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How to Make A Wish Come True – the power of project management

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In a departure from our normal type of events, Jenny Cook, Director of Wish Granting for Make a Wish UK came to talk to us about How to Make a Wish Come True, the power of project management on 15th October at BAWA.  

Make A Wish is multi million pound charity which was established in the US in 1986, with the UK affiliate established in 1988-89. Jenny took us on the Wish journey whilst explaining how various project management techniques are utilised with a ‘Wish’ spin on them. With an annual income of around £10m, the challenge is how to grant the 1000+ wishes each year, each of which is a project in itself. Even with 30% of the wishes being for Disneyland Paris, each is unique and requires careful planning from before the family leaves, to the Wish itself, to the post Wish follow up with the family. With a clear Purpose, Vision and Values, how does this happen and what are the links to Project Management?

Three Year goals and current year priorities are specified, all of which are based around the Wish Child, and are underpinned by a strategy map with Stakeholders being the most important. MAW is supported by a team of both employees and volunteers all of whom have to work together to deliver the child’s One True Wish. Requirements capture starts with the volunteers who visit the family to find out what the one True Wish is and all the extras which make it truly special (this is one occasion where gold plating is encouraged!).

This is then turned into a project plan by the Wish Granting person allocated to that project. Each Wish Granter can be delivering up to 80 projects over the course of a year liaising with a multitude of suppliers, UK and abroad, and not forgetting the family! This is where the ‘Wishing Well’ comes in, which is a list of the 1000’s of suppliers and gifts in kind who all help to grant Wishes. Creativity is required to ensure that benefits realisation (a very happy Wish Child) is achieved for each and every Wish. Underpinning all of this is a Portfolio Management approach which includes capacity planning, budget and forecast management, to ensure that as many Wishes as possible can be granted over the course of the year in line with the short and long term goals.

To conclude, without good project management and control, MAW would not be able to deliver the 1114 Wishes that it did last year, with an average cost of £2,700 per Wish.

Please see the presentation below for your information. A copy is also available on the APM Slideshare page.

Claire Mills
SWWE branch Secretary


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