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Tips for Responding to Unforeseen Events That Affect Projects

Posted by  Mark Baars

Anyone who manages projects knows that the process can be stressful and overwhelming, especially when things don't go according to plan. When unforeseen events occur that require repair or damage control, it can be a huge hit to our budget and timeline. However, as an exec, there are some things to do to mitigate and handle damages effectively, including creating a contingency plan. In order to have the best responses to unforeseen events that affect projects, check out the helpful tips below.

Create a Contingency Plan
A contingency plan is like a plan B for all of the things that could go wrong on a project. Contingency plans should be created after assessing all risks to the project and all potential unforeseen events. After the assessment, execs and project managers should work to create effective ways to handle or solve the problems those possible risks would cause, giving organizations a guide to overcoming them, should they ever happen.

Designate Who Handles Responses Ahead of Time
Before the project begins, designate who will handle responses to the unexpected. Responses usually have four phases:

  • Triage: This is the immediate action that must be taken to stop losses or overruns.
  • First response: Gather information about what exactly happened and have a meeting of stakeholders to decide how to proceed.
  • Implementation of necessary safeguards: After the damage has been assessed and discussed, implement any safeguards to prevent any more damage. Also, come up with a plan to get the project back on track.
  • Learning: The last part of response is analyzing the event and the response to figure out what worked, how the event happened, and how operations can be improved.

Before the project begins, designate who handles what task. A triage team should handle the first stage of response. A communications team should bring together a meeting of stakeholders and let customers and employees know the status of the project. Finally, an IT team should help handle things like data backups and other vital network operations.

Don't Take Too Long
While it's good to make smart decisions if something goes wrong on a project, time is usually of the essence in these situations, so it's more important to execute a good plan than to take too much time trying to execute a perfect one. Taking too long to create a plan and respond to the unforeseen can result in major losses or overruns.

Assess the Budget
We should all build a contingency plan. There's a good chance that a plan is already in place for most unforeseen events. However, we think it's essential to make sure the cost of that plan is assessed to ensure the organization can afford it. A tip for making a successful contingency plan before a project starts is to include multiple options for responses to the unexpected. Try to include an ideal option and one that can be taken advantage of is money is tight and there's not as much wiggle room.

Managing a project can be rewarding, but it can have its fair share of challenges, especially when unexpected events arise. By planning properly, designating roles, spending wisely and acting quickly, it's possible to ensure that a team is ready to handle anything and that the project succeeds, no matter what comes its way.

Do you want to execute more profitable projects, optimize your resource utilization, bill with precision and win more business? Talk to Unit4 today to put a PSA to work for your business or download our whitepaper ‘10 challenges how Professional Services Organizations can improve’.

Mark Baars

Mark Baars

Mark is an industry data analyst spotting the latest trends in business, finance, IT and education. At Unit4 Mark delivers relevant market insights and aims to support CFOs, CIOs, controllers and business leaders to resolve their daily challenges.

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