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The holiday season, whether during the summer or at the end of the year, can wreak havoc on you and your team’s productivity and have negative impacts on your project. Be they missed deadlines, rushed work, instruction confusion or any number of other potential problems, planning around holidays is a minefield of risks for your project. As a PM, knowing how to plan for holidays is a rarely talked about but still important facet of 12-month project planning.

If you’ve been wondering about how to plan for holidays and you don’t feel fully confident you have the project management strategies that you need, don’t worry, we’re here to help. The following are some of the best ways to deal with holidays so as to lessen their impact on your project’s progress.

Communicate clearly with your team

Like any good relationship, with your project team, communication is key. Everyone is entitled to holidays and they are very important for keeping your team refreshed, enthusiastic and productive. A project manager’s fears about losing project velocity or missing deadlines can be understandable but by making it easier for your team to communicate with you, you can avoid the worst of these pitfalls.

Firstly, by having more information you can plan work schedules more efficiently. Secondly, this communication is two-way, so it is good to make clear your expectations of team members with regards to the completion of objectives or ensuring they have cover for the time they’ll be away.

Strategically coordinate task coverage

To ensure that a task strand doesn’t get left wallowing in the azure waters of the Caribbean along with the responsible team member, make sure to work with them to nominate and, if necessary, train someone who can cover for them.

Not only will it ensure the task is progressing, but it also means someone will be on hand to answer questions and collaborate with others who might be involved in a parallel task.

Identify core “no-holiday” dates if necessary

While no-one would want to ban Christmas or stop people from heading home for Thanksgiving, it is possible that there are certain dates, e.g. a product being launched or website going live, where you will need all hands on-deck in case anything goes wrong. These dates should be marked as Very Important so that team members and HR know to take them into consideration when planning holidays.

Of course, it’s impossible to tell someone they can’t attend their sibling’s wedding or child’s graduation but, again, strong communication with the team and plenty of advance warning can help avoid awkward situations.

Use automation to understand your resources more clearly

One of the huge benefits of cloud-based project management software is that it can calculate everything you need to know about your resources in an instant and provide you with an easy to understand visual of your situation.

It also means that as your team plan their holidays, resources can be redirected, start times can be delayed and engagements reconfigured so you never lose momentum. Think of it like using advanced and automated air traffic control to make sure your project is always running at optimum efficiency.

It’s also important to remember that holiday considerations also include yours. While taking time off might not be the most obvious of project management strategies, it is key for you having a healthy work-life balance and for recharging your batteries, so you are able to give 100% when you are on a project. So, do your planning, set the schedule and go and enjoy yourself.