121. PMO holiday checklist

August 13, 2013

PMO Tips

Out of office message on keyboardFollowing on in this series of PMO holiday related posts, it is important not to forget your own plan to ensure you can take a well deserved break.  This is important so as to ensure that the correct work progresses while you are away relaxing and recharging the batteries (read the post on Work Life Balance as to why this is important).  A PMO holiday checklist can help.

If you do not put the appropriate plans in place, even for a weeks holiday, the following may take place:

Last Minute Scramble

You will find yourself late on Friday evening racing around to finish work and handover key items.  Most Friday’s people try to leave work on time.  This means that it is highly likely your colleagues will have left when you realise there are items to handover.  This then means you are spending more time that evening (or over the weekend) sending mails with instructions.

The risk here is that you will be tired and as you rush to get the mails out, the instructions may not be clear.  So when your colleagues pick them up Monday morning they may not know what to do or may do the wrong thing.

Not Switching Off

If you feel you have had to rush to get the instructions out, you will probably be worried that the instructions were not clear.  This will lead to the desire to send further mails from your Blackberry on Monday morning to clarify.  This will often result in numerous mail chains so you don’t really switch off and relax.

If the messages are not understood, you will then take the next step of making a phone call.  Logic being it is easier to explain in a 2 way conversation.  While this can be more direct and save time over using e-mails, there is a big risk that your colleague will use the opportunity to ask about other items.  Worse still, you may be tempted to ask about other things.  A short call easily becomes a long call.

Return to a Mess

If you have rushed out notes on what needs to be done, left the office and gone straight on holiday, you may not have any further contact with the office until you return 1 or 2 weeks later.  The positive is that you have been disciplined, hopefully not thought (too) much about work, relaxed and recharged your batteries.

However, when you walk back into the office, all the benefits of the holiday are quickly washed away as important tasks have not been completed and management are very upset.  You then will spend days racing around, working long hours to fix the issues.  Plus management may not be happy with what has happened and question why the items were not handed over appropriately.

All of the above can be avoided.

PMO Hoiday Checklist

1. Plan Early

In most cases, you will know your main holiday dates in advance.  As soon as they are booked, take a moment to block out in your diary and make people aware.  At the same time, schedule some handover meetings with key members of staff so they are in the schedule.

2. Map Deliverables

Take a look at the plans and calendars to work out what deliverables will be due during or soon after your holiday.  If any can be deferred you may wish to discus moving them back where possible.  If it is not possible, make sure that you have scheduled meeting placeholders with all the correct people who you will need to progress in your absence.

3. Review Deliverables

A week or so before your holiday, start making a list of the key activities and deliverables that you are progressing.  This will include the items captured in step 2.  You may find that some are almost complete or even complete.  This is good news as less to handover.  Word of caution, don’t be fooled by your “superPMO” goggles thinking you will be able to complete more than actually possible.  Be sensible so as not to put yourself under pressure.

4. Handover Meetings

Using the pre-scheduled meetings from step 1, conduct an orderly handover with your colleagues.  Ensure you provide all of the required information and make sure that they have understood what is expected.  Ideally these meetings should be a few days or more before you leave to give time for them to digest and come back for further clarification.

5. Out of Office

Make sure you communicate with all stakeholders so they are aware you are out on holiday and advise them who will be progressing the activities.  You should also include the appropriate contact details in your e-mail and voice mail out of office message.

6. Go on Holiday

The most important step.  You can be confident that you have completed a solid handover and you can go away on holiday to relax.

In summary

Holidays are very important but they can creep up on you and catch you unaware.  This will lead to a sub-optimal handover.  This may then mean that time has to be spent during your holiday clarifying and / or you return to a mess.  Following the simple 6 steps in the PMO Holiday Checklist will help avoid this and make management realise you are in full control.

Bon voyage.


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About Simon

Founder of practical PMO with a passion to share insights on designing and building practical, pragmatic PMO's. Posted by Simon Wilkinson, PMP

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