Coronavirus and projects – key challenges and how to overcome them

Projects continuously present challenging and complex scenarios to businesses and their project teams, requiring careful management and effective collaboration with stakeholders to overcome any risks or blockers to successful delivery.

The current Coronavirus pandemic has caused uncertainty and impacted every facet of business. In this unique landscape, the ability to successfully deliver projects and fully realise their benefits has been challenged even further.

What are the top four challenges?

  • Remote working

With widespread remote working, project teams that are usually based in an office environment are feeling isolated and de-motivated. They may feel the need to be on-site to deliver and therefore, productivity levels amongst the team could be at an all-time low.

As the project sponsor, you could have less visibility on how much work is being done and when you don’t have clarity on the plan to move forward you may not feel like your project is on track.

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  • Single points of failure on projects

Access to the Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) responsible for critical components or deliverables can be limited if their capacity is being stretched, this could be due to the need to support other critical areas of the business or personal responsibilities at this time.

  • Available technology

Many organisations are not set up to truly support remote working and collaboration between remote teams. This can severely impact the ability of a business and its employees to operate effectively. We all know the frustrations of being on a call with poor connection or loud background noise.

  • Commercial challenges putting the project at risk

The financial impact that many businesses are facing means that only business-critical projects will remain in flight. There may be a need to reprioritise projects in your portfolio or place projects on hold that are no longer viable.

How do you overcome the challenges of your project?

Plan, plan and plan again…

Planning to manage potential risks and being able to react quickly to changing situations will keep your project on track and allow you to ride out whatever storm is being thrown at you.

While the types of risk differ from business to business, the simple three-step method below can be applied to any risk-planning scenario:

  1. Reduce likelihood – what can your project team do to reduce the possibility of the risk occurring? e.g. SME ‘buddies’ to reduce the single points of failure on the project, book-end days with 15-minute stand-ups to ensure that everyone is kept up to date on activities and progress.

It is also worth remembering that risks can often present opportunities. Consider how risks could enable positive change to your business and ways of working.

2. Reduce impact – if you cannot avoid it, consider how can you reduce the impact on the project to ensure that it doesn’t risk derailing the project. Are there specific measures you can put in place? Can you send out communications to those effected to soften the blow? Could budget be re-purpose and spent elsewhere? Have you utilised contingency plans for projects nearing go-live?

3. Agree on who is responsible – Assign owners to risks and the mitigating actions to ensure the changing landscape is monitored closely with a clear trail of accountability, as well as ensuring that efforts to reduce likelihood/impact are adjusted accordingly.

During the coming weeks and perhaps even months, those businesses who embrace the challenges that come their way and turn them into opportunities to deliver projects successfully will come through this period with enhanced capabilities in the future.

If you would like advice and support on how to overcome challenges to your projects, please contact estherm@ninefeettall.com.

 

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