The Goal: Manage the Weight of Success
Surefoot Consulting, Inc., is owned by Jim Medema. As the founder, he and his team were struggling under the weight of success. As a result, they had a hard time keeping up with all the work that had come in. Friends and colleagues would say, “Well, that’s a good problem to have!” and smile. While true, it was still a problem.
Jim admitted that the primary obstacle that would have prevented him from working with Susan was a bit of a stubborn ownership mentality. “I started this company from the ground up and know every part of it. I can figure this thing out!”
To the benefit of Jim’s company, he was way beyond having time to figure it out on his own. The company had grown to the point where the current processes were no longer adequate. Additionally, the team was struggling under the weight of success. Furthermore, there were too many projects, too many details, too much to manage, and wayyyy too much to keep track of in someone’s head.
The Tactics: Project Management Consulting
It really was the pain of not having a life outside of work that made Jim’s decision to work with Susan Fennema and Beyond the Chaos an easy one. That, plus the fact that he knew and trusted her character and capabilities. If it wasn’t for those two key elements, he admits that he would have likely continued struggling on his own trying this, trying that. So, they engaged in a Project Management Consulting agreement.
They worked together to review his current process. Susan provided input and refinement based on her years of experience with custom software project management. Additionally, she collaborated with Jim to implement those recommendations into Basecamp®, his team’s tool to manage projects. She built a custom project template so Jim could easily open new projects without reinventing the wheel. They confirmed it would all work for the team. Finally, it was implemented for the whole team to use and follow.
But, Susan didn’t stop there. She offered support during the team’s implementation, making sure they were held accountable to the new processes. She was also available to help solve challenges that arose. Sometimes, it was teaching how the process worked. But others, it was modifying the process so it worked.
She studied us, the work we do, our processes, and how we operate. There wasn’t a pre-existing template that she threw over us…. She was a blast to work with! While we accomplished a great deal of work together, we sure did laugh a lot too!
– Jim Medema
Jim identified four things that he most appreciated about working with Susan:
- “She studied us, the work we do, our processes, and how we operate. There wasn’t a pre-existing template that she threw over us.
- “She helped us select the tool(s) that would best serve both us and our clients and provided key information so we could make an informed decision.
- “She was a blast to work with! To be clear, there were some habits and procedures on our end that needed some tweaking, but her approach and demeanor made the incorporation of these changes a pleasure. While we accomplished a great deal of work together, we sure did laugh a lot too!
- “She was always crystal clear and extremely organized. By following her own process, she beautifully modeled how we could (and should) be doing it. Expectations were always clear and never once did I feel like anything fell through the cracks.”
The Results: Getting His Life Back
At the end of the engagement, Jim rejoiced, “I have a life!” Additionally, as a company, the team now has the capabilities to manage not only its existing project load but to add a few more here and there without folding under the pressure.
One of Jim’s key criteria was not to increase the effort to manage projects. And, he didn’t want it to be a hassle for his development team. The process had to be simple and serve the team, not the other way around.
As a result, Surefoot Consulting now has a place for the development team to store and manage ALL the information about its projects. Plus the team has a clear process to govern it. It is now easy for Jim to keep up on projects, manage developers, manage project details and process, and keep everything on track.
Jim noted that even if someone is able to manage his work processes well, there is still likely to be some helpful tweaking that Susan would be able to provide. If, however, you are having a hard time managing in one or more areas – like struggling under the weight of success – Susan is likely to be an angel in disguise.