Project Practitioners > Yum, Vanilla!

Yum, Vanilla!

By Lisa DiTullio

Do you want to gain quick recognition and enjoy long-lasting professional success as a project manager? Serve Vanilla.  In spite of all the flavors offered, it is still the most popular.  Business activities and project management practices do not need to be complex or complicated to work.  In fact, when you keep it simple, you are likely to adopt key competencies necessary for your future personal growth and professional development.  Project managers who embrace project management in an incremental manner and seek only the level of practice that is right for their organization and culture, rather than force-feeding the crowd, are more likely to sustain project management activities over time and enjoy long-term success.

Think about vanilla. It maintains its integrity.  It’s simple, without pretense.  It’s highly likely you have experienced the flavor at some point during your life.  Perhaps it was when you ordered your first ice cream cone as a young child?  When you acquire a taste for the simple flavor and appreciate its pureness, eventually you will get creative and more adventurous.  Perhaps you will enhance your vanilla ice cream by adding fudge sauce and whip cream- or maybe it’s a coating of coconut crunch or colorful sprinkles.  Whatever you add to vanilla will likely compliment the original flavor.  The same holds true when you begin with vanilla project management – once you acquire a taste for what it can do for you in business, you can gradually add more processes and tools to compliment what already works for you.

Keeping project management simple allows you to learn fundamental concepts quickly and you are more apt to practice what you learn.  Keeping definitions and applications simple enables you to learn at a pace that is right for you and is likely to become part of your business acumen.  In other words, when you maintain an taste for simplicity, you are likely to embrace project management and key leadership skills into your core beliefs and business values.

I maintain a taste for vanilla when managing most of my projects.  I find I can successfully manage projects when I follow a four-phase lifefcycle (Initiate, Plan, Execute and Close) and maintain a small toolbox of four primary tools:

Project Scope/Business Case:  I use this to justify why the project is needed and what the project will do.

Project Plan: This says what needs to be done by when and by whom.

Status Report:  Perhaps the most valuable tool in the toolbox, this tells how well we are progressing against the plan and what we need from senior sponsors to succeed.

RAID:  A way to track Risks, Assumptions, Issues and Decisions.

In the spirit of vanilla, maintain an appetite for the simple and you will never go hungry.  As you acquire a taste for more, drizzle with some more tools and processes as needed and top off with some leadership skills and team building activities.  Delicious!



Related Links
A solid project business case can make or break executive buy-in. We have an extensive collection of resources for project planning and status reporting. Track risks and issues with the resources on this page.


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