Project Management: “It’s Like Running A Restaurant!”

The Stimulant: I once asked my dad when he was reviewing some financial statements, “How do you know that something wacky is going on in this hospital if you’re not here every day?”

I was known in my community to be “the rebellious daughter searching for her own professional identity” at that time, yet I did the right thing by tagging along with my father as he worked with executive committees or a management team as part of his job as a chief financial officer or a chairman of a board of directors.

His answer: “You need to have a daily routine that works for you. Develop your standards. Then, look for the exceptions only. You’ll know what to fix and what issues to address at that point.”

The “exceptions” my father was referring to were the “variances” in the agreed-upon standards of a project or department.

The Emphasis: Since I had strategically implemented my hotel and restaurant administration training into the daily management of my family-owned home bakeshop business, I had time to experiment with formulas that would eventually evolve as I gained other life experiences.

I am going to give you a quick tour on how to plan and implement your project by comparing it with the ABC’s of restaurant management. Be fearless in finding a template that works for you. Trust your own experience.

1. The Management Principles – Before anything else, set up a worksheet with the 5 most important points in any project: planning, organizing, directing, controlling, and staffing. Notice that the word “controlling” would refer to your standards, such as costing and expenses. With each grid, as you work your way through the initial project planning process, your goal is to answer questions such as “What am I doing to plan for contingencies?” or “What am I doing to direct operations in this sector?”

2. The Theme – Since you are the “Executive Chef,” articulate your vision and mission on paper. You cannot manifest your project into reality if your dreams and hopes are not in writing. Before it is written down, the vision is only a figment of your imagination.

3. Menu-Planning – You might want a Filipino theme for your restaurant yet what kind of food are you going to serve? This is where the elements of having a project or business plan really work. The nuts and bolts of how the project is going to be executed, including the grid pertaining to the 5 basic management principles, are written down.

4. Purchasing – It’s time to “buy” the ingredients or get your resources. Where am I going to find the best talent? What am I looking for in a particular ingredient for success? Job descriptions and qualifications are also part of the purchasing process.

5. Receiving – You’ve purchased equipment, hired employees and consultants, and bought or rented office space. This is the time for your human resources and operations departments to manage the resources you have at any given time.

6. Storage – Always be prepared. Have your “ingredients for success” in the storage bins of your mind. Think about scenario planning for different circumstances. Store the information for easy retrieval.

7. Issuing – Sometimes, some of the ingredients for success are not ready for the production area (implementation) until the menu for the day (or a particular project) calls for it. Thus, controlling costs are important. Issue only the resources you believe are needed to produce results.

8. Production – This is where the project is manifested before being presented to its consumers. All the ingredients are “cooked according to the plan.”

9. Dining or Distribution – The customers or audience finally gets the fruits of your labor. This is the “big day.” The event finally happens or your product makes it to store shelves.

10. Analysis – After the celebration comes the business of evaluating the project. Financial reports and other statistics will clearly show the direction of the next phase of your program or future projects. Back it up with industry experience from similar endeavors. Pay attention to the details with questions such as “How many people showed up?” or “What item sold first?”

The Lesson:You are not looking for more followers to continue your work. With every project, you create new leaders.

© Lorna Dietz, August 2003. The edited version of this article was published by Manila Bulletin USA.

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