Project Management


PMI® Case Study


Project Management Helps Welcome the Troops Home

With a short amount of time and limited budget, the city of Colorado

Springs, Colorado, USA, planned a parade to welcome home troops

returning from Iraq. The parade was perhaps the largest in Colorado

Spring’s history, and the largest celebration of its kind in the county.

Using project management competencies found in PMI’s de facto guide

to the project management profession, A Guide to the Project

Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide)—Third Edition, the

project team planned and executed the parade successfully in spite of

limited time and budget.


Colorado Springs is home to multiple branches of the military and six

major bases, including Fort Carson and the Air Force Academy. The

town decided to plan a welcome home parade for its soldiers who had

been deployed to Iraq. Around 11,000 troops had been sent to Iraq for

year-long rotations, and were to return in March 2004.

The parade was scheduled for 5 June 2004. All floats and participants

were required to have a patriotic theme. Multiple teams came together

to plan the event.

The project management team was lead by O’Donnell & O’Donnell LLP,

which had experience with parade planning in addition to fundraising,

which would prove to be an important part of this project.

The City Council of Colorado Springs also donated city resources and

personnel to the project, including the assistant city manager, who

was the main link between the city and the project team. Providing the

team with daily access to city officials ensured key communication

throughout the project.

In addition to the project team, the city also established a

management team committee, composed of stakeholders and

representatives from each local military base. These two teams met

regularly to give status reports, offer or ask for assistance, and

determine the next steps in the project. This open forum for

communication fostered a greater understanding for each party’s role

in the project and what the end result would be. All high level changes

were made by the committee, while the detail changes were made by

the project team.


The two major challenges of this project were the lack of money to

fund the parade and the limited timeframe to complete the project.

Security and safety also stood as risks to the event.

The project team faced the challenge of raising all funds for the

parade, as the city could not finance the event. The event budget and

reimbursement for their services would come only from the donations

and sponsorship money raised. The city capped the fee amount

O’Donnell & O’Donnell could charge them, and also established a

separate account for the event so they could accurately track finances.

Last minute changes also posed a challenge. Project stakeholders from

Fort Carson requested the troops be fed lunch after the parade. The

city raised the fee caps, but the project team had to include catering,

organization and clean-up in an already tight schedule.


In order to combat the limited budget and timeframe, the project team

used every stakeholder’s resources, asking what each organization

could contribute to the event. The project was then approached in

reverse order; the scope of a project is typically established before the

resources, but the project team had to establish resources to

determine project scope.

Although the city could not contribute monetarily to the project, it

offered in-kind services by having every city department participate.

In addition to those workers, the project team used its own volunteer

base of 35-40 people. Many of the sponsoring organizations also

offered their services at reduced fees or free of charge. In return,

sponsors and donors received a banner and viewing stand at the

parade for their contributions.

The team used project management competencies throughout the

project to:

coordinate a donation of 40 buses from city transportation

department to transport the 6,000 soldiers participating in the


work with city police to arrange parking for buses;

coordinate with city engineers to control traffic lights to minimize

convoy’s effect on city traffic flow;

inform town in advance of any road closures or delays caused by

parade preparations; and

overcome challenge of providing last-minute lunch to troops by

securing free food and service through local restaurant franchise,

using local park as venue and volunteers from Chamber of

Commerce to help serve food.

In addition, risk management techniques were used to anticipate and

prevent potential problems:

the team held meetings with local fire and police departments

and management committees to discuss risk responses;

police responded to traffic congestion by finding alternate routes

for cars during parade;

the fire department positioned rescue crews along route in case

of an emergency; and

paramedics passed out water to prevent dehydration


The parade consisted of 22 floats, 23 fire trucks and eight marching

bands, including the U.S. Army Field Band from Fort Meade, Md. Many

antique military aircraft and other vehicles took part in the parade,

and over 65,000 people came to watch the historical event and show

their support for the troops.

The public communications department for the city took care of all

publicity and interviews at no cost; three local television stations and

six local radio stations held live broadcasts from the parade and

related events; and photographers from local newspapers were on

site. The White House even issued a statement about the event, which

was read at the parade and on all local broadcasts.

Project management techniques enabled the project team to

coordinate the event, raise funds and accommodate last minute

changes within a remarkably short time frame. As a result, the

Colorado Springs Welcome Home Parade was the largest event of its

kind ever held in Colorado Springs.

Key Achievements

The project team organized and executed all aspects of the

event such as fund raising, the coordination of soldiers and

aircraft, and planning a lunch reception for 9,000 people, all

within a five month time period.

The project team executed the parade under the allocated

budget, and the city manager donated excess funds to military