6 Lessons: Marathons and Adopting a New Project Management System

So. I made a decision last October to run my first marathon. I signed up for the BMO Vancouver International Marathon (you know, after a couple beers and “encouragement” from friends). It seemed like a good idea at the time, but all of a sudden May 5th became this ominous date. What did I commit to? Is this really something I want to … or even can do? Is this really a good idea?

It was a personal challenge, and a commitment that took me completely out of my comfort zone. I had run a couple of 10K races, and did my first 1/2 marathon last year, but was I really ready to take on the full thing? Scary stuff!

It may seem like a stretch (or cool way to justify writing a blog about running while I’m at work) but the emotions above really are similar to what the primary decision makers of an agency go through when deciding to adopt a new process or new project management software.

– A decision is made
– Fear sets in
– The decision maker (and everyone around him/her) start questioning the decision

Here are the 6 lessons that I learned training for (and completing) my first marathon that may help you in adopting your new agency management system (which of course we hope is fp.):

1. Develop a plan

The first thing I did after that fateful moment of hitting submit on my application form was begin research on marathon training plans. How many times per week did I need to run, how far should I go, what did I need to know in terms of nutrition … and could I really do this? These are daunting questions, and a simple Google search made it pretty clear that there were no “right” answers, but instead many approaches. The key was to find a plan that was right for me and map it out. I spent quite a bit of time on this, and having done this at the outset really helped me feel more confidant as I got closer to race day.

Once you decide to bring more process into your agency, and have selected a software system to help you do this, the most important thing you can do is develop a plan. Think of it as the start of your marathon training. Having a solid plan in place that is achievable is key to getting staff buy-in and a system that will work for your team.

2. Follow your plan

Once I had my plan in place, I simply needed to stick with it. It meant running (3-4 times per week for me) and gradually increasing my distance. There are no shortcuts here – skipping a day or two and doubling the distance of the next run didn’t work.

In the world of integrating your new software into your agency, this simply means that you need to do your legwork. Develop a workflow that will be successful in your company, share your plan with your training consultant, and follow it. Don’t make the fatal mistake of trying to rush it by doing all your training in one day or trying to catch up over the weekend.

3. Build up

Over time, training got easier. A 10K run (that started out as a long run for me) became quick and easy, and longer runs became more the norm. Building up my fitness was the outcome of following my plan … suddenly the task of completing a marathon didn’t seem so daunting.

This is much the same in adapting a new system. At Function Point we find that our most successful clients are the ones who build on their system knowledge through a structured training process. They do their homework during the training process and build up to their ultimate goal of using all modules to help manage their agency. At Function Point, our training consultants are like your personal trainers, and our system is like you’re gym – we’re here to help you build up your agency management fitness!

4. Don’t freak out if something goes awry

Two things happened during my marathon training that posed what could have been a major problem in achieving my goal.

The first one was completely of my doing – I decided that it would be a good idea to go to Brazil and spend a week during Carnaval three months before the big day. Believe it or not, partying for a week didn’t help my training … but it had to be done! Did I regret going? No, not at all – it just meant that I needed to focus when I got home. The second problem was that I got strep throat about 6 weeks prior to the race. I had two of my longest runs planned during this time, but instead I was curled up in bed … doing nothing except feeling terrible and getting stressed about the runs I was missing!

As you’re implementing your new software and internal processes are altered and adjusted, things will go awry … expect it! You may land that project you were pitching last week, your traffic manager might get sick or maybe your entire team will decide to take vacation at the same time. Don’t fret though, as long as you have been following your plan you’ll make it through with flying colours.

5. Readiness

I was able to bounce back from both my partying and getting sick fairly quickly. Because I had set a plan in place and had been following it I was in much better shape than I realized. After a few more weeks of training (and of course getting my long runs in) I was ready to roll!

There’s no better feeling than knowing that you’re ready to implement a change. Especially if that change will ultimately make everyone’s job easier and your company more profitable. Adapting a new project and workflow management tool for your creative agency can do exactly this for you.

6. Race Day!

Well … I did it. I wasn’t the fastest in the world, but I made it. 26.2 miles and I’m still alive!

You will be too. Just ensure that the software you choose will work for your team and that there are people to support you and help you implement the proper plan.

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