BlogClassical Structures: Lines and Boxes
Outsource, Resource & “Soul-Source”
Taking a fresh look at classic project management strategies
For the New Year, Stafford Wood, Covalent Logic Partner, spoke to members of the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge about how to economically achieve personal and company goals through outsourcing, resourcing and "soul-sourcing." In order to achieve any goal, time, money, control and quality are all factors that need to be considered, she explained. How much time will the project take? How much money do I have to allot to my efforts? How much control am I willing to give up? And is this a project where the quality or the deadline matters more? These are all questions that need to be asked when starting a project, and Wood guided us through these questions via three basic categories: outsourcing, resourcing and soul-sourcing.
When outsourcing, the two things you give up instantly are money and control. If you plan on outsourcing, ask yourself, what are you the least good at? It’s important to remember that the purpose of outsourcing is to pay an expert to do the work for you. Figure out what could not be done internally and find someone who is reputable in that area to hire.
When looking for the right person to outsource to, make sure to look at their references and previously completed projects. This will give you valuable insight into the person or company’s reputation and style.
Remember to place value on things you want to outsource individually, not just based on the supplier’s price. If something is more important to you but has a lower outsourcing cost, don't let that influence your decision.
When you are on the receiving end of outsourcing, beware of the "low-bono." This happens when you take a project for much less money than you normally would out of consideration for the client and their cause. Low-bono cases will end up stretching your budget, taking a high priority in your eyes but a low priority in the client's because they are paying you so little for it. Renegociate the scope of the project when someone suggests a low-bono budget. What specifically does this client need--planning, execution, a logo? Ask the client what their highest priority is and work with that.
Time and quality are usually given up during resourcing. Employees and volunteers are already busy with projects, but resourcing is also the most common way to get a project done and is obviously very useful.
Your personnel is the key to successful resourcing. Avoid acquiring employees or volunteers who say they would "prefer not to" when asked to do a task. Look for people who are okay with being uncomfortable and ready for a challenge. Even if these people aren't experts on their assigned task, they will take on the project with eagerness and a willingness to learn.
Resourcing can be a great way to motivate current employees, volunteers or interns. Bigger paychecks and bonuses only do so much. If a person is already living comfortably on their salary, a great way to motivate them is by giving them a task they can master. People are also motivated by autonomy. When allowed to choose how and when a project gets done, they feel empowered and responsible. Another key factor to motivating employees through resourcing is by giving them purpose. This is huge for non-profits. If you have a good purpose, you attract talent. Remember to give employees and volunteers the reasoning and big picture behind their projects. If the purpose is something they believe in, they will be even more motivated to get the job done and do it well.
Resourcing also helps employers figure out who among them works well together to build internal teams. When an internal project arises, take the opportunity to "cross-dress" your employees. Assign people to new areas they haven't worked in before. This can test how both new and old employees interact and may also bring to light unknown talents. Internal projects like this are beneficial in general, but they are specifically helpful before a restructuring occurs.
When a project comes along that you'd like to do yourself, get ready to soul-source. Typically, soul-sourcing requires you to give up everything but control. But this doesn't mean that soul-sourcing is an inefficient way to get a job done.
Create a Board of Directors for yourself – a close council of three to five people to help hold you accountable. Remember to include someone who can help you think, someone who can give you drive and someone who can give you professional advice based off their experience.
Remember that success is built in increments. Set achievable deadlines for yourself and meet them. Do at least one thing on your to-do list every day.
When beginning and completing a project, it is vital to remember these four, equally important steps: research, plan, execute and evaluate. Devote an equal amount of time to each of these four steps throughout a project, and never forget to evaluate and be satisfied by your finished results.
12 Ideas Better Than a To-Do List
- Create two lists: one where the deadline matters more, and one where quality matters more. Going back and forth between these two lists helps create balance.
- Start tomorrow’s to-do list today!
- FedEx days: give yourself 24 hours to complete something. This challenge is not only efficient but a great brain workout.
- Create a “someday list” for great ideas that are not time sensitive.
- Use the 1/3/5 rule: create a list including one big item that needs to be done, three medium to-dos, and 5 small tasks. Choose whether you want to devote the day to the big item, medium to-dos or small tasks.
- Schedule to-dos on your calendar. This ensures you will devote time to your to-dos and not overbook yourself.
- Tame your inbox! Archive messages to keep your inbox relevant and less overwhelming.
- Write your to-do list on a white board. Erase things when they are completed.
- Use index cards instead of one piece of paper to write your to-do list on. Have separate cards for work, live and play.
- Create a space where instead of the traditional list, you use boxes of varying size to convey the importance and urgency of your different to-dos.
- Tame the paper tiger. Stop hoarding magazines and newspapers. Cut out articles or blurbs that inspire you and keep those--not the whole publication.
- Use Post-Its to keep your to-dos organized and in a relevant spot.