Minimizing the Holiday Impact

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Let me set the record straight: I enjoy the holidays as much as the next guy.  In fact, I actually look forward to the holidays as a time to renew and reconnect relationships with family and friends.  There, I said it. So why do people who know me think I’m the inventor of the “Bah humbug, Scrooge” mentality?  One word: CONSTRUCTION!

Holidays are at best, a distraction.  At their worst they are a serious drain on the overall production of the modern world!  It appears as if the only beneficiaries to any holidays are the retailers of the world. Those of us in the “production” world are forced to “go along” with the celebrations regardless of goals, deadlines and on-going projects.  It’s common to hear the “holiday season” warnings beginning in October each year.  Statements like, “Well, I know we projected a completion date of December 5th but it’s the holidays and we can’t depend on that critical item shipping in time to meet that date”.  And again, “I know we said the project had to be completed by November 30th but we just found out that so and so company/critical personnel will be on vacation at that time and there is no one to fill in”.  Don’t misunderstand me, not all personnel or vendors fall into this group, but many do.

The “holiday season” generally begins the week before Thanksgiving.  Vendors and suppliers, when questioned about timelines, start to “push” the dates out to the first part of December due to the “long holiday weekend”.  This ends up pushing December dates out by a couple of weeks so that by mid-December most dates have to be pushed to after the beginning of the year.  The situation becomes worse when Christmas and the New Year fall near the middle of the week.  When this happens, the last week of the year and the first week of the next year are lost to the “holiday season”.

So what, if anything, can be done to minimize this “holiday impact”?  There are several ways to mitigate this impact, depending on the particular situation, but let me give you four common ways.

  1. Anticipation.  I know it sounds silly but most of us don’t anticipate the holidays or their impact to our projects until those holidays are upon us.  The time to start thinking about the holiday impact is the first week of the year.
  2. Planning.  We live in a world that clamors to know the end from the beginning. Rational people recognize that this is impossible.  However, these same rational people insist that date and time projections be formulated in advance, prior to knowing all the details.  So it is imperative, as far as possible, that any/all contingencies and options are recognized and are ready to be implemented  if/when it is needed.
  3. Scheduling.  What would the world look like if no projects were ever scheduled for completion within a week of any major holiday?  Sounds like heaven, to me!
  4. Motivation.  The wise project manager will recognize that the majority of his staff will most likely get caught up in the “holiday season”.  His job is to coax the staff to either step up production prior to the anticipated delays and/or to think outside the box relative to overcoming the inevitable delays.

As we enter into this holiday season, let’s not forfeit the enjoyment of this time of year by getting caught up in the “still have to meet the deadline” syndrome.  A little bit of fore sight goes a long way towards maintaining sanity and peace among workers, family and friends!  Have a safe and happy holiday season.  Oh yeah…..try to make it productive, too!

And when you are thinking of your next construction project, consider The HiPath Group, when expertise and experience matter.

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