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PDG Brian Coffey, Assistant Rotary Coordinator —

Every project your club has – from the simple BBQ, needs a plan. The day will come when that member, who always does everything, is not there, and someone has to step up to the plate.

Article by PDG Brian Coffey, Assistant Rotary Coordinator

Having just spent 5 consecutive days on 4 Rotary projects I certainly respect the need for planning. Members of any organisation want their time and effort appreciated. For Rotarians, it seems to be a famine or a flood when it comes to projects. A successful project can build member friendships, provide service stimulus and expose your club with high profile publicity.

Why is it that some clubs have numerous successful projects and plenty of support from members and the community? The cause of the project is one reason, but it is the management that is at the forefront. The management and controls are the priority to make a project successful. If we look at Rotary Australia World Community Service (RAWCS) in Australia, we see projects that have guidelines and requirements to be successful – the same diligence needs to be in place for any club project – and a project is as simple as a raffle or a BBQ!

Once again, we come back to something I harped on as a DG, … the need for a Strategic Plan! Today, in Rotary it is referred to as an ‘Action Plan’. Regardless of what it is named, or your club size, you will see immediate and ongoing benefit of having, and documenting, a good plan to help steer and navigate the path ahead. This plan needs to be flexible, evolving as the needs of the community, club, and members, change, or demand. A good plan provides direction, and ensures everyone is working towards a common goal, by identifying particular areas that need attention.

Every project your club has – from the simple BBQ, needs a plan. The day will come when that member, who always does everything, is not there, and someone has to step up to the plate.
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A plan of real value, breaks down each proposed improvement or goal to a separate mini project to be managed as such. With a humble BBQ; there can be separate mini plans (identified and spelt out tasks) to get insurance coverage, prepare a roster, check and clean the BBQ, get the gas filled, collect tools, order and purchase bread, sausages, condiments, and then the transporting of the equipment and set up – plus the dreaded cleaning. The Treasurer has their own job chasing receipts and hopefully balancing the books for a favourable project result. Members should then receive feedback and share in the success of the project, with the ability to have a say on improvements. Engaging the members at any level makes them part of the team and happy.

Without an effective system you may find your projects lose member interest or achieve very little. Rotary, have a ‘Strategic Planning Guide’ available in ‘My Rotary’, to help clubs get started with the process https://my-cms.rotary.org/en/document/strategic-planning-guide

In my club, we use five key phases of project management in any project. I personally utilise a process of professionally prepared corporate templates from a renowned business. The bigger the project, the higher the risk, the more detail we go into, so as to effectively manage our projects:

  1. Request for Approval (the concept) (1-2 page template). To avoid ‘wildcard’ commitments for the club and members we have instilled the need for each event to be formally approved by the Board. For the proponent this is possibly the most important part of their business case. The request should contain a clear and concise outline of the whole proposal, including the rationale for proceeding with it.
  2. Project Initiation (2-4 page template). This phase of a Project plan, drawn from your strategic plan, summarises the big picture items of Aim, Objectives, Project duration, start and end dates, Key deliverables and milestones, skills, sponsor, manager, project background, Key stakeholders, budget (if known), Risks and documented approval to go ahead.
  3. The Plan. This document contains project details, key timings, deliverables, Risk Assessments, tasks and timings, staffing and organisation, resources, financials, stakeholders, changes, administration. A new member should be able to pick up this plan and successfully complete the project in the absence of a key stakeholder.
  4. Execution. The execution phase is perhaps the most critical part of project management. It is during this phase where particular skills and abilities are required to effectively manage people, get the right advice, stick to the budget and bring the project back on track if needed.
  5. Termination. The termination or winding up phase is essential to review and evaluate what happened. What worked, what failed, how can we improve for next time – or do we ever do it again?

Benjamin Franklin said, “Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement and success have no meaning.” These words are critical in member satisfaction and should be considered by any club taking on a project.