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AFP 2020 Blog

Herding Cats and Useful Skills for Project Management

May 18, 2020

By Steven Phillips, Assistant Treasurer for AZZ, Inc.

The phrase “herding cats” is a perfect description for the job of project manager. Trying to balance numerous priorities and personnel requires this skill and knowing how to “herd” is the difference between project success and failure. In my session at AFP 2020, I’ll be using examples from actual projects in treasury and finance to demonstrate the basic concepts of project management, how to define appropriate expected outcomes once the project is complete, and how to measure success from business case to the “go-live” stage.


As a treasury professional that leads a risk management group, I’m very aware of the need for risk mitigation strategies that can help protect the organization from disruptive events like the one we are currently facing. Having a project management mentality has helped me introduce these concepts to the executive management team. This mindset has helped to begin a discussion around developing our company risk profile.

We’ve created a system that highlights the most common risks the organization faces, ranking them from least to most likely. We then apply an impact metric like revenue loss so we can determine recommendations on how to best allocate resources for mitigation.

In some cases, an event like this pandemic can happen and it can completely change the original need for the project. So before moving forward, the project purpose and plan should be reevaluated and reconfirmed. In some cases the project is still needed but the requirements might be significantly different from the original plan.

I view the skills needed to successfully bring a project to completion as necessary for treasury and finance. The pandemic should remind practitioners that there are unknowns that can suddenly impact our working lives and our home lives. It should also highlight that developing your skills in change management is critical, and this is a key skillset for all project management approaches.


In my upcoming project management session, you’ll walk away with a clearer understanding of the critical issues of a project. That way, when you are executing on a deliverable, you’ll avoid setting yourself up for rework and change orders based on missing information. In a case where you need to create a project requirements list quickly (based on a disruptive event, for example), you’ll have a roadmap to follow to reduce the risk that the outcome is not exactly how you envisioned.

Don’t miss Herding Cats and Useful Skills for Project Management, which is part of the Career Development track at AFP 2020. Register by June 26 and save $625.