available to answer any questions or address any issues the campers bring to their attention. This placed a significant amount of responsibility for the campers onto the counselors, which they had to prove they were ready to handle.

Every week prior to the beginning of camp, Jennifer sends an introduction e-mail message, or make calls if e-mail is not available to the parents of the campers who will be attending the following week. This introduction is used to set expectations, provide information on what to bring, provide links to maps and paperwork, and to provide as well a list of things not to send (e.g., the child's favorite toy, which if lost, would be irreplaceable). She also provides some guidance as to the best transition for their child into the camp setting. Of course, parents are always free to come when they want and stay as long as they want, but experience shows that the easiest transitions occur when the child moves into the free activities and integrates with the other children as soon as possible after the parent drops him or her off at the camp.

Lessons Learned

  • When designing something new, it is important to be flexible, listen to the customers, and adapt. Imagination and adaptability are critical in this business. For example, the second half of the day is the best for group activities. Because of the highly flexible schedule that is allowed, Adventure Day Camps moved away from morning rituals, such as starting the days' activities as a group, participating in morning exercise, and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance before starting free time. When the camps had just been started and there were just a few campers, it was easier to organize the group events. However, over the years, the campers were arriving in the morning at different times, and it made it more difficult. Although flexibility is a real draw for parents, it made it difficult to start group activities together. Now, the second half of the day is reserved for group activities. All campers and their assigned counselors stay together for these activities.
  • Standardized processes are easier to monitor and ensure compliance. Having standardized processes allows for consistent application and results. It is easier to train staff on these processes, and standard processes are easier to reproduce in the event they decide to duplicate the business model. An example of this was how important it was to have a separate supply tent with the equipment kept out of view until the counselors decided which activity they wanted to have the campers involved with. They learned early on that if equipment tubs are kept in plain view and readily available, it is too much of an attractant to the average camper. They cannot help but dig into the bin to find something fun to play with during the day. This makes it challenging to control the return and maintenance of the equipment. The campers and counselors just did not have the vested interest in collecting the equipment, cleaning and repairing it, and placing it back into its appropriate bin at the end of the day. So, they moved to a model where the counselor would bring out the equipment only when needed, which provided the counselors the opportunity to determine what activities they wanted to engage the campers in.
  • Measures and metrics are critical for ensuring they meet their objectives. They needed a stronger mechanism for collecting registration payments. The Adventure Day Camps are a business. They realize the importance of putting in place better controls to ensure the full realization of the funding potential from the opportunities. Realizing the full funding potential also gives them the opportunity to set funding aside to offer scholarships and invest in new equipment.
  • Communications is an imperative. Any urgent business with parents is done via telephone or text messaging. Other business, such as reminders for expected weather events, would be communicated via e-mail messages.

Case Analysis

This case study demonstrates the application of project management to a highly creative activity that might not typically be thought of as a project. It uses all aspects of project management including the development of scope, requirements, outcomes, schedule and cost performance, risk management, and change management. In this case, there was no product technical development; however, there was a significant amount of process development. In projects where process or service development is the deliverable, it can be tracked using the same techniques as product-related technical development. This would ensure that all processes are sufficiently developed, tested, and implemented prior to operations. In this case, each process and activity was designed and tested before implementation.

The Pattersons managed their schedule in a way that allowed them to be operational in time for the summer camp. The budget also was carefully controlled. Change and risk were assessed and controlled, sometimes resulting in their refusal to add new activities, which would add cost. Success for this project was defined qualitatively. The clients, or individual campers, had to have "had fun," and the parents would have to be satisfied that their children were kept safe and happy. The project met and exceeded its goals as evidenced by the growth in sign-ups over the years.

This project employed meaningful measures throughout the project. These included the numbers of campers over time, budget spent against the plan, materials purchases, staff training, documentation completion, and equipment status (location, cleanliness, repairs needed). Variances to schedule, budget, risk, resources, and outcomes were measured using informal qualitative reviews in the form of ad hoc queries and unsolicited reports from campers and parents.

An informal, but disciplined, process of governance was performed on their processes, paperwork, budget, and project content change. Some processes, such as safety, were more tightly controlled than others. Trends and variances were monitored for each of these areas; however, the main trend that they focused on was the number of campers as this drove food and equipment purchases as well as staffing levels.

Test, verification, and validation (TV&V) activities were loosely performed to ensure that the equipment and processes were ready for operations. Reviews and quality were focused on the satisfaction of the customer. Potential impacts from proposed changes were carefully evaluated to ensure that the customer would not be negatively impacted by implementing the change, particularly as related to the cost of the camp to the parents. The Pattersons may implement a more formal review structure in the form of a survey at the end of the camp session. This survey would provide additional insight into how they could improve the camp experience.

This project was highly dependent on strong leadership and communications. Each person involved in the camp had to bring some unique set of skills to the team and had to be proactive in using those skills to achieve the broad scope of the project. As a process development project, poor performance in any one area would reflect badly on the team as a whole and could jeopardize future business in a direct way.

The project is in the operations and maintenance phase, and it is expected to continue indefinitely. This demonstrates the application of project management and risk management to a highly creative, process-focused project with both research and process development components.

Note

Patterson, J. 2013. Day camp fun! Go outside and play! Colleyville, TX: Adventure Day Camps. Online at: http://www.AdventureDayCamps.com (accessed August 15, 2013).

Read more IT Performance Improvement

This article is an excerpt from:

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The methods presented in this book can easily be applied to innovation projects and creative endeavors. As there are limited sources of information on how to utilize project management methodology effectively in these types of projects, this book is an ideal resource for anyone looking to add structure and proven methods to enable R&D, innovation, and other creative activities.

About the Author

Lory Mitchell Wingate has achieved notable success in program and project management within policy research, aerospace engineering, production and support, and scientific research organizations. With over 25 years of experience in both for-profit and non-profit companies, Wingate possesses detailed knowledge and expertise in project management and has developed a strong method for combining the best practices from several disciplines into a winning formula for the management of research and development.

She has an MBA in information technology management, and is a Certified Project Management Professional (PMP®). Wingate's area of expertise is in project management, program management, and systems engineering, and she actively pursues opportunities to present training workshops and materials associated with her areas of expertise.