Avoiding DIY Disasters

The road to the hardware store is paved with good intentions,” says David Pekel, president of Pekel Construction in Milwaukee and a master certified remodeler. He is often greeted at his office on Monday by frantic calls from homeowners needing help to remedy the weekend’s DIY home repair fails.

Many repair projects can be accomplished by virtually any homeowner, but others should be left to those with experience.

Plumbing repairs are especially tricky.  Andy Prescott, who publishes the blog Art of Being Cheap, does whatever repairs he can on his rental house and his own house. Doing his own plumbing does not save money, and he learned this the hard way.

When considering a DIY project, whether at home or on the job, –

–   Know what you can and can’t do yourself

–   Consider what your time is worth

–   Anticipate scope creep

–   Be prepared to live with the results

Business challenges, particularly those involving growth and change, can cripple even the most successful enterprise. In an effort to make smart decisions, many CEOs and boards of directors grapple with how to navigate complex situations. One approach is partnering with a management consulting firm – to bridge existing gaps in knowledge, skills, and leadership or to augment staff.

In her blog, Good to Know: Why Companies Really Hire Consultants, Alex Nuth highlights a few of the main reasons companies turn to management consultants for support.

They Want an Outside Eye

You know how sometimes when you’re dealing with an issue in your life, you turn to friends and family for their opinions? Companies often need this, too, especially when making tough decisions. Oftentimes, clients have a perspective on how to solve the problem they are facing but want to make sure that what they’re thinking is correct (or that they aren’t so close to the challenge that they’re missing the obvious answer). So, they turn to consultants to come in and provide their opinion.

But this isn’t just any opinion: Because consultants often work with many different companies and may have worked through this problem in the past with someone else, they can really provide a perspective based on what they’ve seen work (or not) before.

They Need Extra Horsepower

Sometimes the problems companies need solving are really important, but they don’t necessarily have the manpower to focus on them. Companies still have to focus on their day-to-day operations, after all, and new projects typically require reprioritizing employees’ core job responsibilities. But hiring new employees to fill these gaps doesn’t always make sense either, seeing as many of these projects are one-offs. Whether it’s a cost reduction program requiring a dedicated team of six for a year or even a post-merger integration that requires a team of 100 for a month, clients might struggle to get teams in place to do this critical work.

They Want Specialized Skills

Another, and perhaps the most common, reason that companies hire consultants is to gain access to a specialized skill set that might not exist in-house. By engaging a consulting firm, you get access to a group of professionals that has skills ranging from Lean Six Sigma process design to finance organization structures. These highly specialized people would not only be expensive to hire, but the company might not have enough work to keep said employees busy year-round. But, thanks to consultants, companies can bring in that skill set on demand when they need it.

iSeek Solutions is a team of highly-skilled management consultants with a broad range of industry knowledge and expertise. Our guidance, methodologies, tools, and know-how empower our clients to align, optimize, empower, and succeed in achieving their goals and objectives. To learn more about how iSeek can help your company overcome difficult challenges, visit our website, subscribe to our blog or follow us on LinkedIn. Contact us directly at info@iseeksolutionsinc.com!

Putting the pieces together

Project Management Tools:  Putting the Pieces Together

Search for ‘project management tools’ on the internet and your results will contain a variety of software that enables businesses to manage their projects better. Essentially, they offer collaborative scheduling and task management functions, a definite improvement over the Excel spreadsheets project managers used in the past. But don’t be deceived – managing the schedule is only one piece of the entire project management puzzle. Without all the right pieces, your project may end up on life support.

iSeek’s Project Management Playbook (iPMPlaybook©) is a repository of templates designed to standardize project documentation regardless of project size, type, or scope. The templates are based on industry best practices and are aligned with the Project Management Institute (PMI). At the core of these project documents are the following:

1. The Project Charter

Many of us have great ideas for ways to improve what we see and do in our workplaces. Suppose you work for a fresh meal delivery service and realize that several of the small packets of ingredients that are supplied with meals are impossible to open without scissors. After pondering this dilemma for a while, you come up with a novel approach to the little packet problem and present a business case to your company’s leadership. What happens next?

You had the great idea, but now the company needs to translate your idea into a formal project, communicate the project’s features to stakeholders, and provide a record of key information for future reference. The Project Charter is a formal document that captures the project purpose, objectives, key requirements, scope, and deliverables along with many other attributes. The iPMPlaybook© has not only a full charter template, but also a condensed version of the template which is a great fit for smaller projects.

2.The Stakeholder/Project Team Register

Picture yourself in the dugout in your first pro baseball game and not knowing who your coach is or what the responsibilities of the manager are. If the other members of the team are also in the dark, chaos will undoubtedly reign. Understanding the roles and responsibilities of each person on the team is essential to successful teamwork. Much like a baseball team, a project team also must have clearly defined roles to be effective.

The definition of a project stakeholder is broad, easily including the project manager, project team members, senior executives, department managers and users, not to mention external stakeholders like customers and vendors. The iPMPlaybook© allows you to capture the names, define the project roles and record other pertinent information so no one is left in the dark about who does what.

3.The DRACI Log

Have you spent time in a major metropolitan city outside of the US? Perhaps Madrid or Paris? If you have, you’ve probably noticed small, specialty food stores on every block:  fruit and vegetable markets, butcher shops, and cheese stands. It’s great fun to do as the locals do and visit each little shop to buy just what you need for a lunchtime picnic. However, after returning to the office and juggling a myriad of details for a project in flight with a looming deadline, you recognize that a supermarket mindset is far more efficient for a project manager.  Although the term, ‘one stop shopping’, is a bit overused, let’s use it one more time and talk about an excellent project management tool that will stock all the information you need to keep your project on track.

The DRACI Log makes the need for maintaining separate decision, risk, action item, change request and issue registers obsolete.  It combines details about items in each category into one useful list. The DRACI Log will calculate risk severity, maintain the most current information on the status of change requests, capture the possible impact of issues on the project, and more.

4.The Closure Checklist

Imagine you make a delicious dinner, then settle in to watch a show on your favorite streaming service when you remember that you haven’t washed the dishes. You decide you’ll get to them later, which is really not a problem until you wake up the next morning and face a sink full of plates and pans crusted over with last night’s Pasta Bolognese. It doesn’t look quite as delicious by the light of day as it did the previous night.

Closure is more important than you might think. The iPMPlaybook© Closure Checklist provides a means for ensuring that closure activities associated with the project are fully completed on a timely basis and valuable project information is not lost. The checklist records key tasks to address at the end of a project. And this checklist, like all the iPMPlaybook© templates, is editable, so you can add tasks that have relevance to your project or business.

In addition to the templates mentioned above, the iPMPlaybook© provides users with other templates considered ‘must haves’ by most project managers.

These include

  • Initiative Request Form
  • Business Requirements Document (BRD)
  • Communication Plan
  • Project Budget
  • Execution Plan for technology projects
  • Deliverable Acceptance Form


All templates are easy to use and customizable.  For more information about the iPMPlaybook©, contact us today at info@iseeksolutionsinc.com. To learn more about iSeek’s services and resources, visit our website, subscribe to our blog or follow us on LinkedIn.