Marine News from the Great Lakes

Project Management Skills Applied To Your Boat

Published: Thursday, March 26, 2020

After visiting the winter boat shows, we have seen the latest products and equipment that we want for our boating season. In spring, timing becomes very important if we are to realize these improvements. To ensure they are not lost as unrealized dreams, we must make them goals. After all, a goal is just a dream with a deadline—and that requires planning.

With the COVID-19 pandemic, many facilities (such as your local boat repair shop) may be under orders to close, reduce staff, or may be working with limited capabilities. This does not necessarily mean they can do nothing. If you need the help of an expert, make sure you reach out to your favorite location and find out their specific situation. Businesses still need our support and the good ones will certainly do what they can to accommodate your needs in accordance with the law.

Launch may be the deadline for some of these projects and we need a solid plan to achieve success. Project Management is usually reserved for the workplace, but it can provide fundamental benefits when we apply these same principles and practices to our boat projects.

Start by Prioritizing

Some things simply must be completed prior to launch, so these must be prioritized. Other projects might be nice to do prior to launch and can be second priority. Still other projects can be left till after launch or may even be best completed after launch, when ladders are not part of the access protocol.

Lead-time sensitive, priority one ‘must do’ projects may include:

  • Underwater components and hardware
  • Marine drives and propellers
  • Through-hulls, packing boxes, and shaft seals
  • Bottom paint and hull preparation

Second priority projects that can wait until after launch (if necessary) may include interior projects, electronic upgrades, deck hardware maintenance and other projects that can be done in-water. Not having to climb a ladder can even make some of this work easier after launch.

Once you know what priorities you have, now you can apply the five general phases of project management to your boat project. Lead times must be considered so checking with your marine stores, mechanics, and service providers to confirm this timing is important.

Step 1: Conception and Initiation

This is the most fun step because you get to decide what projects you want to accomplish! If you’re working with a repair shop, this might mean sitting down (perhaps virtually!) with the repair manager to define what you want done and what is able to be done in the time you have available.

Step 2: Definition and Planning

At this time, it is important to identify all the parts, materials, and labor that you will need to complete your project by your deadline. Lead times are critical when Launch is approaching, so making sure that you have lead times on all parts and projects will help you plan your project efficiently (and realistically).

Step 3: Execution

Order your parts, schedule your labor, and get started on your projects!

Step 4: Performance and Control

At all times during the repair project, keep your eye on the prize and adjust the plan as needed to meet your goal.

Step 5: Project Close

Wait, no, THIS is the most fun step! Complete that project, launch your boat, and enjoy the season!

With a solid plan and priority, you will be able to launch your boat on time to maximize your boating pleasure and turning your winter dreams into summer boating enjoyment! The bottom line is: don’t procrastinate, make a plan, and move forward. Our boating season will be here soon!

About the Author

Founded in Detroit by Henry H. and William H. Smith, the company continues to employ 3rd and 4th generation members of the family, carrying on a legacy established in 1900 - to be your Marine Drive Specialists.


A version of this article first appeared in the Spring Issue (Mar/Apr) 2020 of Great Lakes Scuttlebutt magazine.

tags: Boating 101, Spring Commissioning


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