Emergency Project Management: Lessons for a Rainy Day
Disasters in project management isn’t the same thing as a city in distress, but the same lessons still apply:
When things start to look bad, it’s important to keep your cool and think. Rash decisions can land you in deeper water than before. This is true whether you’re driving down the road or driving a project forward. And don’t forget that you need to keep others calm too.
I don’t know about you, but my kitchen wasn’t stocked for storm situations, and so last night we dined on yogurt and cold noodles. Preparation can save you a lot of grief—and may even save the day! Cloud storage, backup generators, duplicate files—each of these redundancies can help the project weather the storm intact.
Have a Backup Plan
Most people get into trouble in emergency situations because they have no idea what to do. We flounder and fumble because we have no direction. But having a backup plan of action—even a basic one like “call this number” or “meet up here” is enough to make a difference. Of course, if you have a more detailed or comprehensive contingency plan, that’s even better!
Learn to Compromise
You’re headed home, but the subway’s down and the roads are flooded. Which is smarter, braving the waters and rain, or finding shelter somewhere close? When disaster strikes, sometimes it’s no longer possible to meet your original goal. Work with your team and client to find a suitable compromise based on what resources you can realistically use.
Whether it’s up to the minute status updates or regular contact between teams, clear and timely communication is essential for tackling any disaster. Project managers need to know what’s going on if they’re to properly manage a bad situation, and communicate with the team working to resolve it. And don’t forget, clients need to know what’s going on, too!
Help is Where You Ask for It
Unless your situation is extremely dire, most rescue crews will expect you to fend for yourself. The same thing applies to project management. If you need help, ask. Otherwise, your co-workers may assume that you’ve got the situation well in hand.
So the next time problems start raining down, keep the above tips in mind. Hopefully it’ll help you weather the storm and keep you on course.
Image credit, Flickr, Ian Britton
Patrick Icasas is a former marketing project manager with 7 years of marketing and PR agency experience, managing creative projects for brands such as Nokia, Verizon Wireless, and Adobe. He now spends his time helping people make the most out of their project management software and entertaining his 5 year old daughter.