Last year I wrote three articles about the project management tools and techniques I used for managing our inter-city relocation. Every four years, the municipalities within the province of Ontario hold elections for city council, the role of mayor, school board trustees and regional councillors. With the elections coming up this October, I decided a few weeks ago to run for one of the two city councillor roles within my ward in Welland (for more information about my platform, feel free to visit my campaign website at

This initiative would meet most operational definitions for what constitutes a project. It is time-bound as election day is October 24. It is a unique endeavor as running for office is different each time one does it. And it will (hopefully!) produce the valuable result of my receiving the most votes by my neighbors within my ward.

As I’ve written previously, it is important to understand what constraints exist on a project as well as which constraint is the most critical. In the case of this project, many usual constraints apply including:

Time: the main accomplishment for the project will need to be completed no later than the end of election day

Cost: election rules mandate the maximum amount which a candidate can contribute towards their campaign or can spend as expenses. Given that there isn’t a significant financial return on investment for this project, I have set a modest limit on personal contributions and campaign expenses which is well within the limits set by the rules. As such, there is some flexibility for cost.

Scope: there is quite a bit of flexibility regarding both what you can run for (e.g. mayor, city councillor in one of multiple wards) as well as how you go about convincing citizens to vote for you.

Quality: the election rules do provide clear guidance on the types of activities which are not permitted such as paying people to vote for you or using city resources to further your campaign. There are also municipal by-laws for street signs which provide quality requirements such as content, size, placement, and timing for placing and removing signs.

Resources: while there aren’t any constraints on materials or equipment (so long as they will fit within the costs allocated), people’s time is the primary resource constraint for this project. However, as I do have a few neighbours who have indicated that they would be happy to support my campaign, there is some flexibility here.

Knowledge: while knowledge is an enabler, limited knowledge can act as a constraint. There are two limits which apply to this project:

  • My limited first-hand knowledge of running for office. While I was elected three times as a director on the board of the PMI Lakeshore Chapter almost twenty years ago, the complexity of that project was much lower and the odds were much more in my favor than this project.
  • The knowledge which my ward’s citizens have about the upcoming municipal elections in general and of me, specifically, as I’ve only lived here for a year.

The good thing is that while knowledge constraints are a major limiting factor, reducing their impact is quite achievable within the time line of this project.

Having provided my analysis of the constraints I’m facing, next week’s article will cover the approach I’m using to manage the different PMBOK knowledge areas for this project.

(If you liked this article, why not pick up my book Easy in Theory, Difficult in Practice which contains 100 other lessons on project leadership? It’s available on  and on  as well as a number of other online book stores)

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