7295 State Highway 66
Tulsa, OK 74131
  • Doug Sahm

A Project Manager's Approach to Hosting Thanksgiving

As a company, TPE Midstream is exclusively focused on rental equipment for the pipeline industry. We work with project managers from contractors, pipeline operations, and engineering firms. Project managers have a unique perspective on the world, and as they say “If you’ve got a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” For project management professionals and most families hosting, Thanksgiving Day is a project of epic (pro)portions!

1. Scope & Responsibilities– Just like a pipeline pigging job that involves multiple vendors, logistics coordination, and liability contracts, Thanksgiving Day usually has a lot of people doing a lot of different jobs to pull the day together. Who is responsible for what? I’m not going to complain if everyone who shows up brings the same delicious pumpkin pie, but if every somehow no one makes pie, I know at least one person who’s going to be disappointed. Luckily, the project manager involved in your Turkey-day is making sure each person has a specific set of “deliverables” that make sure every delicious dish is present.

2. Schedule- The Turkey is the center of your critical path timeline. However, if your Mother-in-Law making the mashed potatoes needs to get in your kitchen at 4am to start peeling potatoes, the project manager hosting Thanksgiving is laying out her “jobsite” the night before.

3. Stakeholders– Just like your pipeline projects, getting all the stakeholders on the same page early and often is important to your Thanksgiving Day success. Even though the non-project family and friends might say “We’re not having steaks, we’re having turkey!” PMs know that getting all the people coordinated is often the most difficult part of a project. If you Uncle Jim is counting on watching the game and taking a nap, it’s important to make sure your cousins with newborn triplets have somewhere to take their energy and volume outside. Making sure everyone has a great day is the goal, but understanding what everyone wants is the key, and the project manager in your life realizes this at the very beginning.

4. Contingency Plans– If it rains? If it snows? If your kids are late, and they’re bringing the gravy? What will you do to keep the day on track? The project manager’s approach to Thanksgiving involves extensive contingency planning – even if the answer to every situation is “We’ll go and borrow an egg/milk/etc. from neighbor Dave”.

5. Success Metrics– How are you measuring your performance? The core of project management is metrics, and project managers know that measuring the correct indicators is best path to evaluate and improve performance. Number of people napping? Percentage of turkey cooked that was consumed? Or maybe the only metric that matters is “Did everyone enjoy themselves?” – but your trusty project manager will be there taking survey data so that next year’s meal is even better!

So, if you are lucky enough to get invited to Thanksgiving by a project manager, don’t forget to bring pumpkin pie and your spreadsheets!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! TPE Midstream is very thankful for all the great people we get to know through our business with our vendors, customers, and peers. Please travel safely, enjoy your families, and get full.