Project Management in a Pandemic

March 2020: All the news is about Coronavirus. Many companies valiantly tried to carry on their operations and projects. However, events have overtaken us all and now the country is in ‘Lockdown’. We are all working from home. So how do you do Project Management in a Pandemic?

For projects, this can only cause delay, extra costs, and reduced functionality in the future.

Here is the opportunity for Project Managers!

By definition Project Managers are pro-active, and anticipate future issues. Project Management is about thinking, about planning. What better time to think than when the project has been temporarily paused. There is now an opportunity to draw breath, and catch up with the current situation. What better time to review the status, engage with the stakeholders, and examine future plans?

Actions to Be Considered – Potential Problems

Yes, this project pause was not planned. There will be extra work due to this interruption.

  • Objectives may need to be reviewed
  • Financial Analysis may need to be updated (ROI, Payback, IRR, NPV)
  • Equipment, suppliers, materials, and other resources need to be informed
  • The Risk Register needs to be reviewed
  • Immediate tasks will have to be re-scheduled for an as yet unknown start date
  • Resource availability is unknown both now and into the future
  • Cash flow has become critical, and budgets will need reviewing
  • Skills that were available may not now be available when required
  • Less vital projects may need cancelling to free resources and budget
  • Future tasks may not match ‘shut down’ periods or new dates

There will be extra work as the project is brought to a halt, and plans made to restart the project.

Actions for Project Managers on a Paused Project

However, here is a list of things that can be done with the breathing space. The tasks that could always be done a little better if time had allowed:

  • Some projects may be able to catch up on paperwork, and status reports.
  • There is now time to communicate the project status
  • Update the project sponsor with a detailed status
  • Time is available to engage (really engage!) with the project stakeholders
  • Benefits management can be reviewed
  • Certainly the resource plan will need to be reviewed going forward
  • Time to update the Risk register (did anybody identify a worldwide pandemic as a project risk?)
  • Identify new risks arising as a result of the delay
  • Time to do some informal monitoring with individuals. Video calls one-to-one are ideal for this
  • Time for team building activities, although this may be difficult with everybody in isolation

Time to think ahead pro-actively as all good project managers should be doing all of the time.

Summary

There will be more work due to the project pausing. But there are opportunities as well.

Stay safe, enjoy the time with your families, and get your project paperwork up to date.


Posted On: 31st March 2020

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