Letter from the CEO

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Bracing for the Worst, Hoping for the Best

This was the headline for the New York Times as students across the country made their way back into our schools over the past week or two. This too, may be the sentiment of businesses as we look at the landscape in the US. Inflation is at an all-time high, we are amid what is being deemed the “Great Resignation,” we are still dealing with COVID-19 health issues, and supply chain delays are affecting all facets of project delivery.

Projects have experienced so many disruptions due to the aforementioned issues that I think project teams had a really discontinuous and incongruous year last year. It was really hard to feel like you were making progress day in and day out with so many issues and unexpected, negative project impacts.

As we transition from summer to fall, I am optimistic we have a real shot to align our efforts to better ensure project success in the future. Here are a best practices that may assist us in both managing our projects better as well as navigating the transition in workforce.

1. Agility is key to success. We must be flexible.  Agile means being open to adaptation, encourages experimentation and welcomes changes of direction, even in later phases of the project.

2.  We must rethink the way we recruit and retain project personnel. For many, workplaces that are inflexible and that don’t provide a pathway to advancement aren’t worth the sacrifice of going back to work. Project teams are ready to lend their time and talents to companies that are willing to work with their schedules and allow some autonomy, all the while having assurances the scope of work will be completed in a timely manner.

3.  Plan your work, work your plan, and then replan. Traditional wisdom is that planning and analysis are very important and the more there is in a project, the more successful the project will be. Time spent on these activities will reduce risk and increase project success. 

The one thing we know about projects is they are complex and require excellent management to be successful. Additionally, most project teams I am working with now are trying to put their best teams forward, keeping up and reacting to each moment. They have all struggled. But there are many companies trying to capitalize on this moment and build new structures, recruit and train fresh talent, diversify their suppliers, etc. Today’s time is not the norm, but it is really promising to see companies and project teams are trying to adapt and be on purpose to alleviate unnecessary schedule delays or negative cost impacts while delivering a quality product.

- Misty Mayes

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20 Year Anniversary Recognition

As you hopefully have noticed, we continue the journey of celebrating our 20th year in business. Each month, as we pay tribute to the “village” of folks that have helped us achieve this milestone, I want to recognize each of our former employees that have passed away. Each of these gentlemen played a vital role in our growth.

Bill DeFranco was a Senior Project Controller that worked with us first at USACE and was a team member supporting the USACE Huntington office. Later, Bill returned to Knoxville and helped our team lead ORNL’s EVMS certification process. He will always be remembered as a kind individual that put a smile on your face with some silly joke or crazy story.

Jerry Duncan, my father, brought years of expertise and experience in the preventive maintenance arena. ORNL, one of our long-time clients, reached out and needed support in this area. We were able to talk Jerry into coming out of retirement from his previous 38 years at Rohm & Haas and worked to establish our presence in the Facilities Maintenance Division at the laboratory. He will be remembered for many, many things but I think our team would say he always took time to say hello to all and make everyone feel like they were the most important person in the world.

Jerry Mikeal, a long-time mentor of mine, was the first person to introduce me to the world of project management/controls. He took a young, inexperienced engineer took a chance on me and created a passion in me for this industry that is still alive today. He taught me to love this industry, showed me how I can add value to clients and how to bring the next generation of project controllers along. He will always be remembered as the ultimate teacher.

Lindsey Hopson was a construction manager and helped us build this competency within Management Solutions. He worked tirelessly for one of our clients and enabled us to build the corporate expertise all the while training our staff in best practices. He will always be remembered for his gentle spirit and willingness to help whenever possible.

I doubt any of these men would think they would be remembered 20 years later but I hope they knew the positive impact they each had on my life personally and the tremendous legacy they left on Management Solutions.

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The planet Mercury is visible from August 1 to September 15. Mercury is the closest planet to the Sun in our Solar System. Because it is so close to the Sun, it is only observable in the early morning, just before sunrise, or at dusk. In fact, ancient Greek astronomers once believed Mercury was actually two separate objects. It usually appears as a bright “star” with a golden hue. As an evening star, appears in the western sky setting about an hour after the Sun; as a morning star, it appears in the eastern sky rising about an hour before the Sun. Mercury usually appears as a bright “star” with a yellowish or ochre hue. Source: Almanac.com