While most people have been deliberating back and forth about how they were going to vote in this year’s election, at Mavenlink we’ve been thinking to ourselves how complicated and complex it must be to run an election campaign.  From a local city council race, all the way up to the race for the White House, scores of paid staff and volunteers work around the clock to beat the competition.

Most of what we, the general public, see is just the candidates and their “spokespeople” on the news. But I’m fascinated by what must be going on behind the scenes and the logistics needed on a daily basis to support this kind of undertaking.

As a project manager, I’m struck by the notion that if you strip out the politics and the vote, if these campaigns are not dissimilar to the challenges we face in the business world every day.  There is a product (the candidate), the competition (the other candidates) and the most important metric of all, results (percentage of the vote).  For those of us who have worked in retail and know how important Black Friday is, imagine that for this “business” it really does all come down to one day…Election Day.  Win, and, well, you WIN!  Lose, and you’re forced to close up shop.

I remember volunteering for a campaign many years ago when I was handed a sheet of paper by a “precinct captain” and told: “call all these people.”  Imagine the coordination needed to make sure that a task so simple handed out to one volunteer has to roll up all the way into some strategic campaign plan.  There must have been a lot of redundancy, memos, faxes and paper getting shuffled to accomplish this.

I imagine that both sides of the national ticket are using the latest in project management software.  I can see, in my project management utopia, thousands of people logged into the cloud, all synced up between mobile devices and their task lists.  I can see the head of the master project (I kind of wish it was me), walking into a meeting with the candidate, and with the push of a button showing the status of each project, all the way down to the single volunteer calling from a precinct list.

Now that the election is over, I’d love the chance to speak with both campaigns to see how it really worked.  Maybe I will still have the opportunity…that is, if they haven’t closed up shop.