Project Management Skills Essential in all Retail RD Roles
By RDBA Executive Director Annette Maggi, MS, RDN, LD, FAND
As a retail RD, every day includes a long list of “to dos.” It can be easy to get stuck in a pattern of hammering out these daily tasks. To be most effective in leading and executing larger projects, it’s essential to step back from the day-to-day and drive against the overall project. Whether it’s launching a new attribute shelf tag program or getting organized for a new cooking class you are offering in-store, project management skills are important at all levels of retail dietetics.
There are five key steps in the project management process that are important for retail dietitians to hone:
- Initiation. Perhaps most important in this step is clearly defining the scope of the project. As teams head down the project path, "scope creep" can easily happen, throwing the whole project off course. In the Initiation phase it's essential to establish measurable goals in terms important to your company.
- Planning & Design. Establish a project team, define other resources needed as well as key deliverables, timing and action, and a budget for the project. When establishing the team, be sure to surround yourself with those who will be committed to the project and have something to gain with the project's success. As many retail projects can be complex ad cross functional, consider the documentation you will use to track the team's work and project's progress.
- Execution. No matter how well organized and planful you are, there are likely to be glitches that arise in the execution of any project. A test of your leadership ability will be how you react under this pressure.
- Monitoring. Dietitians are scientists and understand the importance of measurement. To prove that you can excel at project management, be sure to include budget and time for measurement against the project's goals and objectives.
- Completion. At project's end, you may be ready to dust your hands off and move on, but don't miss your opportunity to really shine. Put together a summary of the project's successes and shop it around to key stakeholders and senior leaders in your company. Without being too boastful, take credit for your leadership role in driving the project's success.