Project-Management-Cononavirus

Project Management and Coronavirus: Assessing and minimising impact to projects

Currently the entire world is working out how to deal with the Coronavirus pandemic.

This is unchartered territory for most businesses, governments, public sector and individuals.  A lot of action is being taken but nobody knows if it is the right the action.

Impact

The impact can already be seen in many different countries:

  • Italy and Spain complete lock down with only limited movement
  • Countries closing borders
  • Flights being cancelled
  • Large gatherings (including conferences and seminars) being cancelled
  • Schools being closed for 2 – 3 months

More limitations will come in to force very shortly.

Impact to Projects

The reactions in most countries will have an impact to active projects.

  • Organisations implementing split working
  • Organisations asking staff to work from home
  • Organisations only asking staff involved with core activities to come into work
  • Possible delays from vendors, suppliers, contractors.
  • Limitations to transport systems
  • Key staff becoming ill with the virus

There are many risks to each and every active project.

Coronavirus: Project Action Plan

With all of these risks at a global scale, here are some thoughts and ideas on how to minimise the impact to your project.

Determine critical deliverables

It makes sense that you should focus effort on the critical deliverables.

  • Review all of the current projects and deliverables to determine what ones are critical.
  • Capture the projects and deliverables into a summary.

Identify core staff / suppliers for critical deliverables

People are what make projects happen.

  • Review the critical deliverables to determine what staff are required for those deliverables.
  • Capture the resources into a list (see post PMO Contact List).

Evaluate what can be deferred?

All projects are not equal.  Therefore, those not deemed critical should be able to be deferred.

  • Identify projects that are not critical.
  • Capture the projects and deliverables into a summary.

Provide management with impact plan

Now you should have the following:

  • List of critical projects and deliverables.
  • List of staff / suppliers required to deliver the critical projects and deliverables.
  • List of projects and deliverables that can be deferred.

Prepare these into a summary and gain agreement from the sponsors and senior management.  This is important as this provides full transparency of the risk and helps to manage expectations.

Scenario planning

With this information you should then consider some different scenarios:

  • Key resource(s) becoming ill.
  • Resources not being able to come into office.
  • Impact if teams work from home.
  • Ability of teams to work from home.
  • Impact of suppliers not being able to provide service.

With this in mind, think about what action can be taken.  For example, it might be a good idea to prioritise the list of critical projects and deliverables if team capacity is reduced so that you focus on the top priority items.

Remote working planning

Project teams are pretty good at being adaptable so it is a good idea to review what options are available for flexible working:

  • Ensure team members have remote access (get them to test now).
  • Do they have the required hardware?  If not, can they be quickly issued with laptops, monitors, etc?
  • Do they have access to all required applications and resources?
  • Can they communicate from home?
  • Do they have a desk set-up for prolonged home working?
  • Is their broadband sufficient?
  • Will other people be in the household be using the same infrastructure and broadband i.e. partner also working from home?
  • Increased use of video conferencing, skype, webinars, etc.
  • Group chat to keep team connected.
  • Regular conference calls.

It is really important that the team remains connected and able to work together as a virtual team.

Important: People’s health and wellbeing must come first!

It is important that you always put the health and well being of the team first:

  • Ensure they are following guidance for the virus
  • Ensure they are following guidance for health and safety as their home set-up will be different.
  • Ensure they are not taking unnecessary risks, like travelling into work when it is not required.
  • If teams are still in the office, minimise contact and ensure sufficient hand gel, etc is available.

Summary

This only touches on the topic but hopefully provides some practical ideas that can help you plan for how to deal with Coronavirus over the coming months to minimise impact to your projects.

I also wish that you and your family remains safe through these times.