How to restart your projects

As the UK government announce plans to slowly lift restrictions and begin the move towards ending the lockdown and restarting our economy, a new phase in the Covid-19 period is upon us. The end of the lockdown will not mean a return to the old ‘normal’, nor will it be the same for every business. Each business sector will take a different form, at differing speed and with a revised list of conditions applied to them by both government and customers.
How can businesses navigate and adapt to this period, especially over the coming weeks as restrictions are loosened? There will inevitably be an eagerness to revive strategic plans, programmes and projects, but before we all fire out of the blocks, some areas need to be considered.

1. Review project objectives/vision/benefits
Does your project objective still ring true with the current business direction of travel? Is it still a top priority? Conducting a review of the key reasons the project was approved in the first instance and reviewing the relative priorities of all your projects will help to ensure that your project portfolio still match the needs of the business and your customers.

2. Conduct a lesson learnt workshop
This is a great opportunity to review what went well and what did not go so well prior to the lock down. This activity will help identify improvements to the way project operates. It is worth considering which ways of working are still relevant to each project in “the new normal” and which need to be reset or changed. Also, these sessions provide a fantastic chance to conduct a few team building exercises to re-galvanize that team mentality and spirit.

3. Resource review – are all the project roles covered?
There are many roles within a project team, with some requiring subject matter expertise. A quick review of the resources assigned to the project is vital to gauge if you have the right people and ability to achieve the projects timeline. Remember you may have a mixture of areas to cover here such as people who have been made redundant, moved teams, furloughed or are self-isolating. If any key roles have changed e.g. sponsor, key stakeholders, SMEs or project leadership, be prepared for a period to reassemble the knowledge and to allow the team to re-form.

4. Budget
Pausing and restarting a project will inevitably come with associated costs and you need to make sure your budget reflects this. If budget constraints become apparent, then you may want to look to de-scope elements of the project or prioritise areas for delivery in current and future phases.

5. Create an agile delivery plan
As things are changing so rapidly in the current environment, when the project restarts, your new project plan will need to have suitable flexibility baked in, so you can adapt to as circumstances change. If a project has been running for some time and is just about to get started again it is worth thinking about including some quick wins and early benefits delivery where possible to help regain traction and buy in. There will also need to be a clear and agile project governance to enable quick decision making when required and provide transparency and clarity.

6. Change Management
Now, more than ever, change management is vital for any project, taking into consideration the current climate and the levels of change people have already been through in their personal lives. Even if a change impact assessment was carried out some time ago, this may now be out of sync with the latest situation teams are facing. Conducting a rapid -change impact assessment as the project re-starts will give you areas of immediate focus and ensure that impacts are fully understood within the context of changing teams, ways of working and personal circumstances. It could also be an opportunity to rename or rebrand a project, or have a project kick off session, to get business engagement a second time round. One thing to watch out for here is change fatigue, keep any communications focused. Explain why the project is still relevant and vital and thank teams for their continued involvement and support.

If you need help developing an agile project restart plan, assessing change impacts or support within any of the above areas mentioned, please contact info@ninefeettall.com and we will set up a free consultation with a member of our team.

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